The Earth’s warming temperatures are on track to melt the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets sooner than previously thought and ultimately lead to a global sea level rise of at least 20 feet, according to new research.
The red and pink areas in this image of the state of Florida indicate the areas that would be submerged if the sea level rose about 20 feet (six meters). Courtesy of Jeremy Weiss and Jonathan Overpeck, The University of Arizona.
An image of the area around New Orleans, La., with the water shown in blue. The portions of the image colored pink and red represent areas that would be submerged if sea level rose about three feet (one meter). Courtesy of Jeremy Weiss and Jonathan Overpeck, The University of Arizona.
If the current warming trends continue, by 2100 the Earth will likely be at least 4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than present, with the Arctic at least as warm as it was nearly 130,000 years ago. At that time, significant portions of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets melted, resulting in a sea level about 20 feet (six meters) higher than present day.
These studies are the first to link Arctic and Antarctic melting during the Last Interglaciation, 129,000 to 116,000 years ago. "This is a real eye-opener set of results," said study co-author Jonathan T. Overpeck of The University of Arizona in Tucson. "The last time the Arctic was significantly warmer than present day, the Greenland Ice Sheet melted back the equivalent of two to three meters (about six to ten feet) of sea level."
Mari N. Jensen | EurekAlert!
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