Sea levels will rise much faster than previously forecast because of the rate that glaciers and ice sheets are melting, a study has found.

Research commissioned by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program concludes that the rises will substantially exceed forecasts that do not take into account the latest data and observations.

The adjusted outlook, announced at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, suggests that recent predictions of a rise of between 7 inches and 2 feet over the next century are conservative.

The study predicts that sea-level rises will be far higher than the levels that were set out last year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The research looked at prehistoric periods when the climate changed dramatically over the course of decades, and evaluated the mechanisms behind such rapid transformation.

Rising sea levels were one of the major elements involved in past episodes, along with faster glacial melting, droughts and changes to the Atlantic Ocean's heat-driven circulation.

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