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Varying sea levels since the last ice age  (Source: Global Warming Art Project)
Environmental reporting adheres to adage: "bad news sells better than good"

A new scientific report from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program has sharply reduced earlier estimates of global ice loss. The CCSP, which coordinates the efforts of 13 different federal climate agencies, has released updated figures estimating combined ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland at 48 cubic miles per year, a figure the Washington Post dolefully reports as "accelerated" ice loss.

But is it?

In 2006, a widely-reported study estimated ice loss from Greenland alone to be over 57 cubic miles per year. Another the same year reported Antarctic ice loss of 36 cubic miles -- a combined annual total of over 93 cubic miles. The new estimate, however, is only about half as high. In most rational circles, this would be cause for celebration.

Not for the Washington Post, however. Ignoring earlier estimates, it casts the figure in a threatening light by noting it's twice the amount of ice locked in the Alps. It fails to mention, though, that those 48 cubic miles, when spread out over the planet's 139 million square miles of ocean, works out to a sea level rise of only 2.1 inches per century. For you metric types, that's about half a millimeter a year. Even factoring in an additional increase for thermal expansion, the value is far too small for concern.

Glossing over all this, the Washington Post instead reports a potential rise of four feet by the year 2100. The figure is based on the assumption of unforeseen positive feedback effects which might accelerate ice loss, despite the fact that no evidence exists that this is happening, and even the report's own authors considered such a scenario "unlikely".

When one considers sea level has been rising for the last 18,000 years, at an average of about 25 inches a century, one sees even less cause for alarm. The rate of increase has actually slowed in past 4,000 years; before this, it often rose by as much as several meters per century.

The Post article also fails to point out the report doesn't include data for 2008, a colder year in which sea ice increased sharply, and preliminary estimates indicate that land-based ice sheets may have as well.

Some positive notes in the report are that "no clear evidence" for global-warming induced hydrologic changes (drought or floods) are being seen in the US, and that catastrophic events such as a shutdown of sea ocean currents ("thermohaline circulatory shutdown" ) or dramatic releases of methane (the "clathrate gun" hypothesis) seem increasingly unlikely.

To be fair to the Washington Post, 48 cubic miles/year is indeed larger than some estimates from the 1990s. But those figures were arrived at before the launch of advanced systems such as NASA's GRACE satellite. It's unclear how much of the difference in estimates is due simply to today's more accurate monitoring. 

The report also indicates that current IPCC modeling doesn't accurately capture lubrication effects that may increase ice thinning and loss.  However, a model prediction is not the same thing as actual measurements and observations.

The new figures obviously don't prove whether or not CO2 is warming the planet. However, they do strongly indicate that sea level rise isn't something that we -- or even our great-grandchildren -- need to worry about.

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Doesn't Compute
By GaryJohnson on 12/29/2008 7:33:44 AM , Rating: 2
48 cubic miles of ice per year / 139.5 million square miles of ocean = 2.1 inches of sea level rise per century sounds right to me.

So how did the same 'report' that came up with 48 cubic miles a year come up with 4ft of rise by the end of the century?
In one of the report's most worrisome findings, the agency estimates that in light of recent ice sheet melting, global sea level rise could be as much as four feet by 2100

Can anyone find a link to the original report?

RE: Doesn't Compute
RE: Doesn't Compute
By jbartabas on 12/29/2008 10:04:38 AM , Rating: 2
Can anyone find a link to the original report?


full report:

RE: Doesn't Compute
By porkpie on 12/29/2008 3:06:06 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing critical to say today Jbartabas? Are you coming down with the flu? :)

RE: Doesn't Compute
By GaryJohnson on 12/29/2008 3:09:52 PM , Rating: 2
...estimated a total contribution to sea level of 240±128 mm by 2100...

Hmm, ok, that's not 4ft either...

Taking bets
By porkpie on 12/29/2008 10:34:04 AM , Rating: 5
Some positive notes in the report are that "no clear evidence" for global-warming induced hydrologic changes (drought or floods) are being seen in the US, and that catastrophic events such as a shutdown of sea ocean currents ("thermohaline circulatory shutdown" ) or dramatic releases of methane (the "clathrate gun" hypothesis) seem increasingly unlikely.
I'm betting we won't hear a peep about this from places like CNN. Who wants to bet against me?

