Sea levels will probably rise faster than most climate models predict, according to a new study.
In 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations scientific body that reports on climate change, said that the global sea-level average would likely rise at least 2.00 feet (0.61 meters) by the year 2100, but no more than 3.61 feet (1.10 m). Those numbers come from models that account for climate change and ocean heating, ongoing greenhouse gas emissions and potential changes in human behavior to prevent more warming.
In this new study, researchers examined models of sea level through the lens of historical data. They looked at how fast sea levels rose in the past as Earth warmed and extrapolated to predict sea-level rise forward in time. They found that existing sea-level models tend to lowball sea-level rise when compared with more straightforward extrapolations from the historical record.
“This comparison suggests that the likely upper level of sea-level projections in recent IPCC reports would be too low,” the researchers wrote in a paper published Feb. 2 in the journal Ocean Science.