Present-day sea-level rise can be traced back to 1800s

The discovery has strengthened the case of human-caused climate change while giving city planners a preview of what’s to come
Steady sea-level rise has put homes and buildings along the coast in imminent danger. This is a...
Steady sea-level rise has put homes and buildings along the coast in imminent danger. This is a house collapsing into the ocean on Oahu's North Shore this past week.(North Shore Neighborhood Watch)
Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 2:18 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - For the past several decades, the scientific community has warned the world about climate change and how human activities have been the root cause. The leading piece of evidence linking humans and the warming climate has been the rise of greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution. The burning of fossil fuels to power machines released the greenhouse gases that have warmed our climate by almost 2°F since 1880. However, new research by an international team of scientists, including Rutgers researchers, links present-day sea-level rise to the same time period.

Studying worldwide sea level records, the team was able to map out the global sea level average extending back 2,000 years. The line begins to spike by the year 1800. The findings show a 66% probability that the observed sea level was above the previously observed ‘norm’ in 1825. By 1863, that probability increased to 90% and it reached 95% by 1873. This time period matches up with the human caused release of greenhouse gases, glacial melt and ocean temperature rise.

Credit: Rutgers University and Nature.com
a. Sixty-year average rates over the Common Era, where pre-industrial is 0–1700 CE. b. Sixty-year average rates from 1700 to 2000 CE which increase concurrently with the probability that each 60-year interval and all subsequent 60-year intervals were greater than a random 60-year interval during the pre-industrial Common Era. The time of emergence year is given for 0.66, 0.90, and 0.95 probabilities. Model predictions are the mean with 1σ uncertainty.(WITN)

“The fact that modern rates emerge at all of our study sites by the mid-20th century demonstrates the significant influence global sea-level rise has had on our planet in the last century... Further analysis of the spatial variability in the time of emergence at different locations will continue to improve society’s understanding of how regional and local processes impact rates of sea-level rise.”

Jennifer S. Walker, lead author of the study and postdoctoral associate in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick

The mapping of global sea level rise is not just another feather in the cap of man-made climate change, it will help aid governments and community leaders when determining the timing of increased flooding and rising tides. This is an issue that we are currently faced with here in Eastern N.C. According to the study, the mid-Atlantic states saw the rise occur earlier than our neighbors in Canada and Europe.

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