Here is some of the latest news on sea levels. If global warming is true the scientists who wrote this article might be correct. Of course, all this plays out until 2100 and I am not altogether too sure that we can keep all this in one piece until then!
UA climate research: Big stretch of US coast at risk of rising seas
If global temperatures continue to rise and polar ice continues to melt, 9 percent of the land in our coastal cities and towns will be beneath sea level by the end of the century, University of Arizona researchers say.
Climate researchers Jeremy Weiss and Jonathan Overpeck, along with Ben Strauss of Climate Central in Princeton, N.J., mapped the U.S. coastline, using elevations provided by the U.S. Geological Survey. They applied the most recent predictions of a sea level rise of 1 meter (3.28 feet) by 2100 to produce a map that predicts big trouble for 20 cities with more than 300,000 people and for 160 smaller municipalities.
Weiss is a senior researcher in geosciences. Overpeck is a professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences and co-director of the UA’s Institute of the Environment.
The report was published last week in Climatic Change Letters.
The biggest impact will be felt in low-lying, heavily populated places such as New Orleans, Miami Beach and Virginia Beach, the report says.
Subsequent centuries will bring even higher sea levels that could completely submerge some large coastal cities, the researchers say.
It’s not news in New Orleans, said geographer Richard Campanella of Tulane University. Half its urban area is already below sea level.
It was above sea level in the late 19th century, he said, but levees built to protect New Orleans from seasonal floods on the Mississippi River starved the delta of fresh water and sediment. Municipal drainage projects subsequently caused the soils to compact. The city sank, and continues to do so, Campanella said.
Weiss said his study did not consider the impact of protective measures such as sea walls and levees, which are in place in New Orleans and other areas on the map.
Campanella said those protections will fail if sea levels rise as predicted.
It is tough to protect places like Miami Beach, said Robert Deyle, a professor of urban and regional planning at Florida State University.
You could build a huge sea wall around Miami Beach, but infiltration of its shallow aquifer would just fill it like a bathtub, he said.
Deyle said many areas of Florida will face adverse effects from sea-level rise long before the end of the century.
Infiltration and increased property damage from storm surges will be the first signs, he said. A report he prepared with other Florida State researchers says a storm with a severity that could be expected every 100 years would have the force of a 500-year event with a meter’s rise in sea level.
“The message from our work,” said Weiss, “is that one of the most popular landscapes we want to live in or recreate on – the coast – is looking squarely at major impacts from rising sea level in the next century.”
The change will be incremental, said Weiss.
Those polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica melt slowly, like a block of ice in the sun, he said. If nothing is done to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and rising temperatures, they will continue to melt over centuries, placing 36 percent of our urbanized coastline beneath sea level, the report says.
“Temperatures by 2100 may be warm enough to commit Earth to at least 4-6 m(eters) of global SLR (sea level rise) over following centuries as the polar ice sheets adjust to the comparatively rapid and largely irreversible global warming that occurs this century,” the report says.
“In terms of sea-level projections, we’re looking squarely at one meter of rise by 2100 with the continuing of current rates of greenhouse gases,” said Weiss.
With that rise only 90 years away, he said, it could affect people born today.
Deyle said Florida governments are beginning to plan for rising sea levels, but he still hears remarks such as “I’ll be dead by then.”
“All the alternatives are really expensive and politically fatal,” Deyle said.
Barrier islands and low-lying beach towns are not the only targets of sea-level rise, the report says.
Cities with bay and river connections, such as Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C., will also be affected.
The Gulf Coast states and the Southern coast will be hardest hit, the study says, but coastal land everywhere will be affected.
Contact reporter Tom Beal at email@example.com or 573-4158.
No matter what happens the sea coasts might now be too safe considering the number of earthquakes that are occurring across the globe. If one of these large ones happens in just the right spot a large tsunami can be generated and cause immense devastation…it has happened before and can happen again!
I wish this weren’t so! No matter what the scandal is on global warming, the sea continues to rise…why? Ice cap melt, rain? The end result is the same, low lying areas near on in the ocean will disappear!
