It’s Impossible to Stop the Seas From Rising Completely

Extreme Weather Flooding

Scientists project that if the planet keeps warming at the current pace, sea levels will rise between two and seven feet by 2100.

Global sea levels have risen about seven inches (18 centimeters) in the past hundred years, and that pace is steadily accelerating thanks to climate change. This rise in sea levels threatens most coastal areas, and makes storm surges much worse, as in the case of hurricanes as well as smaller storms.

Scientists published their findings in the journal Nature Climate Change. The oceans are likely to keep rising. Scientists project that if the planet keeps warming at the current pace, sea levels will rise between two and seven feet (0.6 to 2 meters) by 2100.


The projected thermal expansion of the oceans. The red line is the unchecked emissions scenario. The blue line is the aggressive carbon-reducing scenario. The green line is a less aggressive cut.

Reducing emissions would help slow down the rate of sea-level rise, but it’s unlikely that it could be stopped altogether. Aggressive steps to cut emissions could help reduce the sea-level rise predictions by 6 to 20 inches (15 to 50 centimeters) in 2100, according to a recent study from the National Center on Atmospheric Research (NCAR). But the scientists believe the sea levels will continue to rise for centuries no matter what humans do.

It’s easier to stabilize global temperatures by cutting carbon emissions than stabilizing sea-level rise, since the carbon dioxide that’s loaded into the atmosphere will likely have an effect on the oceans for centuries to come.

When carbon dioxide traps more heat on the planet, the oceans get warmer and expand in volume and the ice caps start to melt, pouring more water into the oceans. These processes can’t be stopped quickly, even if we cease putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere immediately.

The NCAR paper estimates that if emissions go unchecked, the planet could warm by 4°C (7.2°F) over pre-industrial levels by 2100, causing sea levels to rise between two and five feet (0.6 to 1.5 meters). If emissions are cut and temperatures increase by below 2°C (3.6°F), the paper suggests that the sea levels would rise by 11 inches to 3.5 feet (0.28 to 1.1 meters).

Reference: “Relative outcomes of climate change mitigation related to global temperature versus sea-level rise” by Gerald A. Meehl, Aixue Hu, Claudia Tebaldi, Julie M. Arblaster, Warren M. Washington, Haiyan Teng, Benjamin M. Sanderson, Toby Ault, Warren G. Strand and James B. White III, 1 July 2012, Nature Climate Change.
DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1529

2 Comments on "It’s Impossible to Stop the Seas From Rising Completely"

  1. Scientists project that if the planet keeps warming at the current pace

    Other scientists realise that global warming stopped 16 years ago, so problem solved.

  2. Madanagopal.V.C. | November 6, 2012 at 9:01 am | Reply

    I can’t understand the former’s comment. The article states that global warming is responsible for swelling seas and since the temperature has already risen by few degrees the act of melting of arctic ice would continue even if the global warming is stopped because already the globe is heated to such an extent that calamity is sure to follow. Any further global warming would only speed up the calamity by raising the temperature further. It never states that problem is solved. Thank You.

Leave a comment

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.