Will oceans surge 59 centimetres this century – or 25 metres?
When Al Gore predicted that climate change could lead to a 20-foot rise in sea levels, critics called him alarmist. After all, the International Panel on Climate Change, which receives input from top scientists, estimates surges of only 18 to 59 centimetres in the next century.
But a study led by James Hansen, the head of the climate science program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and a professor at Columbia University, suggests that current estimates for how high the seas could rise are way off the mark – and that in the next 100 years melting ice could sink cities in the United States to Bangladesh.
“If we follow ‘business-as-usual’ growth of greenhouse gas emissions,” he writes in an e-mail interview, “I think that we will lock in a guaranteed sea-level rise of several metres, which, frankly, means that all hell is going to break loose.”