Sea Levels Rising at Unprecedented Rate, Scientists Warn

A glacier in Greenland breaking off into the Atlantic Ocean. Picture taken September 24, 2008. (Photo: Tim Norris/flickr/cc)

Sea Levels Rising at Unprecedented Rate, Scientists Warn

In new study, Australian National University researchers find that sea level rise over past 100 years greater than any other fluctuation over past 6,000 years

Over the past century, the Earth's sea levels have risen on a scale that is unprecedented by any other fluctuation over the past 6,000 years, new research shows.

In a study published the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Australian National University researchers reconstruct the past 35,000 years of sea level fluctuations by looking at changes in ice volumes around the world. They say it is the most comprehensive examination of its kind.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, sea levels have climbed 20 centimeters as a result of global warming. But zooming out to the past 6,000 years, this drastic fluctuation is unrivaled, the scientists find.

"In the last 6,000 years before the modern onset of sea level rise, the sea level has been quite stable," ANU Professor Kurt Lambeck toldABC.

"All the studies show that you can't just switch off this process. Sea levels will continue to rise for some centuries to come even if we keep carbon emissions at present day levels," Lambeck told the Guardian. "What level that will get to, we are less sure about. But it's clear we can't just reverse the process overnight."

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