Geoengineer polar glaciers to slow sea-level rise

Stalling the fastest flows of ice into the oceans would buy us a few centuries to deal with climate change and protect coasts, argue John C. Moore and colleagues.

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The ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica will contribute more to sea-level rise this century than any other source. By mid-century, a 2 °C increase is predicted to swell the global oceans by around 20 centimetres, on average. By 2100, most large coastal cities will face sea levels that are more than a metre higher than currently. If nothing is done, 0.5–5% of the world’s population will be flooded each year after 2100. For example, a 0.5-metre rise in Guangzhou, China, would displace more than 1 million people; a 2-metre rise would affect more than 2 million. Without coastal protection, the global cost of damages could reach US$50 trillion a year. Sea walls and flood defences cost tens of billions of dollars a year to construct and maintain. At this price, geoengineering is competitive.

By John C. Moore, Rupert Gladstone, Thomas Zwinger & Michael Wolovick


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