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Archive for the ‘sea level rise’ Category

Collapse Headlines – 15 July 2010

Posted by feww on July 15, 2010

Indian Ocean sea level rise threatens millions in coastal areas

Millions are at risk along low-lying coastlines in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka as sea levels continue rising unevenly in the Indian Ocean: Study


Original Caption:  The Indian Ocean/West Pacific Warm Pool extends almost half way around the globe, stretching along the equator south of India, through the waters off Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and New Guinea, and into the central Pacific Ocean. The waters of the Warm Pool are warmer than any other open ocean on Earth. Because these waters are hot enough to drive heat and moisture high into the atmosphere, the warm pool has a large effect on the climate of surrounding lands. In fact, the slow fluctuations of size and intensity of the warm pool may be linked with the intensity of El Niño.

UCAR Caption: A new study in Nature Geoscience finds that Indian Ocean sea levels are rising unevenly and threatening residents in some densely populated coastal areas, particularly those along the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and Java. This image shows the key player in the process, the Indo-Pacific warm pool, in bright orange. This enormous, bathtub-shaped area spans a region of the tropical oceans from the east coast of Africa to the International Date Line in the Pacific. The warm pool has heated by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, or 0.5 degrees Celsius, in the past 50 years, primarily because of human-generated emissions of greenhouses gases. (Image source:  NASA Earth Observatory.)

“Our new results show that human-caused atmosphericoceanic circulation changes over the Indian Ocean, which have not been studied previously, contribute to the regional variability of sea-level change,” say the researchers.

“Sea level rise is particularly high along the coastlines of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and Java, the authors found. The rise—which may aggravate monsoon flooding in Bangladesh and India—could have future impacts on both regional and global climate.”

“The key player in the process is the Indo-Pacific warm pool, an enormous, bathtub-shaped area spanning a region of the tropical oceans from the east coast of Africa to the International Date Line in the Pacific. The warm pool has heated by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, or 0.5 degrees Celsius, in the past 50 years, primarily because of human-generated emissions of greenhouses gases.”

“Our results from this study imply that if future anthropogenic warming effects in the Indo-Pacific warm pool dominate natural variability, mid-ocean islands such as the Mascarenhas Archipelago, coasts of Indonesia, Sumatra, and the north Indian Ocean may experience significantly more sea level rise than the global average,” says the lead author.

World’s mangroves retreating at alarming rate: study

The world’s mangroves are being destroyed about 4 times faster than other forests, a new study reports.

“The ‘World Mangrove Atlas’ report noted that mangrove forests provide huge economic services, acting as nurseries for sea fish, storing carbon and providing robust defenses against floods and cyclones at a time of rising sea levels.” A report said.


A bird is seen in a swamp at Hithadoo at Addu Atoll December 9, 2009.  Credit: Reuters/Reinhard Krause. Image may be subject to copyright.

“The greatest drivers for mangrove forest loss are direct conversion to aquaculture, agriculture and urban land uses. Coastal zones are often densely populated and pressure for land intense. Where mangroves remain, they have often been degraded through overharvesting,” the study says.

Pollution Speeds Up Snow Melt in Europe, Asia

Springtime warming and snow melt are  occurring at a faster rate in Eurasia than in North America since 1980, a report said.

“Climate scientist Mark Flanner, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan and a recent Advanced Study Program graduate at the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Atmospheric Research, led a study that investigated these changes, ultimately finding that warming rates and snow cover decline in Eurasia may be twice what they are in North America.”

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Posted in cliamte change, Geoscience, Indian Ocean, sea level rise, West Pacific Warm Pool | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ocean Accumulated Significant Heat Content Since 1993

Posted by feww on May 20, 2010

Just How Much Warmer?

Can you imagine the power required to light on 500 100-watt light bulbs for every person on the planet (assume a population of 6.7 billion people).

That’s an estimate of how much warmer the the upper layer of the world’s ocean has become in since 1993, which points to “a strong climate change signal,” according to a new study called Robust Warming of the Global Upper Ocean.

“We are seeing the global ocean store more heat than it gives off,” said John Lyman, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, who led an international team of scientists that analyzed nine different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean from 1993 to 2008.

Current Sea Surface Temperatures


Source: SSEC/Wisc Uni. Click image to enlarge.

“The ocean is the biggest reservoir for heat in the climate system,” said Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one of the scientists who contributed to the study. “So as the planet warms, we’re finding that 80 to 90 percent of the increased heat ends up in the ocean.”

