New climate models suggest that future sea level rise could be much lower than previously feared but more severe weather may be in store over the next 100 years. This conclusion is made in two pieces of research from King’s College London, Victoria University of Wellington, and colleagues across the US, Canada, UK and Europe.
The first piece of research suggests that sustained collapse of Antarctic ice-cliffs, caused by rising global temperatures and melting ice shelves, may not have a large impact on sea level rise. This means that controversial predictions made in 2016, which claimed that this type of collapse could add more than a metre to rising seas by 2100, may be substantially over-estimated.
Dr Tamsin Edwards, Lecturer in Physical Geography at King’s College London, who led the work, says: ‘We looked in detail at ice-losses 3 million years ago, 125,000 years ago, and over the last 25 years, and found that these ice-cliff collapses aren’t needed to reproduce sea level rises in the past.
‘This suggests that they might not be an important feature in predicting sea level rises in the future.’
By reassessing previous predictions and removing unstable cliff collapse from their calculations, they predict that it is unlikely that melting from the Antarctic will cause sea level to rise more than 39 cm by 2100. This is much lower than previous predictions.