Monday, January 29, 2007

How deep the ocean?...

Pertinent comments below on the
NYC photo post timed well with the pending release of the IPCC release on global warming on Friday. Two comments:
  1. Is everything now routinely leaked? Drudge posted the SOTU an hour before the President delivered it. The Iraq Study Group Report was old news when it arrived. And one broker friend thinks even crop reports are being leaked. How else to explain a limit-up close the day before the report? Why bother with a ritualistic announcement if the entire staff has been chatting with the press about it for days?
  2. The early leak responses have been critical in that the report purportedly low-balls the effects, especially sea-level rise.

The early versions of the report predict that by 2100 the sea level will rise anywhere between 5 and 23 inches. That's far lower than the 20 to 55 inches forecast by 2100 in a study published in the peer-review journal Science this month. Other climate experts, including NASA's James Hansen, predict sea level rise that can be measured by feet more than inches.

The report is also expected to include some kind of proviso that says things could be much worse if ice sheets continue to melt.

The prediction being considered this week by the IPCC is "obviously not the full story because ice sheet decay is something we cannot model right now, but we know it's happening," said Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate panel lead author from Germany who made the larger prediction of up to 55 inches of sea level rise. "A document like that tends to underestimate the risk," he said.

The commenter on the previous post has a valid point about melting Arctic ice not raising sea levels. But the bulk of the scientific community seems to believe that global warming will cause higher sea levels, and the argument is how high. It may be that Arctic ice melts are predictive of glacial melts - and those are consequential.
Greenland's massive ice sheet could begin to melt this century and may disappear completely within the next thousand years if global warming continues at its present rate. According to a new climate change study, the melting of Greenland's ice sheet would raise the oceans by seven meters (23 feet), threatening to submerge cities located at sea level, from London to Los Angeles. [More]
Other estimates vary wildly but all predict significant sea level increases. This meshes with my understanding of Ice Age geography when oceans were smaller due to more glaciers, thus uncovering land bridges long since submerged.

I guess what goes down must come up.


Anonymous said...

this should avert an otherwise certainly contentious border battle between Russia and U.S.

Anonymous said...

Anyone explore the possibility that the land is sinking with all the water and oil and coal we pump out?

1029barn said...


I agree with you; "what goes down must come up". It is a long term cycle with at least a 26,000 year length. Makes you wonder why people think they have any bearing on it.


John Phipps said...

Barn: I think the point that supports anthropogenic climate change is that is should not occur as fast as it is, given past cycles you mention. The rate has accelerated and the presence of greenhouse gases seems a plausible reason why.

Anonymous said...

When the Vikings discovered Greenland, it was warm enough to farm and start villages. Seems to me that we're just going through a natural warming cycle. One other thing, could someone please tell me why the ice ages ended if we were not around burning gas and coal????? Never hear and answer to this question.


John Phipps said...

Agger: I think those of us who have reluctantly come around to accept anthropogenic climate change have done so not because the climate is changing, but the rate at which it is changing is unprecedented.

Adding man-made contributions to natural forces won't make the climate change easier for us.

I will post some of the sources that have influenced my way of thinking soon.

Above all, the large number of scientists who support this position could all be wrong, and if they are economic growth could be 1-2% slower, oil supplies will last far longer, and air quality will improve unnecessarily.

On the other hand, if the skeptics are wrong, the consequences are significantly worse.

I choose to err on the side with demonstrably fewer bad consequences.

Bill Harshaw said...

Re leaks: John Kenneth Galbraith wrote a novel that revolved, if I remember correctly, around getting advance access to crop estimates. (USDA used to put the estimaters into "lockup" on the day the estimate was finalized. Those were the days.

ole said...

There has never been an instance where humans were hurt by global warming. There have been instances where people have starved to death as a result of global cooling. We may need all the global warming we can get our hands on.