Grab your bathing suits and sunscreen – ocean levels are rising much faster than we thought

Scientists this week admit that they goofed (again) when estimating the increasing sea levels that result from global warming. If you live in any of the eleven of the fifteen largest cities in the world, you might want to make sure you have a bathing suit handy.

Eleven of the fifteen largest cities in the world are located on the coast with lovely oceanside views. Typically these seaside residents take great pride in their sunny beachfront locations, proclaiming with renewed fervor, “Nah, nah, nah, we live by the ocean and enjoy frolicking on the beach all day!” In 100 years however, these cries of joy may change tune and sound more like, “Blub, blub, blub” as the Oceanside residents wonder how the waters rose so fast (and how we got into this mess in the first place).

The strategic location of seaside cities serves as a lifeline to the rest of the world. They provide ports to allow traded goods to be shipped around the planet. Today however, these ports find themselves in a precarious position as melting glaciers, a result of global warming, are causing ocean waters to rise. Already some villages in Alaska have been forced to relocate because of the rising sea levels. Today, NASA released new estimates, surprising the world when they revealed that sea levels are rising much faster than originally estimated.

“Given what we know now about how the ocean expands as it warms and how ice sheets and glaciers are adding water to the seas, it’s pretty certain we are locked into at least 3 feet of sea level rise, and probably more… With future warming, we may lock ourselves into multiple-meter sea level rise over the coming centuries. We’re talking about 6 meters—18 feet—and higher of sea level rise. Sea level rise might rise half a meter per century, or several meters per century. We just don’t know.”

According to Steve Nerem, an aerospace engineer at the University of Colorado:

“Sea levels are rising faster than they were 50 years ago, and it’s very likely to get worse in the future. The biggest uncertainty in predicting future sea level rises is determining how quickly the polar ice sheets will melt in response to warming.”

As the planet warms, sea levels since 1992 have risen 3 inches in some locations to as high as 9 locations in other locations (the rise differs because the Earth is not perfectly round bit is rather oval or lumpy shaped – sort of like a teacher’s head). NASA scientists will continue to keep track of sea level rise using numerous satellites, boats, underwater drones, submarines, and a program aptly titled OMG (Oceans Melting Greenland). Per the bad news, low-lying areas from Florida to Boston are already pondering infrastructure solutions, such as mile-long straws and sponges the size of battleships, to protect their cities from rising waters.

Although it may be too late to stop irreparable damage to our planet, you can take steps to correct the solution or at least minimize the impact. The key is quite simple – conserve energy. The biggest cause of global warming is the carbon dioxide released when fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, are burned for energy. When you save energy, you fight global warming.

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