Sea Level Rise is Accelerating; Time for Action

(NASA graph shows loss of ice in Greenland Ice Sheet)

In it’s State of the Climate report released last week, NOAA scientists revealed a number of ominous thresholds the earth crossed in 2015: Greenhouse gases were the highest on record; Global surface temperature was the highest on record; Global sea level rose to a record high; among others.

All this occurred at an average warming of just over 1 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels today.

We already know that sea level rise is inevitable in a warming world, but a new study published this week raises major alarms by showing that not only is the sea level rising, it is doing so much faster than previously understood.

“What we’ve shown is that sea level acceleration is real, and it continues to be going on, it’s ongoing, and we understand why you don’t see it in the short satellite record,” John Fasullo, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado who conducted the research told the Washington Post.

This, of course, is unsettling news for AOSIS members, especially the lowest lying islands in the group, such as the Maldives, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and the Bahamas.

The new evidence also underscores that no matter what we do, a certain amount of sea level rise is unavoidable. This means we need to redouble efforts to help vulnerable communities adapt and provide the resources committed to in the Paris Agreement and before.

“At the same time, the news should motivate the world to overachieve on emissions reductions in the near term and move to bring the Paris Agreement into force as soon as possible. The faster we get started, the faster we can take the steps to avert truly catastrophic climate impacts that can no longer be adapted to,” said Thoriq Ibrahim, Chair of AOSIS.