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Sea Levels Are Rising Faster Than Previously Thought: Study

Study: Sea Levels Are Now Rising at Faster Rate 0:17

The world's oceans are now rising at a pace far faster than they did in the past in a sign of climate change threatening coasts from Florida to Bangladesh, a new study says. The study found that for much of the 20th century — until about 1990 — sea level was about 30 percent less than earlier research had figured. But that's not good news, scientists say, because about 25 years ago the seas started rising faster and the acceleration in 1990 turns out to be more dramatic than previously calculated. The current sea level rise rate — which started in 1990 — is 2.5 times faster than it was from 1900 to 1990, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Scientists say that faster pace of sea level rise is from melting ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica and shrinking glaciers, triggered by man-made global warming. "We're seeing a significant acceleration in the past few decades," said study lead author Carling Hay, a geophysical researcher at Harvard University. "It's concerning for cities along the U.S. East Coast" where water levels are rising even faster than the world average. "It's definitely something that can't be ignored," Hay said.

Previous research said that between 1900 and 1990, the seas rose about two-thirds of an inch a decade. The new study recalculates the 1900-1990 rate to less than half an inch a decade. Old and new research both say that since 1990 seas are rising at about 1.2 inches a decade.

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— The Associated Press and Reuters