Ancient N.C. records show sea-level rise is related to warmer temperatures
Some North Carolina lawmakers have accused scientists of using “made up” estimates of sea-level rise. But a top researcher says some of the world’s best evidence for climbing oceans comes from the ground beneath their feet.
Stefan Rahmstorf, a German climatologist whose research led scientists to reconsider accelerated sea-level rise, said an embattled report by North Carolina experts, recommending that the state prepare for a 39-inch rise by 2100, is a reasonable policy when building homes and infrastructure.
That level of rise, although a projection, is possible as warmer temperatures expand ocean water and begin to melt the world’s supply of ice, which presents the unlikely chance of adding 60 meters (197 feet) to the seven seas if it all turned to water.
That would take thousands of years and considerable warming. The 1-meter estimate under attack in North Carolina, however, is based on “simple physical logic” discerned from the state’s ancient salt marshes, not a nightmare scenario, Rahmstorf said.
The 1-meter estimate is being used for future planning in some of Europe’s coastal cities and in U.S. states, where creeping saltwater and bigger storm surges threaten to flood homes and inundate lowlands.