The rate of sea level rise has “doubled since 1993” due to climate change;

The rate of sea level rise has “doubled since 1993” due to climate change;

The rate of sea level rise has “doubled since 1993” due to climate change;

The rate of global sea-level rise is accelerating as temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, a new report finds, and now “poses a major threat to millions of people living along ocean coastlines”.

Sea levels have risen by an average of 10 millimeters since January 2020, reaching a new record this year, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which issued a severe warning. Interim Report on the State of the Global Climate 2022, released Sunday. The WMO, a division of the United Nations, has found a number of startling facts about climate change and its effects, including that “the past eight years are on track to be the eight hottest years on record.”

But the most alarming findings may be about rising sea levels, as an encroaching ocean threatens major coastal population centers with stronger storms, larger storm surges and flooding. “The rate of sea-level rise has doubled since 1993,” the WMO notes. “The past two and a half years alone account for 10 percent of the total sea level rise since satellite measurements began about 30 years ago.”

The rate of sea level rise has “doubled since 1993” due to climate change;

Meltwater from the Greenland Ice Sheet flows into Baffin Bay in July. (Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

One of the main reasons for the accelerating rate of sea level rise is the melting of glaciers. According to the WMO, “2022 has taken an exceptionally heavy toll on the glaciers of the European Alps, with early indications of record melting. The Greenland ice sheet lost mass for the 26th year in a row, and it rained (rather than snowed) for the first time in September.

Last week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released a report on endangered glaciers, finding that: a third of the glaciers UNESCO World Heritage sites are expected to disappear by 2050. The remaining two-thirds could be saved if greenhouse gas emissions are cut quickly and deeply enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the report said.

The devastating effects of melting glaciers are already being seen in Pakistan, where an unusually warm spring has triggered glacial melt that has contributed to floods that have submerged a third of the country, displacing millions.

The report’s release coincided with the opening of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to bolster support for more aggressive action to curb emissions. Political developments, however, have lost hope that major new greenhouse gas reduction commitments will be announced during COP27.

People walk through a flooded street after heavy monsoon rain in Karachi, Pakistan.

People walk through a flooded street after heavy monsoon rains in Karachi, Pakistan, in July. (Asif Hasan/AFP via Getty Images)

“The greater the warming, the worse the impacts,” WMO Secretary-General Petri Talas said in a statement. “We now have such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the lower 1.5°C of the Paris Agreement is barely achievable. For many glaciers, it is already too late and melting will continue for hundreds if not thousands of years. … Although we still measure it in millimeters per year, it is increasing by half to 1 meter per century, and it is a long-term and major threat to millions of coastal residents and low-lying states.”

As the oceans rise from melting glaciers and polar ice caps, they also warm as they absorb more heat, causing them to increase in volume. Ocean temperatures hit record highs in 2021 (the latest year for which data was available). Warmer oceans lead to a number of impacts on the ecosystem, including: coral bleaching and: decrease in fish population. It also powers stronger storms such as Hurricane Fionawhich recently ravaged Puerto Rico with 30 inches of rain, causing landslides and river flooding and widespread power outages.

In 2022, the global average temperature is estimated to be about 1.15 °C above the 1850-1900 average. This could actually be worse. For the first time in a century, La Nina, a weather pattern that causes cold water in the Pacific Ocean to rise to the surface, leading to cooler-than-normal weather; third year in a row. The WMO estimates that this means 2022 will be the fifth or sixth warmest year on record. But the trend toward ever-higher temperatures remains clear.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the COP27 climate conference in Egypt.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the COP27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on Monday. (Fayez Nureldi/AFP via Getty Images)

“The latest report on the state of the global climate is a chronicle of climate chaos,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in response to the report’s release. “As the World Meteorological Organization makes so clear, change is occurring at a catastrophic pace, destroying lives and livelihoods on every continent. Records of melting glaciers are melting on their own, threatening water security for entire continents. We must respond to the planet’s distress call with action—ambitious, credible climate action. COP27 should be the place and now should be the time.”



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