A Rise in the Rise of Sea Levels

A new “semi-empirical” method of estimating sea level rise shows that earlier techniques underestimated the likely rise, according to research published in Science online.

Coastal City Cuts it CloseOcean expert Stefan Rahmstorf noticed a correlation between the warming in the atmosphere and the rise of sea levels over the 20th century. Having also watched the actual rate of sea level rise pass earlier computer estimates, Rahmstorf integrated his real-world observations with the models.

Rahmstorf estimates a possible sea level rise of anywhere from 50 to 140 centimeters, up from 9 to 88 cm. The new numbers would put North Atlantic shore cities, like New York and London, at higher risk for storm surges, which helped flood New Orleans.

Rahmstorf’s research has higher accuracy than previous models, explaining why he insists that:

We should not take this risk. We should start with very effective emission reduction measures. The global temperature increase should be kept to under 2°C.

Already, we have experienced a .8°C increase, meaning we are almost halfway to where scientists have warned us not to go, and we need to stop pushing the envelope.


5 Responses to A Rise in the Rise of Sea Levels

  1. john says:

    The forthcoming IPCC report will once again understate warming, sea level rise, and other adverse effects of global warming. It’s important to note that even Rahmstorf’s more realistic numbers are, almost certainly an uncerstatement, in that he’s working with warming estimates that don’t factor in postiive feedbacks. It is now clear that there are at least 12 feedback loops which will make warming more intense than predicted. The likelihood of these feedback loops occurring ranges from certain (massive methane releases from tundra have already been observed) to possible, though all are plausible. I believe it’s time to broaden the range of warming beyond the IPCCs — their high end warming of 5.8 degrees is closer to the best we can hope for absent immediate and drastic action to curtail GHG emissions.

    Still, it’s good to see reports like this — we need to see research that goes beyond consensus-based reports like the IPCC. In the end, reality does not care if we agreed upon the wrong figures. Prudence argues we consider and act as if the plausible worst case forecast were what we had to face.

    Thanks Dr. Romm. Keep up the great work

  2. Mr.Mom says:

    well put reply

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