Showing posts with label flood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flood. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

More than 2.5m Sea Level Rise by 2040?

A warming period more than 400,000 years ago pushed the Greenland ice sheet past its stability threshold (which may have been no more than several degrees above pre-industrial temperatures). This resulted in a nearly complete deglaciation of southern Greenland, raising global sea levels some 4.5-6 meters, found a recent study by Reyes et al. Due to melting elsewhere, global mean sea level then was 6 to 13 metres above the present level. Indeed, melting of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet can add a further 6-meter rise in sea levels. If the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) were to melt as well, sea levels would rise by around 70 metres.

Sea level is now rising by 3.1mm (0.122 inch) per year. Much of this rise is due to rising temperatures, but there are also other factors. One quarter of the rise results from groundwater depletion, while run off from melting ice and glaciers adds another quarter and the remainder is attributed to thermal expansion of sea water. Furthermore, as temperatures rise, feedbacks start to kick in, e.g. the kinetic energy from stronger waves and more intense storms can speed things up.

Clearly, a rapid multi-meter rise would be devastating as it would flood many coastal cities, as well as much of the land now used to grow food. By how much have sea levels been rising recently and how fast can they be expected to rise in the near future?
NASA image, data by the JPL PODAAC, in support of the NASA's MEaSUREs program.
Sea levels have risen by some 60 mm over the past 20 years, as above NASA image shows, which has a linear trendline added. The question is whether a linear trendline is the most appropriate trendline, given that it suggests that a similar rise could be expected over the next 20 years. A polynomial trendline appears to fit the data better, as the animation below shows.

Such a polynomial trendline, however, points at a similar rise (of some 50 mm) in just four years time, with an even more steeper rise to follow, as illustrated by the image below.

And indeed, such a rise doesn't slow down there. A polynomial trendline applied to the data points at a sea level rise of more than 2.5 m (8.2 ft) by the year 2040.

The image below gives an idea of what a sea level rise of six feet (1.829 m) would do to the City of New York. Of course, this is only the sea level rise. Storm surge would come on top of this, as discussed at Ten Dangers of Global Warming.

So, what would be more appropriate, to expect sea levels to continue to rise in a linear way, or to take into account feedbacks that could speed things up? Where such feedbacks could lead to is illustrated by the image below.
[ from: How many deaths could result from failure to act on climate change? click on image to enlarge ]
This calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan blog.


- South Greenland ice-sheet collapse during Marine Isotope Stage 11, Reyes et al. (2014)

- Nonsustainable groundwater sustaining irrigation: A global assessment, Yoshihide Wada et al. (2012)

- Groundwater Depletion Linked to Rising Sea Levels

- Assessment of the Jason-2 Extension to the TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 Sea-Surface Height Time Series for Global Mean Sea Level Monitoring, Beckley et al. (2010)

- Feedbacks in the Arctic

- How many deaths could result from failure to act on climate change? (2014)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Extreme weather strikes around the globe - update

As the weather gets more extreme, disaster strikes around the globe. The Guardian reports three people killed as storms continue to batter southern UK. The Vancouver Sun reports that a U.S. Northeast snowstorm kills 25. And the Sacramento Bee reports Six dead and 1,000 injured in fresh Japan snow storm.

What is the story behind these extreme weather events? The image below tells the story. The Arctic has been much warmer than it used to be, due to numerous feedbacks that accelerate warming in the Arctic. This reduces the temperature differential between the Arctic and lower latitudes, which changes the Jet Stream and Polar Vortex, in turn making the weather at many places ever more extreme.

 earlier forecasts by
Above image illustrates the situation, showing an Arctic Ocean that is warmer than the higher latitudes of the Asian and North American continents.

Arctic sea ice has meanwhile reached record lows, as illustrated by the image below.

The situation can be expected to get even worse. The image below shows sea ice extent, as measured by the NSIDC, which is one day ahead compared to above image.

Below, two regular contributors to the Arctic-news blog comment on the situation.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Extreme weather strikes around the globe

  Editorial note: this post has meanwhile been updated as
Extreme weather strikes around the globe update.

As the weather gets more extreme, disaster strikes around the globe.

Here's a snapsnot from today's news. In London, the BBC reports, flooded homes along the River Thames are being evacuated and thousands more are at risk. In Japan, reports Reuters, eleven people died, more than a thousand were injured and tens of thousands lost power when the worst snowstorm in decades hit Tokyo and areas around the Japanese capital before heading north to blanket the tsunami-hit Pacific coast. Many countries in the Middle East were hit by snow. The BBC reports that heavy snow in northern Iran has left around 480,000 homes without power and some towns and villages cut off.

What is causing these extreme weather events? The image below tells the story. While at times it has been cold at many places around the world, when averaged over the past 30 days, temperatures around the globe have actually been several degrees higher than they used to be. The Arctic has been hit hardest, with anomalies as high as 21°C over this 30 day period. This affects the Jet Stream and Polar Vortex, which in turn is making the weather ever more extreme.

The situation is further illustrated by the forecasts below.

And while the sea ice didn't look too bad at the start of the year, growth has meanwhile stopped, as illustrated by the image below.

Added below are two videos by Paul Beckwith, further discussing the situation.

Editor's note: Reanalysis of temperature anomaly Jan 12 - Feb 10, 2014.
Meanwhile, I've added another image (above), created with NOAA's reanalysis, which compares temperatures to a larger dataset, and the colors look a lot different, so NOAA may indeed have mixed the colors up somewhat in the initial image, as Albert suggested at the Facebook discussion (click on image below).

Anyway, the point made in the post remains, i.e. that as global warming continues, warming in the Arctic accelerates more rapidly than at lower latitudes, which weakens the polar vortex and jet stream in a self-reinforcing feedback that causes the Arctic to warm up even further compared with lower latitudes.

As said, the situation calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan blog.