Is it too Late to Stop Sea-Level Rise?

Written by on October 2, 2012 in Marine Life
Global Temperature and CO2 measured across land and sea; black line shows atmospheric CO2 in parts per million Photo credit: NCDC/NOAA.

Global temperature (blue and red) and CO2 (black line) measured across land and sea. Image credit: NCDC/NOAA.

A new study concluded that our greenhouse gas emissions up to now have committed us to a sea-level rise of at least 1.1 meters by the year 3000.

This was the first-ever study to include the effects of land ice and ocean-warming in a model of sea-level changes over millions of years.  Polar ice sheets are normally not include in sea-level projections because of computational restraints, and many do not include thermal expansion of the oceans.

The researchers found that thermal expansion was the second highest contributor, while melting of the Greenland ice sheet was responsible for over half of sea-level rise; the contribution of glaciers and ice was small.

“Mankind should limit the concentration of greenhouse gases at the lowest possible level as soon as possible,” explained co-author Professor Philippe Huybrechts.  “The only realistic option is a drastic reduction of the emissions.  The lower the ultimate warming will be, the less severe the ultimate consequences will be.”

To learn more:

Cumulative decline (in cubic miles) in glacier ice worldwide. Image credit: NCDC/NOAA.

Cumulative decline (in cubic miles) in glacier ice worldwide. Image credit: NCDC/NOAA.

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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