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Sea Levels Could Rise 5 Feet By 2100

May 3, 2011

According to an international report, climate change in the Arctic could raise world sea levels to 5 feet by 2100.

A rise like this would threaten the coasts from Bangladesh to Florida, low-lying Pacific islands and cities from London to Shanghai.  It would also raise costs of building tsunami barriers in Japan.

“The past six years (until 2010) have been the warmest period ever recorded in the Arctic,” according to the Oslo-based Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP).

“In the future, global sea level is projected to rise by 0.9 meters (2ft 11in) to 1.6 meters (5ft 3in) by 2100 and the loss of ice from Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland ice sheet will make a substantial contribution,” it said. The rises were projected by using data that showed the 1990 levels.

“Arctic glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland ice sheet contributed over 40 percent of the global sea level rise of around 3 mm per year observed between 2003 and 2008,” it said.

Foreign leaders from the U.S., Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland are meeting in Greenland on May 12. 

The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a 2007 report that world sea levels were going to rise between 7 to 23 inches by 2100. 

“It is worrying that the most recent science points to much higher sea level rise than we have been expecting until now,” European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told Reuters.

“The study is yet another reminder of how pressing it has become to tackle climate change, although this urgency is not always evident neither in the public debate nor from the pace in the international negotiations,” she said.

The U.N. said that national promises to limit greenhouse gas emissions are insufficient to avoid dangerous changes.

The AMAP study said there were signs that warming was accelerating.  It said the Arctic Ocean could be ice free in summers within 30 to 40 years.

“There is evidence that two components of the Arctic cryosphere — snow and sea ice — are interacting with the climate system to accelerate warming,” it said.

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