Sea levels will rise by about 27 centimeters even if the Earth does not warm in the future. That’s the conclusion researchers reached in a new study. This includes melting of the Greenland ice sheet, but not global warming. Reto Knutti is a climate researcher at ETH Zurich. Categorize the study results.
Reto Knutti has been Professor of Climate Physics at ETH Zurich since 2012. His research focuses on changes in the climate system caused by greenhouse gases and working with climate models. Knutti is also a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the so-called Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization.
SRF News: How dangerous is a 27cm sea level rise?
Ritu Knotti: 27cm isn’t really that much. This is a good height for the shoe. We can still deal with that. The question is whether that’s all.
A realistic estimate by the end of the century assumes that sea levels will rise by half a meter to one metre, depending on whether or not climate protection is pursued.
According to this study, melting of the Greenland ice sheet is inevitable:
How much will sea level rise if you take into account not only the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, but also the global warming effect as a whole?
A realistic estimate by the end of the century assumes that sea levels will rise by half a meter to one metre, depending on whether or not climate protection is pursued. These numbers are much more serious.
Besides melting Greenland’s ice sheet, what are the other underlying factors for sea level rise?
Sea level rises for three reasons: first, water expands as its temperature rises, and second, smaller glaciers melt, such as those in the Alps or the Himalayas. And third, there are large ice masses in Greenland and Antarctica, these ice sheets that have stored a lot of water and are melting very slowly. There is a lot of ice there.
You can selectively protect infrastructure on coastlines with dams and levees.
What does this mean for coastal regions like the Netherlands or Bangladesh?
About 100 million people live near the sea. There are many large cities near the coast, whether it is New Orleans or New York in the United States, and there are also very large cities on the coast in Asia. There is a lot of infrastructure that is too close to the sea and cannot be protected in the long term. Or: you can selectively protect them with levees and levees. But in other places it will be very difficult. The effects will be very dramatic.
In the long term, there is only an attempt to curb climate change as quickly as possible and achieve the Paris climate goals.
What other solutions are available other than infrastructure protection?
In the long term, apart from the selective protection of the coasts, there is only an attempt to limit climate change as quickly as possible and achieve the Paris climate goals, which we have also ratified. The difference in the consequences of climbing between half a meter and a meter is large. In the long run, there are differences of several meters. It is worth solving the climate problem in the long term, rather than waiting for all these parts of the world to be flooded with water.
The conversation was conducted by Zoe Geisler.
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