Climate Change: Sea Levels Rising at Twice the Rate Scientists had Estimated!

Climate Change: Sea Levels Rising at Twice the Rate Scientists had Estimated!

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While many on the political right in the US still keep debating whether Climate Change is real or not, there is growing evidence now that Oceans could be rising at twice the rate we thought earlier due to global warming.  German researchers, not carrying any of the baggage that American researchers carry in this area, have found out that sea levels are rising from warming and expanding oceans and we may have completely underestimated the whole thing!

#ClimateChange: Sea Levels Rising at Twice the Rate Scientists had Estimated! #Globalwarming #GOPDebate Click To Tweet

The findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal, suggest that increasingly severe storm surges could be anticipated as a result.

Sea level can mount due to two factors – melting ice and the thermal expansion of water as it warms.

Until now, researchers have believed the oceans rose between 0.7 to 1mm per year due to thermal expansion.  But a fresh look at the latest satellite data from 2002 to 2014 shows the seas are expanding about 1.4mm a year, said the study.

Thermal expansion and melting ice are resulting in an annual sea level rise rate of 2.74mm per year!  The rise rate is not the same everywhere.  It seems that the rate is 5 times the global average in the area near Philippines.

Ocean Warming and Rising Sea Level Trends – 1880 to now

The sea levels have been rising for the last couple of centuries now but have simply gone up almost exponentially since late 1960s.  Industrial revolution and population increase has a lot to do with it.

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If the study is correct, we maybe entering another round of increasing rate of rise!  The increase in sea levels align with the graph for rise in Ocean heat levels as well.

Ocean Heat Content

Ocean Heat Content (Ocean heat content (OHC), NOAA2012)

Over the years scientists have figured that deglaciation of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheet seems to be contributing to the increase in sea levels. Increased industrial activity and consequent rise in Co2 gas has been contributing to the rising sea levels. When models tried to extrapolate the impact of Co2 over the coming centuries, the scenario is pretty scary!

This graph shows the projected change in global sea level rise if atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations were to either quadruple or double. [28] The projection is based on several multi-century integrations of a GFDL global coupled ocean-atmosphere model. These projections are the expected changes due to thermal expansion of sea water alone, and do not include the effect of melted continental ice sheets. With the effect of ice sheets included, the total rise could be larger by a substantial factor.[28] Image credit: NOAA GFDL

This graph shows the projected change in global sea level rise if atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations were to either quadruple or double. [28] The projection is based on several multi-century integrations of a GFDL global coupled ocean-atmosphere model. These projections are the expected changes due to thermal expansion of sea water alone, and do not include the effect of melted continental ice sheets. With the effect of ice sheets included, the total rise could be larger by a substantial factor.[28] Image credit: NOAA GFDL

So what is the future?

The impact on our future generations is going to be devastating!  The impact will be on everything from creating extremes in climate to agriculture to loss of habitat.

  • increased coastal erosion
  •  higher storm-surge flooding
  • inhibition of primary production processes
  • more extensive coastal inundation
  • changes in surface water quality and groundwater characteristics
  • increased loss of property and coastal habitats,
  • increased flood risk and potential loss of life
  • loss of non-monetary cultural resources and values
  • impacts on agriculture and aquaculture through decline in soil and water quality
  • loss of tourism, recreation, and transportation functions
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Here is an infographic to explain the impact of the rising sea levels by the turn of the century.

 

Rising Sea Levels

From Visually.

 Featured Image: El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina (Flickr\Justin Vidamo)

Some Climate Change Books

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