Ocean levels on Earth have risen an average of three inches in the last 23 years, and could rise an additional three feet in the next century, according to an interdisciplinary NASA team charged with measuring changing sea levels.
Scientists from NASA Wednesday presented satellite data gathered since 1992 that measured ocean levels rising at an average of 3 millimeters per year. The findings pointed to thermal expansion caused by warming ocean temperatures, as well as melting ice sheets and glaciers, as the reasons for the rise — and scientists warned that the rate at which sea levels are climbing is accelerating.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made a comprehensive assessment of rising sea levels in 2013, with climate experts stating that oceans would rise from one to three feet by the end of the century.
But NASA said Wednesday that satellite data gathered since then has shown that sea levels will climb to the higher end of that range, though it will be difficult to predict exactly how long it will take to reach that level.
Along with partners from French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA has been tracking changing sea levels and the melting of ice sheets and glaciers using satellites equipped with highly sensitive instruments.
Mike Freilich, director of NASA’s earth science division in Washington, explained that the satellites were so accurate that they would be able to detect the movement of a dime lying on the ground from 40,000 feet above it.
The scientists said that melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica have been contributing to rising sea levels sooner and more significantly than they had anticipated…
Sea levels don’t rise uniformly across the planet, and in some places — particularly on the West coast of the U.S. — they are actually declining due to natural cycles of ocean currents. The scientists expect sea levels in those regions to catch up, and perhaps to exceed global average sea levels.
“People need to understand that the planet is not only changing, it’s changed,” said NASA scientist Tom Wagner…
Researchers noted that with the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melting, it will be difficult for scientists to predict when sea levels will rise as a result because they have never actually witnessed the collapse of an ice sheet.
This will not bother the folks who not only never witnessed a conversation with a burning bush – they can’t find scientific record of such an occurrence. But, they still believe.
The same cultural rejection of science and scientific research that justifies superstition makes it easy to place the fate of future generations in the hands of politicians who make the same noises as your grandparents. And that’s true whether your rationale is defined in terms of ideology, religion or just something your favorite demagogue said, last Thursday on the radio.
Banaz Mahmod, an ‘honour killing’ victim strangled in 2006
The number of women and girls in the UK suffering violence and intimidation at the hands of their families or communities is increasing rapidly, according to figures revealing the nationwide scale of “honour” abuse for the first time.
Statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act about such violence – which can include threats, abduction, acid attacks, beatings, forced marriage, mutilation and murder – show that in the 12 police force areas for which comparable data was available, reports went up by 47% in just a year.
The figures, shared with the Guardian by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (Ikwro), also reveal that a small number of forces – including four in Scotland – are still not collecting data on how often such violence occurs.
The 39 police forces that gave Ikwro figures recorded 2,823 incidents in 2010…But this is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg, campaigners say, as so many incidents go unreported because of victims’ fears of recriminations…
Ikwro’s campaigns officer, Fionnuala Ni Mhurchu, said the increase was probably due partly to better police awareness and to more victims coming forward after coverage of high-profile prosecutions, but that violence itself was also increasing as young people increasingly refused to bow to their families’ demands.
“They’re resisting abuses of their human rights such as forced marriage more and more,” she said. “And as a result they’re being subjected to this kind of violence. We hear from the community that this violence is on the increase.
“These figures are important because they demonstrate this is not a minor problem – it is a serious issue affecting thousands of people a year, many of whom will suffer high levels of abuse before they seek help. We want the government to develop a national strategy on honour-based violence that covers not just policing but also issues such as education and community cohesion…”
Immigrants need to understand they are in a nation where the law of the land has primacy – and will be enforced. No doubt many come from countries where a blind eye is turned to criminal fanatics who abuse young women and men in the name of religion and culture. They must be assured this is not the case in the UK and the US.
I think one of these reasons our immigrant population – especially from theocratic lands in South Asia and the Middle East – suffers these indignities less often in the United States is exactly that they become cause celebre and receive strong legal attention. For whatever reasons, similar efforts in the UK seem to be overdue.
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new study. The findings of the study – the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass – suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth’s mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted…
The nearly 20-year study reveals that in 2006, a year in which comparable results for mass loss in mountain glaciers and ice caps are available from a separate study conducted using other methods, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets lost a combined mass of 475 gigatonnes a year on average. That’s enough to raise global sea level by an average of 1.3 millimeters (.05 inches) a year. (A gigatonne is one billion metric tons, or more than 2.2 trillion pounds.) Ice sheets are defined as being larger than 50,000 square kilometers, or 20,000 square miles, and only exist in Greenland and Antarctica while ice caps are areas smaller than 50,000 square km.
