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Sea Levels are Rising and Falling

Written by Ken Haapala

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Sea Levels: As nature continues to ignore the temperature projections by human climate models, some in the Climate Establishment are responding by making ever more louisianasourcengsalarming projections of sea level rise. Fred Singer discusses sea level rise and what can be expected in the 21st century. In short, not much different than what was experienced in the 20th century. Singer brings out the different projections produced by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the past and the greater, new estimate, appearing in the draft of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) as well as estimates by James Hansen, and Singer.

A new point Singer discusses is the possibility of two different mechanisms influencing Antarctica with opposite effects on sea levels. He suggests that the warming over the past century may increase the ice mass on the continent by promoting increases in snowfall on the continent. This mechanism may dominate the ice mass over decades or centuries and reduce projected sea level rise.

The second mechanism involves the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). Unlike the Arctic ice sheets which are free floating, therefore, melting do not increase sea levels; much of the WAIS is anchored to bedrock that is below sea level, thus melting can increase sea levels. However, the melting, if it is occurring, is very slow and the time frame is in centuries or in millennia, and the extent and time frame of sea level rise have not been determined, should the globe continue to warm.

The melting of the WAIS, regardless of the cause, should be monitored; but, it does not pose a clear danger at this time. Humanity has decades, if not centuries, to determine the possible danger and how to address it.

Singer's analysis brings up an interesting test. In the draft of AR5, the IPCC predicts the sea levels will rise 45 to 110 cm by the end of the century - about 1 to 2 inches every five years. James Hansen predicts the sea levels will rise 20 feet, or about 30cm, 12 inches, every five years. But Fred Singer predicts a sea level rise of only less than 1cm, 0.4 inches, in five years. Who is right? We will know in five years. [Hansen plots the sea level rise as highly exponential, with an increase in the last decade of the century in excess of what occurred during the melting of the great ice sheets covering much of North American and Eurasia.]

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the most recent paper in Nature Geoscience states that the rise from 2005 to 2011 was about 1.68 cm. This would work out to be about 1.4 cm per 5 years or 0.55 inches per 5 years - based on only six years of data. At this point, it appears that the IPCC and Hansen, not Singer, are the climate contrarians. Of course, the headlines claimed accelerating ice melt, for which they seem to have little basis. Please see Articles #1 and #2 in the PDF Report and the rest of this week's climate news.

Ken Haapala, Executive Vice President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

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