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Sea Level Rise Reduced by Cutting Short-Lived Climate Pollutants


contentsNew research published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that cutting down short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane and soot, could greatly reduce the rate of sea level rise.

The study led by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, estimates that 30 to 60% reduction in emissions of these pollutants by 2050, could reduce the global rate of sea level rise by 18%. In addition, if CO2 emissions are also cut down, by 2100 it is very likely to have a total reduction of sea level rise by 31%.

The researchers found, that cutting down emissions of short-lived pollutants is essential for controlling sea levels in the next few decades. However, they also point out, that beyond 2050, the only effective measure would be to reduce the concentrations of the commonly known greenhouse gases.

This study is the first that looks beyond reducing of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Based on computer models, the scientists were able to establish trends and possible scenarios for future sea level rise, depending on changes in emissions.  The future projections vary greatly, mainly because little is known about the response of land-based ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica to climate change.

The scientists used a simple approach where instead of aiming to simulate a situation with a particular target of sea level rise, they placed the focus of the study on the impact of reduced concentrations of pollutants on the course of sea level rise.  The team concluded that dealing with CO2 concentrations alone, will not have the desired effect.

Besides reducing the rates of sea-level rise, the team pointed out that cutting down of dangerous short-lived pollutants will also benefit human health.

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