Global sea level rise is a direct effect of ocean warming. As the ocean heats up the seawater expands taking up more space.  The expansion is responsible for about 30% to 50%   sea level rise globally, researchers say.

“Combining multiple estimates of heat in the upper ocean – from the surface to about 2,000 feet down – the team found a strong multi-year warming trend throughout the world’s ocean. According to measurements by an array of autonomous free-floating ocean floats called Argo as well as by earlier devices called expendable bathythermographs or XBTs that were dropped from ships to obtain temperature data, ocean heat content has increased over the last 16 years.” NOAA reported.

The data, however, is subject to some “uncertainties and some biases,” researchers note.

“The XBT data give us vital information about past changes in the ocean, but they are not as accurate as the more recent Argo data,” said Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. “However, our analysis of these data gives us confidence that on average, the ocean has warmed over the past decade and a half, signaling a climate imbalance.”

“Data from the array of Argo floats­ – deployed by NOAA and other U.S. and international partners ­– greatly reduce the uncertainties in estimates of ocean heat content over the past several years, the team said. There are now more than 3,200 Argo floats distributed throughout the world’s ocean sending back information via satellite on temperature, salinity, currents and other ocean properties.” NOAA said.

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Links to Entries on Ocean Health:

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Posted in Climate Change, climate disasters, climate system, sea level rise, Sea Surface Temp | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Greenland Ice Sheet Losing Ice Mass

Posted by feww on March 24, 2010

Greenland Ice Sheet Losing Ice Mass on Northwest Coast: International Study

Greenland ice sheet lost about 1,604 km³ (385 cubic miles) of ice between April 2002 and February 2009, an amount equivalent to about 0.5 mm of sea-level rise each year, researchers say.

Greenland ice sheet has been losing an increasing amount of ice since 2000. Previously most of the loss was concentrated in its southern region, but now the loss is occurring in its northwest coast, a new international study says.


Click image to enlarge.


Greenland Melt Extent, 2005: Konrad Steffen and Russell Huff – Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado at Boulder

Researchers from Denmark Technical Institute’s National Space Institute in Copenhagen and the University of Colorado at Boulder say the ice-loss acceleration started moving up the northwest coast of Greenland in late 2005. “The team drew their conclusions by comparing data from NASA’s Gravity and Recovery Climate Experiment satellite system, or GRACE, with continuous GPS measurements made from long-term sites on bedrock on the edges of the ice sheet.”

The uplift rates of about 4 centimeters  were discovered close to the Thule Air Base on Greenland’s northwest coast between October 2005 to August 2009. “Although the low resolution of GRACE—a swath of about 155 miles, or 250 kilometers across—is not precise enough to pinpoint the source of the ice loss, the fact that the ice sheet is losing mass nearer to the ice sheet margins suggests the flows of Greenland outlet glaciers there are increasing in velocity, said the study authors.” The report said

“When we look at the monthly values from GRACE, the ice mass loss has been very dramatic along the northwest coast of Greenland,” said CU-Boulder physics Professor and study co-author John Wahr, also a fellow at CU-Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.

“This is a phenomenon that was undocumented before this study,” said Wahr. “Our speculation is that some of the big glaciers in this region are sliding downhill faster and dumping more ice in the ocean.”

“These changes on the Greenland ice sheet are happening fast, and we are definitely losing more ice mass than we had anticipated, ” said Isabella Velicogna of the University of California-Irvine, who also is a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We also are seeing this ice mass loss trend in Antarctica, a sign that warming temperatures really are having an effect on ice in Earth’s cold regions.”

Click here for the rest of the report and a computer simulation of Greenland Ice Melt.

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Posted in Ice Mass, ice-loss, ice-loss acceleration, polar ice, sea level rise | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Climate Change Feared Twice as Bad, Seas Up 2m

Posted by feww on November 25, 2009

Why Are ‘Scientists’ Deferring Impacts of Global Catastrophes?

Sea level rise projections for 22nd Century sideline impacts of current climatic catastrophes and make them seem like someone else’s problem!

Why don’t scientists report the short term impact of the climate change? What’s happening now? What’s going to happen next year, in 2 years, 3 years and 5 years from now?


Like them or not,  you can’t live without them. Polar bears are ‘canaries in ice’; they tell you how much time you have left.
Photo Credit: Dan Crosbie

Perhaps they have the best of intentions. Perhaps they don’t! Perhaps they want to give the governments a last chance to act. But that’s not the job of scientists.

In February 2005 our colleagues at MSRB postulated that the ‘Point of No Return’ would be reached by about June 2006.

