In a new report, climate change scientists predict that for each one degree Celsius of increase in global temperature, sea levels will rise 2.3 meters. They say their estimate may be accurate for as long as the next 2,000 years.
Earlier studies have predicted various changes in sea level as the climate warms, but a team from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research says its analysis is the first to consider historic climate data, along with computer simulations of factors contributing to future global sea level changes. Lead author Anders Levermann says the combination of physics and data gives him confidence in the accuracy of the prediction.
According to the World Bank, researchers say global temperatures may rise at much as 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial era levels over the next 30 years, due to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This will lead to a rise in sea level globally as glaciers and the polar ice caps melt, and the oceans expand due to excess heat.
World Bank official Robert Bisset said that a sea level rise of as much as 50 centimeters by the 2050s may be unavoidable. It will have pronounced effects at the equator, especially around densely populated areas such as Bangkok, Thailand and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Scientists predict more intense tropical storms, food shortages, dangerous heat waves, and eventually flooding that could render coastal areas uninhabitable. That increase is 20 inches.
Levermann warns that sea level rise is inevitable unless global temperatures go down. The Potsdam Institute researchers call for planning hundreds of years into the future to address the long-term effects of climate change.