Tag: sea level rise

El Niño & rising seas bring record nuisance flooding

Southeast, Gulf Coast hit especially hard

Nuisance flooding set new records during the past year, according to a new NOAA report. @bberwyn photo.
Nuisance flooding set new records during the past year, according to a new NOAA report. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

There’s no question that nuisance flooding is increasing along U.S. coasts due to sea level rise, and some coastal residents got their feet frequently during the past year, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In some cities, the days of nuisance flooding during the past meteorological year (May 2015 to April 2016) flooding exceeded trends and broke records, especially in the southeastern U.S and Gulf Coast. For those areas, the strong El Niño may have exacerbated the effects of rising sea level.

Wilmington, North Carolina, saw an all-time high of 90 days of nuisance flooding, nearly one quarter of the year. Other cities with record numbers of flooding days are Charleston, South Carolina; Port Isabel, Texas; Mayport, Virginia Key, Key West, and Fernandina Beach, Florida, the report said. Continue reading “El Niño & rising seas bring record nuisance flooding”

Australian researchers call for more coastal monitoring in the face of expected climate change impacts

Damaged homes along the foreshore of Sydney's Collaroy Beach, hit by powerful storms in early June. Mitchell Harley/UNSW
Damaged homes along the foreshore of Sydney’s Collaroy Beach, hit by powerful storms in early June. Mitchell Harley/UNSW.

June storms highlight impacts of rising seas, shifting storm patterns

Staff Report

Just after the Australian government announced massive cuts to the country’s science agency, researchers are warning that there’s more of a need then ever to track climate change impacts.

A series of recent storms that lashed Australia’s east coast are reminder that rising sea level presents a growing threat to coastal communities, according scientists with the University of New South Wales.

“The damage we’ve seen is a harbinger of what’s to come,” said Ian Turner, director of the Water Research Laboratory at the University of New South Wales. “Climate change is not only raising the oceans and threatening foreshores, but making our coastlines much more vulnerable to storm damage. What are king high tides today will be the norm within decades.” Continue reading “Australian researchers call for more coastal monitoring in the face of expected climate change impacts”

Climate: Increased Antarctica snowfall no buffer to sea level rise

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What happens in Antarctica the next few decades will affect the whole world. @bberwyn photo.

New research suggests that Antarctica’s contribution to sea level rise over the next few decades has been underestimated

By Bob Berwyn

When it comes to the question of how much sea levels will rise in the global warming era, Antarctica is the big, frozen, enchilada.

Just a partial meltdown of the ice shelves along the western fringe of the continent could raise sea level two to three feet in a few hundred years, and more extensive melting of inland ice sheets would send seas surging upward higher and faster than most coastal communities could adapt for.

Until recently, Antarctica’s inland ice fields were deemed as relatively stable, and recent NASA research even suggested that global warming will increase snowfall over Antarctica and build more ice mass—a process that could slow melting and offset sea level rise.

But after taking a close look at new ice core samples that indicate temperatures and snowfall rates going back several thousand years, researchers with the University of Washington said they’re not sure of the linkage between a warming climate and precipitation. Continue reading “Climate: Increased Antarctica snowfall no buffer to sea level rise”

Climate: Antarctic ice shelf retreat may be irreversible

Yes, there is still lots of ice in Antarctica, but it's melting faster than ever. bberwyn photo.
Yes, there is still lots of ice in Antarctica, but it’s melting faster than ever. @bberwyn photo.

ESA satellites offer clues about climate change consequences

Staff Report

An analysis of data from European Space Agency satellites shows that Antarctic ice shelves may be losing their buttressing role as they get thinner and retreat inland.

The findings, announced in February, used ice velocity data to show that there is a critical tipping point at which the shelves act like a restraining band, holding back the the ice that flows toward the sea. In a dramatic press release, the ESA said that, if the ice is lost, it could be “point of no return” for Antarctica’s ice.

The ice shelves are huge and losing them would have serious implications for global climate, speeding the rise of sea level. The Ross Ice Shelf, for example, is the size of Spain and towers hundreds of meters above sea level. Continue reading “Climate: Antarctic ice shelf retreat may be irreversible”

Crumbling Antarctic ice sheets could speed sea level rise

Fifty feet in 500 years?

Mountains of the Antarctic Sound.
New climate modeling suggests more significant melting of the Antarctic ice sheets and ice shelves driven by atmospheric warming. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The edges of Antarctic ice sheets may crumble and collapse much faster than most existing climate models suggest, potentially raising global sea level by as much as 50 feet in the next 500 years, according to researchers from Penn State and University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The scientists added new, previously underestimated processes to their projection after studying the role of Antarctic ice melting during the warm Pliocene era, about 3 million years ago when sea level rose by as much as 30 to 60 feet. Continue reading “Crumbling Antarctic ice sheets could speed sea level rise”

Climate: Jet stream shifts may speed Greenland meltdown

More sea level woes ahead?

Melting on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Melting on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. @bberwyn photo.
How will global warming affect the flow of the jet stream?
How will global warming affect the flow of the jet stream?

Staff Report

Scientists are tracking yet another global warming feedback mechanism that will have dire consequences for coastal communities around the world. Melting sea ice and overall rapid warming in the Arctic are factors in the development of so-called blocking high pressure systems — air masses spinning clockwise that block cold, dry Canadian air from reaching Greenland.

The highs tend to enhance the flow of warm, moist air over Greenland, contributing to increased extreme heat events and surface ice melting, according to the study. That circulation pattern leads to more melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, according to new research published online in the Journal of Climate last month, co-authored by Jennifer Francis, one of the pioneers in studying how global warming is affecting the jet stream. Continue reading “Climate: Jet stream shifts may speed Greenland meltdown”

Climate: New study shows how warm ocean currents affect Antarctic ice shelves

Erosion from beneath could lead to more sea-level rise

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If floating Antarctic ice sheets disintegrate, land-based glaciers and ice sheets will flow much faster to the sea, speeding sea level rise. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Oceans warming under a thickening blanket of greenhouse gases are licking at the edge of Antarctica and carving new channels in the bottom of ice shelves all around the frozen continent, researchers said this week in a new study led by scientists with the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Those channels, characterized as “upside-down rivers” by the scientists, may make the ice shelves more prone to collapsing, which could speed up the flow of ice and the increase the rate of sea-level rise. Overall, some Antarctic ice sheets have thinned by about 18 percent and the rate of melting is accelerating, other research shows.

The findings, published in Nature Geoscience, are based on detailed photography and laser measurements showing that the basal channels also leave traces on the surface of the ice sheets. Continue reading “Climate: New study shows how warm ocean currents affect Antarctic ice shelves”