November 4, 2005

How Much Ice in the Global Cocktail?

Filed under: Sea Level Rise

One of the great fears generated by global warming is that the ocean is about to rise and swallow our coasts. These concerns have been heightened by the substantial uptick in Atlantic hurricane activity that began in 1995. The frequency of really strong storms striking the U.S now resembles what it was in the 1940s and 50s, which few people (aging climatologists excepted) remember.

Those arguing that global warming is an overblown issue have been claiming for years that “consensus” forecasts of sea-level are equally overwrought. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a global average rise of from 3.5 to 34 inches by 2100, with a central estimate of 19 inches. Depending upon how you slice or dice the data, the last century saw maybe six inches.

Critics have long argued that these changes require a substantial net melting of some combination of the world’s two largest masses of land-based ice, Antarctica and Greenland. In addition, they note that observed global warming is right near the low end of the U.N.’s projections, which means that realized sea level rise should be similarly modest.

(Read more at Tech Central Station)

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