[Vision2020] Oceans Rise Of One Meter Regardless Of Future Actions

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Mon Sep 24 03:24:46 PDT 2007


Sea Level Rise Could Flood Many Cities

Posted: 2007-09-22 16:08:13
Filed Under: Nation News <http://news.aol.com/nation>, Science

 (Sept. 22) - Ultimately, rising seas will likely swamp the first American
settlement in Jamestown, Va., as well as the Florida launch pad that sent
the first American into orbit, many climate scientists are predicting. In
about a century, some of the places that make America what it is may be
slowly erased.

Global warming - through a combination of melting glaciers, disappearing ice
sheets and warmer waters expanding - is expected to cause oceans to rise by
one meter, or about 39 inches. It will happen regardless of any future
actions to curb greenhouse gases, several leading scientists say. And it
will reshape the nation.

Rising waters will lap at the foundations of old money Wall Street and the
new money towers of Silicon Valley. They will swamp the locations of big
city airports and major interstate highways.

Storm surges worsened by sea level rise will flood the waterfront getaways
of rich politicians - the Bushes' Kennebunkport and John Edwards' place on
the Outer Banks. And gone will be many of the beaches in Texas and Florida
favored by budget-conscious students on Spring Break.

That's the troubling outlook projected by coastal maps reviewed by The
Associated Press. The maps, created by scientists at the University of
Arizona, are based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Few of the more than two dozen climate experts interviewed disagree with the
one-meter projection. Some believe it could happen in 50 years, others say
100, and still others say 150.

Sea level rise is "the thing that I'm most concerned about as a scientist,"
says Benjamin Santer, a climate physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory in California.

"We're going to get a meter and there's nothing we can do about it," said
University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver, a lead author of the
February report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris.
"It's going to happen no matter what - the question is when."

Sea level rise "has consequences about where people live and what they care
about," said Donald Boesch, a University of Maryland scientist who has
studied the issue. "We're going to be into this big national debate about
what we protect and at what cost."

This week, beginning with a meeting at the United Nations on Monday, world
leaders will convene to talk about fighting global warming <javascript:;> .
At week's end, leaders will gather in Washington with President

Experts say that protecting America's coastlines would run well into the
billions and not all spots could be saved.

And it's not just a rising ocean that is the problem. With it comes an even
greater danger of storm surge, from hurricanes, winter storms and regular
coastal storms, Boesch said. Sea level rise means higher and more frequent
flooding from these extreme events, he said.
All told, one meter of sea level rise in just the lower 48 states would put
about 25,000 square miles under water, according to Jonathan Overpeck,
director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth at the University of
Arizona. That's an area the size of West Virginia.

The amount of lost land is even greater when Hawaii and Alaska are included,
Overpeck said.

The Environmental Protection Agency's calculation projects a land loss of
about 22,000 square miles. The EPA, which studied only the Eastern and Gulf
coasts, found that Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Texas and South
Carolina would lose the most land. But even inland areas like Pennsylvania
and the District of Columbia also have slivers of at-risk land, according to
the EPA.

This past summer's flooding of subways in New York could become far more
regular, even an everyday occurrence, with the projected sea rise, other
scientists said. And New Orleans' Katrina <javascript:;>  experience and the
daily loss of Louisiana wetlands - which serve as a barrier that weakens
hurricanes - are previews of what's to come there.

Florida faces a serious public health risk from rising salt water tainting
drinking water wells, said Joel Scheraga, the EPA's director of global
change research. And the farm-rich San Joaquin Delta in California faces
serious salt water flooding problems, other experts said.

"Sea level rise is going to have more general impact to the population and
the infrastructure than almost anything else that I can think of," said S.
Jeffress Williams, a U.S. Geological Survey coastal geologist in Woods Hole,

Even John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a scientist
often quoted by global warming skeptics, said he figures the seas will rise
at least 16 inches by the end of the century. But he tells people to prepare
for a rise of about three feet just in case.

Williams says it's "not unreasonable at all" to expect that much in 100
years. "We've had a third of a meter in the last century."

The change will be a gradual process, one that is so slow it will be easy to
ignore for a while.

"It's like sticking your finger in a pot of water on a burner and you turn
the heat on, Williams said. "You kind of get used to it."
Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
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