Greenhouse Gases Expected to Cause Rise in Sea Level

By Valerie Smock
10/19/2013 9:01:29 AM

When you hear about greenhouse gases, you may think to relate it to climate change. Now, you can connect global warming to rising sea levels. This new information is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows.

According to an article by Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, each degree of global warming is likely to raise sea level by more than 2 meters in the future. While thermal expansion of the ocean and melting mountain glaciers are the most important factors causing sea-level change today, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will be the dominant contributors within the next two millennia, according to the findings. Half of that rise might come from ice-loss in Antarctica which is currently contributing less than 10 percent to global sea-level rise.

During the 20th century, sea level rose by about zero point two meters. It is projected to rise by significantly less than two meters by 2100. One of the potential causes, according to the research, is CO2. Once emitted by burning fossil fuels, it stays a long time in the atmosphere and the warming it causes also continues. The problem is that once it's heated out of balance, they simply don't stop.

"Continuous sea-level rise is something we cannot avoid unless global temperatures go down again," said Anders Levermann, lead author of the study and research domain co-chair at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. "Thus we can be absolutely certain that we need to adapt. Sea-level rise might be slow on time scales on which we elect governments, but it is inevitable and therefore highly relevant for almost everything we build along our coastlines, for many generations to come."