Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Flood Alert as Warming Raises Sea Levels Threat

Flood prevention measures such as the Maeslantkering storm surge barrier in the Hook of Holland would not cope with projected sea level rises. (Image Credit: Bert Knottenbeld via Wikimedia Commons) Click to Enlarge.
Scientists warn countries in northern Europe to plan for dramatic new worst-case scenarios as climate change increases the risk of seas sweeping inland.

Europe could face a higher marine invasion than anybody anticipated.  As polar ice melts, tides could be as much as 1.5 meters (4.9 ft) higher around the coasts of Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands and England, according to a new study.

This is considerably higher than the average sea level rise – driven by global warming as a consequence of burning fossil fuels – projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change under a “business as usual” scenario and a global average temperature rise of 4°C.

But there is no contradiction.  The discrepancy arises because the seas have never been level, and the land keeps moving too.

Aslak Grinsted, associate professor in the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues report in the journal Climate Research that they took a closer look at the dynamics of sea level change in the North Sea, the North Atlantic and the Baltic for the remainder of this century.

Land uplift
“Even though the oceans are rising, they do not rise evenly across the globe,” Dr Grinsted says.  “This is partly due to changes in the gravitational field and land uplift.”

Later, the authors make reference to the 2010 Russian heat wave and the current drought in California.  This new study reconciles past conflicting studies where very little evidence of a climate link was found of general circulation changes, but evidence is clear of in the thermodynamics.

Without getting too deep in the weeds, the authors also explain why other teams have failed to make a connection between extreme weather and a warming planet.

Read more at New Flood Alert as Warming Raises Sea Levels Threat

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