The research team found that reductions in four pollutants that cycle comparatively quickly through the atmosphere could temporarily forestall the rate of sea level rise by roughly 25 to 50 percent.
The potential impact of rising oceans on populated areas is one of the most concerning effects of climate change. Many of the world’s major cities, such as New York, Miami, Amsterdam, Mumbai, and Tokyo, are located in low-lying areas by the water.
Despite the risks, policy makers have been unable to agree on procedures for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide. With this in mind, the research team focused on emissions of four other heat-trapping pollutants: methane, tropospheric ozone, hydrofluorocarbons, and black carbon. These gases and particles last anywhere from a week to a decade in the atmosphere, and they can influence climate more quickly than carbon dioxide, which persists in the atmosphere for centuries.
If society were able to substantially reduce both emissions of carbon dioxide as well as the four other pollutants, total sea level rise would be lessened by at least 30 percent by 2100, the researchers concluded.