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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

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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

Global warming: At current CO2 concentrations, sea level set to rise about 30 feet during the next few centuries

Concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa, Hawaii.

Average carbon dioxide levels will probably start to stay above 400 ppm sometime in 2013.

Analysis of 40-million year record calibrates CO2 concentrations with historic sea levels

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Even if  atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were to be stabilzed at today’s levels of about 400 parts per million, sea levels would gradually increase by about 30 during the next few centuries, according to researchers who calibrated CO2 levels against sea level for the past 40 million years.

The study sought to pinpoint the ‘natural equilibrium’ sea level for CO2 concentrations ranging between ice-age values of 180 parts per million and ice-free values of more than 1,000 parts per million. Continue reading

Global warming research eyes ‘runaway’ ice melt

Sea level forecasts may be way off

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Will there be runaway ice sheet melting? Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Most climate models are probably underestimating the rate of sea level rise expected during the next few decades, according to some of the latest research that tries to quantify how much ice may melt off the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets.

A Dec. 26 update by James Hansen and Makiko Sato warns that melting of those ice sheets could increase sea level rise exponentially higher than most existing forecasts, potentially inundating coastal cities around the world with several feet of water by the end of the century.

The short paper discusses the linearity assumptions in most existing climate models and suggests that, if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, “the climate forcing will be so large that non-linear ice sheet disintegration should be expected and multi- meter sea level rise not only possible but likely.” Continue reading

Global warming: Sea level rising much faster than forecast

Observational data is piling up and showing that sea level rise is exceeding the rate predicted by the IPCC

Glaciers and ice caps are melting, and sea level is rising even faster than forecast by the IPCC. Photos courtesy NASA. (Click the image for more information.)

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Sea levels during the past two decades are rising 60 percent faster than the general estimates made by the IPCC, according to new research published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The scientists with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Tempo Analytics and Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales said that, while temperature rises appear to be consistent with the projections made in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report , satellite measurements show that sea-levels are rising at a rate of 3.2 mm a year compared to the best estimate of 2 mm a year in the report.

“This study shows once again that the IPCC is far from alarmist, but in fact has under-estimated the problem of climate change,” said lead author Stefan Rahmstorf. “That applies not just for sea-level rise, but also to extreme events and the Arctic sea-ice loss.” Continue reading

World Bank president invokes ‘moral responsibility’ to act on global warming

On pace to see climate disruption outside the realm of human experience

Warmer and warmer …

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — You can almost hear global warming deniers gnashing their teeth and pulling out their hair as staid organizations like the World Bank take a hard look at the economic and environmental realities of climate change.

In a report prepared for the global financial institution, the Berline-based  Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics warned that, without a drastic reduction in greenhouse gases, the world is on a path to warm at least four degrees Celsius, which could result in a “world of risks beyond the experience of our civilization — including heat waves … sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people, and regional yield failures impacting global food security.

“The planetary machinery tends to be jumpy, this is to respond disproportionately to disruptions that come with the manmade greenhouse effect,” PIK’s director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber said. “If we venture far beyond the 2-degree guardrail, towards 4 degrees, we risk crossing tipping points in the Earth system. Continue reading

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