Sea Level Rise Accelerating

May 6, 2011

As we go forward, science continues to show that projections of climate impacts that just a few years ago were decried as alarmist, now seem far too conservative.

UPI reports:

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program forecast — for the international Arctic Council of eight arctic rim countries, including the United States — predicted sea levels would rise 2.75 times more than the top figure of the landmark 2007 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which forecast of 7 to 23 inches by the end of the century.

Actually, the “23 inches” number has become a famous climate denial canard, that I treated in my video on sea level rise, above. The IPCC was very clear that their number included only the thermal expansion of ocean water, along with mountain glacial melt, not the poorly understood “rapid dynamical changes” of ice sheets.

The newest science is telling us that those changes are now in progress.


Global sea levels will rise faster than expected this century, partly because of quickening climate change in the Arctic and a thaw of Greenland’s ice, scientists said on Wednesday (May 4).

The rise would add to threats to coasts from Bangladesh to Florida, low-lying Pacific islands and cities from London to Shanghai. It would also raise the cost of building tsunami barriers in Japan.

“There is also a risk of very fast sea level changes. We have seen that in the past and it can happen in the future. and this will really significantly change the risk of flooding in the big towns that are threatened like Shanghai and New York and also areas like Miami, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are areas that have to prepare for much bigger risks of flooding in the future. And here we’re talking about frames of ten years where things can change dramatically and the risk can certainly increase a lot,” said Professor Dorthe Dahl-Jensen from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen and a member of the Oslo-based Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP).

Record temperatures in the Arctic will add to factors raising world sea levels by up to 1.6 metres (5.2 feet) by 2100, according to AMAP, which is backed by the eight-nation Arctic Council.

Voice of America, quoting Gordon Hamilton of the University of Maine:

“In my field, glaciology, six years ago we didn’t think that ice sheets responded to climate change on a time scale any shorter than a few thousand years, whereas now we are seeing the big ice sheets in Greenland and west Antarctica respond in just a few months to triggers that are coming from the climate systems,” said Hamilton.

The extent and duration of snow cover have decreased throughout the Arctic, falling by 18 percent since 1966. Other accelerated changes, Hamilton says, include the rapid decline of sea ice.

“A few years ago the projection was that the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free in the summers by the year 2080,” he said. “Well, in the first few years of this decade there were some extraordinarily fast declines in Arctic sea ice.”

46 Responses to “Sea Level Rise Accelerating”

  1. omnologos Says:

    am sorry but “accelerating” means “right now” and so can’t include predictions projections and sidewise considerations about ice sheet dynamics. Your post should have been titled Sea Level Rise Expected To Accelerate.

    So much for communicating things the right way, uh

  2. BlueRock Says:

    Scary – for those who get it. Another excellent, sharp, pointy stick to skewer the deniers with. Thanks, Peter.

    P.S. Re. “I am shocked!” – you might like to blend this clip in to a future vid: – it made me chuckle 🙂 (h/t Greenfyre).

    • greenman3610 Says:

      one of my favorites. actually, I have that clip on my drive, waiting for the right deployment opportunity.

  3. Even the five foot rise is conservative, as this report, I believe, does not take outpouring of methane from melting permafrost and seabeds into consideration. For all we know, it could be 5 meters or more by 2100.

  4. omnologos Says:

    I guess by now somebody would have posted a link showing sea level rise accelerating, rather than expected to. But I can wait until the sea level rise starts to actually accelerate, as it is bound to do eventually.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      the definitive study, which I should have included in the OP, is now out from the JPL team of Rignot et al,

      Click to access calottes-fondent.pdf

      This study reconciles two totally independent methods
      for estimating ice sheet mass balance, in Greenland and
      Antarctica, for the first time: the MBM method comparing
      influx and outflux of ice, and the GRACE method based on
      time‐variable gravity data. The two records agree in terms of
      mass, M(t), mass change, dM(t)/dt, and acceleration in mass
      change, d2M/dt2. The results illustrate the major impact of
      monthly‐to‐annual variations in SMB on ice sheet mass
      balance. Using the two‐decade long MBM observation
      record, we determine that ice sheet loss is accelerating by
      36.3 ± 2 Gt/yr2, or 3 times larger than from mountain glaciers
      and ice caps (GIC). The magnitude of the acceleration suggests
      that ice sheets will be the dominant contributors to sea
      level rise in forthcoming decades, and will likely exceed the
      IPCC projections for the contribution of ice sheets to sea level
      rise in the 21st century [Meehl et al., 2007].

      good discussion here

      • omnologos Says:

        the authors specifically write “Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise” in the title instead of “Acceleration of sea level rise”. There is one mention of “sea level” in the body of the paper, and I’ll leave you to find out what it’s about.

