Fifteen months, 28,000 miles, and 21 countries later the Atlantic Rising expedition is returning to the UK. They have created a network of over 5,000 students to make them aware of the rising oceans. But as they are heading home more bad news about the climate is coming to the surface.
Tim Bromfield, Lynn Morris, both 30, and Will Lorimer, 29, won a bursary from the Royal Geographical Society in 2009. The mission was to travel around the Atlantic along the one meter contour line the level scientists predict that sea level will have risen to by 2100.
New reports that are being published as the delegates starts pouring in to the climate change meeting in Mexico shows that the future can be worse than that.
Researchers at the British Met Office and the University of Southampton have calculated a sea level rise between 50cm to 2m by 2100. Worst-case scenario would displace tens of millions of people from low-lying areas. An international panel of scientists has warned that the world must start preparing for a temperature rise of double the maximum deemed safe, because there is little chance of a global deal on emissions being agreed in time.
- It is always going to be tricky predicting sea level rise and I don't think any of the science claims to be exact. But I know there have been plenty of scientists saying
recently that global warming has been happening faster than expected. We chose to follow the one meter contour line because when we set off that seemed to be a reasonable mid point between the various projections. It is important to remember that sea level rise is experienced very locally. So while there could be sea level rise of 1m in some places there might be much more in other places (depending on all kinds of geological and other features of the local area). So when we talk about a 1m or a 2m rise it is always generalized and but the effects will be experienced differently in different areas. This is an
area of science that is still developing and I am sure as time goes on people will find more accurate ways to predict sea level rise, says Lynn Morris to ExWebs Ocean Editor Jon Amtrup.
Along the way the team got stuck in the mud in the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, shipwrecked in Guinea Bissau, fell into rebel hands in Cote dIvoire, traveled hundreds of miles up the Amazon in Brazil, contracted Dengue fever in Venezuela and encountered rattle snakes in America.
- It has been a bit of an adventure. The idea behind the journey was to explore what could be lost if the sea level continues to rise and we have seen some horrifying examples of how climate change is already affecting people around the edge of the Atlantic. We have also seen some inspirational projects tackling climate change, says team member Lynn Morris.
Atlantic Rising has created a network between 5,000 students in low-lying communities around the edge of the Atlantic Ocean putting students in the UK in touch with their peers around the waters edge.
- The idea behind the network is firstly to get students interested in other environments and the people that live in them. To realize that some people might be more vulnerable to climate change than others. But we hope to inspire then to act by creating the opportunity for them to form friendships across
the ocean. If you actually chat to someone your age who lives in Sierra Leone and they tell you about how they are being affected by climate change this, we believe, is a much more powerful lesson than a
science teacher talking about the mechanism of global warming, says Morris, and continues;
- So really we are trying to foster a concern and interest in environments that might be far from where you live as well as your own local environment. By having a relationship with people living in other places you are more likely to be interested in these places. In terms of practical action - some of our schools have eco committees which try and make their schools more environmentally friendly and these are sharing ideas through the network. They have created
Facebook groups to share information.
- I am very much hoping that the world leaders can come up with some agreements in Mexico. It is important that it is not just individuals who care about climate change and take action to reduce their carbon
footprints without strong leadership from governments this will never be enough. So after the disappointment of Copenhagen I hope something more concrete comes out of this round of talks, she says.
The team traveled through Europe, Africa, crossed the ocean by container ship to Brazil, then drove north to Colombia. From Colombia they shipped themselves and their car to Mexico, then drove up the east coast of the US to Boston. They are due to return by ship arriving in Southampton in the UK on December 9th.
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