A new study demonstrates that a correlation also exists between cumulative carbon emissions and future sea level rise over time -- and the news isn't good.
Even under the most optimistic scenarios outlined in the Paris Agreement -- keeping the overall warming of Earth to 1.5 degrees (Celsius) -- sea levels will continue to rise by several meters over the next few thousand years. If humans continue to burn fossil fuels so that temperatures meet the 2-degree (Celsius) threshold outlined in the Paris Agreement, global mean sea level rise may exceed nine meters, or nearly 30 feet.
Results - Study - Today - Nature - Climate
Results of the study have been published today in Nature Climate Change.
"When we pump more carbon into the atmosphere, the effect on temperature is almost immediate," said Peter Clark, an Oregon State University climate scientist and lead author on the study. "But sea level rise takes a lot longer to respond to that warming. If you take an ice cube out of the freezer and put it on the sidewalk, it doesn't melt immediately.
Sheets - Time - Sea - Level - Rise
"The same is true for ice sheets. It takes time for them to melt so that the resulting sea level rise will continue for hundreds to thousands of years after we're done emitting carbon."
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution -- about 1750 -- people have emitted roughly 600 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, resulting in an increase of roughly one degree (Celsius) in overall global temperature. The global pace today is 10 billion tons of carbon annually, which means we're on track to reach the 2-degree threshold in about 60 years.
Carbon - Temperature - Clark
"We now know how much more carbon we can emit to keep below a certain temperature," Clark said.
The authors make a case for using carbon emissions and commensurate sea level rise as an additional guide for future policy decisions...
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