        So it’s another case of “broken telephone”. Acceleration of sea level rise is obviously expected, but you couldn’t help putting the cart before the horse.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          I can’t make it any plainer.
          If sophomoric word play is your only answer, I don’t have time, sorry.

          • BlueRock Says:

            I think “sophomoric word play” is far too generous – it’s flat-out dishonesty / idiocy. Contrary to his claim that there “is one mention of “sea level” in the body of the paper”, there are 13. A dishonest denier? I’m shocked, shocked! 😉

            And, as is apparent to any honest person with enough IQ points to dress themselves in the morning, the message is clear: “…we determine that ice sheet loss is accelerating by 36.3 ± 2 Gt/yr^2, or 3 times larger than from mountain glaciers and ice caps…” Scary stuff.

            Thanks for the paper. Added to notes.

          • omnologos Says:

            Oh boy…yes, I made a mistake. I have actually been a victim of “Preview” on the Mac (it sorts the search results in terms of relevance and not by page).

            But you can’t read either.

            At page 1 there are 4 mentions of “sea level”: not one of them is about any acceleration in sea level rise happening right now. At page 2 there is one mention (the one I referred to). At page 4 there are 8 mentions. Note the wording now: “if this trend continues“, “If the acceleration in ice sheet loss of 36.3 ± 2 Gt/yr2 continues for the next decades“.

            Look at this now: “The magnitude of the acceleration suggests that ice sheets will be the dominant contributors to sea level rise in forthcoming decades“. Ask yourself: why didn’t they write: “The magnitude of the acceleration is accelerating the sea level rise right now”??

            And the best quote: “While this value may not be used as a projection given the considerable uncertainty in future acceleration of ice sheet mass loss, it provides one indication of the potential contribution of ice sheets to sea level in the coming century if the present trends continue“.

            They don’t want you to use their values for projections, and so you proceed to…use them to make unwarranted statements regarding the present.


            ps it is really unimpressive to see people jump so easily towards the “dishonesty!” accusations. Methingks BlueRock doth protest too much.

          • BlueRock Says:

            > …I made a mistake

            You should have stopped there and you’d have been golden.

            So, because scientists can’t see in to the future you think all their predictions are worthless? Scientific illiteracy is an interesting affliction. Nevertheless, note how your earlier claim is completely wrong:

            “…we determine that ice sheet loss is accelerating by 36.3 ± 2 Gt/yr^2, or 3 times larger than from mountain glaciers and ice caps…”

            You were wrong. You continue to be wrong. It seems that you are always wrong (judging by the never-ending drivel you produce over at Greenfyre’s).

            I was only accusing you of dishonesty because I couldn’t imagine anyone being that incompetent / dumb. My mistake! And thanks for admitting you never read the paper before declaring what it said.

            > Methingks BlueRock doth protest too much.

            If you’re going to paraphrase the bard, at least understand how to use that phrase correctly. You don’t.

  5. omnologos Says:

    Predictions are not “worthless”. We’re not talking predictions here and as I already wrote, had the blog title referred to predictions it would have been perfect. But no, the term used is still “accelerating” and that is, as far as shown so far unwarranted in the sense of going beyond what the scientists are reporting.

    If anybody hss evidence of sea level rise “acceleratING” I can only recommended at this stage to write a letter to Nature.

    • BlueRock Says:

      > …the term used is still “accelerating” and that is, as far as shown so far unwarranted in the sense of going beyond what the scientists are reporting.

      “…we determine that ice sheet loss is accelerating by 36.3 ± 2 Gt/yr^2, or 3 times larger than from mountain glaciers and ice caps…”

      Are you trolling or really *that* incapable of reading plain English and learning from it? Perhaps if you spent less time constructing bloviated rhetoric and more time reading the science put in front of you, you would not be so perpetually confused? Give it a go.

      • omnologos Says:

        it’s hard to argue when the blog post says “sea level rise” and you reply marking in bold the sentence “ice sheet loss”.

        As I already asked, if one could so easily jump from “ice sheet loss” to “sea level rise” why didn’t the scientists do it?

        • omnologos Says:

          apologies for the incorrect closing of the italic tag

        • BlueRock Says:

          Sorry. I forgot that you only *pretended* to have read the paper before declaring what it said. I’ll spoon feed you some more:

          ” ice sheets will become the dominant contribution to sea level rise
          in the next decades, well in advance of model forecasts

          Can you join the dots up on your own?

          It’s almost as if you don’t care about looking sub-intelligent.

          • omnologos Says:

            Can’t you argue without these pathetic attempts to insult?

            Anyway: “in the next decades” it’s hardly “now”. You missed again, whilst implicitly conceding my point about not mixing up “sea level rise” with “ice sheet loss”.

            And to move on with this debate: can anybody please show me where the “sea level rise” is “accelerating” in the University of Colorado data?

