New Sea Level Rise Study Indicates the Impacts of Sandy Could Become the Norm Sooner Than Expected

In a new peer-reviewed scientific study, experts said satellite data show sea levels rose by 3.2 millimeters a year from 1993 to 2011 — 60 percent faster than the 2 mm annual rise projected by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for that period, however  the IPCC was just about spot on with its predictions for warming temperatures.

The IPCC has estimated that seas rose by about 7 inches over the last century, and estimates a range of between 7 and 23 inches this century.  This is enough to worsen coastal flooding and erosion during storm surges and if the impacts of Hurricane Sandy is any indication, will dramatically impact the dense coastal populations around the world.

The most recent IPCC report did not factor in a possible acceleration of the melt of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and “assumed that Antarctica will gain enough (ice) mass” to compensate for Greenland ice loss, the new study’s authors noted, but more recent studies have shown that “the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are increasingly losing mass.”

When the next IPCC report comes out in March 2014, we should expect a more quantitative understanding of ongoing sea level rise — and an entire chapter on the topic —given the impacts on the densely populated coastal regions of the world.