As expected, the IPCC has raised its forecast, in 2100, the mean sea level may have increased by almost a meter.
The rising water is an inevitable consequence of global warming. Satellites to measure continuously since 1992. Level rises averaged just over 3 mm per year. In its previous report in 2007, the IPCC predicted an increase in mean sea level between 18 and 59 cm by 2100. Four years later, the International Panel on Climate is much more alarming : the increase could actually reach nearly a meter (98 cm, to be precise) in the assumptions worst. A significant difference, the impact could be dramatic for the hundreds of millions of people living on islands and in coastal areas threatened.
Why such a change? “In 2007, we did not know to model the contribution of melting polar ice caps (Greenland and Antarctica, Ed) rising sea levels, said Anny Cazenave, geophysicist Professor at the College de France and one of the best specialists the question in the world. It was therefore not taken into account. “Satellite observations and in situ at the poles yet show that this phenomenon has contributed 20% to the rise in water levels over the past two years. Thermal expansion, which represents a little more than a third of the 3.2 mm annual increase recorded between 1993 and 2010, had meanwhile been largely underestimated.
In these two contributions are added melting of mountain glaciers (nearly 20%) and human exploitation of terrestrial freshwater tanks (over 10%). One tenth of the increase remains unexplained, however. “We still get to play it correctly with our climate models which were observed during the twentieth century, says Anny Cazenave. So we are quite optimistic about the ability to anticipate the future with these numerical simulations. “Systems based on a simple equation linking average atmospheric temperature and water level semi-empirical models seem doomed to oblivion. So much the better: they planned, but failed to explain, an average increase of 2 meters in the worst-case scenarios.
1000 Billion Dollars of Potential Annual Damage
Also new to this fifth IPCC report , regional disparities in the rising waters are evaluated with more finesse. “We know that the Earth is not a rigid ball. It deforms under the influence of its own weight. This distorts the ocean basins which induces a decrease in places the water level and other well above average “rise, says Anny Cazenave. New York and could face an increase of 1.3 meters while the water does not rise by more than 90 cm in Brest. The influx of fresh water at the poles involve, them, a much more dramatic rise in these regions than in the rest of the world.
The economic consequences of this global rise in sea level are not addressed in this volume of the IPCC report. They will be in the next volume, planned for spring 2014. A study published in August in Nature Climate Change has already sifted through the 136 largest coastal cities. If nothing is done to protect them, the flooding could be done collectively more than 1000 billion dollars in damage each year. This figure obviously does not realize millions of human tragedies that would then be reported.
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