Recent climate research published in Nature Climate Change has confirmed that melting glaciers in Greenland will contribute to a rise in sea levels of at least 27cm even if we collectively stop burning fossil fuels immediately.
We have reached a “point of no return”. And what makes it worse is that this is the most conservative estimate, as it only factors in the contribution of the Greenland ice sheet. Forecasts have also confirmed that overall global warming has exceeded initial estimates of global warming and that we are in for a difficult millennium if drastic action is not taken immediately.
The relationship between Earth and climate science is extremely important, and the two disciplines often intersect. When water was discovered on Mars, for example, planetary scientists were able to identify features and rock formations that could only have come from contact with water. Similarly, the expansion of orbiting science and communications satellites has helped weather and planetary scientists better understand large-scale changes on the earth’s surface, including major changes in our oceans. Such a huge amount of data has never been possible to collect before, even with observations of many generations, when changes in the Earth’s surface were observed through measurements and photographs over many decades.
Although historical research has relied on computer models that take data to create possible models for the future, the inclusion of satellite data in this latest study showed a much bleaker prognosis than previously predicted. The satellite data measured ice loss in Greenland between the years 2000 and 2019 and provided more precise measurements than previously available. The results allowed the scientists to measure the actual melting of the ice, taking into account factors such as snowfall. And while it’s hard to understand the long-term effects of sea-level rise when you live inland, an estimated 600 million people live in coastal areas, defined as anywhere less than 10 meters above sea level, and will soon be at risk. everyone.
Hitting rock bottom
Jason Box from the National Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), which led the survey, confirmed that these current, catastrophic estimates are still the “bare minimum”. It projects that, even conservatively, we will see these numbers more than double in the next century. The reason for this is that the research only considered global warming. But there are many other ways that ice sheets can melt at their limits in other areas, due to a number of different factors. So while this new study provided a more concrete way to estimate future ice loss (and the resulting sea level rise), it doesn’t provide a specific timeline.
In terms of climate change and global warming, the term “tipping point” has often been used as a catchphrase for the “point of no return.” This is the point at which the crises can become exponential and unstoppable, no matter what we do. And unfortunately, this study confirmed that we are firmly at that point, as William Colgan of GEUS stated:
“Whether it’s coming in 100 years or 150 years, it’s coming. And the sea-level rise we’ve committed to is currently increasing because of the climate trajectory we’re on.”
But Colgan also points to a potential solution, provided action is taken quickly enough.
“The difference between 78cm and 27cm highlights the difference that can be made through the implementation of the Paris Agreement. There is still a lot of room to minimize the damage.”
What should be done next?
As glaciers and ice sheets in mountainous regions, including Antarctica, around the world begin to experience significant loss, swift and decisive policy changes may at least mitigate catastrophic future climate-related events.
As support grows within the scientific community, activists are helping to spread the word because real change will come from tough political and legislative action. In the words of Gail Whiteman at the University of Exeter, “The results of this new study are hard to ignore for all business leaders and politicians concerned about the future of humanity. It’s bad news for the nearly 600 million people who live in coastal zones [less than 10m above sea level] Worldwide. As sea levels rise, they will become increasingly vulnerable and threaten about $1 trillion of global wealth.”
Southern Hemisphere farmers will tell you in their dry, grassy summers that “fire is everyone’s problem.” It is fair at this point to say that global warming is also “everyone’s problem”. It is no longer a matter of “if” but much more of a “when” and how we can mitigate the coming changes that await us all.
This article was originally published on Universe today by Kathryn Versfeld. Read the original article here.