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Antarctic loss could double expected sea level rise by 2100

A new study has suggested that sea levels could rise twice as much as previously predicted by the end of this century if the emissions of carbon dioxide is not reduced in the future.

The research expressed fear that the increase in sea levels could devastate coastal communities around the globe. The findings of the study were published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

For the new study, sophisticated computer models were used by the scientists to decipher a decades long riddle about Antarctica: how was so much ice surrendered by Antarctica during previous warm periods? The researchers were surprised to find that similar conditions in the future could lead to monumental and irreversible increases in sea levels.

According to researchers if high levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue, the oceans could rise by close to two meters in total (more than six feet) by the end of the century. The melting of Antarctica's ice could cause seas to rise more than 13 meters (42 feet) by 2500.

The projection "nearly doubles" prior estimates of sea level rise, which had relied on a "minimal contribution from Antarctica," said Rob DeConto of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who authored the study with David Pollard of Penn State University. "We can say with 95 percent probability that the 20th-century rise was faster than any of the previous 27 centuries," he added.

"People should not look at this as a futuristic scenario of things that may or may not happen. They should look at it as the tragic story we are following right now," said Eric Rignot, an expert on Antarctica's ice sheet and an earth sciences professor at the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in Wednesday's study. "We are not there yet . . . [But] with the current rate of emissions, we are heading that way."