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Sea Level Rise

by: Susannah Gilmore

Sea Level Rise EVSC 1450

Susannah Gilmore

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Notes for the week of March 27-April 1, covers sea-level rise, consequences on fresh water systems, and what will be on the final exam!
An Inconvenient Truce: Climate, You and CO2
Deborah Lawrence
Class Notes
climate change, environmental science, sea level rise
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Susannah Gilmore on Friday April 1, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to EVSC 1450 at a university taught by Deborah Lawrence in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 10 views.

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Date Created: 04/01/16
Sea Level Rise Reviewed Definitions:  Carbon Intensity: How much carbon it costs to create the energy  Energy Intensity: How efficient (cost-wise) the energy used is Temperature impacts are already predicted to warm about 2-4 degrees Celsius by 2100. When looking at this from a historical perspective, even just a 2 degrees Celsius change is twice the natural variation in temperature. How will this affect sea level rise? What causes sea-level to rise? 1 Thermal Expansion o There is more heat stored in the ocean, and this has been increasing over time. The prolonged heat causes the water to expand. The water used to be expanding at a rate of .7mm/yr., but in the last decade it has increased to about 1.1 mm/year o Biggest contributor to sea-level rise 2 Loss of Land-Based Ice o Glaciers:  glaciers have been retreating due to a longer warm season, and fewer days below freezing  Second biggest contributor to sea level rise o Ice Sheets:  mainly Greenland and Antarctica Third-biggest contributor to sea level rise  3 Land-based water storage o Groundwater withdrawals add water to the water cycle, which eventually goes into the oceans and will contribute to sea-level rise o Structural changes like impoundment (dams) can help prevent sea-level rise o Fourth biggest contributor to sea level rise Historical Context  During the last glacial maximum, sea levels were much lower due to the water being stored on land in giant ice sheets. The sea level variation has been relatively flat for the last 3,000 years up until now.  Recently, paleo proxies, tide gauges, and satellite data has shown a positive increase in warming, contrary to the stable climate we've had for the last few thousand years.  In the last 10 years, the sea level as been increasing by 3.2mm/year. The pace pf sea level rise has been accelerating.  In the future, all four (thermal expansion, glacial melting, ice sheet melting and land water storage loss) will grow. o IPCC: "sea level will increase by 45-75 cm by 2100"  At the last inter-glacial, sea level was 2 degrees warmer than it was today, but this was because the water was from Greenland and Antarctica. Predicting Even though there is a 2-4 degree increase by 2100, we only predict .  4-.7 m rise in sea level because melting ice takes time. Over many centuries, the sea level will rise to 5m.  Sustained warming will eventually cause near-complete loss. Whether or not the ice sheet loss is irreversible depend on how long the warming lasts, and how far the threshold of 2-4 degrees celsius is crossed.  A different model: o A model based on ice sheet melting data related observed loss rate to temperature or radiative forcing, in order to predict sea level rise o These kinds of models predict even greater changes Summary of Sea-Level Rise Numbers  Uncertainty for predicting sea level rise is high  There will be at least .5m, possible 1 m by 2100  In the future, about 5-6 m increase is predicted Regional Variation  Sea level rise will vary across the globe, so some places will rise much more than the expected amount, but most (70%) of all coastlines will see an increase in sea-level What will happen when the sea level rises?  Physical and economic damage o Flooding: storm surges will increase in intensity and damage, and flooding will occur more frequently o Erosion: leads to even more floods, loss of landscape and plants o Cliff collapse: Adaptations  Human adaptations to sea-level rise depend on o Financial capacity: paying for human adaptations o Technological capacity: infrastructure to prevent flooding o Institutional capacity: taxes to pay for adaptations, avoiding panic Clearly, in some coastal areas (especially developing or undeveloped  countries) it will be difficult or impossible to adapt to these changes, and mass destruction will ensue. Coastal Significance- Why does it matter?  Humanity: Many people live along the coast. Greater than 50% in the US live along the coast.  Resources: coastal resources are used often and are necessary for many industries  Infrastructure loss: adaptations to sea-level rise will cause a "hardened" coastline and a loss of natural landscape.  Reduced natural wetlands: will lead to a loss in biodiversity and affect the food chain Fresh Water  The sensitivity of fresh water depends on precipitation's: 1. Intensity 2. Seasonality 3. Mode (type of rainfall) 4. Geographic Distribution  We aren't as sure about precipitation like we are with global warming  Plants: Warmer temperatures affects precipitation which affects organisms because plants need more water to handle warmer temperatures as earth gets hotter. A warm temperature encourages evaporation and transpiration, releasing water and cooling the plant.  Intensity: Warmer temperature means that the atmosphere will hold more water, but eventually it will dump more water on earth, causing floods and storms. Availability of fresh water:  1. There has been a 5% increase in total precipitation in the US 2. Renewable surface/groundwater resources will eventually start to decline in subtropical areas and they will increase at higher latitudes. Many vulnerable populations of the world will become even more vulnerable due to not being able to access enough water resources o Storms: warmer ocean temperatures indicate that stronger storms will occur at certain times of the year. It is unsure that there will be more frequent hurricanes, but it is possible o Geography and Distribution: Rainfall is either absorbed or it runs off, and this depends on: 1. Soil moisture 2. Plant demand (can the plants absorb the water) 3. Vegetation status (lots of plants or have they been cleared)  Flooding: there is no clear historical trend for flooding because there are so many non-climate drivers such as land-use,, deforestation and altered water ways (like damming rivers)  Droughts: when it's too hot, there is more evaporation and there will be droughts from the lack of soil moisture. Vegetation will suffer as a result because the soil won't have enough water. Evaporation will exceed precipitation increases. Droughts are difficult to see in observations, but are likely to increase in future, especially the number of dry days  Ground Water: depends on rainfall and evaporation, runoff and infiltration and sea level intrusion


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