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Even If Warming Ceased, Sea Level to Rise At Least About 184 mm From Melting Glaciers and Ice Caps

Even if the global climate did not continue to warm, sea level will still rise at least 184 ± 33 mm (7.2 ± 1.3 inches) due to the current mass wastage of the world’s mountain glaciers and ice caps, according to a new study published 11 February in Geophysical Research Letters.

If the climate continues to warm along current trends, a minimum of 373 ± 21 mm (14.7 ± 0.83 inches) of sea-level rise over the next 100 years is expected from glaciers and ice caps, according to the study by researchers at Regis University and the University of Colorado, Boulder. When compared to recent estimates from all other sources, melt water from glaciers must be considered as a particularly important fraction of the total sea-level rise expected this century.

Glaciers and ice caps can be split into regions where snow is accumulated and regions where snow and ice melt—if more snow accumulates than melts, the glacier will advance and grow larger. One of the most easily measured dimensions of a glacier, the accumulation area is linked to future changes in glacier volume and consequent changes in sea level.

Currently observed accumulation areas are too small, forcing glaciers to lose 27% of their volume to attain equilibrium with current climate. This will result in the 184 ± 33 mm of sea-level rise, according to the authors, who analyzed mass balance data from 86 mountain glaciers and ice caps from around the world.

A sea-level rise of 184 ± 33 mm is substantially larger than previous estimates that attribute 104 ± 25 mm to small glaciers and ice caps over the next 100 years when assuming no acceleration in ice loss. Our estimate places no bounds on time and only indicates the final outcome after all glaciers reach equilibrium. Therefore, it is possible that the additional ~80 mm represents sea-level rise that will occur after the 100 year time scale of previous estimates. However, with an e-folding response time that averages on decadal to century time scales for most glaciers, the bulk of the 184 mm of predicted rise is expected within this century.

The preceding analysis derives the changes in sea level to which we are committed by climate as it existed in 2006. Actual sea-level rise due to melting glaciers and ice caps will likely be much higher. Climate is not fixed and the rate of ice mass loss continues to accelerate.

—Bahr et al. (2009)


  • Bahr, D. B., M. Dyurgerov, and M. F. Meier (2009), Sea-level rise from glaciers and ice caps: A lower bound, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L03501, doi: 10.1029/2008GL036309



Yep. These predictions of disaster sure are scary:

"North Pole Could Be Ice Free in 2008" Dr. Mark Serreze, of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center University Colorado(NSIDC)

Only, 2008 has come and gone and arctic ice extent has been underestimated by faulty satellite data by 500,000 square kilometers!! Arghhh.


I remember that story but there was more to it than was reported in the sensationalist new outlets: It seems that a patch of thin single year ice had been pushed by the winds into the small area of the Arctic we know as the North Pole. One scientist speculated that if [a big hard "if"] it stay where it was until the summer it could melt, leaving a hole in the ice over the North Pole. At no time did he say the Arctic Ocean would be free of ice, just that this patch could melt and it might be over the Pole when it did.

Now as for predictions that didn't come true; let's not forget the other side has made its share too.


hey Reel$$, go to this link at RealClimate where the issue is discussed with some objectivity:


Here's an interesting view of the antarctic paper by Steig:

It introduces serious questions with Steig's warming trend paper. And reminds that all this data can be manipulated to meet agendas.


And this on the George Will ice issue:

Evidence Supports George Will’s Cooling column.

The following taken from NOAA datasets at NSIDC University Colorado is further confirmation that the statement made by George Will in his Feb 15th column is correct with respect to global sea ice extent.

Dec, 79 SH sea ice extent - 10.4 M km^2
Dec, 79 NH sea ice extent - 13.5 M km^2
Total Dec, 79 extent - 23.9 M km^2

Dec, 08 SH sea ice extent - 12.2 M km^2
Dec, 08 NH sea ice extent - 12.5 M km^2
Total Dec, 08 extent - 24.7 M km^2

An increase of .8 M km^2 from December 1979 to December 2008. An area larger than the State of Texas.


sulleny said:
"An increase of .8 M km^2 from December 1979 to December 2008. An area larger than the State of Texas."

And if you'd chosen a year earlier, you'd get something more like, "A decrease of 3 M km^2 from September 1978 to September 2007. An area larger than {fill in country of choice}".

(All my numbers above are fictitiously made up, to point out that the previous year had record low levels of sea ice, and to agree with sulleny that, yes, as he has clearly demonstrated, "all this data can be manipulated to meet agendas", as he put it, and really to get any meaningful information out of it you need to look at the 5 year averages over the last 30 years -- which, by the way, show a clear declining trend.)


