The level of the oceans could rise several meters in the next few years, according to some scientists, after they discovered that the temperatures of the oceans were similar to those of the last period of the warming.
The data obtained in this study published in the journal Science will help climatologists understand the behavior not only of the oceans but also of floating polar ice, so Jeremy Hoffman, a climatologist at the Virginia Science Museum said that the future of Melting of the Arctic and Antarctic remains unknown.
“The trend is worrisome,” said the report led by researchers at Oregon State University, University College Dublin, the University of Wisconsin and the Science Museum of Virginia.
“Collectively, these results may help scientists better understand how oceans will respond to modern warming.”
Our planet goes through periods of warm and cold that last tens of thousands of years, and are influenced by changes in Sun exposure caused by natural variations in the Earth’s orbit, combined with the influence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
These naturally occurring shifts are different than the much faster pace of warming facing the Earth today, as humans burn fossil fuels for energy and send heat-trapping carbon emissions into the air, leading to ice melt and sea level rise.
The last time the climate was unusually warm—in the absence of human influence—was about between 116,000 and 129,000 years ago, during what is known as the Last Interglacial Period.
The basis for the study was an analysis of 83 marine sediment core sites, which can give clues to how warm the Earth and oceans were in the past.
The finding means that some scientific models that have been used to estimate sea levels at various temperatures could have been underestimates.
Scientists have already predicted the Earth is likely to see multiple meters of sea level rise in the years to come, a development that will swallow many of the planet’s coastal communities, currently home to one billion people.
No one knows how fast the seas may rise in the decades to come, but some experts say the latest study is cause for alarm.
Meric Srokosz, a marine physics and ocean climate scientist at the University of Southampton, said the study is significant because it shows that changes in temperatures which occurred over thousands of years, are now occurring in the space of a single century.
“This demonstrates humanity’s rapid impact on the planet and raises the possibility of significant longer-term rises in sea level,” added Srokosz.
Andrew Watson, a professor at the University of Exeter, said the study’s takeaways are both good and bad.
“The study suggests that in the long term, sea level will rise six meters at least in response to the warming we are causing,” he said.
“The good news is that with luck it will continue to rise slowly, so that we have time to adapt, but the bad news is that eventually all our present coastal city locations will be inundated.”
Sources | sciencemag.org / phys.org