NASA says an unavoidable sea rise has already taken shape globally and will continue down the same path.
HNGN reports that a NASA sea level change team monitors this, and several changes have occurred within the global oceans since 1992. An analysis of the data collected reveals that there’s an “unavoidable rise” in sea level going into the future.
A NASA satellite reveals that oceans have risen by three inches — with some locations seeing as much as 9-inches. Those in the space program’s interdisciplinary Sea Level Change Team are now trying to predict how quickly the devastating changes will come about.
Steve Nerum, from the University of Colorado in Boulder and head of the Sea Level Change Team, said it’s possible the sea level will reach over 3-feet.
“Given what we know now about how the ocean expands as it warms and how ice sheets and glaciers are adding water to the seas, it’s pretty certain we are locked into at least 3 feet of sea level rise, and probably more. But we don’t know whether it will happen within a century or somewhat longer.”
In 2013, a similar prediction was made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). NASA’s unavoidable sea rise claims look to be scientifically in sync with what IPCC has determined.
The global sea level increase isn’t spread uniformly. Ocean currents and cycles — such as the Pacifical Ecadal Oscillation (PDO) — factor into how much higher the sea rise is. In fact, sea levels along the west coast of the U.S. have actually fallen within the past two decades due to those cycles, Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), says that there are signs that the pattern is changing.
“We can expect accelerated rates of sea level rise along this coast over the next decade as the region recovers from its temporary sea level ‘deficit,'” Willis says.
Scientists cite the expansion of warm ocean water to one-third of the sea level rise; another one-third is a result from ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets; and the last one-third is from melting mountain glaciers. It’s unknown if this ratio will stay the same, or change if ice glaciers start melting at a faster rate.
NASA’s unavoidable sea rise claims seem quite possible. The paleoclimate record shows that sea level increases could go as high as 10-feet within the next century or so. Ice sheets are “waking up,” but scientists need to better understand it before they claim a “new era of rapid ice loss” is taking shape, says Tom Wagner of NASA’s cryosphere program in Washington.
Greenland ice sheets have the most to do with sea level rises — even more so than Antarctica’s. Researchers think it’s possible this could switch around, however.
[Image from Joe Raedle/Getty Images]