Thursday, February 20, 2014

Vision Prize: Scientists Are Worried the IPCC Is Underestimating Sea Level Rise

Graph by Stefan Rahmstorf comparing measured sea level rise (red and blue) to previous IPCC estimates (grey and dashed lines), showing sea level rise is happening faster than expected. Click to enlarge. `
The Vision Prize is an online survey of scientists about climate risk.  It's an impartial and independent research platform for incentivized polling of experts on important scientific issues that are relevant to policymakers.

In its latest survey, the Vision Prize results revealed that, despite the much higher sea level rise estimates this time around, the survey participants are worried that the IPCC is still underestimating future sea level rise.  41 percent responded that it's likely or very likely that sea level rise will exceed the IPCC highest estimate, and 71 percent answering that it's at least as likely as not.  Conversely, only 5 percent responded that it's likely sea level rise will be less than the IPCC lowest estimate, and 83 percent called this scenario unlikely.

These results broadly agree with a recent survey carried out by scientists in Germany and the US.  In this survey, 90 researchers who'd published sea level research in the last 5 years concluded that sea level rise by 2100 is likely to be between 0.7 and 1.2 meters if we continue on a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions path.  Two-thirds of the experts responded that sea level could rise more than the upper end of the IPCC's projected range by 2100, consistent with the Vision Prize survey results.

On the other hand, if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced strongly, the experts expected sea level rise to be between 0.4 and 0.6 meters by 2100.  These results suggest that the Vision Prize participants may be pessimistic that we'll transition away from a business-as-usual emissions path.

Vision Prize: Scientists Are Worried the IPCC Is Underestimating Sea Level Rise

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