Bad News Climate Report Three Peat: Waters Rising Faster Than Believed

Third Independent Report Suggests Antarctic Melt Will Double Global Sea Level Surge

Sea Levels Rising FasterIn the past weeks, while the nation was entertained by Donald Trump and basketball, three major alarming news reports about the future of the planet have been widely ignored (but not completely – thanks Washington Post for covering this stuff) . *

The first two research reports suggested that 1) the last time carbon increased this quickly in the atmosphere was 56 million years ago and 2) we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to megastorms and rising seas already locked into our future. A synopsis of those two reports is posted here.

The latest report, which doubles the predictions for sea level rise, is summarized below:

A new report from University of Massachusetts and Penn State climate scientists significantly ups the ante for sea level surge in the mid-to-long term. Lead researchers Robert DeConto and David Pollard argue in a new report published in Nature that the 3 ft sea level rise by AD 2100 consensus by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change falls short of the potential scenario by half.** They further extrapolated a 50 ft rise by the year 2500. That will drown a lot of coastal cities, but that will be the least of humanity’s problems at that point.

The newly issued research is based on a new analysis of Antarctica’s ice sheet shelves, factoring in the affects of atmospheric warming in the region. Focus was on the massive shelves in the Ross and Weddell Seas in West Antarctica. Previous research considered only the role of the warming ocean beneath the ice shelves, which is also breaking up the shelves from below. The shelves are like huge dams, critical to holding back the onshore glaciers as they melt into the ocean. When those dams collapse, the changes in the ocean will be rapid.

The report also takes into account the alarming fact that sea levels were 65 feet higher during similar past warming periods even though atmospheric temperatures were only slightly higher than they are now. The authors conclude that the Greenland ice sheets could not account for the huge discrepancy in ocean levels. The much higher volume Antarctic land sheet must have melted as well.

It will take only a small increase in global temperatures to trigger a catastrophic collapse of the southern polar ice sheets, as process that is already well underway in the Arctic.

*You’d think parents at least would have some interest in whether or not their kids are going to make the long haul, but there is something baked into the human DNA that limits our ability to  see much beyond our current needs until it is already a crisis.

** In this sense, it echoed last week’s report from a Jim Hansen-led research consortium that doubled down on his predictions from two decades ago.

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