A lot of climate research shows that rising greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for increasing global average surface temperatures by about 0.17 degrees Celsius a decade from 1980-2010 and for a sea level rise of about 2.3 millimeters a year from 2005-2010 as ice caps and glaciers melt.Rising sea levels threaten about a tenth of the world’s population who live in low-lying areas and islands which are at risk of flooding, including the Caribbean, Maldives and Asia-Pacific island groups.
More than 180 countries are negotiating a new global climate pact which will come into force by 2020 and force all nations to cut emissions to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius this century – a level scientists say is the minimum required to avert catastrophic effects.
But even if the most ambitious emissions cuts are made, it might not be enough to stop sea levels rising due to the thermal expansion of sea water, said scientists at the United States’ National Center for Atmospheric Research, U.S. research organization Climate Central and Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research in Melbourne.
The scientists calculated that if the deepest emissions cuts were made and global temperatures cooled to 0.83 degrees in 2100 – forecast based on the 1986-2005 average – and 0.55 degrees by 2300, the sea level rise due to thermal expansion would continue to increase – from 14.2 centimeters in 2100 to 24.2 centimeters in 2300.
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