Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Sea Level Rise: Time to learn how to swim!

With COP21 now fully under way, hopefully a global plan in the reduction in CO2 emissions to a safe and manageable level is currently being made. However, what if COP21 doesn't reach the necessary cuts to emissions? What will happen to the melting world if these cuts aren't made and can we adapt? 

It is well understood that the scientific community acknowledges that anthropogenic emissions are speeding up the processes of global warming. But what I didn't know until a recent piece of coursework I undertook is the vast extent of literature which backs up this idea. I could give you links to all the academic research which proves this but the list is endless, the two links above show the most relevant papers in my eyes which provide compelling cases to prove that humans are a large cause of global warming through the increased carbon emissions. 

GCMs Showing the future potential seal level rise by NASA

Behind increasing global temperatures, the next biggest consequence of anthropogenic warming is increased ea level rise. Stefan Rahmstorf  predicts that sea level rise could reach 1.4m by 2100, but to give you an idea of the damage this will cause this global sea level rise map shows dramatic impacts to coastal and estuarine environments globally, with a large proportion of the north west coast of continental Europe underwater. 

You may be thinking that 1.4m sea level rise isn't bad at all, but if all the land and sea ice melts, it is predicted global seas will rise by 70m. This is what we are heading towards if we don't stop the current rates of global warming on our planet, and this will impact more than just coastal and estuarine environments. Most of the southern states of North America would be under water, Half of Europe would be flooded, the UK would be mostly underwater, and those pacific islands everyone likes to honeymoon to? well they will by a scuba diving relic at 220 feet deep. I have already used this but National Geographic produced a shocking interactive sea level rise map showing the regions which would be inundated if the global ice melted. It really is shocking. 

So all I want to say to the leaders at COP21, please try and sort out an agreement to stop this future drastic impact of sea level rise or it will be all of us paying the price.    

1 comment:

  1. Two really interesting and detailed studies to demonstrate the severity of this issue. Another interesting issue that I recently read about is the potential underestimation of sea level rise over the past decade as a result of inaccuracies with bias drift in the satellite records, highlight by Watson et al. As you said, the impacts of this sea level rise are likely to be severe and could be made worse by incorrect projections preventing adequate preparation and adaption.