NASA satellite measurements warn of rising sea levels

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New satellite measurements from NASA show how there could be sea levels rising in threatening amounts globally by the end of the century. (KABC)

New satellite measurements from NASA show how there could be sea levels rising in threatening amounts globally by the end of the century.

When you look at an ocean, it's hard to think in inches. But NASA scientists say sea levels around the world have crept up 8 inches over the last 80 years. They say that rise is only going to get worse.

"Out into the future, we're not going to be looking at an inch a decade but maybe several inches a decade," said Josh Willis with NASA. "If it's 6 feet of sea level rise in 100 years, then a lot of cities are going to have real struggles with rising seas."

Willis says scientists are tracking the sea change using a vast network of satellites. The picture they're painting is not pretty.

NASA says global warming means ice sheets around the world are melting, pushing up sea levels. And here's the frightening thing - we can't stop it.

"Sea level rise is not reversible on a human time scale. Our children and grandchildren are going to see continued rise throughout their lives as well," Willis said.

Willis says for the past 20 years, Southern California has been protected from rising sea levels because of a complex set of oceanic conditions. But those conditions are temporary and when they change, Willis says - look out.

"We'll probably see faster rates in the coming decade or two, so we're going to have to get ready," Willis said. "Many beaches are already retreating. These places are vanishing and they're going to continue to be threatened."

That does not bode well for Southern California, where the coast accounts for a massive chunk of the economy from tourism to the shipping industry.

However, Willis says cutting back on carbon emissions worldwide would keep sea levels from rising too much and keep their measurement in inches instead of in feet.

Related Topics:
sciencesciencenasaenvironmentglobal warmingu.s. & worldclimate change
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