When Barack Obama promised to slow the earth’s rising sea levels and heal the planet during the 2008 campaign, he probably had no idea that curbing carbon dioxide emissions might not lower the sea levels.
A study published in the Journal of Geodesy found that the sea level has only risen by 1.7 millimeters per year over the last 110 years — about 6.7 inches per century — all while carbon dioxide concentrations in the air have risen by a third, suggesting that rising carbon concentrations have not impacted the rate at which sea levels are rising.
The study used data from the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment satellite mission and analyzed “continental mass variations on a global scale, including both land-ice and land-water contributions, for 19 continental areas that exhibited significant signals” over a nine-year period from 2002 to 2011.
The results echoed a study conducted last year, which also found that sea level has been rising on average by 1.7 mm/year over the last 110 years. This was also suggested by two other studies conducted in the last decade.
“The latest results show once again that sea levels are not accelerating after all, and are merely continuing their modest rise at an unchanged rate,” said Pierre Gosselin, who runs the climate skeptic blog NoTricksZone. “The more alarmist sea level rise rates some have claimed recently stem from the use of statistical tricks and the very selective use of data. Fortunately, these fudged alarmist rates do not agree with real-life observations. Overall the latest computed rates show that there is absolutely nothing to be alarmed about.”
Other experts agree, citing data regarding the Earth’s rate of rotation.
“For the last 40-50 years strong observational facts indicate virtually stable sea level conditions,” writes Nils-Axel Mörner, former head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University, in the Journal Energy and Environment. “The Earth’s rate of rotation records a mean acceleration from 1972 to 2012, contradicting all claims of a rapid global sea level rise, and instead suggests stable, to slightly falling, sea levels.”
But in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, U.S. coastal states have been more concerned about the possible effects of global warming on rising sea levels.
A report by 21 U.S. scientists, commissioned by Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, found that the sea levels are rising faster than they predicted five years ago. Florida Keys residents are also concerned about sea levels by the island that have risen 9 inches in the past decade, according to a tidal gauge that has operated since pre-Civil War days.
“It doesn’t need a lot of rocket science,” said Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “We’ve got tide gauges that show us sea level is increasing. This is a real phenomenon. We should take it seriously and have to plan for it.”
The Maryland report found that ocean waters and the Chesapeake Bay might only rise about one foot by 2050, but the study’s authors said that it would be prudent to plan for a two-foot rise in sea levels to account for the risks of flooding caused by storms. The state has already seen sea levels rise by about a foot in the past century — half coming from the natural sinking of the land and the other half coming from rising seas from a warming ocean.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also announced a $20 billion plan to adapt to global warming to prepare the city for rising sea levels and hotter summers.
A report commissioned by New York City found that the number of sweltering summer days could double, maybe even triple, and that waters surrounding the city could rise by 2 feet or more
New York City can “do nothing and expose ourselves to an increasing frequency of Sandy-like storms that do more and more damage,” Bloomberg remarked. “Or we can make the investments necessary to build a stronger, more resilient New York — investments that will pay for themselves many times over in the years go to come.”
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