Melting glaciers could displace millions as sea levels rise: scientist
Melting ice and rising sea levels will displace millions of people in our children’s lifetime: an ever-accelerating trend that can be slowed but not stopped, an American scientist says.
“At this point, (we’re) expecting it would not be surprising to see a metre of sea level rise within the next 85 years, compared to 2000,” Twila Moon, a glaciologist and researcher at the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center, told CTV News Channel on Thursday. “The speeds are faster than we might have expected a couple decades ago, which is alarming.”
Canada, Moon added, stands to see significant ice loss.
“We can expect 70 per cent, well more than half of the glacier ice volume in Western Canada, to be gone in the next 85 years,” she said. “In places like Jasper (and) Banff National Park where we see glaciers as a place for tourism, we expect those to disappear.”
Glacier loss will also be substantial in the Himalayas in the coming decades, Moon said, while Switzerland will likely lose more than half of its small glaciers during the next quarter century. Coastal communities are already suffering, Moon added. The island nation of Kiribati, for example, is currently working on plans to evacuate its entire population if sea levels get too high.
“But really, this is going to affect first world economies too,” Moon said. “So many economies today have large cities at the oceanfronts. We’re dealing with shipping economies and those sorts of things -- and all of that’s going to be affected by sea level rise.”
Moon cites regular flooding in Florida as evidence that this is already happening.
“Much of that sea level rise is coming from ice around the globe,” she said.
And glacial melting affects more than just coastal communities, Moon said -- it also jeopardizes fresh water sources, agricultural water and tourism industries.
But while ice loss is inevitable, Moon said that there is some hope for our future.
“I definitely want to be clear that there is some ice loss that is guaranteed at this point, but the biggest uncertainty is in how much ice we lose and how quickly,” Moon said. “So, it is within our hands as people to be reducing climate change and that is the biggest factor that we can play in in trying to reduce ice loss.”