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Earth Stats Science

In Progress: Fastest Sea Rise In At Least 2800 Years (www.cbc.ca) 520

Layzej writes: A new study finds that sea levels on Earth are rising several times faster than they have in the past 2,800 years and are accelerating. Co-author Stefan Rahmstorf explains that the fact that the rise in the 20th century is so large is a logical physical consequence of man-made global warming. This is melting continental ice and thus adds extra water to the oceans. In addition, as the sea water warms up it expands. The data from the past can also be used for future projections, using a so-called semi-empirical model calibrated with the historically observed relationship between temperature and sea level. With the new data, this results in a projected increase in the 21st century of 24-131 cm, depending on our emissions and thus on the extent of global warming.
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In Progress: Fastest Sea Rise In At Least 2800 Years

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  • Non-believers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by danbert8 ( 1024253 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @01:45PM (#51568401)

    All those people buying and living in coastal houses don't seem to believe in climate change I guess. The ocean is rising, yet prices remain sky high for anything near the coast...

    • Re:Non-believers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by unimacs ( 597299 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @01:51PM (#51568433)
      The insurance companies who've been raising premiums in coastal areas sure do.
      • Re:Non-believers (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @01:53PM (#51568457) Journal

        The actuary tables don't lie. Insurance companies have accepted AGW for years now, no matter how much Big Oil and the Koch's try to deny it.

        • by mtippett ( 110279 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @02:02PM (#51568555) Homepage

          If they are still issuing policies, then it is accepted as a risk. This matches TFA in that there are a number of scenarios, the "likelihood" of an event due to Climate Change has definitely increased, but not the extent that people are uninsurable.

          In areas where it is a certainty (earthquakes in California, Floods in other parts of the country), the insurance companies step back and don't insure.

          • What is the insurance policy time frame, one year? They aren't worried about rising oceans.
            • Re:Non-believers (Score:5, Interesting)

              by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @02:30PM (#51568877) Homepage

              You're thinking "Rising Oceans" are like a bathtub filling up. It's more like a statistical increase in flooding events. Exactly what insurance companies are leery of.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by hey! ( 33014 )

                In Tracy Kidder's book House, he interviews a carpenter who talks about stairs. The carpenter claims that if you were to play a slow motion film of people walking up stairs you'd see that the soles of their feet clear the top of each stair tread by a couple of millimeters. They take the first step and then instinctively lift each foot by no more than they absolutely have to clear each step. That's why it's critically important to get the height of the first step right; if it's just a little bit off the stai

                • Re:Non-believers (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by khallow ( 566160 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @03:57AM (#51573317)

                  In Tracy Kidder's book House, he interviews a carpenter who talks about stairs. The carpenter claims that if you were to play a slow motion film of people walking up stairs you'd see that the soles of their feet clear the top of each stair tread by a couple of millimeters. They take the first step and then instinctively lift each foot by no more than they absolutely have to clear each step. That's why it's critically important to get the height of the first step right; if it's just a little bit off the stairway will forever after be tripping people up, but they won't know why because the difference is imperceptible.

                  I heard this before, It's bullshit. There are plenty of examples of stairs which are grossly uneven and off by far more than a couple of millimeters and people don't have trouble climbing them. Classic examples are outdoor stairs which go up hills and mountains (like Mount Fuji in Japan).

                  There's something like that when it comes to buying land in a floodplain. The past performance of flood control structures is like that first step on the stairway; it sets peoples' expectations to future performance. But those structures introduce a discontinuity into a gradually increasing water level. The water may have come within an inch of the seawall top a half dozen times in the last year, but an inch is as good as a mile. But if the sea level rises an inch, well that doesn't sound like much but a lot of people will notice.

                  A floodplain is a river feature. A seawall is an ocean-based structure. You're thinking of a levee which is the corresponding river-based structure to a seawall.

                  And for a well built seawall, overlapping the wall is not all or nothing. The seawall still reduces flooding and the damaging effects of wave action on whatever is behind the wall even when the wall is overlapped.

            • What is the insurance policy time frame, one year? They aren't worried about rising oceans.

              Actually, they are. Insurance companies deal in figures, anf they have tables with things like 10 25 50 100 year floods and disasters like hurricanes and tornados, and actuarial tables with likelyhood of death for insured individuals that they call into play when determining costing of policies.

              And they darned well are concerned about rising ocean levels. Given the nature of the areas near the ocean like flat land and not much rise, a small rise in sea level, especially coupled with a high tide, can make

          • Anything can be insured. If you pay a premium that trumps the value of your home, I insure you a home built in the path of an oncoming tsunami.

