Climate scientists predict accelerating sea level rise

One of the great things about science is that it allows you to make predictions. Three top climate scientists just made a very bold prediction regarding sea level rise; we should know in a few years if they are correct…

For instance, the oceans are rising. We know that’s indisputable. Measurements taken from physical gauges and from satellites confirm sea level rise. The cause of the rise is more complex…

The three ways we know sea levels are rising are from physical tide gauges, from satellites that measure the water height, and from satellites that measure where ice is stored across the globe. While tide gauge measurements go back many years, they only measure water levels at their location. Many tide gauges have to be in place to get an accurate sense of what is happening globally.

Satellites, on the other hand, are much more capable of taking global measurements. The problem with satellites is they have only been taking measurements since approximately 1993 (not nearly as long as tide gauges). So scientists try to combine these two measurements to get a long-term and global picture of what is really happening.

A very recent paper published in Nature has evaluated the history of sea level rise, and what they find is really interesting…Using satellite data, the authors found little evidence of an acceleration. However, they show that this is because the satellites began measuring in 1993, right after a large volcanic eruption (Mount Pinatubo). This eruption temporarily reduced global warming because particles from the eruption blocked sunlight. Just by coincidence, the timing of the satellites and the eruption has affected the water rise so that it appears to be linear. Had the eruption not occurred, the rate would have increased.

This allows the scientists to make a prediction:

barring another major volcanic eruption, a detectable acceleration is likely to emerge from the noise of internal climate variability in the coming decade.

This means that the authors will be able to statistically observe an increase, even though the Earth experiences natural changes that may mask any increase.

…Dr. Fasullo…told me:

This article shows that the acceleration of sea level rise is real and ongoing. It is also an example of how climate models can play a key role in both the interpretation of observations and the prediction of near-future climate.

While only time will tell if they are right, I’d put my money on the scientists.

I’ll second that emotion.

5 thoughts on “Climate scientists predict accelerating sea level rise

  1. Not my problem says:

    This year’s on track to be the hottest yet globally as June marked the 14th consecutive month of record heat. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef faces ecosystem collapse; Arctic sea ice is continuing to shrink, and new research shows Greenland has lost 9 trillion tons of ice this century. Meanwhile it appears that climate change may increase the spread of rare diseases like the Zika virus and hotter, drier temps are creating conditions for more wildfires and drought.
    What will it take before there’s a tipping point – outbreaks of spontaneous human combustion?

  2. Cassandra says:

    Sea level rise is accelerating every year, “like a driver merging onto a highway” “A study published today (Feb. 12) used satellite data to confirm the predictions of the best climate computer models: The global average sea level is not rising by a steady increment each year, but is accelerating. Decades from now, the annual rate of ocean level rise is likely to be much more dramatic than in recent years.”
    “Climate-change–driven accelerated sea-level rise detected in the altimeter era” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
    “Satellites show warming is accelerating sea level rise” (A/P) “”It’s a big deal” because the projected sea level rise is a conservative estimate and it is likely to be higher, said lead author Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado.”

  3. Cassandra says:

    (BBC 5/20/19) “Climate change: Global sea level rise could be bigger than expected”
    (CNN 5/21/19) “Global sea levels could rise more than two meters (6.6 feet) by the end of this century if emissions continue unchecked, swamping major cities such as New York and Shanghai and displacing up to 187 million people, a new study warns. The study, which was released Monday, says sea levels may rise much faster than previously estimated due to the accelerating melting of ice sheets in both Greenland and Antarctica.
    “Ice sheet contributions to future sea-level rise from structured expert judgment” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): (published May 20, 2019)

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