Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, has warned that sea-level rise is increasing much faster than scientists predicted just five years ago. This is severely threatening many of the world’s coastal and low-lying areas from Bangladesh to Nigeria.
The present prediction of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, from its third assessment report in 2001, is that global sea levels will rise by between 9cm and 88cm by 2100, depending on a number of factors including how far emissions are controlled, with a best guess of about 50cm over the century.
Rises of this order will present a substantial threat of flooding, storm surge and even complete submersion of many of the world’s populous low-lying areas,such as Bangladesh, the Nile Delta and even London.
But the new evidence, from a series of scientific papers published this year, indicates that this rate would be far exceeded, although Rapley could not say what any new rate would be. “We have learned in the last 18 months that the ice sheets are capable in selected areas of much more rapid changes and dynamic discharges than we previously thought,” he said.