Its not just the area of ice coverage, you have to factor in thickness too.


"Its not just the area of ice coverage, you have to factor in thickness too."

Another tired ploy by alarmists. If the data makes you unhappy - move the goal posts.

The point is NOAA/NSIDC data confirm what George Will quoted as fact. Global sea ice extent on December 2008 was and is greater than on December 1997.

Live it or live with it. Unless you question the institution of NOAA/NSIDC/University Colorado and their competency.


"The point is NOAA/NSIDC data confirm what George Will quoted as fact. Global sea ice extent on December 2008 was and is greater than on December 1997."

Agreed. AGW deniers are not very good at statistics. They like to search through reams of data and cherry pick misleading data points which would tend to support their political trumpeting, while ignoring the meaningful longer term trends for the sake of data manipulation. Agreed.


"Another tired ploy by alarmists. If the data makes you unhappy - move the goal posts."

Another tired ploy by denialists. If the message makes you unhappy - attack the messenger.


I thought this was good:

# sidd Says:
2 March 2009 at 6:30 PM

I have read Mr. Will for decades. I am afraid he shares some of the more repulsive traits of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. He reflects the thinking of a class of oligarchs whose every word and action is aimed toward perpetuating their own wealth and power, and destroying all that might, conceivably, threaten their privilege. They would passionately deny such a charge, claim they act for the benefit of all mankind, rather than their own. In practice, of course, they are convinced that the benefit of all mankind is best served by advancing their own ends.

Mr. Will and some of his fellow travellers provide a valuable window into the minds of a rapacious class of powerful thieves. That is why I read his columns.

That said, Mr. Will is not an unintelligent man, with some command of the English language, as is evident in his careful constructions in the article, skirting the edges of untruth, and most economical with the truth as well.

His misstatements are calculated. His errors are intentional. He has done this before. And he will again.

Oh, yes, and he has a few passably interesting opinions on baseball.


Mark BC,

"Real Climate" is a blog composed of Paul Hansen's yes men, and stooges. To expect anything remotely "balanced" from those scientists, Gavin Schmidt et al, who sold out for green riches, is to believe the Wizard of Oz tales are Reality.

If you want some balanced information, I'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere. Their answer to ANY information, for example, the world is Colder, Warmer, Dryer, Wetter, Cloudier, Not as Cloudy, the Sun's output is Down, or Up is: " is fully consistent with AGW theory....".

While never quite specifying what their AGW theory IS; except it is always Doomsday. A future Doomsday, safely some constantly receding five, ten or hundred years from now. And must be prevented somehow, by burning offerings, in the form of TAXES to appease their mighty God GAIA. It is also never really explained how burnt offerings of money, somehow alters their "Real Climate", except to add some more CO2 to the atmosphere.

Nor is their Doomsday fully explained except that it is somehow very "bad".
The change of a hypothetical degree or two, or more realistically, now measured by Science to be a hundredth of a degree or so, a hundred years from now is less than the change from 10:00 AM and 12:00 Noon daily, and none of you seem the worse for it, or even notice it.

But if they are to be believed, the entire Human Race is doomed by such a paltry change. Even if the range of their worst predictions became reality, it is the same as if you packed up and moved between 22 and 66 miles South, and closer to the Equator.

Nowhere on the Globe is a place that 22-66 miles further South marks the end of all LIFE,(except perhaps at the frigid antipodes). Even there, if you are prepared for the Cold, 22-66 miles from the South Pole, you can probably also handle the weather at the Pole. So their entire thesis is just fear-mongering Nonsense.

Real Climate is the last refuge of the scoundrels who came "to Do
Good.." overstayed the life of their now discredited hypotheses, and they wish to continue "... to Stay and Do Well."


"If you want some balanced information, I'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere."

Oh I do, especially and wattsupwiththat, among others. The difference is clear.

"The change of a hypothetical degree or two, or more realistically, now measured by Science to be a hundredth of a degree or so, a hundred years from now"

I am wondering how science can actually "measure" a hundredth degree temp change a hundred years into the future. It looks like it's actually risen a half degree so far in the last 50 years.
The polar regions will take the brunt of the temperature warming, which means it's likely the ice caps could melt, which would mean sea levels would rise dramatically. I noticed you didn't mention sea level rise when saying, "Nor is their Doomsday fully explained except that it is somehow very "bad"."

I'd say sea levels rising would be doomsday enough, and would require people to move further than the "22-66 miles" you mentioned.

