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May 10, 2013

ABC spins lower sea level rise

ABC news reported a story that has been doing the rounds of the news networks today about the lower expectations of sea level rises due to the melting of glaciers in Greenland.  The conclusion of the report gave the good news that the expected rise was now less than a metre (39.3 inches) by the end of the century.
While this is much less than the figures stated by such gurus as Tim Flannery and Al Gore who tend to think six metres is a bit optimistic, it will still make the climate frantics feel deliciously vindicated.
The only trouble is that that the actual expected rise has been revised down to between 40mm (just under two inches) and 85mm (around 3.3 inches.) 
European and US researchers predict the impact on sea levels from the island's melting glaciers could be as little as 7 per cent of previous projections of more than half a metre. 
The "state-of-the-art ice-flow model" calculates that melting ice from Greenland's 50-odd glaciers will raise sea levels by between 40mm and 85mm by the end of the century. 
The estimates, reported today in the journal Nature, are extrapolated from modelling of four "single-outlet" glaciers in southern and northwestern Greenland. 
The paper says glacier modelling is extremely difficult because of the complex forces at work.  "The complicated behaviour of narrow-outlet glaciers has not yet been fully captured by the ice-sheet models used to predict Greenland's contribution to future sea level," it says. 
"Complex pattern(s) with rapid changes may be transient and not necessarily indicative of long-term trends." 
Lead author Faezeh Nick, a glaciologist based on the Arctic island of Svalbard, said previous estimates had been based on "simple extrapolation".  "This is the first time we have managed to calculate the contribution of ice dynamic in sea-level rise in a realistic way based on physics," Dr Nick said. 
"Now we are more confident about our projections."
Well, it’s nice to see that they are more confident about their projections, but a downward revision of more than 90% in figures that were written on stone tablets of settled science is something of a setback, given that in the past anyone who dared to criticize or doubt this figure was branded a climate denier, web footed inbred yobbo, ignorant red neck, and so on by the very people who are doing the revision.
But still, the ABC is quite correct.  40mm is less than a metre.

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