Research presented today at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen shows that the upper range of sea level rise by 2100 could be in the range of about one meter, or possibly more. In the lower end of the spectrum it looks increasingly unlikely that sea level rise will be much less than 50 cm by 2100. This means that if emissions of greenhouse gases is not reduced quickly and substantially, even the best case scenario will hit low lying coastal areas housing one in ten humans on the planet hard.
Dr John Church of the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia and the lead speaker in the sea level session, told the conference, "The most recent satellite and ground based observations show that sea-level rise is continuing to rise at 3 mm/yr or more since 1993, a rate well above the 20th century average. The oceans are continuing to warm and expand, the melting of mountain glacier has increased and the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are also contributing to sea level rise."
New insights reported include the loss of ice from the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets. "The ice loss in Greenland has accelerated over the last decade. The upper range of sea level rise by 2100 might be above 1m or more on a global average, with large regional differences depending where the source of ice loss occurs", says Konrad Steffen, Director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado, Boulder and co-chair of the congress session on sea level rise.
The last assessment report from the IPCC from 2007 projected a sea level rise of 18 - 59 centimeter. However the report also clearly stated that not all factors contributing to sea level rise could be calculated at that time. The uncertainty was centered on the ice sheets, how they react to the effects of a warmer climate and how they interact with the oceans, explains Eric R
|Contact: Morten Jastrup|
University of Copenhagen