The rising sea levels in Antarctica are simply too much to be disposed off via special pumps. Other methods will have to be applied before it is too late.
Future rise in sea levels is a problem of such huge dimensions that even geo-engineering strategies will be useless in stemming the tide of the ensuing cataclysmic events.
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Pumping away water from the Antarctic Continent won’t be a viable solution despite the obvious practicality of the scheme. The idea has been given all due recognition by scientists. Yet it doesn’t measure up to the standards required.
Although the pumped water would freeze before you can say “what the hell”, the sheer weight of it would cause the ice flow into the oceans surrounding the Antarctic Continent to increase too.
In order to store the water, it would have to be transported 700 km inland and that would not be a feasible proposal. This scheme would require one tenth of the global energy which is presently extant.
It was basically a rather drastic method of stemming sea level rise due to global warming. Since curbing fossil fuels would cause industrial civilization to come to a halt, this scheme was thought up.
By the end of the 21st century, the sea level rise would be about 40 cm. The overall scope of this methodology is indeed extreme and so it is best to shelve it.
Maybe sometime in the future when humankind will have really progressed, it might be viable. The problem is that the challenge is extreme and so any solution that is generated will also have to be rather extreme.
"We explored a way to at least delay the rise of sea level we can no longer avoid by even the strictest climate-change mitigation strategies. This is estimated to reach about 40 cm by the end of the century," says lead-author Katja Frieler.
"Our approach is definitely extreme, but so is the challenge of sea-level rise."
The burning of fossil fuels leads to rising temperatures on a global level. Thus the ice sheets and glaciers melt off the Antarctic coast and you get rising sea levels off various coastal cities around the world. This could lead to floods and deluges in the future times.
"This is huge. Local adaptation, for instance building dikes, will not be physically possible or economically feasible everywhere," Frieler says.
"Protection may depend on your economic situation - so New York might be saved, but sadly not Bangladesh, and this clearly raises an equity issue," she adds.
"Hence the interest in a universal protection measure. We wanted to check whether sacrificing the uninhabited Antarctic region might theoretically enable us to save populated shores around the world."
The issue is do we dare give up Antarctica in order to save Bangladesh. The building of dykes is a nearly impossible deal due to costs and lack of so much material for construction purposes.
The fact of the matter is that although via the pump method, New York could be saved, Bangladesh would still be inundated in tons of water.
Furthermore, even if somehow we do manage to go ahead with the pumping plan, it would just buy us limited time till the sea levels rise again leading to more worries.
"The magnitude of sea-level rise is so enormous, it turns out it is unlikely that any engineering approach imaginable can mitigate it," concludes co-author Anders Levermann, head of Global Adaptation Strategies at PIK and scientist at Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.
"Even if this was feasible, it would only buy time - when we stop the pumping one day, additional discharge from Antarctica will increase the rate of sea-level rise even beyond the warming-induced rate. This would mean putting another sea-level debt onto future generations."
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This study is published in Earth System Dynamics.