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Home News Sea levels expected to rise higher within this century

Sea levels expected to rise higher within this century

Published on 30/10/2008

Hamburg -- Sea levels around the world will rise one meter higher, say German scientists who warn that global warming is happening much faster than previously predicted.

Citing UN date on climate change, two senior German scientists say that previous predictions were far too cautious and optimistic.

Earlier estimates predicted a rise of 18 to 59 centimeters in sea levels this century. However, according to Jochem Marotzke and leading meteorologist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Research on Global Warming Effects, that estimate is woefully understated.

"We now have to expect that the sea level will rise by a meter this century," said Schellnhuber in Berlin.

He said it is "just barely possible" that world governments will be able to restrain the rise in average global temperatures to just 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, if they all strictly adhere to severe limitations on carbon dioxide emissions.  

Restrictions call for halving greenhouse emissions by 2050 and eliminating CO2 emissions entirely by the end of the century. But the German researchers said the resulting limited increase in temperature is predicated on condition of strict adherence to those restrictions without exception, and even then there are many variables which could thwart the goals.

Schnellnhuber, who is an official adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on climate-change issues, said the new findings employed data unavailable to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for its most recent global warming report.

The two experts said the IPCC report was based on data that was collected up to 2005 only. Since then, the loss of ice in the Arctic has doubled or tripled. Schnellhuber said that 20 percent of the loss of the ice sheet on Greenland could be directly linked to increased carbon dioxide emissions from new Chinese coal-fired power stations.

Schellnhuber’s new prognostications of higher sea levels are based on studies of melting Himalaya glaciers and the ever shrinking Greenland ice cap.

He blames the rapidly diminishing size of the latter upon soot particles emitting from Chinese coal-fired power plants.

"That is truly a global effect," he said. Soot settles on the ice, preventing the ice from reflecting as much sunlight back into space. The result is that the ice absorbs sunlight rays, raising the temperature of the ice, which then causes it to melt.

 "Air pollution plays a massive role in the accelerating pace of climate change," he said.

DPA/Ernest Gill/Expatica