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Sea level science – how can we predict sea level rise in the future?

Sea level has been going up and down in the last millennia and while moving a camp wasn’t a big deal for our ancestors, moving today Venice or New-York is a different story. Sea level is currently rising at an accelerated rate due to the melt of land-based ice: glaciers, the Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheet. How high is the sea level going to be in 10 years, 50 years, 80 years, 500 years? How do we calculate how much the seas are going to rise?

Antarctica, a game changer for sea level rise

How is Antarctica going to react to global warming?

Right now, glaciers in the mountains and the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets are all contributing roughly equally to sea level rise through melting, but in the near future, once Antarctica passes a tipping point, this might change completely, making sea level rise enough to wipe out all coastal cities of the world. However, if humanity manages to stay below +1,5°C, meaning following the Paris agreement, then we should be able to divide by two the contributions of land ice to global sea level by 2100.

Vanishing glaciers: a cause of sea-level rise and a threat to water supply

The video discusses the contribution of glaciers to sea-level rise and their importance for humans. Due to their proximity to 0°C temperature, glaciers respond much faster to global warming than ice sheets, making their mass loss a significant contributor to sea-level rise during the 20th century and beyond. To determine the health state of glaciers and their contribution to sea-level rise, glaciologists calculate their mass budget, which has been largely negative for several decades now, indicating that glaciers are losing mass year after year, causing them to retreat. The video emphasizes the need for immediate reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to preserve these crucial and vulnerable water resources and natural heritage.