The pace at which the polar ice sheets are losing mass was found to be accelerating rapidly. Each year over the course of the study, the two ice sheets lost a combined average of 36.3 gigatonnes more than they did the year before. In comparison, the 2006 study of mountain glaciers and ice caps estimated their loss at 402 gigatonnes a year on average, with a year-over-year acceleration rate three times smaller than that of the ice sheets.
“That ice sheets will dominate future sea level rise is not surprising — they hold a lot more ice mass than mountain glaciers,” said lead author Eric Rignot, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the University of California, Irvine. “What is surprising is this increased contribution by the ice sheets is already happening. If present trends continue, sea level is likely to be significantly higher than levels projected by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. Our study helps reduce uncertainties in near-term projections of sea level rise.”
Rignot’s team combined nearly two decades (1992-2009) of monthly satellite measurements with advanced regional atmospheric climate model data to examine changes in ice sheet mass and trends in acceleration of ice loss…
The team found that for each year over the 18-year study, the Greenland ice sheet lost mass faster than it did the year before, by an average of 21.9 gigatonnes a year. In Antarctica, the year-over-year speedup in ice mass lost averaged 14.5 gigatonnes…
While this provides one indication of the potential contribution ice sheets could make to sea level in the coming century, the authors caution that considerable uncertainties remain in estimating future ice loss acceleration.
The inherent conservatism of bona fide scientists once again accounts for the element of a “surprising” rate of melting. Not that it means much to pundits or politicians committed to fossil fuel funding. Or, sadly, a populace in general that’s hardly past WW2 in terms of general understanding of science.
The flywheel effect is so strong that even when people are pushed far enough, no longer being able to ignore reality – it will take generations to begin to halt and then reverse the effects of global warming.
Global warming conjures images of rising seas that threaten coastal areas. But in Juneau, as almost nowhere else in the world, climate change is having the opposite effect: As the glaciers here melt, the land is rising, causing the sea to retreat.
Morgan DeBoer, a property owner, opened a nine-hole golf course at the mouth of Glacier Bay in 1998, on land that was underwater when his family first settled here 50 years ago. “The highest tides of the year would come into what is now my driving range area,” Mr. DeBoer said.
Now, with the high-tide line receding even farther, he is contemplating adding another nine holes. “It just keeps rising,” he said.
The geology is complex, but it boils down to this: Relieved of billions of tons of glacial weight, the land has risen much as a cushion regains its shape after someone gets up from a couch. The land is ascending so fast that the rising seas — a ubiquitous byproduct of global warming — cannot keep pace. As a result, the relative sea level is falling, at a rate “among the highest ever recorded,” according to a 2007 report by a panel of experts convened by Mayor Bruce Botelho of Juneau.
Greenland and a few other places have experienced similar effects from widespread glacial melting that began more than 200 years ago, geologists say. But, they say, the effects are more noticeable in and near Juneau, where most glaciers are retreating 30 feet a year or more.
As a result, the region faces unusual environmental challenges. As the sea level falls relative to the land, water tables fall, too, and streams and wetlands dry out. Land is emerging from the water to replace the lost wetlands, shifting property boundaries and causing people to argue about who owns the acreage and how it should be used. And meltwater carries the sediment scoured long ago by the glaciers to the coast, where it clouds the water and silts up once-navigable channels.
Article worth reading for the subjective feeling where and when something like this happens within human scale. There are other locations around the globe where glaciers from the last great Ice Age retreated tens of thousands of years ago – and the rebound effect is still at play.
It’s all local.
Photo courtesy Stanley Tom
The indigenous people of Alaska have stood firm against some of the most extreme weather conditions on Earth for thousands of years. But now, flooding blamed on climate change is forcing at least one Eskimo village to move to safer ground.
The community of the tiny coastal village of Newtok voted to relocate its 340 residents to new homes 9 miles away, up the Ninglick River. The village, home to indigenous Yup’ik Eskimos, is the first of possibly scores of threatened Alaskan communities that could be abandoned.
Warming temperatures are melting coastal ice shelves and frozen sub-soils, which act as natural barriers to protect the village against summer deluges from ocean storm surges.
“We are seeing the erosion, flooding and sinking of our village right now,” said Stanley Tom, a Yup’ik Eskimo and tribal administrator for the Newtok Traditional Council…
Newtok is just one example of what the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns is part of a growing climate change crisis that will displace 150 million people by 2050…
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that moving Newtok could cost $130 million. Twenty-six other Alaskan villages are in immediate danger, with an additional 60 considered under threat in the next decade, according to the corps.
Of course, we could just sit back and listen to the country club set discuss it to death for another forty years.