Saturday, 4 July 2009

The great sea level rise

There was some mutterings in The Telegraph, via The Libertarian Party blog, the experts have revised their predictions.
That various climate wonks spew out this drivel is of no surprise. That the Faily Telegraph still bothers to report it is, sadly, no surprise either. But it seems we're all going to die. As usual.
Sea-level rise is now inevitable and will happen much quicker than most of us thought - and will last for centuries, according to experts.

Even if greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow the oceans will continue to swell as they warm and as glaciers or ice sheets slide into the sea.
Not according to NSIC.
The growing consensus among climate scientists is the "official" estimate of sea level rise by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - 20cm to 60cm by 2100 - is misleading. It could well be in the region of one to two metres - with a small risk of an even greater rise.

In a report in New Scientist magazine, climate expert Dr Eric Rignot, of California University, said: "When we talk of sea level rising by one or two metres by 2100 remember that it is still going to be rising after 2100."

For many islands and low lying regions including much of the Netherlands, Florida and Bangladesh even small rises will spell catastrophe. Large parts of London, New York, Sydney and Tokyo could be among cities submerged beneath the waves unless a massive engineering effort can protect them against the waves.
I'm a bit of a sceptic me, so I surfed on down to British Oceanographic Data Centre, and tried to dig up some facts myself. They keep the data from UK tide gauges. Its thrilling stuff.

All round the coast of the UK there's all these sea level gauges. See, what I'm a bit sceptical of with sea level rise predictions, is that its different all over.

When the experts say, there'll be a 1 metre rise by 2100, there are two key facts missing.

Firstly, from when? Like its 2009 now, so do they mean that over the next 91 years sea levels will rise by 1 metre? Actually no, I checked up on this last time, they mean a 1 metre rise from 1990 sea levels. That was the best part of twenty years ago.

And secondly, where? That 1 metre rise is an average for the world. Some regions suffer will suffer a big rise and some regions will suffer no rise at all?

So, whenever I hear of sea level rise prediction, I think, that's probably someone else's problem. Besides, I live up a hill, we're going to need a 30 metre rise before the water's lapping at my feed.

Anyhoo, back to my point, Newhaven is the nearest tide gauge to my house, so I pulled the data from the years 1991 and 2008 from the BODC website. And after hours of data crunching in Excel, it says there was a 14cm rise over the 17 years, about 8mm per year.

Give it until 2015 and Newhaven will have the whole century's worth of the 20cm sea level rise predicted by the IPCC.

Mitigating this slightly is the old factoid that England is sinking and Scotland is rising. Wikipedia:-
At the present time, due to Scotland's continuing to rise as a result of the weight of Devensian ice being lifted, England is sinking. This is generally estimated at 1 mm (1/25 inch) per year, with the London area sinking at double the speed partly due to the continuing compression of the recent clay deposits. A contributary factor is the draining of many stretchs of land.
Suggesting that by 2100 London could have sunk by 20cm, in addition to the 20cm IPCC sea level prediction.

So, I'm having a bit of a rethink, I'm changing my policy on climate change / sea level rises. Them's scientists and experts and media are just spouting broad and meaningless platitudes. Rather than investing in inefficient and expensive green stuff, we ought to be building flood defences or heading to the high ground.

Did I mention how I live up a hill?

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