Dr. James Hansen, former NASA climate chief and one of the most distinguished names in climate science, revealed through a new study that seas are warming faster than ever due to melting polar ice sheets. This will result in sea levels rising to 15 feet in the next 50 to 100 years. Dr. Hansen explained that even 2 degrees Celsius of global warming may be “highly dangerous” for humanity.
The paper will be published online later this week in the European Geosciences Union Journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion. So it has not been peer-reviewed, for now. But still, what the results show must raise awareness of the damage that is being made to the environment.
The study also observed evidence indicating that average temperatures just 1 degree Celsius warmer than today caused sea levels to rise 16 to 30 feet, associated with extreme storms thousands of years ago.
The research is intended to reach political actors and encourage them to take actions over this subject. It represents a message to policymakers that current greenhouse-gas reduction goals are not strong enough. World leaders have pledged to limit the average warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a goal articulated in the Copenhagen Accord in 2009 and reiterated by G7 leaders in June.
The authors’ projections are based on an anticipated accelerated melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica due to rising atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The melting ice sheets will put colder, fresh water into the oceans, changing circulation patterns and ultimately causing even more melting of the ice sheets, causing sea levels to rise much, much faster than other projections have forecast.
Hansen, who also leads the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program at Columbia University’s Earth Institute said, “We are underestimating the speed at which these things are beginning to happen.”