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The seas are rising, and they’re inching upward much faster than anticipated. According to a new study published in the journal Ocean Science, climate change is causing the ocean to rise even quicker than the most pessimistic prior forecasts.
This research finds that just a 0.5 degree Celsius increase in temperature could lead to a half-meter rise in sea levels, and with a full meter in our future of urgent action on climate change isn’t taken.
Warmer temperatures have already melted 28 trillion metric tons of ice. That’s the same amount as a 100 meter-deep ice sheet the size of the United Kingdom.
Why This Matters: Forty percent of people on Earth live near the coast, putting much of the world at risk of water damage in some form.While the increased risk of floods and storm surges are certainly concerning,saltwater intrusion can cause a lot of damage, like contaminating aquifers and farmland and flooding wetlands. For coastal communities, these impacts could drive people from their homes, contributing to the massive climate migration of 13 million Americans expected by 2060. It’s all the more reason to implement adaptation measures in coastal communities.
The water temperature, wind, and currents in individual locations contribute as well.
All of this adds up to some areas with much higher sea-level rise than others.
Along the east coast of the U.S., one meter of sea-level rise is likely a low estimate, while in places like Scotland and Iceland, the number could be much smaller.
As Ronald Stouffer, a climate modeler at the U.S. Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, NJ, explains: “ if you own beachfront property in Iceland, and all of the ice on Greenland melts and adds seven meters to average sea level, you end up with more beach. But in Hawaii, you get your seven meters of sea-level rise plus an extra two or three on top of that. It’s phenomenal to me that it matters that much.”
Ten years after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, the Japanese government announced that it will release treated radioactive water from the destroyed plant into the ocean beginning in 2023. The decision to dump more than 1 million metric tons of contaminated water into the Pacific ocean has upset local fishers and surrounding countries.
Why This Matters: A decade after a 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the decision to release water into the ocean is just one part of the prolonged decommissioning of the plant.
Hundreds of citizens will fan out across the nation’s capital next week to meet with lawmakers in what’s projected to be the largest ocean lobby effort in US history. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they will meet with Biden administration officials, federal agencies, and members of Congress for a nonpartisan Ocean Climate Action Hill Day.
Why It Matters: As the Biden administration and the Congress begin to debate what’s infrastructure and therefore within the American Jobs Plan, the blue economy needs to be front and center in it.
The Evergiven is no longer stuck in the Suez Canal, but world shipping is hardly back to normal. In just six days, the massive container ship held up almost $60 billion in global trade. Supply chains across the world are delayed and off schedule, and the incident has economists and maritime experts across the globe reevaluating the efficacy of the current shipping economy.
Why this Matters: The pandemic has rocketed demand for goods (and vaccines) to all-time highs, but bottlenecks at many major ports and slow shipping speed could slow the global economy just as it begins to recover from COVID-19.
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