A new study entitled “Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011” by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) published in the journal Environmental Research Letters Tuesday shows that sea levels are rising faster than projected and global temperatures are rising as the Institute’s last two reports predicted.
Rising seas are not due to a one-time event of ice breaking off from polar caps in Greenland or Antarctica as science deniers will likely say, they are rising because temperatures are rising melting all polar ice, the study concluded. The rise correlates directly with the rise in temperatures Steven Rahmstorf and his colleagues at PIK wrote.
The report suggests that the fact the sea level is rising faster than expected could mean that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sea-level rise projections for the future may be biased low. There is nothing like making decisions on incorrect and understated data.
The oceans are rising 60% faster than the IPCC’s latest best estimates, according to the new research. The researchers compared those estimates to satellite data of observed sea-level rise. “Satellites have a much better coverage of the globe than tide gauges and are able to measure much more accurately by using radar waves and their reflection from the sea surface,” explains Anny Cazenave from Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS) in France. While the IPCC projected sea-level rise to be at a rate of 2 mm per year, satellite data recorded it actually rose at a rate of 3.2 mm per year.
“Global temperature continues to rise at the rate that was projected in the last two IPCC Reports. This shows again that global warming has not slowed down or is lagging behind the projections,” Rahmstorf says. Five global land and ocean temperature series were averaged and compared to IPCC projections by the scientists from Potsdam, LEGOS and the US based Tempo Analytics. To allow for a more accurate comparison with projections, the scientists accounted for short-term temperature variations due to El Niño events, solar variability and volcanic eruptions.
The results confirm that global warming, which was predicted by scientists in the 1960s and 1970s as a consequence of increasing greenhouse concentrations, continues unabated at a rate of 0.16 °C per decade and follows IPCC projections closely.
As Dr. Rahmstorf notes, “the new findings highlight that the IPCC is far from being alarmist and in fact in some cases rather underestimates possible risks.”
This report is timely in that it was released just as representatives from the world are meeting in Qatar to attempt to negotiate agreements on reducing carbon emissions that affect global warming and climate change. Will these findings add any urgency to the discussions or will delegates take the position that it is someone’ else’s responsibility to cut carbon?
As sea level rises, storm surges worsen, coastal populations are put at risk, and salt water infiltrates rich deltas. These issues are real, they are here, and very little is being done about it.
Congress is stalemated over things Congress is supposed to do routinely like avoiding a fiscal cliff that could put the country and the world back into recession. So between the fact that the Republican half of Congress denies global warming altogether and the other half is preoccupied with the fiscal cliff, not much attention is being paid to an issue that could potentially doom large portions of our country in the future.
Perhaps if citizens woke up, they might wake up their elected “representatives,” a term used very loosely, to do something about this.
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