In a survey published this month, 106 climate experts predicted sea levels could rise by as much as 4.2 feet by 2100. The study, released by Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, has bad news and potential good news, depending on how successful humans are at reducing the release of greenhouse gases.
First the bad news. The experts estimate that if the burning of fossil fuels raises global temperature by 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit, sea levels could rise by 1.9 feet to 4.2 feet. The good news is that if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to the point where the global temperature is kept at or below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, seas would only rise by about 1.6 feet. (Considering that real estate and critical infrastructure in many coastal areas is already being inundated by sea level rise measured in inches not feet, “good news” is a certainly a relative term.)
The wide range in sea level rise estimates is due, in part, to the challenge of predicting the rate at which ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland will melt. Satellite observations are indicating that they’re melting at an ever accelerating rate.
Dr. Andra Garner, the study’s co-author and a professor of environmental science at Rowan University, told the Express newspaper that the survey results should help government plan for sea level rise. “This provides a great deal of hope for the future,” she said, “as well as a strong motivation to act now to avoid the more severe impacts of rising seas.”
The takeaway from this study is that property buyers, owners and real estate agents need to pay attention to the threat sea level rise poses to their communities to make informed decisions. Sea level rise flooding can affect property value, maintenance costs, taxes and insurance rates, and the mortgage market.