Sea Level Rise

[ There are four major sources of sea level rise that are related to human activity: thermal expansion (as ocean water heats up, it physically expands), melting mountain glaciers worldwide, the continental ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, and the pumping of groundwater for human use.  So much new information keeps coming out that I haven’t been able to keep up with the latest predictions, though here’s one I ran across today. Alice Friedemann ]

Damian Carrington. February 8, 2016. Sea-level rise ‘could last twice as long as human history’. TheGuardian.

A report published in the journal Nature Climate Change, notes that one of the biggest consequences for civilization will be the long-term melting of polar ice caps and sea-level rise. Ice sheets take thousand of years to react fully to higher temperatures.  Even if temperatures rise less than 2C, sea level will rise by 25 meters over the next 2,000 years  and remain that high for at least 10,000 years – twice as long as human history. Higher than that and the sea would rise by 50m and Entire populations would have to move. By far the greatest contributor to the sea level rise – about 80% – would be the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet. Another new study in Nature Climate Change published on Monday reveals that some large Antarctic ice sheets are dangerously close to losing the sea ice shelves that hold back their flow into the ocean. Huge floating sea ice shelves around Antarctica provide buttresses for the glaciers and ice sheets on the continent. But when they are lost to melting, as happened the with Larsen B shelf in 2002, the speed of flow into the ocean can increase eight-fold.

August 2014   A new study published Wednesday in the open-source journal Earth Systems Dynamics provides that upper bounds for the first time, and it’s bigger than we thought: Antarctica alone may contribute up to 37 cm (14.5 inches) to global seas by 2100, more than triple previous worst-case estimates.

Tanya Lewis. 8 Nov 2012. Sea level rise overflowing estimates Feedback mechanisms are speeding up ice melt. Science News.

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