New study discredits old research one again. This time, it’s Australian researchers who have found that sea levels across the planet are rising faster than predicted.
Scientists at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) empathize that sea levels have risen at an alarming rate of 2.6 to 2.9 millimeters per year over the last two decades. The finding goes straight against previous studies claiming that sea levels have started to slow down in recent years.
For the study, published in the journal nature Climate Change earlier this week, researchers used UTAS tide gauges placed in the sea and GPS measurements of land movement to gather data.
Researchers compared the new satellite readings to satellite records from tidal gauges around the world, from 1993 to 2014.
They found that sea levels have undeniably been increasing in speed since 1993 and that they will only keep getting faster.
Christopher Watson, a University of Tasmania geodesist and co-authored the study, informed that once researchers make a correction for how much land motion is at the gauge, or how much it’s moving up and down, they’re able to better see and understand the really small inaccuracies within the records.
Scientists blame the usual suspect for the thermal expansion of the ocean, climate change, claiming that melting glaciers and ice sheets near the planet’s poles are having a massive and negative impact on the sea, just as they expected them to have.
Watson stressed that sea levels did not slow down as they were expected to in studies from 1999, but he also admitted that they didn’t rise quite as much as the study from the early 1990s warned that they would. Simply put, satellites underestimated the rate of sea level rise in 1999, and overestimated the rate of sea level rise in the early 1990s.
The study did reinforce the future projections of the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the internationally accepted authority on global warming, with Dr Watson explaining that the IPCC’s “estimates state that there could be up to 99 centimeters. We’re certainly tracking on that upper bound of the IPCC projection and that projection to 2100 has significant impacts”.
Watson didn’t deny that sea levels can fluctuate naturally when water is exchanged between the sea and the land, but he also pointed out the danger the new findings could pose for Australians – occasional annual inundations will become frequent recurrences for the coastal zone and its population.
John Church of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) made his own grim prediction stating that sea levels could rise as much as one meter in the 85 years if they keep moving at their current speed.
He added that unless we find a way to reduce global warming, low-lying costal areas could disappear entirely into the sea, endangering more 150 million lives. He does however offer a solution saying that if scientists had major mitigation, then they could limit the rose to somewhere between 30 and 60 centimeters during the 21st century.
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