Climate Change and Sea Level Rise: “An Emerging Hockey Stick”

by Peter Sinclair, cross-posted from the Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Since we have such an active community of armchair oceanographers and spreadsheet Glaciologists here, I thought it would be useful to speak to the real thing, the people who actually spend time on the ocean, on the ice sheets, do the measurements, and come back to share that knowledge with us. I had just that opportunity at the American Geophysical conference in December.

I spoke to Josh Willis, Oceanographer with NASA at the Jet Propulsion Lab. Josh is one of best known young ocean scientists on the planet. He pointed me to the recent Kemp et al study of tidal marshes on the US East coast, which has produced a long record of sea level over the last 2000 years, complete with a very Hockey-stickish uptick during the last 200 or so.

[JR:  For more on that study, see “NSF Study: Fastest Sea-Level Rise in Two Millennia Linked to Increasing Global Temperatures.”]

Jason Box of the Byrd Polar Center at Ohio State was there, presenting evidence of acceleration in Greenland ice loss over the last 200 years. His bottom line: “If we talk 10 years from now, my expectation is that Greenland will be losing roughly double what it is now.”

I round out the video with takes from old pros lead NASA scientist Jim Hansen and Admiral David Titley, the US Navy’s Chief Oceanographer: 

— Peter Sinclair.  For more great video segments check out

Related Climate Progress Posts:

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new NASA-funded satellite study. The findings of the study — the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass — suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth’s mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted.

7 Responses to Climate Change and Sea Level Rise: “An Emerging Hockey Stick”

  1. prokaryotes says:

    We need to quantify the land mass which is affected from SLR and we have to start analyzing how much extra methane will be created from the flooded land mass. When SLR floods low lying land mass, the organic matter within these areas will start to create methane from accelerated composting. This in itself is a powerful feedback on the carbon cycle, from global warming induced SLR.

  2. otter17 says:

    A very well done post, indeed. Props to Peter.

  3. fj says:

    .@BillGates has World on the Edge features on his personal website. Thank you, Bill! @EarthPolicy

    Terribly encouraging news.

  4. Lou Grinzo says:

    Box’s comment about Greenland’s ice loss likely doubling in 10 years is sobering, to say the least. That would peg it at about 700 billion tons of ice/year, using the PIOMAS long-term trend, considerably more for more recent time frames.

    And in other Greenland news — it’s getting darker:

  5. prokaryotes says:

    This article is about methanogenesis and denitification in general (basics), and assess briefly current research in regards to flooding and greenhouse gases(with links).

  6. Andy Revkin says:

    Nice stuff. If you want to hear more “straight talk on rising seas in a warming world” from Josh, visit Dot Earth, as well:

  7. Solar Jim says:

    That curve lends new meaning to “radiative forcing.” Looks like Atlas bent a blade that was flat on a table.

    I would say a trend of 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and maybe 4.0 mm per year increase now during this decade for sea level is not a healthy trend. More like a ship’s hull flooding.

    Perhaps we should cool it with the fossil mining subsidies. Hey USA and China, any takers yet? Care to save a couple trillion bucks (along with your nation-states)?