Current Warming Trend Could Cause Sea Levels To Rise 20 To 30 Feet High, Study Says

Posted: Jan 20 2017, 11:09pm CST | by , Updated: Jan 20 2017, 11:19pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
Current Warming Trend Could Cause Sea Levels to Rise 20 to 30 Feet High, Study Says
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Study of ancient warm period hints at bigger-than unexpected sea level rise ahead

Global temperatures continue to set new records in recent years. According to a latest analysis, 2016 was the hottest year since 1880s, breaking world heat record for third time in a row. And the last time we have unusually warm climate like this, sea levels were up to 20 to 30 feet higher than today.

Researchers often look at layers of ancient rocks and ice to determine what conditions were like over millions and billions of years ago. In the latest effort, researchers have analyzed samples of sediments from 83 different sites from around the world and calculated how global sea levels have risen and fallen in the past.

Researchers found that ocean surface temperatures some 125,000 years ago were remarkably similar to what we have today. But the concerning thing is that sea level back then was 20 to 30 feet above than present height, indicating a major rise in sea levels could be on the way.

The period, known as last interglacial period, was the warmest in the last 800,000 years and it lasted from about 129,000 to 116,000 years ago.

"The trend is worrisome,” said lead researcher Jeremy Hoffman from Oregon State University.

"Collectively, these results may help scientists better understand how oceans will respond to modern warming."

Sea levels have risen by 4 to 8 inches over the past century. However, the annual rate of rise has accelerated over the past 20 years, mainly because of fossil fuel burning and other human and natural causes.

Study suggests that at the start of the last interglacial, the ocean’s surface temperature was similar to the pre industrial temperature but 4,000 years later, the temperature had risen by about 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit - comparable to the average temperatures of 1995-2014.

The treat can be averted if humans release fewer amounts of carbon dioxide and other green houses gases into atmosphere that drive global warming and cause faster glacier melting.

“We are rapidly approaching ocean conditions that haven’t been really seen on this planet for over 120,000 years,” said Hoffman. “That’s a very relevant thing as we head into the next couple decades, and we start making policy decisions to turn this train around.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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