Two Meter Sea Level Rise Now Inevitable - But How Fast Will It Happen?

katrina flooding photo

This may have been a hurricane causing this, but many low-lying areas vulnerable like this will be submerged... photo: Mel Silvers via flickr.

Geez, this week is filled with dire climate change news: Reuters reports that sea level rise expert Stefam Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute says that two meters of sea level rise is inevitable at this point. The main variable now is how quickly that will happen:

There is no way I can see to stop this rise, even if we have gone to zero emissions.

There is nothing we can do to stop this unless we manage to cool the planet. That would require extracting the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. There is no way of doing this on the sufficient scale known today.

The best possible outcome right now, Rahmstorf said, is that we stabilize temperatures and that sea level rise happened at a steady rate over the next few centuries, and not accelerate.

Even if we limit warming to 1.5°C, as a number of low-lying island nations recently called for, sea levels will rise by two meters in coming centuries -- with one meter rise by 2100 and up to five meters over the next 300 years.

Greenland Ice Sheet Melt = 7 Meters Over Centuries
Another scientist quoted in the original piece, Pier Velinga of Wageningen University, pointed out that if we allow temperatures to rise beyond 2°C there is better than a 50% chance that the Greenland ice sheet will disintegrate, causing 7 meters of sea level rise. The only good news (if you can call it that) is that rise would take place over the next 300-1000 years.

More: Reuters
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