The Rate at Which Seas are rising and Climate Change is progressing  

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(@jeanne-mayell)
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11/14/2019 10:30 pm  

This question began with a dream Coyote posted in the dreams section that he saw sea rise off the coast of Cape Cod at 4 feet (above pre industrial levels) in 2030. I responded with a question about what that would mean for the future if his dream came true. I am moving that discussion to this thread because it's not longer about a dream. It is about the big question that we all want to answer:  How fast is climate change accelerating?  The question is critical to understanding what is going to happen on this planet.  

It isn't sea level rise itself that is the only question we need to answer. Sea level rise will swamp our cities and cause global chaos.  But rising seas are just one effect of climate change.  Along with rising seas we will experience changes in the natural world that we can't even imagine and don't want to imagine. 

Eventually we will begin to discuss and envision what lies ahead for us on this planet. But for now, I would like to understand the speed at which climate change is happening. 


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(@coyote)
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11/10/2019 12:55 pm  

Last night, for the second time in a month, I dreamt about rising seas in New England. In the first dream (which I posted about in this forum) I was told that local sea levels here would rise 3-4 feet by 2030. The environmental nonprofit where I work occupies an office on a forested hill about 40 feet above Cape Cod Bay, and there's a walking trail that heads from our parking lot down to the shore. In last night's dream, I was standing at the beach-end trailhead (which is normally about 4 feet above the high tide line), and increasingly energetic waves were forcing me to walk backwards back up the hill. The entire beach was inundated with water, and even the leading edge of the forest was starting to be submerged. I got the sense that this surge was a unique event, possibly caused by a nor'easter combined with a king tide, but that it was a harbinger of soon-to-be permanent conditions.

Oddly, I was not alarmed at all in my dream. Rather, I was relieved, and was thinking, "this will change peoples' attitudes." 


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(@jeanne-mayell)
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11/13/2019 5:00 pm  

@coyote Most people don't understand the catastrophic implications of sea level rising to 4 feet by 2030.  As you know, seas are rising at an accelerating rate so that means that not only are seas rising a certain amount each year but the rate of the rise is accelerating. We need to know that exponent in order to get a number for later years. 

Does anyone here, maybe you, Coyote, know how to calculate what 4 feet SLR in 2030 means for the change in acceleration?  The current sea level rise in 2018 over 1993 levels was 3.1 mm per year which was a doubling of the rate over the last century. Your dream, if correct, means a new rate of acceleration, and I would like someone to calculate what that would be. I don't have that mathematical ability and couldn't find an online calculator.


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(@thebeast)
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11/13/2019 8:51 pm  

@jeanne-mayell

4 feet <=> 1219,2 mm In 11 years, means an average of 110 mm per year . 110/3,1 = 35,7 fold increase .

The collapse of a single unstable glacier in Antartica or Greenland could provide this increase . If it happens suddenly it could send waves across the oceans .

The complete melting of Greenland and Antarctica could increase sea level by as much as 250 feet . Funding for climate change research is gravely depleted . Tipping points are plausible and out of scope of most studies .  

Please consider not having property below 300 feet . I don't. 


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(@lovendures)
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11/13/2019 10:12 pm  

@thebeast

Do you know how this would correspond to how far inland the rise would occur?  Not the full rise but could 4 feet on the coast be 2 feet a mile inland? 


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(@jeanne-mayell)
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11/14/2019 12:12 am  

@the beast Thank you for that calculation.  37 times the most recent figures would be mind boggling if it’s correct. Hope it is wrong!

The reason I am focusing on the speed of sea level rise is that it can be one measure of how quickly all of the other natural systems are dissembling. 


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 dg1
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11/14/2019 4:35 pm  

@jeanne-mayell

as a change in rate, it looks to me to be more than doubling every year for 10 years. 

taking the first year at .31, and a rate of increase of 214.935% YOY, the subsequent years increases are:

0.67
1.43
3.08
6.62
14.22
30.56
65.69
141.19
303.48
652.28

 the sum of those 10 years being 1219.22 mm. 


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 dg1
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11/14/2019 6:38 pm  

sorry, got that decimal wrong. 

so for 3.1mm (not .31) as the first year, 

the change in the rate of SLR increases 165.813% every year for 10 years, 

the subsequent years being:

5.14
8.52
14.13
23.43
38.86
64.43
106.83
177.14
293.72
487.02

and the sum of 10 years being 1219.22 mm. 