Unless global energy consumption is reduced rapidly—by mid 2006—to levels below 60EJ/year (6E+19 joules/year), the runaway positive feedback loops that are destroying Earth’s ecosystems including ozone holes, global heating, extreme climatic events, toxic pollution, resources depletion, unethical conduct, war, and disease pandemics would reach the point of no return, overwhelm our life support systems and render most of our population centers uninhabitable by as early as 2015, possibly earlier, according to our dynamic energy models.

And argued:

Failure to rein back global energy consumption to levels below 60 exajoules by June 2006 would render the concept of sustainable management redundant (it seems highly unlikely that post industrial civilization would voluntarily sacrifice its perceived privileges and values in favor of sustaining life on Earth).

Then in November 2007 colleagues at EDRO revealed that, based on their models, about 20 percent of the world  cities could collapse partially or completely by as early as 2012, citing a list of probable mechanism that would accelerate the collapse.

[About 20 percent of the] world’s cities [could] collapse completely or partially by or before 2012 in the first wave of collapse. The collapse would be caused by a combination of failing ecosystems, human-enhanced environmental catastrophes; failing infrastructure; food, water and fuel shortages; infectious disease; war, civil conflict and other dynamics. Following the first phase of collapse, massive waves of human migration from the affected areas create a domino effect that causes the collapse of the remaining population centers shortly after.

Now 26 ‘experts’ who have authored a new report [Update] called The Copenhagen Diagnosis have urged world governments to cap rising greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 or 2020 [thanks for the 5-year grace period] to avoid the deadliest impacts of climate change.  Ironically, many of these authors were on the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and they in 2007 effectively downplayed the sea level rises, limiting the upcoming disaster to between 18 cm and 59 cm (7-24 inches) by 2100 [they were completely surprised when melting of Greenland and Antarctica ice accelerated.]

Current sea-level rise underestimated: Satellites show recent global average sea-level rise (3.4 mm/yr over the past 15 years) to be ~80% above past IPCC predictions. This acceleration in sea-level rise is consistent with a doubling in contribution from melting of glaciers, ice caps, and the Greenland and West-Antarctic ice-sheets. —The Copenhagen Diagnosis

In a  joint statement the group citing catastrophic factors including the Arctic sea ice retreat in summer and accelerated melting of  Greenland ice sheets and Antarctica said:

Climate change is accelerating beyond expectations.

Richard C. J. Somerville,  Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, and a Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report said:

Carbon dioxide emissions cannot be allowed to continue to rise if humanity intends to limit the risk of unacceptable climate change.

For heaven’s sake, give it to them straight: QUANTIFY!

Arguably the most prominent member of the group Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Professor of Theoretical Physics and Director of the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany, Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) and a longstanding member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said:

This is a final scientific call for the climate negotiators from 192 countries who must embark on the climate protection train in Copenhagen.

The report doesn’t tell us what the members think about the short term impact of climate change. Colleagues at EDRO do! In a recent conversation

EDRO estimated that climate change could directly affect about half the population in the UK  in the next 3 to 5 years.

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The Copenhagen Diagnosis, 2009: Updating the world on the Latest Climate

Posted in collapse, Copenhagen Diagnosis, energy consumption, global change, melting of glaciers, sea level rise | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

14 pct of World Population Losing Habitat

Posted by feww on September 21, 2009

The world’s major river deltas are sinking

Most of the world’s major river deltas are sinking from human activity, increasing the risk of flooding which would affect hundreds of millions of people.

According to a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder, “24 out of the world’s 33 major deltas are sinking and that 85 percent experienced severe flooding in recent years, resulting in the temporary submergence of roughly 100,000 square miles of land.”

About 14 percent of the world’s population, more than half a billion people who live on river deltas, will be affected.

Researchers calculated that 85% of major deltas have experienced severe flooding in the last decade, concluding that the area of flood prone zones will increase by about 50% in the next few decades as sea levels rise and more of the river deltas sink.

Media Report is included in full:

World’s River Deltas Sinking Due to Human Activity, Says New Study Led by CU-Boulder

A new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder indicates most of the world’s low-lying river deltas are sinking from human activity, making them increasingly vulnerable to flooding from rivers and ocean storms and putting tens of millions of people at risk.

While the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report concluded many river deltas are at risk from sea level rise, the new study indicates other human factors are causing deltas to sink significantly. The researchers concluded the sinking of deltas from Asia and India to the Americas is exacerbated by the upstream trapping of sediments by reservoirs and dams, man-made channels and levees that whisk sediment into the oceans beyond coastal floodplains, and the accelerated compacting of floodplain sediment caused by the extraction of groundwater and natural gas.

