Predicting Future Ocean Levels
By the year 2100, sea levels in Canada and many parts of the world are expected to rise from between 20 centimetres to more than a metre. Rising sea levels will result in a tremendous amount of lost land and property, given that Canada alone has almost 250,000 kilometres of coastline.
Dr. Glenn Milne, Canada Research Chair in Earth System Dynamics, is working to determine how high and fast sea levels will rise in the future. This is a major challenge, given the variety of processes that cause sea levels to rise, including melting land ice, warming and expanding oceans, and changes in land height.
To test and improve computer models to predict future sea levels, Milne is using data about changes in sea level dating from recent decades to as far back as several thousand years ago. The models simulate the complex interactions between changes in climate, ice sheets, sea level, and land motion, as well as gravity and even the Earth’s rotation.
Milne’s research will improve the reliability of predictions about climate-driven sea level changes, and will provide a deeper understanding of the processes responsible for these changes. His research will not only help mitigate the social, economic and environmental risks of rises in sea level, but will also help with infrastructure planning and natural resource exploration in coastal areas.