Drastic emissions cuts needed to avert multi-century sea level rise

Human-caused global warming must be limited in order to avert a huge increase in sea levels, ABC News reports.

A new study found that only by limiting global warming to 1.5°C or less can a multi-century melting of the globe’s ice sheets and an increase in sea levels be averted. 

Many scientists warn the planet is already off track to limit global warming to 1.5, and say it is not feasible. 

Only the most stringent emissions cut would slow the melting of these ice caps and stop related sea levels rise.

The world is not currently on course to make those stringent emissions. 

Even if emissions are curtailed in line with a moderate emissions scenario, sea levels will keep rising through at least 2150 and beyond due to the delayed response of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets, the study found. 

Sea level rise is a climate change impact that is already being felt in coastal communities.

The new study, published in Nature, comes as the United Nations chief warns that global sea levels have risen faster since 1900, and their relentless increase is putting multiple massive countries at risk. 

Sea level rising will acutely endanger nearly 900 million people, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in a grim speech to the Security Council’s first-ever meeting on the threat to international peace and security from rising sea levels. 

He warned the Earth is more likely on a path to warming that amounts to “a death sentence” for countries vulnerable to that rise, including many small island nations.

The new study utilized multiple simulations from what are known as “coupled” computer models in which the interactions between the atmosphere, ocean, ice sheets, and ice shelves are included and capable of influencing one another over time, Axios reports.

The new research drives home the point that even if global warming slows near or just after 2100, as would be the case in moderate to high emissions scenarios, ice sheet contributions to sea level rise would keep accelerating well beyond that.

“Our study adds to the large body of research that suggests with increasing confidence that if we do not rapidly and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions sea-level rise will continue to accelerate over the next decades and continue for centuries with catastrophic consequences for coastal communities,” study coauthor Fabian Schloesser of the University of Hawaii said. 

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