Limit Carbon Emissions to Limit Sea Level Rise, Suggests Oregon State University Study


July 17, 2018

In recent past, several studies have demonstrated a correlation between the amount of global warming and the cumulative carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning. Now, a new study carried out by researchers from the Oregon State University has demonstrated a correlation also exists between cumulative carbon emissions and future sea level rise over time and that sea level rise can be limited by reducing carbon emissions.

NOAA reveals that the oceans are absorbing more than 90 percent of the increased atmospheric heat generated due to fossil fuel burning or other human activities.  In recent decades, the rate of global sea level rise has increased immensely. The sea level is now rising about one-eighth of an inch per year.  In 2014, global sea level was about 2.6 inches above the 1993 average. Rising sea levels mean pushing of devastating storms farther inland and increase in instances of nuisance flooding.

“When we pump more carbon into the atmosphere, the effect on temperature is almost immediate,” says Peter Clark, the lead author of the study and a climate scientist at Oregon State University.

According to Clark, the effect of warming on sea level rise is not immediate, and it takes longer time for the ice sheets to melt. This means the sea level will continue to rise for hundreds of years after humans stop emitting carbon in the atmosphere.

Scientists state that even if humankind succeeds in keeping the overall warming of Earth to 1.5 degrees Celsius, sea levels will continue to increase by several meters over the next few thousand years. And if humans don’t stop emitting carbon in the atmosphere, the global temperatures would meet the 2-degree Celsius threshold, which may lead to global mean sea level rise exceeding 9 meters.

The study also shows that if cumulative CO2 emissions rise to 3,000 billion tons, it will likely result in sea level rise of between 30 and 40 meters.

The detailed findings of the study were published in Nature Climate Change.

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