Rising Sea Levels Due to Ice Melting in Greenland and West Antarctica?

June 25, 2008
The title of this article sounds quite alarming, and comes from the movie An Inconvenient Truth.
In October of this last year, the High Court in London had identified this claim of rising sea levels as an “error” in the movie. Even today, school teachers across the United States continue showing our children this movie as a documentary instead of the more fitting catagory of science fiction. There are 35 scientific inaccuracies and exaggerations in Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth. Let uslook at just one of them, rising sea levels of 20 feet (6 meters)


Sea level “rising 6 m”

Gore says that a sea-level rise of up to 6 m (20 ft) will be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland. Though Gore does not say that the sea-level rise will occur in the near future, the judge found that, in the context, it was clear that this is what he had meant, since he showed expensive graphical representations of the effect of his imagined 6 m (20 ft) sea-level rise on existing populations, and he quantified the numbers who would be displaced by the sea-level rise.

The IPCC says sea-level increases up to 7 m (23 ft) above today’s levels have happened naturally in the past climate, and would only be likely to happen again after several millennia. In the next 100 years, according to calculations based on figures in the IPCC’s 2007 report, these two ice sheets between them will add a little over 6 cm (2.5 inches) to sea level, not 6 m (this figure of 6 cm is 15% of the IPCC’s total central estimate of a 43 cm or 1 ft 5 in sea-level rise over the next century). Gore has accordingly exaggerated the official sea-level estimate by approaching 10,000 per cent.

Ms. Kreider says the IPCC estimates a sea-level rise of “59 cm” by 2100. She fails to point out that this amounts to less than 2 ft, not the 20 ft imagined by Gore. She also fails to point out that this is the IPCC’s upper estimate, on its most extreme scenario. And she fails to state that the IPCC, faced with a stream of peer-reviewed articles stating that sea-level rise is not a threat, has reduced this upper estimate from 3 ft in 2001 to less than 2 ft (i.e. half the mean centennial sea-level rise that has occurred since the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago) in 2007.

Ms. Kreider says the IPCC’s 2007 sea-level calculations excluded contributions from Greenland and West Antarctica because they could not be quantified. However, Table SPM1 of the 2007 report quantifies the contributions of these two ice-sheets to sea-level rise as representing about 15% of the total change.

The report also mentions the possibility that there may be an unquantified further contribution in future from these two ice sheets arising from “dynamical ice flow.” However, the Greenland ice sheet rests in a depression in the bedrock created by its own weight, wherefore “dynamical ice flow” is impossible, and the IPCC says that temperature would have to be sustained at more than 5.5 degrees C above its present level for several millennia before half the Greenland ice sheet could melt, causing sea level to rise by some 3 m (10 ft).

Finally, the IPCC’s 2007 report estimates that the likelihood that humankind is having any influence on sea level at all is little better than 50:50.

The judge was accordingly correct in finding that Gore’s presentation of the imagined imminent threat of a 6 m (20 ft) sea-level rise, with his account of the supposed impact on the present-day populations of Manhattan, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, etc., etc, was not a correct statement of the mainstream science on this question.
SOURCE:  Christopher Monckton of Brenchley and Science and Public Policy Institute. The entire 35 errors are avaible on the SPPI website and a very informative DVD are available as well.

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