A study published in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources has revealed how much sea levels could rise over the next two centuries if humanity continues to falter in the fight against climate change, and glaciers continue to melt.
The paper titled Mapping Sea Level Change in Time, Space and Probability states that global average sea levels have risen by 0.2 feet since the start of the century. Scientists have predicted that from 2000 to 2050, global average sea levels could rise by six to 10 inches. According to the study, however, it is extremely unlikely that they will rise by more than 18 inches during this period. Beyond 2050, the rate at which glaciers melt becomes more sensitive to changes in greenhouse gas emissions.
According to different analyses, average sea levels could rise by 1.4 to 2.8 feet by 2100; 2.8 to 5.4 feet by 2150 and 6 to 14 feet by 2300. The study specifies that all of this would happen under moderate emissions.
The study goes on to highlight that since 11 percent of the world’s population lives in areas less than 33 feet above sea level, rising sea levels pose a significant threat to coastal populations, economies, and ecosystems worldwide.
In 2013, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had predicted in a report titled Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis that it was very likely that sea levels would rise in 95 percent of the ocean area. However, the IPCC mentioned that the set of glaciers observed to make this prediction was very small.
Commenting on the importance of monitoring sea level changes in the future, Robert E. Kopp, a professor in the Earth and planetary sciences department at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, has stated, “There’s much that’s known about past and future sea-level change, and much that is uncertain. But uncertainty isn’t a reason to ignore the challenge.”