          • The government is stepping in where insurers have bailed. This is socialism: "As the crisis mounts, hard hit states such as Florida and Louisiana are increasingly stepping up as insurance companies check out, providing coverage for residents dropped by their insurers." http://www.scientificamerican.... [scientificamerican.com]
            • Exactly. My original comment wasn't naysaying, it was responding to the actuary tables.

              When the actuaries say it isn't a good business, then we should be *very* worried. The government support of their communities balances their existence and economic activity against the cost of rebuilding - even though the rebuilding won't last.

        • by unimacs ( 597299 )
          Yeah, there's a strong desire to live near water and people will pay huge a lot of money in order to do so, even if they know the area is prone to flooding. My family is a perfect example. I grew up in a home where sandbagging once every decade was just part of the deal. Many Springs my mother would fret over every rain storm. It cost my parents relatively little to build there in the late 50's when the water level was much lower, but over time the property taxes and insurance costs have skyrocketed.

          The
        • Re:Non-believers (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @02:32PM (#51568901)

          The actuary tables don't lie. Insurance companies have accepted AGW for years now, no matter how much Big Oil and the Koch's try to deny it.

          Around 10 years ago, I sat in on a presentation by an insurance company exec who made an incredibly compelling case for the monetary cost of the global warming. Complete with facts and figures. Oddly enough, I haven't heard a lot of deniers cherry picking those numbers.

        • Re:Non-believers (Score:4, Insightful)

          by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @02:34PM (#51568921) Journal

          The actuary tables don't lie

          Asking an insurance company if something might increase risk is like asking a tobacco company if cigarettes prevent cancer. Huge monetary incentive there.

          • The actuary tables don't lie

            Asking an insurance company if something might increase risk is like asking a tobacco company if cigarettes prevent cancer. Huge monetary incentive there.

            There are a few major problems with this comparison. First, insurance is a competitive marketplace in most areas, so customers do "shop around." If one company has a reputation for offering rates 10-20% lower than every one else in an area, that sort of thing "gets around," and people switch. (If you own a home, you probably receive offers almost weekly in the mail for this sort of thing.)

            Second, home insurance is a product that most people NEVER use for its intended purpose. That's why in many areas

      • by clovis ( 4684 )

        The insurance companies who've been raising premiums in coastal areas sure do.

        Insurance companies do not set the flood insurance rates. Flood insurances is subsidized and rates are set by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), in other words, the federal government.
        The rates as set by the NFIP and are artificially low.
        My house on a coastal island (hurricanes about every 8 years) was at 11 feet above sea level and 200 feet from the water. This was a house that was guaranteed to be destroyed, and the premiums were set a level that would cover the cost of the house in 400 years.

        Th

    • May I be the first to say...this story floats my boat.

    • Humans rarely think long term, even when doing a long term deal. Our reptile brain thinks "if something goes wrong I'll escape", and our mammalian brain thinks "omigosh it's so cool!"... and even if your neocortex is strong enough to win the fight, your wife has already bought that! No match! :-D
    • Not just coastal houses, but any low lying areas like all of South Florida.

    • A lot of people didn't believe in the dot-com bubble either.
    • Re:Non-believers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by turkeyfish ( 950384 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @04:37PM (#51569929)

      The interesting aspect of this is that so far buyers don't seem to recognize that what each successive buyer will be both accepting more risk, hence paying more and more for insurance, on a property that will be worth less when it comes time to sell. Coastal property is very much now like milk and other perishable items. It has a sell by date stamped on it. Its just that the dates are of relatively longer duration, on the order of a few generations.

      Given human nature, this musical chairs nature of the coastal property business won't make itself evident to most for another 25-50 years or so. By then with higher temperatures and hence more energy and moisture in the air and consequently more violent and more frequent storms this risks will be apparent to most. However, given that the wealthy are the primary buyers of coastal real estate, form them it's more a question of disposable income. Also for them, it is likely that much if not nearly all of these costs will be passed on to taxpayers and consumers generally, as the buy politicians to shift the tax burden from the wealthy onto the poor and the dwindling middle class and they simply pass the costs on in the form of higher prices in the businesses that they own and control.

      The biggest impact will be in cities like Miami and parts of New Jersey, and large stretches of the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico, where the elevations are so uniformly low over considerable expanses. There all properties will be effected and both rich and poor will be forced to migrate elsewhere. The rich should be ok as they may already have property elsewhere or resources that they can use to purchase other properties even as their seaside properties become worthless. The poor on the other hand will be forced to face conditions similar to those now faced by indigents in Bangladesh, too poor to stay and too poor to move. This will probably be the big unexpected aspect of sea level rise, the political and economic instability that it creates by making so many to lose it all, with little political or economic recourse. Subsequent generations will suffer disproportionately on the individual level as families that might once have had property that could be passed onto subsequent generations in the form of inheritance will be left with greatly diminished inheritance.

