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Tackle four pollutants to slow down rising sea levels: study

Mumbai, India is one of the coastal cities threatened by rising sea levels. (Getty Images)

Cutting emissions of certain pollutants can significantly slow down rising sea levels this century, new research says.

The research found that reductions in pollutants that cycle comparatively quickly through the atmosphere could temporarily delay the rate of rising sea levels by as much as 25 to 50 per cent.

Heat-trapping pollutants like methane, tropospheric ozone, hydrofluorocarbons, and black carbon last anywhere from a week to a decade in the atmosphere and can influence climate more quickly than carbon dioxide, which persists in the atmosphere for centuries.

The study has been done by the Scripps Institution for Oceanography, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Climate Central; it is being published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“To avoid potentially dangerous sea level rise, we could cut emissions of short-lived pollutants even if we cannot immediately cut carbon dioxide emissions,” Aixue Hu of NCAR, an author of the study, told Science Daily.

The potential impact of rising waters on populated areas is one of the most concerning effects of climate change. Major cities like New York, Miami, Mumbai, Dhaka and Tokyo, are located in low-lying areas by the water and more susceptible than others.

According to a 2007 assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if temperatures continue to warm, sea levels will rise up to 0.58 metres this century.

It could submerge densely populated coastal communities, especially when storms hit.

READ MORE: Climate change forcing thousands in Bangladesh into slums of Dhaka

Raveena Aulakh is the Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh


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Why focus ONLY on these four pollutants whose rising levels are tied directly to what is done by an unsustainable rise in human populations everywhere? Control the REAL source of the problems.

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