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Global warming: Island biodiversity at risk

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These atolls in the Maldives are only about 1 meter above sea level. Learn more at this NASA Earth Observatory website.

More than 10,000 islands will be completely inundated by the end of the century

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Low-lying tropical islands harboring a disproportionately high percentage of the world’s biodiversity are also vulnerable to rising seas. With most climate models conservatively estimating that sea level will rise between 2 and six feet by the end of the century, some biodiversity hotspots could be completely lost, according to a new study from researchers with the University of Paris Sud.

“Losses of insular habitats will … be relatively important in the future, probably leading to a major impoverishment of insular biodiversity,” said lead author Dr. C. Bellard. ” Given the implications of these results, decision-makers are required to define island conservation priorities that accounts for sea level rise following climate change,” he added. Continue reading

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Climate: Rising sea level threatens Everglades

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Study says sawgrass prairie in the Everglades likely to suffer from sea level rise. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Freshwater ecosystems at risk, as salt-loving species intrude

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A combination of sea level rise and upstream freshwater depletion is leading to a decline of the Everglades freshwater plant communities, as salt-loving mangroves spread farther inland.

Satellite imagery over the southeastern Everglades confirms long-term trends of mangrove expansion and sawgrass habitat loss near the shore, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Wetlands.

“I was very surprised at how well the results matched our understanding of long-term trends and field data. Normally, we don’t see such clear patterns,” said lead researcher Douglas Fuller. Continue reading

Climate: Are you ready for the heat?

U.S. temps expected to climb 9 degrees by 2100

All around the globe, the land areas show a greater increase in temperature than the surrounding ocean waters. Evaporation of the water helps to keep the ocean surface cool and the deep depths of the ocean have a large capacity to absorb energy before heating up.

FRISCO — After last week’s release of a relatively short summary of global warming science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has now published a full report detailing the science. The report is available at the IPCC website.

It not easy reading, and it’s not easy to swallow the conclusions, but the report makes it clear that this is not the time for denial. The most pronounced warming will be in the northerh hemisphere, and areas like the Rocky Mountains and northern Canada could feel the heat sooner rather than later.

Without drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the average temperature across the contiguous 48 states is projected to increase by a life-changing 9 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Globally, temperatures are expected to climb by 7 degrees.

That warmth will cause sea level to rise by anywhere from 10 to 35 inches by 2100 — and that’s a conservative estimate. Some other studies estimate a 40-inch rise in sea level by 2100.

One crucial area that isn’t comprehensively covered by the IPCC involves the carbon locked into the world’s icy permafrost region. The report estimates huge thawing in permafrost region, but downplays the additional warming effects resulting from the release of that carbon, which could amount to another couple of degrees of temperature increases by 2100.

IPCC atlas of projected changes:

Study: Long-term sea level rise is inevitable

‘Continuous sea-level rise is something we cannot avoid …’

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Long-term sea level rise is inevitable

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Sea level rise is here to stay, according to researchers with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who recently published a study combining evidence from early Earth’s climate history with comprehensive computer simulations using physical models of all four major contributors to long-term global sea-level rise.

The results show a slow but inexorable rise — less than six feet by the end of this century — but the rate will increase as melting Antarctic and Greenland ice become bigger factors. Based on the Earth’s climate history, the long-term outlook is pretty clear. When CO2 levels were comparable to current values, the Earth was much warmer and sea levels were much higher. Continue reading

Global Warming: Science panel says Maryland’s coastal areas should prepare for 2 feet of sea level rise by 2050

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Chesapeake Bay and surrounding areas could see two feet of sea level rise by 2050.

Governor leads push for science-based planning

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Maryland needs to start preparing for a rise in sea level of as much as two feet by mid-century to protect vulnerable communities, infrastructure and other resources along the coast.

A report released this week by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science cites recent research showing that sea levels are likely to rise by about 1.4 feet — and at least by 0.9 feet by 2050.

The report was prepared by a panel of scientific experts in response to Governor Martin O’Malley’s Executive Order on Climate Change and “Coast Smart” Construction. The projections are based on an assessment of the latest climate change science and federal guidelines. Continue reading

EU ice2sea report offers new estimates of sea level rise

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The EU’s ice2sea program helps to determine potential future impacts of rising sea levels.

Research focuses on contribution of melting glaciers, ice caps and ice shelves

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After four years of studies and more than 150 peer-reviewed papers, The EU-funded ice2sea program has concluded that melting ice may not contribute as much to sea level rise as some other studies have suggested.

