06 February 2008

Latest Scientists' Views of Sea Level Rise

Story Date: 1/2/2008

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Following are details of a Reuters poll of 10 leading climatologists about likely rises in world sea levels this century:

Six of the 10 experts contacted by Reuters in the last 10 days stuck to projections by the UN Climate Panel that sea levels will rise by between about 20 and 80 cms by 2100. Four said gains could be higher because of likely bigger thawing of Antarctica and Greenland. None thought the IPCC was exaggerating the risks.


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, February 2007:

The IPCC projected that world sea levels would rise by between 18 and 59 centimetres (7 to 23 inches) this century, after a rise of 17 cms in the 20th century.

The figures include an increased ice flow observed from Antarctica and Greenland from 1993-2003, but the report said that might slow down or speed up and that it was hard to set an upper bound. If the contribution of Antarctica and Greenland were to rise in line with temperatures, the upper range for sea level rise would be 10 to 20 cms higher, it said.


Experts who say the IPCC report is still the best overview:

Gerald Meehl, US National Center for Atmospheric Research (IPCC coordinating lead author of the chapter on sea levels).

Jonathan Gregory, University of Reading, England (IPCC lead author)

Reto Knutti, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (IPCC lead author)

Pierre Friedlingstein, Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences, France (IPCC lead author)

Philippe Huybrechts, Free University of Brussels

David Vaughan, British Antarctic Survey


Experts who see risks of higher rises:

Andrew Weaver, University of Victoria, Canada (IPCC lead author): "The lower bound should probably be more like 25 cm and the upper bound closer to a metre if you take everything into consideration now."

John Moore, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland:  "Most people looking at it are thinking more in terms of a metre...a model we have based on the observational record of sea level in the past 150 years predicts 1-2 metres by the end of this century."

Kim Holmen, Norwegian Polar Institute: "I think it will be more. The IPCC builds on published results and the accelerated melting we see in Greenland and some of the signs in Antarctica indicate that there might be more rapid flux of glacial ice into the ocean than previously believed."

Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research: "I think that substantial parts of the scientific community think that this IPCC range is unfortunately not the full story and we could have substantially higher rises...It's my view that more than a metre of sea level rise can't be ruled out."

-- For Reuters latest environment blogs click here (Editing by Sara Ledwith)

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