There has always been a suspicion that climate scientists were being far too cautious in their predictions and not fully explaining the seriousness of the imminent threats to the planet and its people. They feared they would be considered scare-mongering. However, more research now reveals the catastrophic consequences we face with global warming.
Major sea-level rise from the melting of the Greenland ice cap is now inevitable, scientists have found, even if the fossil fuel burning that is driving the climate crisis were to end overnight.
The research shows an absolute minimum sea-level rise of 27cm (10.6in) from Greenland alone as 110tn tonnes of ice melt. With continued carbon emissions, the melting of other ice caps and thermal expansion of the ocean, a multi-metre sea-level rise appears likely. If Greenland’s record melt year of 2012 becomes a routine occurrence later this century, as is possible, then the ice cap will deliver a “staggering” 78cm of sea-level rise, the scientists said.
The only thing missing from the research is a firm timescale.
Prof Gail Whiteman, at the University of Exeter, who was not part of the study team, said: “The results of this new study are hard to ignore for all business leaders and politicians concerned about the future of humanity. It is bad news for the nearly 600 million people that live in coastal zones worldwide.
“It is a very conservative rock-bottom minimum,” said Prof Jason Box from the National Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (Geus), who led the research. “Realistically, we will see this figure more than double within this century.” The 27cm estimate is a minimum because it only accounts for global heating so far and because some ways in which glacier ice is lost at the margins of the ice sheet are not included.