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Thursday, February 16, 2006

will the oceans rise?

As I write this, the headline on the Drudge Report, GAGGED NASA SCIENTIST WARNS: ICE CAPS 'MELTING FAST', links to this story from The Independent. Excerpt:
A satellite study of the Greenland ice cap shows that it is melting far faster than scientists had feared - twice as much ice is going into the sea as it was five years ago. The implications for rising sea levels - and climate change - could be dramatic.

Yet, a few weeks ago, when I - a Nasa climate scientist - tried to talk to the media about these issues following a lecture I had given calling for prompt reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases, the Nasa public affairs team - staffed by political appointees from the Bush administration - tried to stop me doing so. I was not happy with that, and I ignored the restrictions. The first line of Nasa's mission is to understand and protect the planet...

...How far can it go? The last time the world was three degrees warmer than today - which is what we expect later this century - sea levels were 25m higher. So that is what we can look forward to if we don't act soon. None of the current climate and ice models predict this. But I prefer the evidence from the Earth's history and my own eyes. I think sea-level rise is going to be the big issue soon, more even than warming itself.

It's hard to say what the world will be like if this happens. It would be another planet. You could imagine great armadas of icebergs breaking off Greenland and melting as they float south. And, of course, huge areas being flooded.
I've always been quite skeptical of the environmentalist alarmists...but what if they are right about this? At the very least, it makes me think twice about purchasing that ocean front property in Hawaii I've been looking at. Perhaps A.W. View, who follows NASA more closely than I do, can provide some needed perspective.

3 Comments:

Blogger A. W. View said...

I just saw Pat Michaels from the Cato Institute on CNN, discussing this very story. Apparently, there are other studies indicating that ice is increasing on Greenland, so maybe it's safe to buy that condo in Hawaii after all.

6:51 AM  
Blogger Drew said...

Has anyone figured out how much water it would take to raise the sea level of the whole planet by 25 meters, and if there is enough ice sitting above ground (not floating in the water) to approach that number?

7:39 AM  
Blogger A. W. View said...

I'm not familiar with that figure, but it's not just melting ice. One also has to take into account the fact that warmer water is less dense and would thus occupy a greater volume.

8:53 AM  

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