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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

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Global warming research eyes ‘runaway’ ice melt

Sea level forecasts may be way off


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

Global warming: Sea level going up, up up …

The Greenland ice sheet is thinning, according to NASA data. Click on the image for more information.

Ice sheet melting may be slow, but it’s inexorable

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Study after study has been done on how global warming will affect sea level, and it appears that, no matter how you slice and dice it, coastal areas will see significant impacts during the coming centuries.

In one of the latest research projects, scientists tried to factor in all of the Earth’s ice, including some 200,000 glaciers worldwide, concluding that a sea-level rise of 1.1 (about 3.5 feet) meters by the year 3000 is inevitable. Continue reading

Climate (theater of the absurd, part 2)

Sea level rise not a problem in North Carolina, where lawmakers wanted TO say, “No science, no worries”

Rising sea levels are already taking a bite, as erosion increases.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Sea levels are rising steadily around the world, and many low-lying countries and regions are taking the threat very seriously, recognizing the potential threats to coastal resources.

But in North Carolina, home to a spectacular stretch of Atlantic coastline, Republican lawmakers wanted magically solved the problem with legislation by simply making it illegal to use the best available science when planning coastal development.

Ultimately, the state adopted a bill that basically says do nothing about rising sea levels until at least 2016, according to Rob Lamme, a lobbyist for the North Carolina Coastal Federation, who described the legislative process in detail in this blog post.

According to Lamme, the final version of the bill “prohibits state agencies from doing much of anything regarding sea level rise until 2016. The final bill does mandate a study but there are no prohibitions or restrictions on the data or science used in that study,” Lamme wrote.

The see-no-evil approach favored by real estate speculators eager to sell a few more parcels of beachfront property before the next major hurricane washes it away, but it’s a step in the wrong direction for a state that once had a reputation for being a leader in coastal ecosystem research. Continue reading

Climate: Current models underestimate coastal erosion impacts from sea level rise

Impacts could be much greater near estuaries, lagoons and river mouths

A pipe snaking across a Florida beach replenishes the eroded strand with material from a nearby inlet. Photo by Bob Berwyn.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — When it comes to sea level rise, not many countries have as much to lose as the Netherlands, so it should be no surprise that Dutch researchers are closely tracking the impacts of coastal erosion.

In one of the latest studies, scientists from UNESCO, the Technical University of Delft and Deltares say the effects of coastline erosion as a result of rising sea-level rise in the vicinity of inlets, such as river estuaries, have been dramatically underestimated.

Using a new model that incorporates input specific to coastal inlets like river estuaries and lagoons, the researchers found that most existing models show only about 25 to 50 percent of the coastal erosion that will occur as the climate warms and sea level continues to rise. Continue reading

Global warming: New study shows even modest temperature increases will raise sea levels by several meters

1 meter sea level rise would subject New York to severe flooding every 3 years

When the impacts of melting ice sheets are added to thermal expansion, sea level rise from global warming becomes a dicey proposition. Photo by Bob Berwyn.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Sea-level increases of several feet are likely in the coming centuries even if global warming is held to two degrees Celsius, the target for current efforts to cap heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

“Due to the long time it takes for the world’s ice and water masses to react to global warming, our emissions today determine sea levels for centuries to come.” said  Michiel Schaeffer, of Climate Analytics and Wageningen University, and the lead author of a new study that tries to pinpoint the long-term outlook for sea levels.

“Sea-level rise is hard to quantify, yet a critical risk of climate change,” Schaeffer said, adding that the results demonstrate the benefits of capping and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading

U.S. faces squeeze from bi-coastal sea level rise

Most climate projections call for steep increases in sea level rise during coming decades.

Atlantic Seaboard, Southern California coast to be hit especially hard

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A pair of new studies released last week suggest that the U.S. could be squeezed in a rising sea level sandwich over the next few decades.

According to a U.S. Geological Survey study, sea level is rising three to four times faster along parts of the East Coast than elsewhere around the globe. A National Research Council study says the same is true for much of the California coast, where sea level will also climb faster than the global average, potentially increasing damage to coastal real estate and natural resources from higher storm surges and storm-driven wave action. Continue reading

Earthquakes destroy, but can also restore ecoysystems

Study in Chile shows importance of protecting sandy beaches as barriers against rising sea level

This March 2010 photograph of the beach at Punta Lavapie reveals the extent of the uplift –– these former subtidal rocky bottoms were completely submerged in water –– at all times –– prior to the Maule earthquake and tsunami.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The devastating 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Chile had some unexpected consequences, restoring lost beaches and even entire coastal ecoystems, according to an international team of researchers who had a unique opportunity to take a close before-and-after look at the ecological impact of the 8.8 magnitude temblor.

“Dune plants are coming back in places there haven’t been plants, as far as we know, for a very long time. The earthquake created sandy beach habitat where it had been lost. This is not the initial ecological response you might expect from a major earthquake and tsunami,” said Jenifer Dugan, an associate research biologist at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. Continue reading


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