NASA Is Fully Prepared to Watch the Oceans Swallow Earth

Scientists study melting ice sheets. Image: NASA/Goddard
Scientists study melting ice sheets. Image: NASA/Goddard
At this point, there is unanimous scientific consensus that sea levels are globally rising as a result of climate change. But how fast are oceans advancing? How much damage can rising sea levels do? And most importantly, what can we do to slow this literal tide?

By Becky Ferreira|MOTHERBOARD

This week NASA addressed its approach to these questions, with particular emphasis on monitoring and responding to Earth’s rising oceans. Here’s the rundown of what the panelists said.

Sea levels are currently rising more rapidly than they were 50 years ago, at about three millimeters a year on average.

Michael Freilich, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, pointed out that this trend has already disrupted millions of people, and will continue to pose significant problems for low-lying cities like Miami, San Francisco, and Tokyo.

A few millimeters may not seem like a lot, but when you consider the sheer volume of new water it represents around the world, the effects quickly add up. For example, rising seas have already intensified coastal flooding in the United States, and will wipe out entire island nations over the coming decades.

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