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Scientists: Sea-level rise worse than thought

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(Read caption) The waters of the bay lap against the shoreline of San Francisco. Scientists say the sea level at the Golden Gate has risen over 7 inches in the past century due to glacial melting and thermal expansion.

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Climate scientists meeting in Copenhagen Tuesday warned that sea levels could rise to almost three times that of the official worst-case estimates, threatening hundreds of millions of people.

The landmark 2007 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that sea levels would rise 18 to 59 centimeters – about 7 to 23 inches – by the end of the century. That would be enough to submerge several small island nations, and would inundate low-lying and densely populated deltas in Africa, East Asia, and on the Indian subcontinent.

But researchers gathered at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change now say that those estimates are too conservative, that a rise of less than 50 centimeters is unlikely, and that sea levels are likely to rise about one meter.

The UN panel deliberately excluded from its calculations the loss of ice from the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets. More recent climate models are better able to predict how ice sheets react to warming and how they interact with oceans.


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