          • BlueRock Says:

            You made claims about a paper that you had clearly not read. You deny it dishonesty. Your only remaining option is stupefying stupidity.

            Don’t shoot the messenger. 😉

            > …it’s hardly “now”.

            “…we determine that ice sheet loss is accelerating by 36.3 ± 2 Gt/yr^2, or 3 times larger than from mountain glaciers and ice caps…”

            It seems you cannot join two facts together when they are in separate sentences. You can hardly complain about being labelled an idiot when you keep demonstrating beyond all doubt that you are.

    • Alteredstory Says:

      Ok, so let’s go through this step by step, shall we?

      The sea level is rising. This is not under debate, since the main question is whether the rate at which it is rising is increasing.

      Why is the sea level rising? There are a number of things that contribute to that rise. One is warming, causing the water to expand, and therefor take up more volume.

      Another is ice melt from mountain glaciers, adding to the overall mass of water in the oceans.

      Another is ice melt from ice sheets – Greenland and Antarctica.

      The latter two, by the way, also increase the amount of water that warms and expands.

      Now. If you increase any one of those factors, and the others remain the same, then the overall rate of sea level rise will increase.

      The study clearly says that the contribution from one of these sources is increasING at this moment. It has been for some time, hence the certainty, and still is. This means, unless you can prove in some way that the other two are decreasing, that the overall rate of sea level rise is accelerating. It is rising faster than it used to be, and will rise still faster in the near future.

      Did I miss something here?

      • omnologos Says:

        Alteredstory – it’s all nice and dandy until the last bit. AFAIK none of the scientists has made the final connection. There is no Nature or Science story declaringthe rise is acceleratING. So why jump the gun?

  6. omnologos Says:

    BR – please stop the tripe. It’s not me unable to “join two facts together”, it’s the specialists in the field, none of whom has said anything about accelatING sea level rise. And no wonder, since there’s nothing of the sort in the U Colorado data.

    The details of my intellectual abilities are immaterial on the subject if you cannot find supporting evidence for your statements. This is something our Host understands, obviously, but you or Greenfyre cannot. So be it. I don’t care about your opinions, I just want to know if the sea level rise has.already started the acceleration most people expect. Insofar as the material posted so far in this post is concerned, it has not.

    If anybody knows otherwise they better rush to have it on Nature in order to claim precedence and more importantly in order to properly alert the world.

    • BlueRock Says:

      It’s not “tripe” to point out that you made assertions about a paper which you then revealed you had not read. Dishonesty or a baffling level of stupidity are your only options. Maybe a blend of the two.

      Ice sheet loss is accelerating now and is predicted to continue accelerating which results in rising sea levels. Which part of this very simple concept can you not grasp? If you can’t join the dots up on that, it really explains why you understand nothing else about this subject. Do you dress yourself in the mornings?

  7. omnologos Says:

    Eheh…you claimed all of that already. And I have repeatedly stated that sea level rise acceleration is expected given ice loss acceleration. What else do you want? But not a pip from you on the current sea kevel data, you should be proud of yourself .

  8. otter17 Says:

    Ay carumba. I was wondering why there was a large number of comments to this post.

    If you want to be 100% sure that sea level rise is accelerating at this moment, then of course you would need to look at the data in hindsight, maybe in 5 to 10 years from now. Who knows, some event could happen tomorrow that causes global cooling for the next several years, a meteorite strike, huge volcano, maybe even a nuclear winter. Then the sea level rise rate may stay the same or decelerate, depending on the severity of the event.

    Reasonable people, though, realize that the scientists are measuring acceleration in the major components that are feeding the current sea level rise. It is impossible to see the acceleration in the trend, since we can’t see the future data, but I would say that it is certainly reasonable to say that sea level rise is accelerating now based on the evidence available.

    The title above, “Sea Level Rise is Accelerating”, is appropriate for a blog, especially considering Peter provided adequate references to projections that back up that statement.

    • BlueRock Says:

      I’ve seen enough of omnocrank’s output to not waste time reading it too closely. He’s playing a common game of his: because we don’t have an infallible crystal ball, we can’t be certain the scientists are right and therefore there is no ‘proof’ of what they predict.

      Other than that, he’s just a very dishonest, tedious person who is immune to science and rational argument. Typical denier.

      • greenman3610 Says:

        I’ve long contended that severe climate denial syndrome is not amenable to reason and has more to do with poor potty training than science or politics.

        • omnologos Says:

          as if on cue there you are posting another crock. Any argument that could be used by anybody just by replacing a word with another is obviously an indication of intellectual challenges that go even before and below potty training. Perhaps you’ve reported too many crocks to remain unaffected.

