At worst, the sea can rise more than 2 meters over the next 80 years, according to researchers. It will hit large, densely populated areas and cities such as New York and London.
The reason for the sea level rise is global warming. The water expands and huge amounts of ice melt when the temperature rises.
But it is very difficult to know exactly how much the sea will rise. In the past, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that, in the worst case scenario, the sea surface will rise just under 1 meter by 2100 if climate emissions continue to increase.
A recent study suggests that this estimate is far too cautious and that the ascent may exceed 2 meters.
5 degree heating
The researchers behind the study have investigated what can happen if CO2 emissions continue to grow and we get a catastrophic global warming of 5 degrees.
Then the sea will probably rise above half a meter. And it is with a small but far from insignificant 5 percent risk that the increase may be over 2 meters.
In that case, large inhabited areas and agricultural lands will be flooded, among others in Bangladesh and Egypt. Big cities like London, New York and Singapore will be threatened.
200 million people may be forced to find new places to live.
“To put this into perspective, the Syrian refugee crisis led to about 1 million refugees coming to Europe,” said Professor Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol to the BBC.
Unstable in Antarctica?
The new study is partly based on expert reviews and published in the US research journal PNAS. The researchers believe the scenario with a 2-meter sea-level rise must be taken into account in long-term social planning.
By “moderate” global warming, melting of the ice in Greenland contributes most to the sea level rise.
But if the temperature rises more than 2 degrees, the risk of extensive melting also increases in Antarctica. Bamber, who has led the work on the new study, believes there is a certain risk that the ice in East Antarctica may become “very unstable”.
Many climate forecasts only last until 2100, but global warming will continue long after the climate emissions continue.
In 2200, in the worst case, the heating could have lifted the sea 7.5 meters, according to Bamber and his colleagues.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today