Sea level fears as Greenland darkens

Sea level fears as Greenland darkens

SOURCE: BBC News DATE: July 24, 2017 SNIP: Scientists are “very worried” that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet could accelerate and raise sea levels more than expected. They say warmer conditions are encouraging algae to grow and darken the surface. A five-year UK research project known as Black and Bloom is under way to investigate the different species of algae and how they might spread, and then to use this knowledge to improve computer projections of future sea level rise. The possibility of biologically inspired melting was not included in the estimates for sea level rise published by the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC, in its latest report in...
Shifting storms to bring extreme waves, damage to once placid areas

Shifting storms to bring extreme waves, damage to once placid areas

SOURCE: UNSW Sydney DATE: July 20, 2017 SNIP: The world’s most extensive study of a major storm front striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognised danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before. “If you have waterfront property or infrastructure that has previously been sheltered from the impacts of extreme waves, this is worrying news” said Mitchell Harley, lead author and a senior research associate at UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory (WRL). “What this study confirms, is that simply by changing direction, storms can be many times more devastating. And that’s what we’re facing in many locations as the climate continues to change.” Ian Turner, director of WRL and a co-author, said sea level rise was no longer the only factor at play when preparing for the impact of climate change on waterfront areas. “Shifts in storm patterns and wave direction will also have major consequences because they distort and amplify the natural variability of coastal...
Sea Level Rise Will Flood Hundreds of Cities in the Near Future

Sea Level Rise Will Flood Hundreds of Cities in the Near Future

SOURCE: National Geographic and Union of Concerned Scientists DATE: July 12, 2017 SNIP: Sea level rise caused by global warming is usually cast as a doomsday scenario that will play out so far into the future, it’s easy to ignore. Just ask anyone in South Florida, where new construction proceeds apace. Yet already, more than 90 coastal communities in the United States are battling chronic flooding, meaning the kind of flooding that’s so unmanageable it prompts people to move away. That number is expected to roughly double to more than 170 communities in less than 20 years. Those new statistics, compiled in the first comprehensive mapping of the entire coastline of the Lower 48 states, paint a troubling picture, especially for the East and Gulf coasts, which are home to some of the nation’s most populated areas. By the end of the century, chronic flooding will be occurring from Maine to Texas and along parts of the West Coast. It will affect as many as 670 coastal communities, including Cambridge, Massachusetts; Oakland, California; Miami and St. Petersburg, Florida; and four of the five boroughs of New York City. The magnitude of the coming calamity is so great, the ripple effects will reach far into the interior. UCS...
Advanced Modeling Technique Suggests Extreme Coastal Sea Levels More Likely

Advanced Modeling Technique Suggests Extreme Coastal Sea Levels More Likely

SOURCE: University of Central Florida and Nature Communications DATE: July 7, 2017 SNIP: Improving projections for how much ocean levels may change in the future and what that means for coastal communities has vexed researchers studying sea level rise for years, but a new international study that incorporates extreme events may have just given researchers and coastal planners what they need. The study, published today in Nature Communications uses newly available data and advanced models to improve global predictions when it comes to extreme sea levels. The results suggest that extreme sea levels will likely occur more frequently than previously predicted, particularly in the west coast regions of the U.S. and in large parts of Europe and Australia. Because of the rising sea levels, which research has confirmed has occurred steadily during the past century and is expected to accelerate in the future, extreme events that are now expected to happen, on average, only once every hundred years, could occur every decade or even every year, in many places by 2050, the study...
Sunnier Skies Driving Greenland Surface Melt

Sunnier Skies Driving Greenland Surface Melt

SOURCE: Climate Central DATE: June 28, 2017 SNIP: In the past two decades, the Greenland ice sheet has become the biggest single contributor to rising sea levels, mostly from melt across its vast surface. That surface melt is, in turn, driven mostly by an uptick in clear, sunny summer skies, not just rising air temperatures, a new study finds. While some of the water Greenland is flushing out to sea comes from warming ocean waters lapping away at the glaciers that drain the ice sheet, most is due to the melt across its surface during the summer. Stefan Hofer, a PhD candidate at the University of Bristol in England, and his colleagues looked into what the main drivers of that surface melt were, in particular the effect of cloud cover on melt. In satellite data spanning the past two decades, they saw a significant decrease in cloud cover over Greenland starting in the mid-90s, which would mean more sunlight was falling on the ice and driving melt. Climate models the team used suggest that every 1 percent reduction in cloud cover leads to another 27 gigatons of melt (the U.S. uses about 1.3 gigatons of water per day, according to data from NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey). That sensitivity to cloud cover was “pretty astounding,” William Colgan, a senior researcher with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland who wasn’t involved in the study, said in an...