Amanda Scott | VOANews.com
A newly released study says the effects of climate change may be irreversible for the next 1,000 years.
The study published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that even if carbon dioxide emissions are reduced the effects on global temperature could remain high for generations.
The study led by researchers at the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that possible climate changes include global sea level rise and reduced rainfall in certain parts of the world.
Scientists said those changes could decrease water supplies, increase the frequencies of fires, expand deserts and affect agriculture.
Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, says that while scientists have known about the effects of climate change, the new study provides new details as to the specific effects.
“Scientists have known about some irreversible aspects of climate change for some time,” said Kevin Trenberth. “But what this paper does is help to highlight these aspects and quantify some of them, and I agree with the authors that this aspect is one which is relatively poorly appreciated by policy makers and probably the general public and it is a real concern.”
The scientists say that oceans are currently slowing down global warming by absorbing heat, but they will eventually release the heat back into the air leading to a greater warming of the planet. The study says that that warming will lead to a loss of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica contributing to an overall rise in sea levels.
Trenberth, who was not involved in the study, says he believes that it underestimates global warming’s effect on sea levels.
“In the past five years Greenland has been melting at rates that are higher than they consider in this paper, and it’s been adding about 0.5 millimeters per year to sea level rise,” he said. “If Greenland melted, it would certainly take something like 850 years, or something like that, but the time to restore it would take 10 times that long, it would take 10,000 years. And once it’s gone its hard to reverse it and put it back.”