Sea Level Rise Won't Be a "Hollywood Cataclysm"

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Instead, it seems more plausible that seas would rise 6.5 feet (2 meters) of sea level rise by 2100, the study found.

That would inundate much of Bangladesh, displacing millions of people, and would also endanger many low-lying coastal cities such as New Orleans and New York City, scientists have warned.

The new research will be published tomorrow in the journal Science.

Conservative Estimates

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 report—the latest scientific consensus on climate change—predicted sea levels would rise between 7 and 23 inches (18 and 59 centimeters) by 2100.

But that was a conservative estimate, most scientists agree.

The report "specificially excluded dynamic effects—that's ice calving into the ocean—instead of meltwater flowing in," Pfeffer said. As a result, "everyone admits that the [IPCC] forecast is low."

The new study adds those possible dynamic contributions that the IPCC left out, said geophysicist Anders Carlson of the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

"The research does point out that we will probably have more sea level rise than predicted in the report," Carlson added.

This fits with a recent study led by Carlson, which examined signs left behind by the ancient Laurentide ice sheet that covered much of North America during the last ice age.

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