Saturday, March 03, 2018

Rising Sea Levels Come at Steeper Cost

Rising sea levels bring the prospect of more violence and expense.  Four new studies confirm the menace of the waves.

Cliff-top boulders on Ireland’s Aran Islands, moved inland by recent storms. (Image Credit: Peter Cox) Click to Enlarge.
Delay in slowing rising sea levels is dangerous.  Each five-year delay in limiting global carbon emissions into the atmosphere now will increase sea level rise for the next three centuries.

This warning is based on computer models of global warming and sea level rise – but a second study based on very precise measurements over the last 25 years confirms that the models are reliable – and that sea level rise is already accelerating.

As sea levels rise, then so does the level of storm damage to coasts and coastal cities:  a recent study of the coast of South Carolina warns that financial losses caused by hurricanes could rise by 70% by 2100.

And, for the doubters, a fourth piece of research delivers the ultimate in hard evidence:  winter storms off the Irish coast have shifted boulders that weigh up to 620 tons (630 metric tons) and hurled smaller boulders of up to 100 tons far above the high tide mark.

German scientists report in the journal Nature Communications that they started from the premise that sea level rise must happen in decades to come because of fossil fuels already burned, to release ever greater proportions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
“Every delay in peaking emissions by five years between 2020 and 2035 could mean an additional 20 cms of sea level rise in the end,” said Matthias Mengel from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

And his co-author Carl-Friedrich Schleussner said:  “The Paris Agreement calls for emissions to peak as soon as possible.  This might sound like a hollow phrase to some, but our results show that there are quantifiable consequences of delaying action.”

Global sea level rise has not been steadily increasing:  it has been accelerating.  US researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they examined 25 years of satellite data to find that the water lapping at the world’s coasts is rising, and the rate of rise is getting faster, as the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica start to melt at a greater rate.

Read more at Rising Sea Levels Come at Steeper Cost

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