B.C. sea levels could rise up to 1.2 metres by 2100: report

Sea levels for the Fraser River delta could rise by as much as 120 centimetres by 2100, according to a report issued today (December 16) by the B.C. Ministry of Environment.

The report cautions that while probable estimates for sea level rises in B.C. range from 11 centimetres for Nanaimo to 50 centimetres for the Fraser, the possible range could be much greater.

Sea levels could rise 80 centimetres for Nanaimo and 120 centimetres for the Fraser River delta by 2100, the report states.

According to the report, titled Projected Sea Level Changes for British Columbia in the 21st Century, the primary mechanisms determining rises in sea levels are:

- A change in ocean volume due to the melting of ice caps, continental ice sheets, and mountain glaciers;
- Changes in ocean volume due to thermal expansion;
- Regional volume changes due to shifting wind systems and ocean currents; and
- Local changes due to vertical land motion associated with recovery from the weight of glaciers during the last ice age and other geological factors.

The report states that “most scientists and world governments now accept that global climate change is occurring and that it is being driven by greenhouse gas emissions related to human activities”.

Climate change due to human activity is largely caused by the release of CO2 emissions, which trap the sun’s energy within the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report states that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 379 parts per million in 2005, greatly exceeding the natural range for the last 650,000 years.

The ministry’s report concludes that decisions regarding land use and major long-term infrastructure projects in B.C. must consider local sea-level changes to effectively manage risks.

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