Fiona Hibbert is a geologist at the University of York. He’s working on a project called ExTaSea. It predicts the world’s worst scenario for sea level rise. To do this, he studies old beaches and petrified coral reefs. Thanks to this, he recorded a scenario in which our planet lived in the past. The 3 meter high sea has been rising for centuries. Could we achieve this soon?
The aim is to help policy makers make long-term decisions. For example, at the location of a permanent infrastructure such as nuclear power plants.
It is notoriously difficult to develop models that can make such predictions. “We’re not entirely sure which processes are involved. When an ice sheet melts, very long periods of time sometimes work. It’s pretty difficult to make a model, ”he explains.
Geologists like Hibbert and Professor Alessio Rovere (University of Bremen) look back. They hope to understand what happened during the last interglacial period. “The geological record is excellent because it includes all processes,” said Hibbert. This was quoted by Horizon, the EU research and innovation magazine.
We live in an interglacial period known as the Holocene. ‘For the past 6,000 years, people have had a fairly stable climate and relatively stable sea levels. And that’s why they succeeded, ”said Professor Rovere.
The closest analogue to the Holocene in the geological past is the last interglacial. It happened 125,000 to 118,000 years ago. The global temperature was two degrees higher than pre-industrial benchmark temperatures. From fossilized coral reefs, they calculated the sea level rise at that time.
His work produces different characters. “At some point during this warm time the sea level jumped from three to six meters,” he said. This corresponds to about 10 mm per year. The jump happened in a relatively short time, he says.
“Today we are in a warm time. And in the final interglacial, even without giving warmth to the system, some data suggest that this jump occurred.
This is a hotly debated idea, but what if it is true? This means the ice may melt quickly. In addition to what we do as humans. The rise of the sea by 3 meters per century would be catastrophic now.
“It means we just have to get out of our cities,” he added.