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Rising sea level may become a serious threat in the coming decades

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By Nithin Sridhar

A latest study by NASA scientists using satellite data suggests that a rise of up to 1 meter in the global sea level may become inevitable. NASA scientists used a series of highly sensitive altimeters to measure the ocean height from the space.

photo credit: lima.nasa.gov
photo credit: lima.nasa.gov

The study further reveals that there has been an average increase of 8 centimeters in the sea levels since 1992. Scientists add that the sea levels have been rising at a faster rate than they were half a decade ago and this rate is going to further increase over coming decades.

Previously, United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had predicted in 2013 that the sea level rise would be in the order of 0.3 to 0.9 meters by the end of the century.

IPCC

If these predictions turn out to be true, then they may lead to serious disasters across the world. Let us try to understand why sea level rises and what are its likely consequences.

Why does the sea level rise?

A sea-level basically refers to the average level of the surface of water in the ocean. Many factors like ocean currents, ocean density, and water and ice mass exchange between land and ocean influence the sea-level. But, the major factors behind sea level rise are thermal expansion of water and melting of ice caps and glaciers.

Thermal expansion of water refers to the property of water to expand, i.e. increase in volume when there is an increase in temperature. Therefore, even a slight increase in temperature can cause a large increase in the volume of water resulting in sea level change.

The melting polar ice-caps and glaciers are another contributing factor. Melting of polar ice caps and glaciers during summer season is a natural phenomenon. This used to be more or less compensated by the re-formation of ice caps and the falling snow during winter seasons. But, the ever increasing global temperature has induced a rapid melting of ice during summer and a decreased falling of snow during winter. This has in-turn led to an increase in the net quantity of water in the ocean. This phenomenon has occurred even in case of ice-sheets of Greenland and West Antarctica. The ice-sheets are melting at a very faster pace with each passing year.

photo credit: www.whoi.edu
photo credit: www.whoi.edu

One report on sea level change states: “Observations since 1971 indicate that thermal expansion and glaciers (excluding Antarcticglaciers peripheral to the ice sheet) explain75% of the observed rise (high confidence). The contribution of theGreenland and Antarctic ice sheets has increased since the early 1990s, partly from increased outflow induced by warming of the immediately adjacent ocean.

Therefore, global warming that leads to increase in temperature across the world (causing both increased thermal expansion and the melting of ice caps) is the main culprit behind sea level rise. In other words, all those human actions that contribute toward global warming and heat-stress also contribute towards sea level rise.

What are the consequences of sea level rise?

Increase in sea level may have wide change of consequences. Various small island nations and low-lying islands are especially at risk. For example, an estimate released by Copenhagen International Climate Congress has forecasted that many of the islands in the Maldives may get swallowed by the sea by 2100, making the whole country of small islands uninhabitable. Therefore, many low-lying islands are at the risk of getting completely submerged. Other Islands may face severe floods and storms as well.

The coastal areas across the world including India may face various risks. Increased sea-level may cause erosion of soil, increased risks of flooding, cyclones, contamination of agricultural soil, pollution of fresh-water sources etc. Further, people living along the coastline will face increased threat to their life and property. In case of India, sea-level increase may induce cyclones in Bay of Bengal and may cause severe damage to islands like Andaman apart from causing various damages along the coastal area.

photo credit: www.austradesecure.com
photo credit: www.austradesecure.com

 

 

It is high time that the efforts at fighting global warming and climate change are escalated to prevent massive natural crisis that may result from climate change.

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Countries in Climate Talks Move to Produce a Draft To Combat Climate Change

The text still contains some wording in brackets, denoting it has yet to be agreed, but less than previous drafts.

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United Nations, Global warming
Participants take part in plenary session during COP24 U.N. Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland. VOA

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries produced a draft text Thursday on how to implement the Paris Agreement on combating global warming, but some disputes remain with only one day left before the official end of the conference.

The presidency of the climate talks in Katowice, Poland, had asked for a draft of the final package to be ready by Thursday afternoon after almost two weeks of negotiations, but work continued into the evening to get it ready.

The draft lays out options on ways to implement the 2015 Paris pact which aims to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius.

“We can implement the Paris Agreement as you all designed it. It is now time to move forward. We need to move. Climate change will not wait for us,” Poland’s Michal Kurtyka, president of the talks, told delegates.

Climate Talks, global warming
COP24 President Michal Kurtyka speaks during the opening of the COP24 U.N. Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland. VOA

Ministers are expected to continue working on sticking points through the night into Friday.

Disputes over finance have been a stumbling block at the talks, as well as monitoring and reporting countries’ efforts to reduce emissions. The United States, which intends to withdraw from the pact, is trying to ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses against China.

“Money is the most difficult part of it. This is all money talk. This (meeting) is about technical decisions although it turned political,” one delegate told Reuters.

Groups of small island states and poorer countries, representing over 920 million people, issued a statement to Kurtyka expressing their frustration with the slow pace and lack of ambition of the talks.

“(We are) deeply concerned over the direction in which the outcomes … are heading,” the statement said, adding that a robust rulebook is needed to ensure ambitious emissions cuts are made.

United Nations, global warming
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses during the opening of COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

The text still contains some wording in brackets, denoting it has yet to be agreed, but less than previous drafts.

Also Read: U.N. Chief Returns To Climate Talks To Hopefully Reach a Deal With Countries

The talks are formally scheduled to end Friday, but in the past they have often over-run into the weekend. (VOA)