Figure below: An image of the Pearl River Delta in China taken by NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour during the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission in 2000. The areas below sea level are shown in purple. Image courtesy NASA, CSDMS, University of Colorado.

 Mekong & Myanmar & Pearl

The study concluded that 24 out of the world’s 33 major deltas are sinking and that 85 percent experienced severe flooding in recent years, resulting in the temporary submergence of roughly 100,000 square miles of land. About 500 million people in the world live on river deltas.

Published in the Sept. 20 issue of Nature Geoscience, the study was led by CU-Boulder Professor James Syvitski, who is directing a $4.2 million effort funded by the National Science Foundation to model large-scale global processes on Earth like erosion and flooding. Known as the Community Surface Dynamic Modeling System, or CSDMS, the effort involves hundreds of scientists from dozens of federal labs and universities around the nation.

The Nature Geoscience authors predict that global delta flooding could increase by 50 percent under current projections of about 18 inches in sea level rise by the end of the century as forecast by the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The flooding will increase even more if the capture of sediments upstream from deltas by reservoirs and other water diversion projects persists and prevents the growth and buffering of the deltas, according to the study.

“We argue that the world’s low-lying deltas are increasingly vulnerable to flooding, either from their feeding rivers or from ocean storms,” said CU-Boulder Research Associate Albert Kettner, a co-author on the study at CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and member of the CSDMS team. “This study shows there are a host of human-induced factors that already cause deltas to sink much more rapidly than could be explained by sea level alone.”

Other study co-authors include CU-Boulder’s Irina Overeem, Eric Hutton and Mark Hannon, G. Robert Brakenridge of Dartmouth College, John Day of Louisiana State University, Charles Vorosmarty of City College of New York, Yoshiki Saito of the Geological Survey of Japan, Liviu Giosan of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Robert Nichols of the University of Southampton in England.

The team used satellite data from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, which carried a bevy of radar instruments that swept more than 80 percent of Earth’s surface during a 12-day mission of the space shuttle Endeavour in 2000. The researchers compared the SRTM data with historical maps published between 1760 and 1922.

“Every year, about 10 million people are being affected by storm surges,” said CU-Boulder’s Overeem, also an INSTAAR researcher and CSDMS scientist. “Hurricane Katrina may be the best example that stands out in the United States, but flooding in the Asian deltas of Irrawaddy in Myanmar and the Ganges-Brahmaputra in India and Bangladesh have recently claimed thousands of lives as well.”

The researchers predict that similar disasters could potentially occur in the Pearl River delta in China and the Mekong River delta in Vietnam, where thousands of square miles are below sea level and the regions are hit by periodic typhoons.

“Although humans have largely mastered the everyday behaviour of lowland rivers, they seem less able to deal with the fury of storm surges that can temporarily raise sea level by three to 10 meters (10 to 33 feet),” wrote the study authors. “It remains alarming how often deltas flood, whether from land or from sea, and the trend seems to be worsening.”

“We are interested in how landscapes and seascapes change over time, and how materials like water, sediments and nutrients are transported from one place to another,” said Syvitski a geological sciences professor at CU-Boulder. “The CSDMS effort will give us a better understanding of Earth and allow us to make better predictions about areas at risk to phenomena like deforestation, forest fires, land-use changes and the impacts of climate change.”

For more information on INSTAAR visit instaar.colorado.edu/index.html. For more information on CSDMS visit csdms.colorado.edu/wiki/Main_Page. —  © Regents of the University of Colorado

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Posted in Geoscience, global delta flooding, low-lying river deltas, Pearl River Delta, sea level rise | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Greenland Ice Melt Faster Than IPCC Estimates

Posted by feww on December 11, 2007

“The amount of ice lost by Greenland over the last year is the equivalent of two times all the ice in the Alps, or a layer of water more than one-half mile deep covering Washington DC,” said Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Using satellite data, Steffen and his colleagues have monitored the rapid thinning of ice, which was 10 percent greater than the previous record year in 2005.

If all the ice in Greenland melted, about one-twentieth of the world’s total, the sea level would rise by 6.4 meters globally.

rate_of_change_in_ice_sheet_height-2.jpg

According to a National Snow and Ice Center report in May, the Arctic ice cap was melting much faster than predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and was now about 30 years ahead of IPCC forecast. Read more…

Is melting ice the world’s foremost problem? Read more…

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    Posted in Al Gore, Climate Change, costal flooding, Global Warming, Greenland ice sheet, health, IPCC, National Snow and Ice Center, politics, sea level rise | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »