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Key figure : 2.4 metres

The water level may rise by 2.4 metres from now to 2100.

That is the new estimate of the rise in the water level established by about twenty scientists, who have reassessed the risks linked to the ice-melt of the Antarctic and Greenland in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The world’s icecaps are melting under the effect of climate change and warmer oceans. A study published early this year showed that Greenland had lost an average of 280 billion tonnes of ice a year between 2002 and 2016. Another study focusing on the Antarctic estimated that the continent lost 252 billion tonnes of ice a year between 2009 and 2017.

The impacts of the disappearance of glaciers are serious: disturbances of the world’s oceanic currents, increases in temperature variations, and rising ocean and sea levels. In 2013, the IPCC’s worst-case scenario pointed to a rise in sea levels of 98 cm from now to 2100. This new study paints an even more alarming picture: if the rise in the world’s temperature reaches 5°C, there will be a 5% risk that the sea level will exceed 2.4 metres by the end of the century.

Jonathan Bamber, the study’s co-author, estimates that “the probability is weak but plausible (…) it must be taken into account in projections and development projects.” Indeed, a 2-metre rise in the sea level will lead to a loss of 1.79 million km² of land and the displacement of millions of people.

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