As Costa Rica struggles to reach its goal of carbon neutrality in the next decade, not much is being said about sea level rise, which is inevitable.
Sea levels worldwide have risen an average of nearly 3 inches (8 centimeters) since 1992, the result of warming waters and melting ice, a panel of scientists said Wednesday. In 2013, a United Nations panel predicted sea levels would rise from 1 to 3 feet (0.3 to 0.9 meters) by the end of the century.
The new research shows that the sea-level rise most likely will be at the high end of that range, said University of Colorado geophysicist Steve Nerem.
Sea levels are rising faster than they did 50 years ago and it’s very likely to get worse in the future, Nerem said.
A rise in global sea levels of more than a meter is unavoidable, scientists say, but they are not sure exactly when, where or how much it will be.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration experts, working with European scientists, say such major cities as Tokyo and Singapore, the U.S. state of Florida and a number of island nations could disappear.
The scientists say current data suggest a rise in ocean levels of at least 1 meter is a certainty in the next 100 to 200 years. But they say it could be much more depending on rate of loss of the polar ice sheets around Greenland and Antarctica.
According to Tom Wagner, the cryosphere program scientist at NASA, the paleoclimate record shows that sea levels can rise as much as 10 feet (3 meters) in a century or two, if the ice sheets fall apart rapidly.
“We’re seeing evidence that the ice sheets are waking up, but we need to understand them better before we can say we’re in a new era of rapid ice loss,” he said.
Eric Rignot, glaciologist at the University of California-Irvine, said that as the planet warms, there is no reason to expect that ice sheets will melt at the same pace as they did in the past. According to the laws of physics, they will deteriorate faster. And they already are.
Sections of Costa Rica that are in danger are Puntarenas Centro, the entire Pacific coastal area and Limón Centro and much of the Caribbean coast.