A meter of sea level rise by 2100?

greenland_ice_melting.jpgPopular Science has published a terrific article, “Konrad Steffen: The Global Warming Prophet,” about one of the world’s leading climatologists. Steffen has spent 18 consecutive springs on the Greenland ice cap, personally building and installing the weather stations that help the world’s scientists understand what’s happening up there.” The article notes:

Water from the melting ice sheet is gushing into the North Atlantic much faster than scientists had previously thought possible. The upshot of the news out of Swiss Camp is that sea levels may rise much higher and much sooner than even the most pessimistic climate forecasts predicted.

What is going on in Greenland? Steffen explains what he and NASA glaciologist Jay Zwally figured out from their study of fissures in the ice sheet (called moulins — see figures above and below):

What happens is that the melting accelerates as meltwater funnels down to the bedrock. At the bottom, the water acts as a lubricant, flowing under the outlet glaciers and allowing the ice to slip into the sea more quickly. We hadn’t expected that ice sheets could react to warming so quickly. But that is the kind of feedback we are coming to understand in the Arctic; it’s a very sensitive environment.


This dynamic response of the ice sheet has not yet been incorporated into the climate models. So the IPCC’s recent Fourth Assessment Report estimates sea levels will rise by 7 to 23 inches — but acknowledges that dynamic ice-flow processes “not included in current models but suggested by recent observations could increase the vulnerability of the ice sheets to warming.” Duh.

What does Steffen predict for 2100 based on his experience and expertise:

Unfortunately, I think we are looking at more like a meter.

And this prediction matches recent work based on the temperature/sea-level-rise trend over the past few decades, which assumes that trend continues as the Earth warms. And it isn’t just a one-time sea level rise — seas would keep rising up to 6 inches a decade, making adaptation difficult and expensive.

Is a meter of sea level rise by 2100 our certain future? No. But it is looking more and more like our probable future — and certainly the future that we should be planning for (and do damage projections for) if we don’t reverse emissions trends soon.

8 Responses to A meter of sea level rise by 2100?

  1. rhea says:

    so stupied like monkey that have feces n its face

  2. Bety says:

    We should take this very seriusly, we canĀ“t wait until we have water up to our neck.

  3. James says:

    if you take that meter into account then look at this…

    were certainly going to have to make changes quickly, either to live with it, or stop it.

  4. alyssa says:

    i strongly agree that people should take action on global warming. It is endangering all of our animals, effecting sea levels, and all around making this world a bad place to live. I want the world to be a better place and for people to see that all that we do effects the world somehow. In someway every move that you make can effect a life. Because you throw trash on the ground or drive cars you are helping kill the population of the world.

  5. timmy says:

    Apparently illiteracy is requisite for posting here. Or is it a wordfilter or something?

    I’m going to start my truck and just let it burn some diesel for a few hours. Bye.

  6. Christie says:

    Global warming is a natural occurance – every fifth year on the Mayan Calander the earth ‘wobbles’. Dispite the fact our governments did not address general carbon realted global issues when they allowed companies to start up in the first place, I believe if you want to stay alive in the future, stay around the equator, a minimum of 64 meters above sea level and get tax back from the goverments for them being uninformative to the public in the first place, not make us pay for their mistakes!

  7. tori says:

    The black of ice is melting.