The polar ice caps are melting faster than was predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. According to the BBC:
Ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland has accelerated over the last 20 years, research shows, and will soon become the biggest driver of sea level rise…From satellite data and climate models, scientists calculate that the two polar ice sheets are losing enough ice to raise sea levels by 1.3mm each year…If these increases persist, water from the two polar ice sheets could have added 15cm to the average global sea level by 2050.
At that height, downtown Kota Kinabalu will be swamped during a minor storm surge. Even now, with storm surge, you can see the waves breaking on to the coastal highway between Tanjung Lipat and Yayasan Sabah.
The scary thing about this is it is not just about the rise in sea levels. Global weather is influenced by the large and interconnected ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns, and those in turn regulate patterns of rainfall and local weather. For example, the formation of the Isthmus of Panama had an enormous impact on Earth’s climate and its environment. The isthmus re-routed ocean currents in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and one of the effects was the formation of the Gulf Stream. This changed the weather on both sides of the Atlantic in North America and Europe.
The really scary thing is though, that the global ocean circulation pattern is going to change because of the rise in sea levels, and that is going to be of much bigger impact to the whole world than, say, the formation of the Isthmus of Panama.