A new climate study corrects inaccurate data to confirm sea level rise has sped up for two decades.
The rate of sea level rise has accelerated over the past 20 years, according to research released Monday.
The new report, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, reconciles a contradiction in previous data that showed a slow down in sea level rise despite more water being added to oceans by melting ice sheets.
With the numbers in order, scientists say ocean water levels have been on the up and up for two decades, and rapidly melting Antarctic and Greenland is said to be the cause.
“Sea level rise is getting faster. We know it’s been getting faster over the last two decades than its been over the 20th century and its getting faster again,” said study leader Dr. Christopher Watson of the University of Tasmania to The Guardian.
Watson's team revealed that early 1990s records calculated sea level rise too high, giving the impression that water level rise was slowing down in the years that followed, when it was really speeding up.
By correcting the data error, the new study brings sea level records in line with the climate modeling of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, proving IPCC projections were right.
From 1993 to 2014, sea levels have been rising at a rate of between 2.6 and 2.9 mm per year, according to the new research. While the incremental increase seems tiny, year over year it can have a huge impact on coastal communities.
Hundreds of millions of people living in coastal regions around the world could be impacted by erosion, flooding, storms surges, and groundwater contamination by encroaching saltwater, all as a result of higher sea levels.
Low-elevation islands, such as the Maldives and the Pacific island Kiribati, are also greatly threatened by sea level rise.
According to NASA climate data, Antarctica and the Greenland ice sheet lose a combined 405 metric tons of ice per year.