  9. omnologos Says:

    BR – you really do not understand. Hence the puerile name calling. Otter17 gave a frank answer to my objection (much better, dare I say, than our Host’s attempts at squeezing something out of a Literature that doesn’t support it). It’s not difficult now to leave it like that, even if I strongly believe that a self-proclaimed crock-slasher site should do a better job at avoiding to do its own crocks.

    From you there’s instead only a pathetic childish display of intolerance. If all AGWers were like you even the Tobacco companies would win all arguments . You must be a dream come true for the Koch Brothers , and people dwelling in paranoia more than I do would have already questioned if Blue Rock is a monicker for an anti-AGWer so rabid as to impersonate a content-free argument-poor insulting uberwarmist.

    • BlueRock Says:

      Do you not have any personal integrity? Sense of shame? Or does your desperate need for attention exceed those things?

      You’ve been caught out. You made claims for a paper that you had not read. Moron? Liar? Who knows! Certainly no one cares! You’re just another tedious crank on the internet.

      You should spend less time whining about ‘BlueRock’ and anyone else who calls you what you are, more time looking in the mirror trying to work out why you are in denial of all modern science.*


      * Please, don’t continue your stupid game of pretending that means something other than exactly what I clearly intend it to mean – science pertaining to climate change.

      • omnologos Says:

        That’s a good idea. Please, don’t continue your stupid game of pretending that means something other than exactly what I clearly intend it to mean – science pertaining to climate change.

        In fact, all I have to do is repeat as-is what every scientist in the field is saying, whilst you have to employ semantic gymnastics to prop up your failed reasoning.

        Try to concentrate then…find ONE scientist of good repute stating that sea level rise IS acceleratING and I’ll concede your point. However, so far I can recruit for my argument (“sea level rise IS EXPECTED TO accelaratE”) quite a good big guns, and Tamino too.

        • BlueRock Says:

          That’s so incoherent it’s difficult to work out what you’re yapping about now.

          Focus: we’ve already done this – sea level rise is accelerating because ice sheet melt is accelerating. Sorry that the words aren’t in a simple form for you to understand. The fact that you cannot join the two concepts together on your own suggests this subject is way above your pay grade.

          And, as you’re incapable of Googling for yourself, here ya go: “Sea level rise ‘is accelerating'” – (I won’t link to the paper because that will just confuse you more).

          P.S. Still waiting for you to acknowledge that you made assertions about a paper which you then revealed you had not read. Dishonesty or eye-watering stupidity? I’m tempted to add cowardice in as well given your refusal to respond.

          • omnologos Says:

            BBC news from 2006. That’s enough for tonight. Good luck.

          • BlueRock Says:

            lol. You want a scientist saying it *today*. Or perhaps only in the last 10 minutes would be admissible?

            Thanks for providing a wonderful example of the gross stupidity / dishonesty of the average denier. Well played! 🙂

          • omnologos Says:

            You’re not even showing respect to our Host. The blog post above mentions “The newest science” and links to a May 4, 2011 article. Once again, good luck with sea level rise accelerating in 2006.

          • BlueRock Says:

            You’ve been spoon fed papers from 2006 and 2011. Hansen predicts future acceleration of SLR. But you claim there is no evidence!

            Keep going. How dishonest and stupid do you want to make yourself look?

    • otter17 Says:

      I didn’t know about this Tamino post a few weeks ago, but it is very compelling.

      • BlueRock Says:

        That’s very informative in how results can be distorted by those who want to.

        I note this rather sobering warning:

        “…we expect acceleration of sea level rise because of physics. Not only will there likely be nonlinear response to thermal expansion of the oceans, when the ice sheets become major contributors to sea level rise, they will dominate the equation. Their impact could be tremendous, it could be sudden, and it could be horrible.”

        Increased storms, droughts and ingress of ocean water on to fertile deltas – it’s going to cause conflict that makes the current upheaval look like a Sunday afternoon picnic. If only we could round up the deniers and send them in to the middle of it all.

  10. omnologos Says:

    I recommend somebody pick up a fight with that other Denier, a James Hansen of NASA, since in his most recent output he has singularly failed to follow CDCotW in writing that the sea level rise IS acceleratING.

    ps had Foster’s words been used here, there’d been pretty much nothing for me to object to.

    • BlueRock Says:

      Still playing the same dumb / dishonest game of semantics? Do you really think it will become persuasive if you keep repeating it?

      Hansen has recently written “…we conclude that the rate of sea level rise is likely to accelerate during the next several years.”

      That does not mean that SLR is not accelerating *now*. Regardless, your weasely agenda is exposed in the fact that you play these childish games of sophistry. Pathetic.

      P.S. Still waiting for you to acknowledge that you made assertions about a paper which you then revealed you had not read. Dishonesty or eye-watering stupidity? My money is on both. 😉

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: