Thursday, 10 January 2013

More Signs Of Accelerating Sea Level Rise - what signs?

Maybe it's me, maybe there's some other meaning of the word "signs" I was previously unaware of. Maybe Forbes writer John McQuaid picked no.243 instead of no.244 from his collection of alarmist headlines. I leave you to judge - here's the entire piece.
More Signs Of Accelerating Sea Level Rise
Evidence continues to mount that recent estimates of sea level rise from global warming were wrong, and that the potential inundation to come may be much worse than previously contemplated, possibly exceeding an average of 3 feet worldwide. This from a new study published in Nature Climate Change focusing on the latest opinions of scientists studying the world’s largest ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, where recent, unexpectedly fast melting has raised alarms:
The study found that the ice sheets are likely to contribute a median estimate of 29 centimeters (11.4 inches) of sea level rise by 2100, with a 5 percent chance that it could exceed 84 centimeters (33 inches). When combined with other contributors to sea level rise, such as melting mountain glaciers and thermal expansion of seawater, this implies a “conceivable risk” that sea levels could rise more than 1 meter by 2100.
What’s significant here is that the 1 meter figure, once a highly unlikely, worst-case scenario, has moved decisively into the realm of possibility. It’s still unlikely, according to the scientists surveyed. But current alarming trends mean it has become a lot less so. That said, a lot of uncertainty remains; scientists are unclear on why the melting has accelerated, or if that trend will continue. But given what we’ve seen so far, it’s the official IPCC estimates for sea level rise will likely be revised upward, putting additional pressure on governments to act.
It’s still early in the century, of course, and some urban areas are starting to grapple with changes to infrastructure, coastal settlement, and other issues. But the evidence suggests that the march of disaster will probably continue to outrun attempts to prevent it.
The last sentence of the abstract of the "new study" says
On the critical question of whether recent ice-sheet behaviour is due to variability in the ice sheet–climate system or reflects a long-term trend, expert opinion is shown to be both very uncertain and undecided.
So John McQuaid has decided that "the potential inundation to come may be much worse than previously contemplated" even though the scientists themselves say they don't know whether the trends they identified did indeed reflect a long-tern trend or (natural) variability in the ice-sheet climate system. They updated the ice-sheet component in predictions in AR4 - they didn't validate them. They even say "It's still unlikely" but John (Now working on a book about the science of taste, to be published by Scribner) McQuaid knows better because "current alarming trends mean it has become a lot less so".

What trends (note the "s")? WashPo bleats "2012 hottest year on record in contiguous U.S., NOAA says". Apparently the egg-heads (hard-boiled in the extreme heat perhaps) at NOAA "described the data as part of a longer-term trend of hotter, drier and potentially more extreme weather". Hang on - I was promised "more signs" and I'm served with just one. I was assured of "alarming trends" but have a single dusted off, polished-up old (but somehow confirmed) trend dished up? Aren't short-servings illegal in the good-old US of A?

Those egg-heads seem to think that one warm year "confirms a trend". Don't take any advice on stock-market investments from these guys - they'd have you shivering and hungry on a street-corner in no time flat. Wait - there are still people hungry and shivering on street corners since Sandy struck NY. Sandy confirmed a trend too - a reducing trend in land-falling hurricanes on the eastern seaboard. Short-order writer McQuaid takes this weeks cake for hyperbole. I'd better rephrase that - hyperboles - he wouldn't understand that word if I omitted the "s".

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