WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The rise of sea level due to melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica is not constant each year but has been accelerating for the past 25 years.
- The new analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday was based on 25 years of satellite data.
- If the acceleration rate remains constant, which is unlikely, sea levels are expected to surge by 26 inches due to climate change by the year 2100.
Satellite data beginning in 1993 were used by scientists to detect the acceleration of sea level rise over a 25-year time frame. The study also used satellite data tracing minute shift in gravity due to ice mass loss.
“This study would not have been possible without satellite measurements,” Steve Nerem, lead author of the study told Newsweek. “They really are our kind of eye on the Earth.”
These satellite data revealed that sea level rise is not constant at 0.1 inch per year. The growth itself is increasing by 0.003 inches per year. The numbers may seem small but tiny increases around the world can trigger disastrous effects from sea level rise on coastal areas alone.
Saltwater entering into aquifers can affect the community’s drinking water. Storm surges can cause devastation and significant flooding.
“The acceleration will probably go up as ice sheets start to respond more to the warming,” Nerem, also a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at University of Colorado Boulder, said.
Scientists warn that this analysis did not consider other factors like El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which affects sea surface temperatures and precipitation, and the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991. It was the second-largest volcanic eruption of the century which could have affected sea levels due to a mild cooling effect of an eruption.
The acceleration rate discovered in this research would likely more than double sea level rise by 2100. The study concluded that the main cause of sea level rise and this acceleration is the melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctic.
Nerem said: “The big question in sea level science today is how are the ice sheets going to respond to the warming, and how quickly.”