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Climate change: NASA researchers warn of dangerous sea level rise

According to new research, a rise in sea levels of at least one meter is inevitable in the next hundred to 200 years. This threatened low-lying areas, including entire island states and large cities such as Tokyo and Singapore, to sink, said the head of the Earth Research Department of the US space agency Nasa, Michael Freilich, on Wednesday in Miami. "More than 150 million people, most of them in Asia, live within one meter of the current sea level," said the scientist.

Of course, presented new satellite data on the development of sea levels. NASA and the French space agency CNES began taking measurements from space in 1992. "The instruments are so sensitive that mounted on a commercial aircraft at an altitude of 40,000 feet (1200 meters) they could make out the elevation caused by a dime lying flat on the ground," said Freilich, describing the precision of the measurements.

Accordingly, the oceans have risen by an average of 7.6 centimeters since 1992, and in some places by more than 23 centimeters. The melting of the ice glaciers, but also the warming of the oceans, through which the seawater expands, is responsible for the increase. Researchers are particularly concerned about the melting of the Greenland ice. Over the past decade, an average of 303 gigatons of ice melted there every year. An average of 118 gigatons per year was lost from the ice in the Antarctic.

Ice surfaces are melting faster than expected

"One thing we have learned is that the ice sheets are melting faster than previously expected," said NASA oceanographer Josh Willis. This process threatens to accelerate further. "Sometime in the next 20 years there is likely to be a faster average sea level rise, so we need to be prepared," warned Willis.

The possible consequences of a complete collapse of icebergs are still unclear. NASA researcher Tom Wagner said that if the ice layers collapsed quickly, a rise in sea level of three meters in the next hundred to 200 years is conceivable.

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But even the ice melt that has taken place so far will pose great challenges for mankind, according to NASA measurements. A sea level rise of more than a meter is already emerging, "only on the basis of the warming that has existed up to now," said NASA expert Steve Nerem. The US state of Florida, for example, is also threatened by flooding. "It will likely get worse in the future," Nerem predicted about the consequences of global warming.