Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Future of Catastropic Sea Level Rise

Top U.S. Climate Scientist Issues New Warning On Catastropic Sea Level Rise

James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute Of Space Studies and the top U.S. climate scientist, has issued a new warning about the threat of a catastrophic rise in sea levels. He warns further that many scientists aware of such a rise are reluctant to discuss it out of fears of appearing “alarmist.”

From Hansen’s new paper in the journal Environmental Research:
I suggest that a “scientific reticence” is inhibiting the communication of a threat of a potentially large sea level rise. Delay is dangerous because of system inertias that could create a situation with future sea level changes out of our control. I argue for calling together a panel of scientific leaders to hear evidence and issue a prompt plain-written report on current understanding of the sea level change issue.

Climate Progress has more. This week, CNN’s Anderson Cooper has been reporting live from the source of much of this sea level rise — the disappearing glaciers in Greenland. Last night, Cooper interviewed biologist Jeff Corwin, who laid out the massive changes taking place in Greenland:

Today, it’s actually losing ice at about 100 billion tons a year. I mean, that’s incredible. One hundred billion tons of ice is disappearing. And, of course, it just doesn’t go up in smoke. The ice melts. Not only do you have to deal with water being lifted up, with the potential sea level going up virtually 20 feet, but also salinity. People aren’t thinking about this problem. What happens when a saltwater environment becomes more fresh lake? Sea-level-rise