Sea Level Rise Of 3 Feet By 2100: Ice Sheet Melt Could Force Millions From Their Homes

By Celebomb Staff Reporter on January 7, 2013 9:30 AM EST

Russian ship pushing through Arctic sea ice.
photo:reuters

A sea level rise of three feet by the end of the century is not only possible, but likely, according to a new study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change. As ice sheets continue to melt, a sea level rise of three feet by the year 2100 becomes more and more likely, researchers said.

A sea level rise of three feet would not only force millions of people from their homes, but would also cause dikes to fail in Holland, and cause billions of dollars worth of damage in coastal cities such as New York and Tokyo, according to the study.

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"The consequences are horrible," Jonathan Bamber, study coauthor and a glaciologist at the University of Bristol, told NBC News.

The estimates in the study, which were obtained through scientific polling of top scientists, are far higher than the sea level rise estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which estimates the likely sea level rise as 23 inches.

"The numbers we are getting out of our elicitation reflect the fact that the world leaders in this field are now cognizant of the fact that the ice sheets are quite responsive and, in particular, there is a potential for them to make a really quite dramatic contribution," Bamber said.

However, while researchers agreed that ice sheet melt plays a crucial role in the sea level rise predicted by 2100, they were unsure of how large of a role the ice sheets would play.

"We find an overwhelming lack of certainty about the crucial issue of the origin of recent accelerated mass loss from the ice sheets," researchers wrote in the study, according to the Daily Mail. "The present expert elicitation findings suggest a smaller contribution from the ice sheets than implied by semi-empirical models, but larger than proposed in the last IPCC report."

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