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Scientists believe that Global Warming will cause over 20 feet rise in Sea Level

March 23rd, 2006

Scientists believe that Global Warming will cause over 20 feet rise in Sea Level

Southern United States Coastline Sea Level Rise Simulation

Scientists predict that by 2100 the Earth will be on average 4 degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer that it is currently now, based on the current trend of warmer temperatures.  The scientists are concerned that sea level will rise 20 feet or higher compared to present day due to the melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.  The complete report is to be published in the March 24th issue of Science.

The picture to the right shows how Florida and Southern coasts would be flooded if 20 feet of sea level rise occurs.  Only 3 feet of sea level rise would cover the majority of the city of New Orleans.  The areas of red show what land areas would be covered by sea level rise in their computer model simulation if it rises 20 feet.

"This is a real eye-opener set of results," said the co-author of this study, Jonathan T. Overpeck, from The University of Arizona in Tucson. "The last time the Arctic was significantly warmer than present day, the Greenland Ice Sheet melted back the equivalent of two to three meters (about six to ten feet) of sea level."


This study suggests that previous studies of ice melting will contribute 6 – 10 feet increase in sea level are wrong and would be over 20 feet of increase in sea level.  This study looked at data from 130,000 years ago when the temperatures were also warmer causing the ice to melt and raising the sea level.  This is the first time that a study looked at the Arctic and Antarctic melting during the Last Interglaciation from the time period of 129,000 to 116,000 years ago.

"Although the focus of our work is polar, the implications are global. These ice sheets melted before and sea levels rose. The warmth needed isn't that much above present conditions," said the co-author, Bette Otto-Bliesner of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.


There is already proof that ice sheets are melting.  This study thinks that the melting of ice could become accelerated.  Overpeck said, "unless something is done to dramatically reduce human emissions of greenhouse gas pollution.”  The scientists believe that the warming and melting of ice process will be irreversible in the second half of the 21st century if things don’t change.

"We need to start serious measures to reduce greenhouse gases within the next decade. If we don't do something soon, we're committed to four-to-six meters (13 to 20 feet) of sea level rise in the future."


Coastal areas will be hit the hardest with densely populated cities being covered by the ocean water.  The scientist put together a computer model based on the future climate along with ice sheet simulations to help determine the amount of flooding.  They also did a cross check of data that has been collected from natural recorders of ancient climate by method of looking at sediments, fossils and ice cores.

"To get rid of Greenland's ice, you have to melt it. In the Antarctic, all you have to do is break up the ice sheet and float it away and that would raise sea level," Overpeck said. "It's just like throwing a bunch of ice cubes into a full glass of water and watching the water spill over the top."

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By Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer


Keywords and misspellings:  globle warming globel warning artic ice melting floods and oceen sea levle rise raise antartica melting ise globel warmming

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