Disputed island disappears into sea
by Associated Press , on Mar 25, 2010 11:41 am ET
NEW DELHI (AP) – For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them: the island’s gone.
New Moore Island, in the Sunderbans, has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said.
“What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.
Scientists at the School of Oceanographic Studies at the university have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels have risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal.
Until 2000, the sea levels rose about 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) a year, but over the last decade they have been rising about 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) annually, he said.
Another nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitants to move to the mainland, while almost half the land of Ghoramara island was underwater, he said. At least 10 other islands in the area were at risk as well, Hazra said.
“We will have ever larger numbers of people displaced from the Sunderbans as more island areas come under water,” he said.
Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation of 150 million people, is one of the countries worst-affected by global warming. Officials estimate 18 percent of Bangladesh’s coastal area will be underwater and 20 million people will be displaced if sea levels rise 1 meter (3.3 feet) by 2050 as projected by some climate models.
India and Bangladesh both claimed the empty New Moore Island, which is about 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) long and 3 kilometers (1.5 miles) wide. Bangladesh referred to the island as South Talpatti.
There were no permanent structures on New Moore, but India sent some paramilitary soldiers to its rocky shores in 1981 to hoist its national flag.
The demarcation of the maritime boundary — and who controls the remaining islands — remains an open issue between the two South Asian neighbors, despite the disappearance of New Moore, said an official in India’s foreign ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on international disputes.
Higher ground might be a good place to be for the next several decades. That oceanfront condo…maybe not!
Changing one’s diet can be an effective way to reduce carbon emissions
STOCKHOLM — Shopping for oatmeal, Helena Bergstrom, 37, admitted that she was flummoxed by the label on the blue box reading, “Climate declared: .87 kg CO2 per kg of product.”
“Right now, I don’t know what this means,” said Ms. Bergstrom, a pharmaceutical company employee.
But if a new experiment here succeeds, she and millions of other Swedes will soon find out. New labels listing the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of foods, from whole wheat pasta to fast food burgers, are appearing on some grocery items and restaurant menus around the country.
People who live to eat might dismiss this as silly. But changing one’s diet can be as effective in reducing emissions of climate-changing gases as changing the car one drives or doing away with the clothes dryer, scientific experts say.
“We’re the first to do it, and it’s a new way of thinking for us,” said Ulf Bohman, head of the Nutrition Department at the Swedish National Food Administration, which was given the task last year of creating new food guidelines giving equal weight to climate and health. “We’re used to thinking about safety and nutrition as one thing and environmental as another.”
Some of the proposed new dietary guidelines, released over the summer, may seem startling to the uninitiated. They recommend that Swedes favor carrots over cucumbers and tomatoes, for example. (Unlike carrots, the latter two must be grown in heated greenhouses here, consuming energy.)They are not counseled to eat more fish, despite the health benefits, because Europe’s stocks are depleted. And somewhat less surprisingly, they are advised to substitute beans or chicken for red meat, in view of the heavy greenhouse gas emissions associated with raising cattle.
“For consumers, it’s hard,” Mr. Bohman acknowledged. “You are getting environmental advice that you have to coordinate with, ‘How can I eat healthier?’ ”
Don’t make me choose
Many Swedish diners say it is just too much to ask.
“I wish I could say that the information has made me change what I eat, but it hasn’t,”said Richard Lalander, 27, who was eating a Max hamburger (1.7 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions) in the shadow of a menu board revealing that a chicken sandwich (0.4 kilograms) would have been better for the planet.
Yet if the new food guidelines were religiously heeded, some experts say, Sweden could cut its emissions from food production by 20 to 50 percent. An estimated 25 percent of the emissions produced by people in industrialized nations can be traced to the food they eat, according to recent research here. And foods vary enormously in the emissions released in their production.
While today’s American or European shoppers may be well versed in checking for nutrients, calories or fat content, they often have little idea of whether eating tomatoes, chicken or rice is good or bad for the climate.
