A new study penned by 17 of the world’s top climate change experts suggests rates of glacial melt have been drastically underestimated and, with this new information, sea levels are projected to rise as much as 10 feet within the next 50 years. This would have an undeniable and irreversible effect on coastal cities like New York and Miami, where large numbers of people reside in the very areas that could be underwater within just a few decades.
Although the new study is built on carefully calculated models using historical and real-time data, the authors warn that these estimates, like the ones before, might also fall short of the real speed at which climate change is impacting our daily lives. The study’s lead author is James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, who has been on the forefront of climate change forecasting for decades. He and 16 co-authors, which include top experts in many scientific fields, have produced a new report containing grim warnings about the future of coastal regions, where rising sea level will have devastating effects.
Related: Alarming research shows sea levels are rising 25 percent faster than we thought
The study concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are melting at a rate 10 times faster than previous estimates, and the researchers calculate a sea level rise of at least 10 feet within as little as 50 years as a direct result. While the study, just released this week, is still awaiting peer review, its contents are pretty convincing. Perhaps that’s why the authors have opted to use a nontraditional process for releasing the study, planning to publish it in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, an open-access “discussion” journal, without having formal peer review prior to its appearance online later this week. Hansen said it was important to make the findings public as quickly as possible in order to inspire swift political action, and a full peer review will take place online in real time, a first for this type of groundbreaking departure from previously accepted knowledge about the impacts of climate change.
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