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Melting Ice In Greenland And Antarctica Causing Sea Levels To Rise Twice As Much Than Predicted

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Climate change is accelerating the sea level rise. According to a new study, oceans will rise by almost 2 feet the end of the century.

A study by researchers from the University of Colorado-Boulder showed that global sea level is on the rise at an accelerating rate.

Sea Level Rise Accelerated

Using 25 years' worth of satellite data, the team led by aerospace engineering professor Steve Nerem observed the acceleration of the sea level rise and found that global sea levels could increase by twice as much as earlier predicted.

In their observation, the researchers took into account the factors that significantly altered the sea levels for several years, like the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines and the annual El Niño and La Niña phenomenon.

The study states that on average, global oceans rose 7 centimeters since 1993. The data aligns with the current rate of sea level rise of about 3 millimeters or 0.1 inches per year.

However, prevailing conditions such as global warming, greenhouse gases emission, and melting ice sheets can cause the sea level rise to increase at faster rate.

By year 2100, the sea level could rise by 60 centimeters instead of the current projected rate of 30 centimeters.

Melting Ice Sheets Are the Culprit

The warming of oceans and the melting of ice sheet and glaciers, particularly in Antarctica and Greenland, have contributed to the hastening sea level rise.

"The last time Earth was as warm as it is now was about 125,000 years ago, and we know sea level was 6 meters higher than it is today," Nerem said.

The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are the two most massive glacial land ice on Earth. Together, they contain more than 99 percent of the planet's freshwater ice. The size of the Antarctic ice sheet is roughly the land area of the contiguous United States and Mexico combined, while the Greenland ice sheet is three times the size of Texas.

Both ice sheets have been losing large amounts of ice at an increasing rate since 1992. According to the European Environment Agency, the Greenland ice sheeting melting from 1992 to 2015 has contributed to global sea level rise by an approximately 10 millimeters. The melting of the Antarctica ice sheet, on the other hand, contributed five millimeters to the sea level rise during the same period.

Nerem said the study is conservative and is based on the constant melting state of the two ice sheets. If there would be drastic changes in the ice sheets, then the projected sea level rise is likely to be higher.

Flooding In The Future

Changes in the sea level rise can result to more flooding and erosion. In Tampa, Florida, parts of the Bay Area could be under water — up to almost 7 feet — by the end of the century based on sea level rise prediction. Authorities from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council are constantly observing how sea level rise could impact the region and are planning worst-case scenario projections.

The entire study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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