Sea level rise was once a problem of dim possibility. But now an annual report card from William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) shows that sea levels are rising at an accelerated pace in most places that were measured in the US.
“Acceleration can be a game changer in terms of impacts and planning, so we really need to pay heed to these patterns,” says John Boon from VIMS. Observations shows that out of the 32 tidal stations monitored from Maine to Alaska no less than 27 was experiencing a rise in sea level. Among this 25 places had accelerated rates of sea level rise.
Rockport showed the most increase, to an extent that suggested the authors to predict that ultimately water levels will reach 0.82 metres higher in 2050 than it was in 1992. The Gulf Coast in Louisiana and Galveston showed greater sea level rise.
The 5 stations that showed a decline in sea level are in located in the Alaska. The region is in stark contrast to east coast as coastal mountain formation is underway here.
From what National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is suggesting we now know that this is not just a problem that is only affecting the US; the agency thinks that sea level rise is accelerating around the world, and it’s been doing so since around 2013 or 2014.
Global warming due to greenhouse emissions are the major culprit behind this phenomenon of accelerated sea level rise. The increase in average global temperature has sped up the rate at which ice melts in the poles, which increases the volume of water present in our oceans. Researchers say that Greenland and Antartica together have the ability to double the total sea level by 2100 if they are to melt completely.
A 2017 report on sea level rise scenario predicts that even if our emissions stayed low, global sea levels would very likely rise at least 0.3 meters within a century. The projections made based on 2017 report were 2.5 metres by 2100, 5.5 metres by 2150 and 9.7 metres by 2200. More data from the present points out to an even higher projected rise.
Under the current rate, NASA and European data indicates the world’s oceans could rise 0.65 metres by the end of the century. If the sea levels continue to rise, the risk of flooding, storm surges and salt water infiltration will only increase. Even the slightest rise in global water level can have catastrophic effects with immediate displacement of hundreds of millions of people. By the time we accept this reality and start making plans, it might be just too late.