Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


Sea Level Rise at 20 Inches Per Decade?

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyApril 16, 2009 10:19 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

According to Joe Romm, blogging a recent Nature study, that's what's possible--or at least, it appears to have happened in the planetary past, some 121,000 years ago. The numbers, Romm notes, translate into an 8 foot rise over 50 years. How could such a quick increase in sea level happen? Well, the collapse of a massive ice sheet might do it. And when might that happen? Nobody knows. As this discussion underscores, by far the greatest threat from global warming is catastrophic sea level rise. Yet given our current understanding of ice sheet dynamics, it's also a very poorly understood risk. Still, if there were ever a time to err on the side of caution, this is it. Romm writes:

If sea levels were even 3 feet higher in 2100 (let alone 5 or higher) and rising 1 to 2 inches a year at that point, it would be the single greatest preventable catastrophe in human history.

All those who worry about the risks to the "economy" if we take climate action now, here's a thought for you: What happens to the economy if coastal cities and major financial centers have to retreat from rising seas?

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In