Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Tide Is High: Scientists Say Sea Levels Rising Faster Than Expected

Sea levels around the globe could rise by as much as two to three times faster than previously expected, according to a dire new report released by think tank US National Research Council.

The committee of climate experts re-evaluated the latest United Nations estimates and updated them with new data regarding polar ice-cap melting and concluded the melt-off is accelerating the rise in sea levels worldwide at a far faster rate.

 By the year 2100, the National Research Council estimates that global sea levels will rise on an average between 20-55 inches (50 and 140 centimeters). A United Nations panel on climate change in 2007 had projected a rise of only seven to twenty-three inches worldwide during the same time frame.

In terms of near-future sea level changes, the committee has predicted a rise in coastal water levels by three to nine inches by the year 2030 with a rise of up to 19 inches by 2050.  These rates are considerably higher than predicted in a report released by climate experts in the year 2000.

The committee was initially convened by an executive order from California to assess sea level rise in order to make preparations for coastal impact, and to make the first detailed predictions for the US West Coast. The study concluded that Oregon and Washington State would perhaps be less impacted by the rising tides, as tectonic activity in the region is actually causing  land in the area to rise higher.

The study also concluded that the change in sea levels would continue to contribute to the increase in severe and catastrophic weather events globally.  The study predicted that seismic activity in California could cause a sudden rise in sea levels along the coastline by as much as a meter (3.3 feet), with devastating results.

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