Complicating matters, the emissions impact of, say, a carrot, can vary by a factor of 10, depending how and where it is grown.
High environmental costs due to transportation of food and the raising cattle
Earlier studies of food emissions focused on the high environmental costs of transporting food and raising cattle. But more nuanced research shows that the emissions depend on many factors, including the type of soil used to grow the food and whether a dairy farmer uses local rapeseed or imported soy for cattle feed.
Business groups, farming cooperatives and organic labeling programs as well as the government have gamely come up with coordinated ways to identify food choices.
Max, Sweden’s largest homegrown chain of burger restaurants, now puts emissions calculations next to each item on its menu boards. Lantmannen, Sweden’s largest farming group, has begun placing precise labels on some categories of foods in grocery stores, including chicken, oatmeal, barley and pasta.
Consumers who pay attention may learn that emissions generated by growing the nation’s most popular grain, rice, are two to three times those of little-used barley, for example.
Some producers argue that the new programs are overly complex and threaten profits. The dietary recommendations, which are being circulated for comment not just in Sweden but across the European Union, have been attacked by the Continent’s meat industry, Norwegian salmon farmers and Malaysian palm oil growers, to name a few.
“This is trial and error; we’re still trying to see what works,” Mr. Bohman said.
Next year, KRAV, Scandinavia’s main organic certification program, will start requiring farmers to convert to low-emissions techniques if they want to display its coveted seal on products, meaning that most greenhouse tomatoes can no longer be called organic.Those standards have stirred some protests.
“There are farmers who are happy and farmers who say they are being ruined,” said Johan Cejie, manager of climate issues for KRAV.
For example, he said, farmers with high concentrations of peat soil on their property may no longer be able to grow carrots, since plowing peat releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide; to get the organic label, they may have to switch to feed crops that require no plowing.
Next year KRAV will require hothouses to use biofuels for heating. Dairy farms will have to obtain at least 70 percent of the food for their herds locally; many previously imported cheap soy from Brazil, generating transport emissions and damaging the rain forest as trees were cleared to make way for farmland.
25 percent of national per capita emissions came from eating
The Swedish effort grew out of a 2005 study by Sweden’s national environmental agency on how personal consumption generates emissions. Researchers found that 25 percent of national per capita emissions — two metric tons per year — was attributable to eating.
The government realized that encouraging a diet that tilted more toward chicken or vegetables and educating farmers on lowering emissions generally could have an enormous impact.
Sweden has been a world leader in finding new ways to reduce emissions. It has vowed to eliminate the use of fossil fuel for electricity by 2020 and cars that run on gasoline by 2030.
To arrive at numbers for their company’s first carbon dioxide labels, scientists at Lantmannen analyzed life cycles of 20 products. These take into account emissions generated by fertilizer, fuel for harvesting machinery, packaging and transport.
Does pasta have a bigger footprint than spaghetti?
They decided to examine one representative product in each category — say, pasta — rather than performing analyses for fusilli versus penne, or one brand versus another. “Every climate declaration is hugely time-intensive,” said Claes Johansson, Lantmannen’s director of sustainability.
A new generation of Swedish business leaders is stepping up to the climate challenge. Richard Bergfors, president of Max, his family’s burger chain, voluntarily hired a consultant to calculate its carbon footprint; 75 percent was created by its meat.
“We decided to be honest and put it all out there and say we’ll do everything we can to reduce,” said Mr. Bergfors, 40. In addition to putting emissions data on the menu, Max eliminated boxes from its children’s meals, installed low-energy LED lights and pays for wind-generated electricity.
Since the emissions counts started appearing on the menu, sales of climate-friendly items have risen 20 percent. Still, plenty of people head to a burger restaurant lusting only for a burger. Kristian Eriksson, 26, an information technology specialist, looked embarrassed when asked about the burger he was eating at an outdoor table.
“You feel guilty picking red meat,” he said.
Note: So how much of what you eat would you be willing to change to create cleaner air, a normal climate and to have fresh water?
