New NASA tool can tell you which glacier may flood your city as the planet warms

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Sea level rise is one of the most recognizable consequences of climate change and is likely to be one of the most destructive as well. Projecting when destructive coastal inundation could occur in your city just became easier, thanks to a new tool developed by NASA scientists.

By pinpointing which specific glaciers and ice sheets are contributing to local sea level rise for individual coastal cities, scientists can paint a more complete and accurate picture of what global warming will mean for rising ocean levels.

“This study allows one person to understand which icy areas of the world will contribute most significantly to sea level change (rise or decrease) in their specific city,” Eric Larour, one of the study’s authors, told CNN.

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have developed a tool that takes into account the rotation of the Earth and gravitational effects, which help to determine how specific melting points will impact certain cities. The research has been published in the journal Science Advances and is available online. The online tool can be a bit technical to use and understand.

In the study, the researchers “looked at 293 major port cities to allow coastal planners to readily calculate local seal level change“, as well as know which locations of the Earth’s polar ice cap melts present the biggest danger to them in particular.

For example, comparing the impact that Greenland melting will have for New York City to that of London reveals some interesting insight. While all quadrants of the Greenland ice sheet are melting and contribute to sea level rise all over the world, this study shows that both NYC and London are vulnerable to melt almost exclusively from the northern most parts of the ice sheet, with New York showing contributions from both the northwest and northeast quadrants of Greenland.

While melting land ice anywhere should concern coastal residents as the planet warms, this tool can help focus those concerns and make specific city projections more accurate.

“This tool is very useful to understand risk from specific glaciers, and to form a complete picture of how much risk the city is under,” Larour said. He said that city officials can follow observations for the glaciers and polar regions likely to have the most impact on their city and use that data to map projected sea level rise. Knowing more precisely how much the ocean will rise by certain dates will help city planners prepare mitigation techniques to deal with coastal inundation.

Sourceedition.cnn.com

 

 

 

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