In a new study published in Nature, sea levels are predicted to rise faster than previously thought. While we are measuring rising levels in millimeters per year now, that rise could accelerate into centimeters and the total increase could be as much as 6ft by 2100.
The authors of the study, University of Massachusetts professor Robert M. DeConto and Pennsylvania State professor David Pollard, used a model coupling ice sheet and climate dynamics to study Antarctica’s contribution to past and future sea levels.
If the continent’s ice sheet melts, sea levels will rise more than 15 meters, or 50 feet, by 2500.
With current level of greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels could rise by 3 feet by the end of the century, solely from melting ice in Antarctica. Combine that with the glaciers that are already crumbling in Greenland and other regions, that number spikes to 5 or 6 feet, according to the researchers.
The melting could occur as soon as 2050, Pollard told ABC News.
Major coastal cities like New York, Boston, Miami, New Orleans, London, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manila, Dhaka and Sydney could be wiped out by encroaching water.
This projection “nearly doubles” prior estimates of sea-level rise, which had relied on a “minimal contribution from Antarctica,” said Rob DeConto.
“Under the high-emissions scenario, the 22nd century would be the century of hell,” said Ben Strauss, director of the program on sea-level rise at Climate Central, an independent organization of scientists based in New Jersey. “There would really be an unthinkable level of sea rise. It would erase many major cities and some nations from the map. That century would become the century of exodus from the coast.”