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(@jeanne-mayell)
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11/14/2019 10:51 pm  

@lovendures

I believe it simply depends on how high the land is.  In  a place that is at sea level for many miles inland  a five foot sea level rise will extend the water inland until the land exceeds 5 feet.  Also vulnerable are low lying areas near rivers near the sea. In Massachusetts, the land where Harvard University and M.I.T. is located is several miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean but these areas are low lying and will be inundated by the overflowing of the Charles River that flows into Boston Harbor. They are as vulnerable as any land right next to the coast. 

Check out this NOAA interactive sea level map that shows what happens as seas rise https://coast.noaa.gov/slr/#/layer/slr/0/-11581024.663779823/5095888.569004184/4/satellite/none/0.8/2050/interHigh/midAccretion


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(@firstcat)
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11/15/2019 9:43 am  

Saltwater intrusion, and freshwater access will be problems for those just inland too.  I tried to remote view an area in Florida 10 years from now.  I saw dry wells, or rusted wells.  I am not sure exactly.


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(@echec_et_maths)
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11/15/2019 2:59 pm  

back in april I was reading this article on CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/04/health/co2-levels-global-warming-climate-intl/index.html

for those who don't like to click links, it says "CO2 levels at highest for 3 million years -- when seas were 20 meters higher"

That's over 60 feet! IMHO, whether it happens mid-century or end-of-century is a moot point, because it's happening, unless we magically remove all the heat and CO2 from the atmosphere overnight. I'm not too hopeful with the current mindset because we're not even able to apply the brakes. We're still sinking slowly, polluting everyday with our cars, industries, deforestation, etc...

Going on a tangent. It takes me back to a discussion Jeanne had about island living no longer being possible. Now if you're in the US, and you look at the carribeans (practically our neighbors), that's a population of 24 million people. They're going the way of the Bahamas, and there's zero plan to relocate any of them. That's what the presidential candidates should be thinking about long term. We're going to have less land to work with to house them. Then there's the problem with finite (possibly dwindling or maybe soon ungrowable) food supply, clothing, health/diseases, employment, and so on. The same may happen with future unlivable places due to heat, like Africa, India, or southeast Asia. They're going to migrate to livable places like Europe, Australia, Russia. There are no plans in place for any of this.

 


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(@jeanne-mayell)
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11/15/2019 3:57 pm  

@echec_et_maths

Thanks for your post. I feel it is a big deal if people realize what could happen in their life times. People have the interesting lack of interest in what happens after they are gone.  Although we won't be 60 meters under water in our lifetimes, the other impacts of climate change will likely be quite rough by 2050 -- famine, massive loss of life, pestilence, superbugs, dead seas, economic collapse, whole regions that are uninhabitable, storms that you have to go underground to survive, and massive migration of people all over the world.  Countries will not be able to build walls strong strong enough to keep out those who need to cross borders in order to survive.  In many places people will move away rather than rebuild after storms. .  That is already happening in some coastal areas.  

The U.S. Military has already written reports (in the last decade) describing climate change as the single biggest threat to our national security.

I do not like to spread fear on this website, but the impacts of climate change are not speculation, unless you are debating with clueless climate deniers who still think the world is flat.    I'm describing the most likely near term impacts of climate change and the likely dates of beginning chaos. 

 


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(@thebeast)
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11/15/2019 4:10 pm  

@lovendures

It turns out I was slow to answer . And Jeanne already made the perfect answer . I thank her .


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(@coyote)
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11/15/2019 5:53 pm  

@jeanne-mayell

i should note that the 4 feet of sea level rise I saw in my dream was specific to New England. Sea levels here, along with most of the rest of the US east coast, are amplified twice over by the slackening Gulf Stream. So if what I saw is correct, then that would translate as a global average of 2 feet of SLR by 2030...which is still catastrophic. 

In my first dream, where that figure first showed up, I saw an old historical Victorian house in a coastal neighborhood with a foundation that was being eaten away by the encroaching ocean (the neighborhood was deserted, and it felt close to Boston). Then I had an aerial view of a giant Antarctic glacier collapsing into the ocean. I understood that I was looking at the Thwaites Glacier, and that it’s collapse was causing the rising seas I saw in Mass. After the dream, I did some research, and it turns out that a collapse of Thwaites would cause the oceans to rise 2 feet globally (I’d link an article with this info, but I’m typing this on my phone).

Such a scenario would align with growing knowledge among paleoclimatologists that in the past, in periods of rapid warming, Earth’s oceans rose in discrete, staggered  pulses in response to specific melting events. 

 


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(@jeanne-mayell)
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11/15/2019 7:40 pm  

@coyote. First I love you're coyote avatar!

