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During the 20th century, sea levels rose faster than in any other century during past 4,300 years

During the 20th century, sea levels rose faster  than in any other century during past 4,300 years | Coastal Managment |

During the 20th century, sea levels along the highly populated U.S. Mid-Atlantic coastline between New York and Virginia rose faster than in any other century during the past 4,300 years, according to a new study. And as those sea levels continue to increase as a result of global warming and local land elevation changes, the risks of coastal flooding will dramatically escalate.


The study, by geoscientists at Rutgers and Tufts Universities and published in the new journal “Earth’s Future,” took a comprehensive look at the history of sea level in the Mid-Atlantic, combining sediment records of prehistoric sea level with modern data, which includes readings from tide gauges and satellite instruments. The result is one of the most in-depth examinations of past, present, and future sea level rise of any region in the U.S.


To put recent rates of sea level rise into historical perspective, the study found there is at least a 95 percent probability that the rate of sea level rise in the Mid-Atlantic during the 20th century was faster than any century in the past 4,300 years, and a 67 percent probability that it was faster than any century in more than 6,600 years.


“The sea level rise that we’re seeing now is very significant,” including in a “prehistoric context,” said study co-author Ben Horton of Rutgers University, in an interview.


Assuming continued groundwater extraction rates at coastal plain locations, those areas would see a greater amount of sea level rise, the study found. The study projected that those areas could be in for a rise of 9.8 inches by 2030, 1.5 feet by 2050, and about 3.5 feet, by 2100.


While the study shows that the main component of future sea level rise will be from global sea level rise, local land elevation changes should be factored into development decisions, since they will influence the rate and extent of relative sea level rise at the local level. The study noted that there are currently limited tools for policymakers to use to factor in sea level rise to the planning process.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Deanmignanelli's curator insight, July 15, 2014 10:40 PM

the sea levels have dramaticly risen the last couple of years

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The World's Top Scientists Demand: Take Action Now On Climate Change

The World's Top Scientists Demand: Take Action Now On Climate Change | Coastal Managment |

Two of the world’s most prestigious science academies say there’s clear evidence that humans are causing the climate to change.

The time for talk is over, says the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, the national science academy of the UK.

The two released a paper, Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, written and reviewed by leading experts in both countries, lays out which aspects of climate change are well understood and where there is still uncertainty and a need for more research.


Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society and Nobel Prize winner, said: "We have enough evidence to warrant action being taken on climate change; it is now time for the public debate to move forward to discuss what we can do to limit the impact on our lives and those of future generations.”


NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone said: “As two of the world’s leading scientific bodies, we feel a responsibility to evaluate and explain what is known about climate change, at least the physical side of it, to concerned citizens, educators, decision makers and leaders, and to advance public dialogue about how to respond to the threats of climate change.”

Carbon dioxide (CO2) has risen to levels not seen for at least 800,000 years, and observational records dating back to the mid-19th century show a clear, long-term warming trend. The publication explains that measurements that distinguish between the different forms of carbon in the atmosphere provide clear evidence that the increased amount of CO2 comes primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels, and discusses why the warming that has occurred along with the increase in CO2 cannot be explained by natural causes such as variations in the Sun’s output.

Many effects of climate change have already become apparent in the observational record, but the possible extent of future impacts needs to be better understood. For example, while average global sea levels have risen about 20 cm since 1901, and are expected to continue to rise, more research is needed to more accurately predict the size of future sea-level rise.

In addition, the chemical balance of the oceans has shifted toward a more acidic state, which makes it difficult for organisms such as corals and shellfish to form and maintain their shells.


As the oceans continue to absorb CO2, their acidity will continue to increase over the next century, along with as yet undetermined impacts on marine ecosystems and the food web.


Even if greenhouse gas emissions were to suddenly stop, it would take thousands of years for atmospheric CO2 to return to its levels before the industrial era. If emissions continue unabated, future climate changes will substantially exceed those that have occurred so far, the publication says.

Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Infographic: Sea Level Rise and Global Warming

Infographic: Sea Level Rise and Global Warming | Coastal Managment |
This infographic from the Union of Concerned Scientists helps to clearly illustrate the causes and consequences of sea level rise

Via Flora Moon
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