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Study: Sea Levels Rising at Rate 'Faster Than Thought'

Image: Study: Sea Levels Rising at Rate 'Faster Than Thought'
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By    |   Thursday, 15 Jan 2015 01:07 PM

In the last two decades, sea levels have risen significantly faster than scientists had previously thought, according to new research published this week in the journal Nature.

A joint team of scientists from Harvard and Rutgers universities found that until 1990, the ocean level rose five inches, rather than six inches, which is about 30 percent less than earlier research had suggested, says the new study released on Wednesday.

Scientists contend that the overestimation is not a positive development because the oceans are rising faster and at a more accelerated rate than previously calculated.

''What this paper shows is that sea-level acceleration over the past century has been greater than had been estimated by others," Eric Morrow, from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) at Harvard University, told The Telegraph.

''We expected that we would estimate the individual contributions, and that their sum would get us back to the 1.5 to 1.8 millimeters per year that other people had predicted,'' the report's co-author, Dr. Carling Hay of Harvard University, told the paper.

''But the math doesn't work out that way. Unfortunately, our new lower rate of sea-level rise prior to 1990 means that the sea-level acceleration that resulted in higher rates over the last 20 years is really much larger than anyone thought.''

To reach their conclusions, the researchers used physical models and statistical models to look for underlying patterns, rather than relying on data gathered by taking tide gauge measurements at harbors across the globe, according to The New York Times.

Hay says the main takeaway from the study is that measuring and determining the cause of the sea level is "really complicated" and "we don't have a complete understanding of what’s been happening," noted Hay in an interview with the Times.

Due to the complicated nature of the science involved, independent observers remain cautious about the study's findings and await confirmation from additional studies.

However, if the science withstands scrutiny, some argue the cost of adapting to changes in the climate will almost certainly be greater.

"The implications are troubling — accelerated ocean warming, ice sheet collapse, and sea level rise — all point to more and more sea level rise in the future, perhaps at a faster rate than previously thought.

"This will make adaptation to climate change more difficult and costly," said Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

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In the last two decades, sea levels have risen significantly faster than scientists had previously thought, according to new research published this week in the journal Nature.
sea levels, Harvard, study, scientists
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2015-07-15
Thursday, 15 Jan 2015 01:07 PM
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