EcoAlert: 50 Million NASA Laser Readings Point to Sea Level Several Meters Higher

Londonflood_1364681a Scientists are dramatically increasing forecasts of rising sea levels, and the results could rival science fiction. A new study, using 50 million laser readings from a NASA satellite, calculates changes in the height of the vulnerable but massive ice sheets and found them especially worse at their edges, where warmer water eats away from below. In some parts of Antarctica, ice sheets have been losing 30 feet a year in thickness since 2003.

A rise of atmospheric CO2 concentration triggers feedback effects due to warming, desiccation and burning of vegetation, further releasing CO2. The onset of methane release from polar bogs and sediments is of major concern. Because CO2 is cumulative, with atmospheric residence time on the scale of centuries to millennia, stabilization of the climate through small incremental reduction in emission may not be sufficient to avoid runaway climate change and possible tipping points (Lenton et al., 2008).

Sea level rise constitutes the definitive parameter reflecting all other components of climate change. Since the early 20th century the rate of sea level rise increased from about 1 mm/year to about 3.5 mm/year (1993 – 2009 mean rate 3.2+/-0.4 mm/year) (Rahmstorf, 2007), representing a nearly 4-fold increase in the rate of global warming since the onset of the industrial age. According to Overpeck et al. (2008) “Sea-level rise from melting of polar ice sheets is one of the largest potential threats of future climate change. Polar warming by the year 2100 may reach levels similar to those of 130,000 to 127,000 years ago that were associated with sea levels several meters above modern levels; both the Greenland Ice Sheet and portions of the Antarctic Ice Sheet may be vulnerable. The record of past ice-sheet melting indicates that the rate of future melting and related sea-level rise could be faster than widely thought.”

The world is in a lag period, when increasing atmospheric energy is expressed by intense hurricanes, increased pressure at mid-latitude high pressure zones and shift of climate zones toward the poles. With ensuing desertification of temperate zones, i.e. southern Europe, southern Australia and southern Africa, the desiccated forests become prey to firestorms, such as in Victoria and California. Feeble attempts by civilization to mitigate the climate are drowning in a tide of medieval conspiracy theories by vested interests and fundamentalist man-overnature ideologues (Hamilton, 2010; Hoggan, 2009). There is nowhere the 6.5 billion of contemporary humans can go, not even the barren planets into the study of which space agencies have been pouring more funding than governments allocate for environmental mitigation to date. At 460 ppm CO2- equivalent, the climate is tracking above conditions which existed during the early and mid-Pliocene, raising sea levels by 25+/-12 meters (Haywood and Williams, 2005) and close to the upper stability limit of the Antarctic ice sheet, defined at approximately 500 ppm (Zachos et al. 2001, 2008; Royer, 2006). Once transcended, mitigation measures would be unable to re-form the cryosphere. Summing up, Hansen et al. (2008) state ”If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm. The largest uncertainty in the target arises from possible changes of non-CO2 forcings. An initial 350 ppm CO2 target may be achievable by phasing out coal use except where CO2 is captured and adopting agricultural and forestry practices that sequester carbon. If the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects.”

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