Under a moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the contribution from continental ice will likely amount to between 3.5 and 36.8 centimeters (1.4 to 14.5 inches) by 2100, the program’s leaders said this week, unveiling a new report that summarizes their research. The report is online at the ice2sea home page.

Some of the ice2sea studies have:

The new report includes several case studies outlining the impacts of sea level rise to specific areas, including economically valuable developed areas like the port of Rotterdam and the Thames Estuary, as well as natural areas with unique natural values, like the Machair ecosystems in Ireland and Scotland that thrive in a delicate balance of land and sea. Continue reading

Climate: How fast will Greenland’s glaciers melt?

Study shows topography is a key factor in controlling ice flow

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A giant iceberg that broke off the terminus of Greenland’s Petermann Glacier in July 2012 moves down the fjord toward the Nares Strait. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

A new study helps pinpoint how many icebergs may from as Greenland's glaciers are subjected to global warming. Photo courtesy British Antarctic Survey.

A new study helps pinpoint how many icebergs may from as Greenland’s glaciers are subjected to global warming. Photo courtesy British Antarctic Survey.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Greenland’s swift outflow glaciers are sensitive to warming air and ocean temperatures, but a new study published in the journal Nature indicates that the recent acceleration of glacial flow isn’t continuing at a linear rate.

The shape of the ground and seafloor beneath the glaciers is crucial in determining how they respond to climate change — how fast they move and how much they will contribute to sea level rise in coming decades.

“What we are saying is that we shouldn’t extrapolate the rate of the last 10 years into the future … If  you study these glaciers separately, they show different behavior,” said lead author Dr. Faezeh Nick, of the Université Libre de Bruxelles, describing the work done on the Petermann, Kangerdlugssuaq, Helheim and Jakobshavn Isbræ glaciers. Together, they drain about 22 percent of the Greenland ice sheet. Continue reading

Survey: Americans support climate change adaptation

Superstorm Sandy may have been a turning point in public perception

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February temperatures were above normal almost everywhere across the mid-latitudes, but colder than average in the polar regions, compared to the 1951-1980 average. Via NASA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While some Americans may still not be convinced that greenhouse gas emissions are heating up the planet, there does appear to be an emerging consensus that the country should prepare for the potential impacts of a changing climate.

Superstorm Sandy may have been a turning point, as images of flooding in downtown Manhattan and shoreline devastation in New Jersey dominated the airwaves for a few days. Americans may have seen Sandy as a sign of things to come, according to a new survey by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Ocean Solutions. Continue reading

Melting of Greenland’s ‘fringe’ glaciers adds to sea level rise

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The Greenland Today website tracks ice cap changes on a real-time basis. Click on the image for more information.

‘Local’ glaciers reacting faster to global warming than the main ice cap

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Glaciers on the edge of Greenland are pouring at about 50 gigatons of water into the Atlantic every year. That’s about half the volume of Lake Geneva, one of Europe’s largest lake, and enough to account for about 10 percent of annual global sea level rise, according to a new study by Swiss and Danish scientists.

The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, will help scientists improve the predictions of the future contribution of Greenland’s ice to sea-level rise.

The data could also be used by researchers maintaining the new Greenland Today website, which tracks the state of the ice cap on a real-time basis.

“The melting of ice on Greenland is known to be one of the major sources for global sea-level rise. Beside the large ice sheet, there are thousands of peripheral glaciers which are not connected to the ice sheet or can be separated from it due to the existence of ice divides,” said lead author Dr. Tobias Bolch, of the University of Zurich. “The area of those glaciers is about 50 times higher than the ice cover of the European Alps. Consequently, it is important to investigate not only the ice sheet but also these local glaciers,” he said. Continue reading

Climate: New study maps regional sea level rise variation

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A new study coordinated by the EU’s ice2sea program helps identify which parts of the world will be most affected by sea level rise in the coming decades.

Tropical Pacific to see the greatest increases, while relative sea level is likely to drop in some polar regions

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Intensifying concerns about the potential for sea level rise to swamp low-lying Pacific island nations are justified, according to a new report in the Geophysical Research Letters journal. Western Australia, Oceania and the small atolls and islands in this region, including Hawaii, are at greatest risk, according to the new study from EU’s ice2sea program.

The results of the modeling mirror observational data that’s been collected by satellites in the past few decades, said David Vaughan, program coordinator for EU’s ice2sea program, which seeks to develop more accurate sea level rise predictions. Continue reading

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