"Real Climate is the last refuge of the scoundrels who came "to Do Good.." overstayed the life of their now discredited hypotheses, and they wish to continue "... to Stay and Do Well.""

If you could actually provide a shred of evidence to support your claim and refute the science you might not sound so shrill.


Then of course there's this problem:


The sullen one said:

"Then of course there's this problem:"

Yes, that is a problem, as summed up by the last paragraph in your story,

"When the climate kicks back out of this state, we'll have explosive warming," Swanson said. "Thirty years of greenhouse gas radiative forcing will still be there and then bang, the warming will return and be very aggressive."


Looks like the alarmists are building a out clause.

Face it people - we do not need AGW to move to alternative energy. There are loads of good, cogent reasons to break the oil addiction - which we are doing. But the new-spoken agenda now calls for a "Cap n' Trade" scheme which the politicians are counting on to finance their social programs.

If you need money for programs don't try to tax a trace gas that fertilizes plant life. Don't try to fool the public into believing a trace gas controls the earth's climate. Just get honest and say you want to tax carbon-based fuels. It's so much simpler. And true.

The Goracle


ExDemo, Very well written rebuttal. If I might, I will correct one of your points. You said: " appease their mighty God GAIA. The truth is that they are trying to appease their god Algore, a.k.a. The Goracle. It's indisputable. No discussion is allowed. It's OK that I have many mansions and emit tens of times the quantities of CO2 than the average household in the U.S. I am... The Goracle. Pay homage to me! BWaaaahhhhhh, HAaaaaaaa, Haaaa, haaa... cough, hack, wheeze...

Now where's my double cheeseburger?



AGW theory is not a doomsday theory as put up by denialists. It is the theory on how climate works. Simply put, CO2 traps heat. A known physical property that is 19th century physics. You can't get away from that one simple fact. What will this do? It increases the overall temperature of the earth. The energy the earth receives should put the average temperature at -14/-15C. The average temperature is about 30 degrees higher due to a combination of factors that include CO2 which we have some degree of control over.

As for the doomsday scenarios. AGW was never about all life ending. That's the take that denials claim AGW supporters believe. No. Not everything is bleak. Certain areas will certainly become better. Like the arctic. Why do you think that all arctic nations that have some claims are increasing their postures. But the bulk of things, will certainly not be better. Besides which, it is far easier to tally up the definite losses due to climate change than the theoretical and unrealized benefits. The methodologies used to tally up these losses didn't originate with AGW but were developed in standard open academic policies for other things. Its not some conspiracy that the numbers are high. They are the numbers when you affect things as widely as you do as with global change.

Humans have and are dependent on the climate of today and have invested in infrasture based on that illusion of permanency. And it is an illusion.

Since the early oil embargos of the Nixon years, america has been trying to use independence and every other arguement to wean itself of oil. It didn't work. The US is more dependent today then every before. The same arguements people are using against AGW were used back then and now to not change for energy independence and frankly people won't unless they are hit in the pocket books.

By calling cap and trade a means to support "socialist programs" just shows the ideological bias against AGW. It is less about the science and more about which ideology you espouse in believing market whatever. Cap and trade is a more market orientated methodolgy than pure regulation and is already in use for sulfer emmissions. The impacted industries cried the same way back then as well.

As for the comments of the typical Goracle. Go see someone. AGW isn't and never has been about Gore. Like most obsessions, the reality is much different then the belief. Gore starkly put it into the public eye but the science existed far longer than he has been around. The US figured prominently in global warming talks under Bush Sr. The Jasons, an elite group of leading scientists who are brought together to advise the US on matters of science, released AGW projections similar to the IPCC in 1982. Both before Gore's spotlight. No one even mentioned Gore until you and your obsession. If you can't argue for your point based on the science then guess what, your belief isn't very scientific at all and is more like the faith you claim the AGW proponents have.

As for sea ice extents.

The arguement that the earth is cooling is not supported by various measurements. For example of sea ice extents and global temperatures and the rise in sea level. If ice extents were increasing why are sea levels rising? The volume increases are coming from somewhere, whether it is thermal expansion or continental ice being converted to water or a scenario of both. Satellite data definitely shows sea levels increasing but the denialists still try to claim some sort of believability in the matter and claim cooling. Look at the data. You create a hypothesis based on observation. Not look for stuff to support your own preconceptions.

Without context, support, observations, the suppositions that the denialists keep bringing up lie short on actual believability. It's why every recognized scientific body in the world recognizes AGW and not the twisted conjectures of the denialists.

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