Thursday, July 05, 2018

Could Climate Models Be That Far Out?

If there's been anything consistent in climate science it has been the errors in forecasts and projections. Climate science - the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), NASA, the Hadley Centre, National Academies of Science, Potsdam, the lot - keep understating what's coming, especially what's already "baked in" our shifting environment.

We were told that if we didn't sharply mend our ways a lot of stuff was going to happen by 2100 and a fair bit of that stuff did happen only 60 to 80 years sooner than predicted. I suppose you have some idea of what's coming next.

A new report published in Nature Geoscience says temperature increases could be double what has been predicted and, even if we do somehow, magically meet the 2 degree Celsius target for warming, sea levels could rise not a foot or two or even three but six metres. That's 19.685 feet.

The researchers say they increase the urgency with which countries need to address their emissions. 
The scientists used a range of measurements to piece together the impacts of past climatic changes to examine how a warmer earth would appear once the climate has stabilised. 
They found sustained warming of one to two degrees had been accompanied by substantial reductions of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and sea level rises of at least six metres – several metres higher than what current climate models predict could occur by 2100.
Here's what 6 metres of sea level rise would mean to Florida. Adios Miami. Fairwell, Florida Keys. Good riddance, Merde a Lardo.

 Remember, what's shown here is calm weather inundation. It doesn't take into account severe storm events, storm surge inundation, etc. Heading west, the entire US Gulf Coast is in trouble. New Orleans will be gone. Houston could go too.

Keep this in mind. The latest report cited here is not some outlier.  It is not the first to predict six metres of sea level rise even if we keep warming below the 2C target. There have been others including this one from 2015.  These reports, then, may represent a building consensus of what we must prepare to accept. This is not going to go down well with the world's petro-states, including our own.


Northern PoV said...

In Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140,
there have been two "pulses". Using the same term for the phenomenon, (rapid sea level rise) scientists have documented from prehistoric times.

"In Robinson’s future, the First Pulse of Antarctic and Greenland ice sheet collapse in the 2050s led to 10 feet of global sea-level rise in the course of a decade. The First Pulse and the food crisis of the 2070s served as focusing events, leading the world to take greenhouse gas reductions more seriously. Electricity generation shifted to renewables; container ships were replaced with fleets of wind-powered clippers; lighter-than-air airships replaced airplanes.

Yet these efforts were not enough to avoid a Second Pulse at the end of the 21st century, driven first by melting at the Aurora Basin in East Antarctica but then cascading around the world’s ice sheets, leading to a further 40 feet of sea-level rise."

"Robinson’s novel, however, is not a scientific projection: It is an exploration of human resilience in the face of extreme pressure. "

In other words - it is an ultimately hopeful tome about the survival of humans in the face of their self generated disaster. A nice read for these gloomy times.

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks to the indifference of the previous provincial government, my town and others like it were left to their own devices to plan for sea level rise. The municipal engineer told me we spent a lot of money for a consultant's report that said we might experience three feet of SLR by 2100 and town planners have been working off that number ever since.

Nobody wants to argue that we have to plan for 10 feet of SLR much less 20. Imagine how that would ripple through the real estate and tourism industries. There are a lot of tax dollars at stake and one of our major sources of employment.

Anonymous said...

You can bet the insurance industry is paying close attention to SLR. Hell, even the climate change denier-in-chief cited GW-related SLR when he applied for permission to build two sea walls to protect his golf course in Ireland.


Anonymous said...

BTW, is anyone interested in a slightly used cone of silence? Seems it's original owner is high-tailing it back to Oklahoma after having his dinner in Washington disturbed by an irate teacher.


The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, Cap, the insurance industry has its actuaries working out risks and premiums on this and other environmental threats. At the moment Washington provides flood insurance but that's of limited scope and it is bleeding out.

I read of a realtor who inherited her family's anti-bellum house on one of the Carolinas' barrier islands. She was furious about a proposed break-even policy for insurance because it would hammer the resale value of her property. Mortgage companies won't lend without solid insurance coverage. That leaves purchasers wary and with less cash to cover the purchase price.

What is to be done with New Orleans and other coastal areas that are already sinking even as the seas rise?

Scary stuff and Canada's Maritime coast is also at great risk. Because our mountains come down to the sea in most places, BC's flood threat is limited but does extend to the most heavily populated area, Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, along the Fraser valley and the river's estuary.

Toby said...

Moving uphill isn't a surefire solution. With winter rains and early runoff we are seeing flooding in high valleys. GW is making messes in places we thought were immune.

Northern PoV said...

"Imagine how that would ripple through the real estate "

Surviving the coming potential extinction event will mean accepting the end of capitalism. The real estate industry (a bedrock element of the capitalist system) will likely be eliminated by sea level rise. This will speed up the withdrawal from capitalism or hasten the extinction depending on the path chosen by our descendants.