UK Climate – Sea Level Rise

The UKCP09 shows the most recent calculated projection based on existing data. As usual the big problems are 2 generations and more away!

So, something to not worry about now, lets get back to the banking crisis, unemployment, whose up for eviction on Big Brother!

But, it seems that each year these projections are released, they are invariably sooner and worse! Arctic ice was going to last the rest of the century, then it cam to 2030s then at least 20 years, then 2013 – that was last year (2008) But I wonder if we will see any real summer ice in 2010?

Sea level rise, again its going to be no more than a metre by 2100. But doesn’t that mean 1/2 metre by 2050? And that’s average sea level rises and most of that’s coming from the Greenland ice sheet melting!

Greenland, that’s not far away and for it to lead to a 1/2 metre global average increase, aren’t we assuming that the Greenland melt water is going to pretty quickly travel round the world and even out?

Add a bit of science here and avoid being simplistic – or even perhaps imagining the earth is flat. Its a sphere, in space and subject to its own gravity.

Why would a mass travel from its position at one side of the sphere to go to the other side when its already in equilibrium. The current mass (weight) of ice in Greenland, when melted will surely remain as close as possible to point of equilibrium. If a significant proportion were to somehow flow all the way round to the Pacific, the Earth’s centre of gravity would surely have to shift to compensate? After all this is a sphere subject to its own gravity!

That being the case, rather than this 1/2 meter increase by 2050 or 1 metre by 2100 being spread over the worlds oceans, won’t it be retained or spread out over the north Atlantic and Arctic oceans? Even were it to spread evenly round the globe, it would still have to flow through the Bering Straights – a fairly small gap, or take the long route via the Southern Capes, again a bit of a constriction before reaching the mass of the Pacific!

But I don’t see what science there is that makes a mass, even one that is liquid, flow out of equilibrium?

The North Atlantic and Arctic make up lets say 1/4 of the worlds Ocean surface. To my mind that means to keep our sphere in equilibrium, most of the sea level rise due to the melting of the Greenland ice caps will be remain in that region. A global average 1 metre will therefore mean we will see a local 4 metre sea level rise, perhaps significantly higher nearer to Greenland, after all, that is where the mass should remain in order to retain our world’s spherical shape without implying a marginal shift in the earth’s centre!

What with sea level just starting to make an impact and the prospect of relatively larger rises over the next decade. What would be a 10 cm average increase could of course be a 40 cm increase on the North European coastline. The North Eastern shore of the United States and Canada is a bit closer to Greenland.

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One Response

  1. Also see: New Scientist review by Fred Pearce : Greenland meltwater will take slow wave around globe.

    Pacific nations threatened with disappearing beneath the waves as sea levels rise have been given a partial reprieve – for a few decades at least. But Europe and North America could be at much greater risk of floods than previously appreciated. So claims the first systematic analysis of what will happen to the water from melting Greenland ice.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14264-greenland-meltwater-will-take-slow-wave-around-globe.html#.VAV7-vldV8E

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