Looking to the Past to Understand the Future of Sea Level Rise

More and more the history of our planet is being used to help us understand the future of our planet. Scientists from Boston University have recently published their findings of the mid-Pliocene climate optimum period 3 million years ago, and the similarities it could hold for the future centuries of our planet.

BU College of Arts & Sciences Paleoclimatologist Maureen Raymo and colleagues published their findings in the current edition of the journal Nature Geoscience. They focused on the geologic era known as the mid-Pliocene climate optimum. That point in Earth’s history saw much higher global temperatures that could have been caused as a result of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which resulted in the melting of ice sheets and glaciers which raised the sea level anywhere from 15 to 100 feet higher than present levels.

With understanding of the mid-Pliocene climate optimum will hopefully bring understanding of what will happen as our planet continues to warm today. Much of the sea level rise of 3 million years ago is currently locked up in glaciers, as well as the Greenland Ice Sheet, West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and East Antarctic Ice Sheet. These three sheets, as well as many of the glaciers, are currently slowly melting, and are expected to completely melt if a change is not made to our planet’s current warming trend.

Source: Boston University
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