The world’s coastal cities will sink unless carbon pollution is cut drastically

A new study confirms that only very aggressive climate action can save the world’s coastal cities from inundation by the end of the century.

If total warming is kept below 2°C, we still could limit sea level rise to two feet this century. Otherwise, we should be anticipating five to six feet of sea level rise by 2100 — which would would submerge many coastal areas and generate hundreds of millions of refugees.

The study ‘Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise’ from the journal Nature analyses ‘new processes in the 3-dimensional ice sheet model’. It makes use of mechanisms involving the impact of warming oceans on the unstable Antarctic ice sheet that were previously known but never incorporated in a model like this before. It then tests its findings against past episodes of high sea-levels and ice retreat.

The authors find that Antarctica has the potential to contribute greater than 1 meter (39 inches) of sea-level rise by the year 2100, and greater than 15 meters (49 feet) by 2500 if atmospheric emissions continue unabated.

The researchers highlight the likely contribution to rising sea levels that we will see from the disintegration of the Antarctic ice sheet, which has already begun.

Cities under threat will include Miami, Boston, New York, and New Orleans to name but a few.

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March 31, 2016
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