Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What is all this fuss over a 0.5 mm in sea level rise?

Not much if you live on the 50th storey in any major city. Half a millimeter to an islander or a coastal dweller takes a lot of meaning, especially when this half millimeter grows day by day. We have good evidence to that, indeed, the sea level rose by about 1.8mm per year during the 20th century. Although the IPCC is being labeled as being conservative in its estimates, it does in fact show how difficult the work of the IPCC can be, to ensure it presents the best and most acceptable data.

The melting of Antarctica is not a new story, but a recent comprehensive study just published in the journal Nature, shows that the planet is indeed in a melting phase. The opening of the northern passage came as a surprise to many but it was not unforeseen. The inundation of many islands and parts of Bangladesh is not unforeseen. It will happen in our lifetime if we do not do something about it.

Consider this:

1996 – Melting of the Antarctic ice estimated to be 83 billion tonnes of water

2007 – Melting of the Antarctic ice estimated to be 138 billion tonnes of water

If your refrigerator was melting at this rate, whether it was flooding your house or not, you would have good reason to be worried. Antarctica is losing more and more water every year. Agreed there could be feedback mechanisms, and there is evidence of ice thickening on the eastern side of Antarctica, but is this enough to compensate for the melting?

Naturally, we islanders are worried. Already there have been reports of heavy erosion in many areas, some islanders have had to be relocated (more stories/videos on this coming), and some heritage sites have also been lost.