      What few recognize is that given free energy considerations and the consequent fact that once a carbon dioxide molecule is generated from fossil fuels, it stays essentially as a permanent fixture in the atmosphere for on average about 100 years. Given the fact that it thus accumulates, the process is exponential, but the consequences time-lagged so that we have yet to experience the effect of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere over the past 50 years, an amount far greater than the previous 50. If one extrapolates from previous geological periods and looks at rates of sea-level rise at various locations, one sees spurts of rising over very short time periods, several meter rises over a hundred year period in some cases (remember that 5+ inches/100 year is a global average). Consequently, there is far more "coastal property" than most people recognize.

      Unfortunately for those on in the US living on the Western Atlantic, the effects of Greenland ice melt on sea level rise will be greatest there rather than immediately adjacent to Greenland because of the fact that the oceans are in motion and the differential between isostatic adjustment and water mass position forces the maximum peaks southward, but primarily over the Western rather than Eastern Atlantic Ocean. Consequently, those rising tides will be flooding Wall Street within the next few hundred years with near certainty. That's a lot of expensive real estate that will need to be liquidated (in more ways than one) in a relatively short period of time.

      • Unfortunately for those on in the US living on the Western Atlantic, the effects of Greenland ice melt on sea level rise will be greatest there rather than immediately adjacent to Greenland ...

        Oddly enough the effect of Greenland's melting ice will actually be a relative reduction in sea level around Greenland because of the reduction in gravitational attraction from the ice sheet.

  • Not much else I can do really.

    Except maybe eat as much sushi / seafood I can before it all goes tits up.

    • by DaHat ( 247651 )

      I'd focus on eating land-based foods for now (like the popcorn)... as with sea levels rising there will be less arable land for agriculture, thus forcing us into either becoming vegetarians or primarily eating what comes from the sea which will suddenly have a far greater production area.

      Mental note: Eat steak & baked potato tonight while I still can.

      • Not that a warming climate would both render some land too hot for agriculture, and some newly arable...

        Net loss? Any credible studies that claim that? This can be done by postulating warming and guessing at the impact.

        • by Layzej ( 1976930 )
          It looks like it depends which path we follow and where we live.

          It is found that the total global arable land area is likely to decrease by 0.8–1.7% under scenario A1B and increase by 2.0–4.4% under scenario B1. Regions characterized by relatively high latitudes such as Russia, China and the US may expect an increase of total arable land by 37–67%, 22–36% and 4–17%, respectively, while tropical and sub-tropical regions may suffer different levels of lost arable land. For ex

      • Well unless you consider that a warmer climate will increase the total arable land for agriculture... A net positive? How much of the earth's surface is currently not used for agriculture because it is too cold? Also, most areas near the ocean aren't used for agriculture anyway... Farms are usually well inland.

        • by rbrander ( 73222 )

          The assumption of net loss arises from the problem that "arable" land is about more than climate; it's got to be good land. Land that has grown extensive plant life for a long time has a different soil chemistry than taiga and tundra. Just giving it more heat is not going to turn it into a garden.
          Broadly, destruction is easier than construction. The land becoming too dry to farm is lost; the land that is becoming more farmable will take hundreds or thousands of years for its soil chemistry to change as mo

        • Well unless you consider that a warmer climate will increase the total arable land for agriculture... A net positive? How much of the earth's surface is currently not used for agriculture because it is too cold? Also, most areas near the ocean aren't used for agriculture anyway... Farms are usually well inland.

          Let us take teh nationalistic approach.

          You down with the idea that your country might become unable to support itself?

      • You don't need to worry about potatoes. You can grows those anywhere - even on Mars! I know its true since I saw a documentary about it last year.

    • I will sell you.... .oh wait.

      How many millions of years before it reaches Arizona at 8 cm a century.

  • yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @01:57PM (#51568505) Journal

    http://www.skepticalscience.co... [skepticalscience.com]

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @02:12PM (#51568673) Homepage Journal

    this research was actually completed during the Harper Regime in Canada, but was intentionally silenced until now.

    It is as bad as people have been telling you.

    Oh, and if you're a billionaire, you could snap up all the coal firms in the world right now for $150 million and just sit on the coal, because we need to keep all fossil fuels in the ground, unless you want your waterfront home to be underwater.

    Cheap, really.

