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.

Modeling sea-level rise is challenging because the ice sheets are slow components of the climate system, but the best available data suggests that unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases will result in a much greater rise in sea level — up to 6.8 meters in the next 1,000 years.

“Ice sheets are very slow components in the climate system; they respond on time scales of thousands of years,” said co-author of the study Professor Philippe Huybrechts.

“Together with the long life-time of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, this inertia is the real poison on the climate system: anything we do now that changes the forcing in the climate system will necessarily have long consequences for the ice sheets and sea level.”

In all of the scenarios that the researchers analyzed, the Greenland ice sheet was responsible for more than half of the sea level rise; thermal expansion of the oceans was the second highest contributor, with melting glaciers contributing only a small percentage.

The researchers believe this is the first study to include glaciers, ice caps, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and the thermal expansion of the oceans into a projection of sea-level rises.

The polar ice sheets are not normally included into projections due to computational constraints, while researchers often find it difficult to account for the 200 000 individual glaciers that are found all over the world in very different climatic settings.

“Ultimately the current polar ice sheets store about 65 metres of equivalent sea level and if climatic warming will be severe and long-lasting all ice will eventually melt,” Huybrechts said.

“Mankind should limit the concentration of greenhouse gases at the lowest possible level as soon as possible. The only realistic option is a drastic reduction of the emissions. The lower the ultimate warming will be, the less severe the ultimate consequences will be,” he concluded.


6 thoughts on “Global warming: Sea level going up, up up …

  1. Ha! A meter…over a time period of ONE THOUSAND YEARS. Why should we be concerned even in the slightest?
    With all the extra water available, what do the researchers say about the excess buildup of clouds in the atmosphere that will block the heat of the sun?

  2. Wikipedia say that the oceans have risen an average of 6mm per year for the last 20,000 years. There were periods when it was faster, some slower and some periods when the oceans fell for a few hundred years. But on average about 6mm per year.

  3. Sorry. The assessment is slow. Far too slow for reality. Greenland melt is doubling ever three years now. And we are now rapidly losing the insulating sea ice. Total volume losses for the Arctic, for this year are over 1,500 cubic miles. Half that energy is melting sea ice. Pretty soon all of it will be working on the ice sheet.

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