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Climate change - rising sea level
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The Publisher
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Nov 27, 2012, 12:21 PM

Post #1 of 5 (12066 views)
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PREVIEW OF POSSIBLE DANGERS TO COME
The oceans have risen and fallen throughout Earth's history, following the
planet's natural temperature cycles. Twenty thousand years ago, what is now
New York City was at the edge of a giant ice sheet, and the sea was roughly
400 feet lower. But as the last ice age thawed, the sea rose to where it is
today.

Now we are in a new warming phase, and the oceans are rising again after
thousands of years of stability. As scientists who study sea level change
and storm surge, we fear that Hurricane Sandy gave only a modest preview of
the dangers to come, as we continue to power our global economy by burning
fuels that pollute the air with heat-trapping gases.

This past summer, a disconcerting new scientific study by the climate
scientist Michiel Schaeffer and colleagues - published in the journal
Nature Climate Change - suggested that no matter how quickly we cut this
pollution, we are unlikely to keep the seas from climbing less than five
feet.

More than six million Americans live on land less than five feet above the
local high tide. (Searchable maps and analyses are available at
SurgingSeas.org for every low-lying coastal community in the contiguous
United States.) Worse, rising seas raise the launching pad for storm surge,
the thick wall of water that the wind can drive ahead of a storm.

In a world with oceans that are five feet higher, our calculations show
that New York City would average one flood as high as Hurricane Sandy's
about every 15 years, even without accounting for the stronger storms and
bigger surges that are likely to result from warming.

According to Dr. Schaeffer's study, immediate and extreme pollution cuts -
measures well beyond any discussion now under way - could limit sea level
rise to five feet over 300 years. If we stay on our current path, the
oceans could rise five feet by the first half of next century, then
continue rising even faster. -- NY Times, full report:
http://nyti.ms/TcArGg




The Publisher
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Nov 27, 2012, 12:23 PM

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From Michael Craddock:
I read with interest Michael Schaeffer's offering on Global Warming. The opponent's of this Global Warming theory often place the blame on volcanic eruptions, citing the enormous amounts of CO2 contributed by these events. I haven't seen any reference or response to this in any of the Global Warming proponent's writings. I am concerned about our part in Global Warming.

What is the truth here?




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Nov 27, 2012, 12:27 PM

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From Toby Cooper:

Michael Craddock asked about volcanoes and climate change, and although I am no climate scientist, I researched this while teaching a college course on environmental issues way back in 1972. The real debate over global warming did not take shape until after 1987 but the scientific building blocks were in place long before. A lot of it centers around carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which has the basic chemical property of retaining more heat relative to other gasses.

By analyzing air bubbles trapped in miles-deep Antarctic ice, scientists have measured the composition of the atmosphere going back hundreds of thousands of years. Their findings can be illustrated in a graph. Think of it like the track of one of those seismic needles vibrating on a page. Think of it tracing a zig-zagging track about an inch deep along the time line, with the height of the line being the parts per million of CO2 in the air. Big volcanic eruptions show up as spikes on the graph, including the 1883 blowup of Krakatoa which shows up as a spike that extends maybe another half inch above the trendline. But when the graph gets to modern times and the industrial revolution, the flood of CO2 in the air simply blows off the charts, far eclipsing any volcanic influences. It would look like a chart of Apple stock last year.

Why should sailors care? The reason Krakatoa shows on the graph as a “spike” that falls back down is because the ocean historically acted as a buffer, absorbing CO2 and keeping the atmospheric composition relatively steady. But now the oceans’ ability to buffer is maxed out, contributing to warmer, more acidic ocean chemistry which is killing coral reefs and changing weather patterns. There is a lot more to the story but maybe this helps.


The Publisher
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Nov 27, 2012, 12:32 PM

Post #4 of 5 (12058 views)
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From Kay Kilpatrick:
In response to Michael Craddock query and the editorial in the NY Times:

In the interest of advance full disclosure, I admit I am indeed a card carrying scientist who studies global sea surface temperature for a living --and therefore on the dole and can't be trusted ---I pause to put on armor and my life jacket.

It is a good thing that we are all sailors; if the climate dialogue continues to be perpetually distracted by the question "Is climate change human induced?" rather than how are we going to deal with the consequences, our sailing skills will be in high demand in a future Water World.

As the original editorial piece in the New York Times stated: "There are two basic ways to protect ourselves from sea level rise: reduce it by cutting pollution, or prepare for it by defense and retreat. To do the job, we must do both. We have lost our chance for complete prevention; and preparation alone, without slowing emissions, would — sooner or later — turn our coastal cities into so many Atlantises."

Having just suffered through an election year in the US, we are all too familiar with the sound bite spin in regard to communicating important ideas by political parties. Unfortunately the same polarizing dialogue often hinders the climate discussion.

For the equivalent of the Politico fact checker on climate change Skeptical Science( http://www.skepticalscience.com) and Real Climate (www.realclimate.com) are credible sources of additional information and often provide a more complete dialogue to a climate sound bite.

In response to Michael Craddock's question "what is the truth". Yes, it is a fact that volcanoes can emit enormous amount of CO2 for brief periods of time, but on an annual bases they typically represent less than 1% of human induced emissions. Here is a response reference from the climate science community to the proposition that global warming is due to volcanoes and not humans:

"Anthropogenic (sic human induced) CO2 emissions—responsible for a projected 35 gigatons of CO2 in 2010 [Friedlingstein et al., 2010]—clearly dwarf all estimates of the annual present-day global volcanic CO2 emission rate. Indeed, volcanoes emit significantly less CO2 than land use changes (3.4 gigatons per year), light-duty vehicles (3.0 gigatons per year, mainly cars and pickup trucks), or cement production (1.4 gigatons per year). Instead, volcanic CO2 emissions are comparable in the human realm to the global CO2 emissions from flaring of waste gases (0.20 gigaton per year) or to the CO2 emissions of about 2 dozen full-capacity 1000-megawatt coal-fired power stations (0.22 gigaton per year), the latter of which constitute about 2% of the world’s coal-fired electricity-generating capacity." download full AGU editorial article Gerlach, T. (2011), Volcanic versus anthropogenic carbon dioxide, Eos Trans. AGU, 92(24), 201–202, doi:10.1029/2011EO240001. [Full Article (pdf)]




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Nov 27, 2012, 12:36 PM

Post #5 of 5 (12056 views)
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From Andrew Troup:
Regarding Michael Craddock query in Scuttlebutt 3726 concerning the impact that volcanic eruptions have contributed to the Global Warming theory, volcanoes indeed do emit prodigious quantities of CO2, but averaged over time it's still only about 1/100 of what human activities emit.

Moreover they've always done so, so even if their emissions were comparable to ours, they are not contributing to the steady increase in CO2 levels which nobody denies.

This increase does, on the other hand, correspond closely with increasing human emissions, and carbon isotope fingerprints validate this linkage unambiguously. Finally, because of the particulates which volcanoes also emit, blocking incoming solar energy, their net warming effect is questionable.

This link explains the information concerning the earth's natural carbon dioxide emissions: http://www.skepticalscience.com/...d-global-warming.htm


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