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Climate Change: Sea Levels in New York Could Rise 3 Feet by 2100, Displacing Millions

Nov 10, 2016 05:38 AM EST

The world better decide to pull the plug on climate change forever, or unbearable temperatures and rising sea-levels are the least of our worries, a new study suggests. 

It can be remembered that the Paris climate agreement intends to "hold" the planet's temperature rise to just barely 2 degrees Celsius above what it was during pre-industrial times. The world grew hotter by a degree Celsius by then, and this is not a good sign.

A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences noted that if the world continues on this progression and does not meet the "agreement" as prescribed in the Paris documents, then the 2 degree Celsius threshold can be met as early as 2040.

The research also suggests at least a half-foot rise in sea level on average all around the globe, vastly larger than the increase from 1986 to 2005. This is a foreboding sign for places like in the U.S. East Coast, where the rise can be well over a foot. 

If this continues, there will be another sharp increase in temperature by 2040. At this time, the world will be two degrees Celsius hotter and sea level would rise another two feet. This means a sea level rise of more than 3.5 feet in places like New York.

Svetlana Jevrejeva, the lead author of the study, said this is like spending 200 years warming up the Earth in two degrees and spending just 40 years to increase the temperature at the same amount. 

Jevrejeva's research is one of many that tried to go beyond "estimates" for the whole planet and tried to be more precise in its predictions. According to the Washington Post, while the rest of the world will indeed encounter sea level rises, it will be different in all sorts of areas. However, all of the studies so far point toward a stark increase of polar ice cap melting in Greenland and Antarctica. 

The study also found out that by 2040, the rate of sea level rise could go up to 6 millimeters a year, and by the end of the century, 10 millimeters. This adds to the conclusion that carbon pollution really is a deal breaker when it comes to climate change. 

The effects of such unprecedented change can be catastrophic, especially for scenarios such as hurricanes, tropical cyclones and storm surges.

Of course, the study entails that this is the worst-case scenario. It still depends on the choices made by other countries that could directly impact the Paris climate pledges. If the agreement is met, then the world may simply settle for 3 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100. By some stroke of luck, the world may even settle for just 2 degrees Celsius or lower.

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