Experts find more ‘pervasive, enduring’ thinning than previously realized
Image: Glacier that flows to ocean
British Antarctic Survey
Glaciers like this one on Antarctica are spread around the coastlines of that continent as well as Greenland. A new study found runaway melt at many of those coastal glaciers.
Sept. 20: NBC’s chief environmental correspondent Anne Thompson reports on the thinning ice near Kangerlussaq, Greenland.
The most detailed satellite information available shows that ice sheets in Greenland and western Antarctica are shrinking faster than scientists thought and in some places are already in runaway melt mode, a new study found.
“Dynamic thinning of Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheet ocean margins is more sensitive, pervasive, enduring and important than previously realized,” researchers wrote in the paper published online Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.
Using 50 million laser readings from a NASA satellite, scientists for the first time calculated changes in the height of the vulnerable but massive ice sheets and found them especially worse at their edges. That’s where warmer water eats away from below. In some parts of Antarctica, ice sheets have been losing 30 feet a year in thickness since 2003, according to the study.
Some of those areas are about a mile thick, so they’ve still got plenty of ice to burn through. But the drop in thickness is speeding up. In parts of Antarctica, the yearly rate of thinning from 2003 to 2007 is 50 percent higher than it was from 1995 to 2003.
These new measurements confirm what some of the more pessimistic scientists thought: The melting along the crucial edges of the two major ice sheets is accelerating and is in a self-feeding loop. The more the ice melts, the more water surrounds and eats away at the remaining ice.
‘Runaway effect’ in places
“To some extent it’s a runaway effect. The question is how far will it run?” said lead author Hamish Pritchard of the British Antarctic Survey. “It’s more widespread than we previously thought.”
“We were surprised to see such a strong pattern of thinning glaciers across such large areas of coastline,” he added, “and in some cases thinning extends hundreds of kilometers inland.”
In a statement, the British agency said the authors had found that the “dynamic thinning” of glaciers:
* now reaches all latitudes in Greenland;
* has intensified on key Antarctic coastlines;
* is penetrating far into the ice sheets’ interior;
* is spreading as ice shelves thin by ocean-driven melt.
Ice loss from many glaciers in both Antarctica and Greenland is greater than the rate of snowfall farther inland, the researchers added.
In Greenland, the research found that 81 of the 111 glaciers surveyed are thinning at an accelerating, self-feeding pace.
In Antarctica, some of the fastest thinning is on the west coast where Pine Island Glacier and the neighboring Smith and Thwaites glaciers are thinning by up to 30 feet a year.
‘It is alarming’
The study doesn’t answer the crucial question of how much this worsening melt will add to projections of sea level rise from man-made global warming.
Satellite readings allowed experts to measure surface height change over the ice sheets in Antarctica (right) and Greenland (left) from 2003 to 2008. Red shows lower levels, blue higher. Rapid lowering is concentrated on the ice streams and glaciers that drain West Antarctica and Greenland.
Some scientists have previously estimated that steady melting of the ice sheets will add about 3 feet, maybe more, to sea levels by the end of the century. But the ice sheets are so big it would probably take hundreds of years for them to completely disappear.
As scientists watch glaciers retreat or just plain collapse, some thought the problem could slow or be temporary. The latest measurements eliminate “the most optimistic view,” said Penn State University professor Richard Alley, who wasn’t part of the study.
View signals of temperature shifts across the globe, as well as some approaches to dealing with change.
The key problem is not heat in the air, but the water near the edge of the ice sheets, Pritchard said. The water is not just warmer but its circulation is also adding to the melt.
“We think that warm ocean currents reaching the coast and melting the glacier front is the most likely cause of faster glacier flow,” he said. “This kind of ice loss is so poorly understood that it remains the most unpredictable part of future sea level rise.”
“It is alarming,” said Jason Box of Ohio State University, who also wasn’t part of the study.
Worsening data, including this report, keep proving “that we’re underestimating” how sensitive the ice sheets are to changes, he said.