  • and 4000 years ago (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @02:16PM (#51568713)

    it was rising faster than it is now. It was those middle eastern goat herders and their SUVs!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • So, exactly how many mm/year was it rising 4000 years ago ? I don't think that little image is very helpful to determine that.
    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )
      That was the end of a cold pulse during the last glaciation (Ice Age). At the time [wikipedia.org]...

      In North America, the ice covered essentially all of Canada and extended roughly to the Missouri and Ohio Rivers, and eastward to Manhattan. In addition to the large Cordilleran Ice Sheet in Canada and Montana, alpine glaciers advanced and (in some locations) ice caps covered much of the Rocky Mountains further south

      Sea levels were *far* lower then, due to all the ice. So this is just what it looks like when all that utterly ridiculous amount of ice starts to melt. So that was the reason then. What's the reason today?

    • it was rising faster than it is now.

      I think you mean 14 thousand years ago, not four thousand. The graph you posted shows the sea level rise 4 thousand years ago was about 3 centimeters per century-- a same rate that is pretty much constant for several thousand years. The link in the summary ( http://www.realclimate.org/ind... [realclimate.org] ) says since 1993 the rate has been 30 centimeters per century.

  • Skeptics should buy up flat beach-front properties if they truly think it's a hoax.

    If it is a hoax, the land value will go back up when the hoax is exposed and they'll be jillionaires. If it's not a hoax, the fools get what they deserve.

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @02:35PM (#51568935) Journal
      The land value hasn't gone down at all in response to global warming.
      • Maybe not everywhere, but there are clear examples of locations where beach front property no longer warrants the premium it once had, especially on storm-facing frontages.

    • Skeptics should buy up flat beach-front properties if they truly think it's a hoax.

      If it is a hoax, the land value will go back up when the hoax is exposed and they'll be jillionaires. If it's not a hoax, the fools get what they deserve.

      At 8 cm per century, sea level rise will NEVER directly affect anyone living today that owns a beach-front home.

      • by Layzej ( 1976930 )

        At 8 cm per century, sea level rise will NEVER directly affect anyone living today that owns a beach-front home.

        Seas rose about 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) from 1900 to 2000. The current rate is about 34 centimeters per century. It will be much higher by the end of the century. It's the second derivative that you need to be concerned about. Especially for places like Miami that are already flooding at high tide.

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @03:02PM (#51569169) Homepage Journal

    What's funny is that this is *Slashdot* -- where I actually come here for the comments, usually because Slashdot is inhabited by geeks, techs, programmers, scientists; i.e; People that should know a thing or two. Usually the discourse here is insightful and thought-provoking...

    And then comes a global warming post, and all the science deniers come out of the woodwork. You see posts as dumb as "It's snowing right now out my window -- global warming is a myth!"

    This is directed to all the deniers -- what are you people *doing* here on Slashdot? Do you actually work in the technology field and yet deny actual science?

    We *KNOW* there's too much CO2 in the atmosphere and we KNOW that it traps heat, so, what precisely are you denying?

    Or has Fox News tainted your perception of the world so thoroughly that when something comes up that clashes with your ideology you stick your fingers in your ears and scream "LALALALAL I can't HEAR you!" when presented with FACTS?

    Seriously, I don't understand why someone who denies science is on Slashdot -- why not also talk about how Black Holes are a myth, why we can't go beyond a 4Ghz CPU speed because God says so, and solving complex math is forbidden by the Bible? Maybe you'd prefer Slashdot articles on Ghosts, Chemtrails, UFOs and Bigfoot?

    • by Mike Van Pelt ( 32582 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @03:32PM (#51569419)

      Personally, I have been advocating phasing out coal in favor of nuclear for over 40 years. The vast majority of people who claim to be oh so very very concerned about CO2, on the other hand, have been among those obstructing nuclear for over 40 years. Warming is their chickens coming home to roost. Unfortunately, those chickens are crapping all over those of us who do not deny arithmetic, too.

      "I am not so much pro-nuclear as I am pro-arithmetic." -- Stuart Brand

  • The past century also saw unprecedented increases in general health, wealth, and longevity, amount of calories per person, and per dollar.

    More than a fair trade. What went before was no friend of humanity, and any significant effort to trash what brought us these unprecedented benefits should be very carefully thought out.

    The difference between, say, North and South Korea shows government's effect can be magnitudes worse than rising seas over 300 years (where we can less predict tech in 100 years than 1900

  • Surf's up (Score:4, Funny)

    by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @04:06PM (#51569671)

    This is awesome news. A bigger ocean means more room for fish and assorted sea creatures.

  • by coinreturn ( 617535 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @04:56PM (#51570075)
    They're always peeing in the ocean!

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev

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