I'm glad you mentioned that the east coast is a sea level rise hot spot.  I know about that, but wasn't sure it was still a scientific finding. I remember reading a climate report back in 2012 that sea level rise was three to four times as high along the east coast from Cape Hatteras to Bangor, ME. It came from a study where they actually took measurements along the coastlines. * I linked it in one of the posts on this site under climate change articles.  But then I thought  later that they were adjusting that figure, so have you seen anything about why they adjusted it to just twice as high as the global average?

Back to your dream: So your dream is from the collapse of the Thwaites Glacier. Do you know how your dream compares to what science is saying about the timing of that event? I realize there are glaciologists who are trying to figure out how glaciers actually collapse because there is so much they don't know. 

_________

*The reasons they gave for higher sea rise on the east coast were: 

1. As you wrote, the Gulf Stream which flows north along the eastern seaboard, has in the past pulled ocean water into it as it speeds along like a fast moving river in the middle of The Atlantic Ocean. But now that climate change has weakened the Gulf Stream (due to an abundance of lighter weight fresh, non salty, water in the North Atlantic, that water does not sink down to the ocean depths in the North Atlantic as quickly now, and therefore does not pull the "river" as quickly.  So the water now sloughs off onto the east coast shores. As Greenland's melting speeds up, the Gulf Stream could come to a halt, sending even more water to the U.S. east coast. 

2. The North American continent is tipping downward on the east coast because it's lifting up on the north western Canada side where melting Arctic snows are sliding into the sea and no longer pressing the continent down on that Arctic end. 


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(@echec_et_maths)
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11/15/2019 11:39 pm  
Posted by: @jeanne-mayell

The U.S. Military has already written reports (in the last decade) describing climate change as the single biggest threat to our national security.

I recently read that in the news too

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/mbmkz8/us-military-could-collapse-within-20-years-due-to-climate-change-report-commissioned-by-pentagon-says

 


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(@coyote)
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11/16/2019 2:28 pm  

@jeanne-mayell

I don't think any scientists have pinned down what the exact figure of sea level amplification will be on the US East Coast in the future. I only mentioned the twofold amplification because I recently read in a Boston Globe article that SLR in New England since 1900 has exceeded the global average by about a factor of 2 (but some spots in New Jersey and North Carolina have seen a 3-fold rise). This more recent article from Yale discusses the subject in a bit more detail, but I don't think it makes specific predictions.

As for the Thwaites Glacier, scientific opinions and predictions are all over the place, couched in a whole lot of "we don't really know." Glaciologists seem to agree that particular characteristics of Thwaites make it more susceptible to collapse, and this interview and article from Scientific American is a good place to become familiar with the situation around Thwaites. The researchers who first raised the alarm about Thwaites in 2016 predicted that Antarctica as a whole would contribute 3 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century, and they've recently revised that figure downwards. Read about that here. But 3 feet by 2100 strikes me on an intuitive level as being overly tepid. I feel like Thwaites will be going sooner rather than later.


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(@coyote)
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11/16/2019 2:39 pm  

@jeanne-mayell

Which avatar are you seeing? First I uploaded a front-facing sketch of a coyote, but quickly changed it to a colored photograph of a coyote in profile. Now I see the sketch whenever I'm logged on on my laptop, but when I'm logged on through my phone, I see the photograph. 


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(@jeanne-mayell)
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11/16/2019 4:47 pm  
Posted by: @coyote

The researchers who first raised the alarm about Thwaites in 2016 predicted that Antarctica as a whole would contribute 3 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century, and they've recently revised that figure downwards. Read about that here. But 3 feet by 2100 strikes me on an intuitive level as being overly tepid. I feel like Thwaites will be going sooner rather than later.

Agree. Tragically, scientists have been overly tepid because of pressure from moneyed sources. Due to the agents of greed, i.e., the fossil fuel industry, scientists became timid.  And that is tragic, because when the consequences are great, we should be more bold with predictions. 

Coyote, I see the profile.

 


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(@lovendures)
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11/16/2019 5:10 pm  

Here is a new article about a UCLA study regarding the Arctic ice melt.

According to a new study by UCLA climatescientists, human-caused climate change is on track to make the Arctic Ocean functionally ice-free for part of each year starting sometime between 2044 and 2067.

Some findings in the study:

 13% of arctic sea ice has been lost each decade since 1979.

The Arctic is warming 2x's as rapidly as the rest of the planet.

 

https://phys.org/news/2019-11-arctic-ocean-ice-free-year.html


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