RE: Taking bets
By ang sang on 12/29/08, Rating: -1
RE: Taking bets
By homerdog on 12/29/2008 6:43:21 PM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing/hoping this is very well hidden sarcasm.

RE: Taking bets
By AlexWade on 12/29/2008 10:40:15 PM , Rating: 2
Of course not. My adage is similar to the one given: "ain't no news like bad news." I am often reminded of the Don Henly song Dirty Laundry. It came out in 1982 and was about Rupert Murdoch. But it applies equally to Fox News as to CNN and the Weather Channel. It is not about the truth, it is about getting ratings. The stations play to their base and do it well.

I will give CNN some credit, however. Their meteorologists have vocally come out against climate change, and they still work there.

Horrible reporting
By svenkesd on 12/30/2008 11:36:55 AM , Rating: 3
unforeseen positive feedback effects which might accelerate ice loss

This is how they get a 4 feet sea level rise by 2100???

Why not 10ft, or how about 100ft? Was 4ft small enough to be a reasonable amount in the average persons mind but large enough to still scare them?

Unforseen feedback effects might cover the earth in water next year. If it is unforseen who can say I am wrong?

RE: Horrible reporting
By Sulphademus on 1/5/2009 11:26:27 AM , Rating: 2
Yes an unforseen event which will, somehow, positively affect the level of seawater and not negatively. It is unforseen but we do know the effect will be positive.

ice cube in aglass
By Screwballl on 12/30/2008 1:42:29 PM , Rating: 1
go back to elementary school science class...

If you fill a glass half full with water, place a few ice cubes in the water.. does the water level fall, stay the same, or rise when the ice melts?

It stays the same

Melt all the ice in the world including on land mass and guess what, the water level stays the same. Since there is no new water to pump in, many lakes, rivers, creeks and so on dry up meaning no new water introduced to the oceans thus not allowing the water level to rise. This increases the salt content in the oceans causing the planet to cool some and replenish the ice at the highest elevations.

In the end there is no difference in sea levels, or in other words: don't fix what is not broken.

RE: ice cube in aglass
By masher2 on 12/30/2008 2:10:36 PM , Rating: 5
Your statement is true for floating ice, but ice sheets anchored to land is not floating, and does affect sea level.

Over geologic time, ocean levels have varied by 400 meters or more, for just that very reason.

The real issue is how fast ice sheets are melting, and whether the long-term trend is accelerating or not.

RE: ice cube in aglass
By ang sang on 12/30/08, Rating: -1
is it cubic or square?
By lenardo on 12/29/2008 10:56:03 AM , Rating: 2
Cubic miles vs square miles is the problem

6 miles x 8 miles x1 mile =48 cubic miles

I BELIEVE that the post was thinkingare thinking 48miles x48 miles x1 miles (which is not 48 cubic miles) that is where they get the 4 foot error, someone did the math wrong.

from initial article 139 million square miles of ocean

48 cubic miles= 3,041,280 square miles which is the area of ocean in one year that would increase by 1"

x100years=304,128,000 square miles 1"high

or an increase of 2.188" in a century

RE: is it cubic or square?
By whiskerwill on 12/29/2008 2:30:56 PM , Rating: 2
The article says the 4 foot figure is based on "unforseen feedback effects", not bad math. I don't know what feedbacks they're suggesting, but its probably similar to the ones they postulate to get 4-6 degrees of warming from tiny amounts of CO2 increases.

Are you serious?
By Noubourne on 12/31/2008 1:03:24 PM , Rating: 3
The new figures obviously don't prove whether or not CO2 is warming the planet. However, they do strongly indicate that sea level rise isn't something that we -- or even our great-grandchildren -- need to worry about.

It's only slightly scary that you're considering ice loss figures to make this prediction, considering ocean temperature will figure into the sea level far more than simply melting the ice. The thing is, we KNOW what will happen as the temperature continues to rise. The ice melting is a far more uncertain result.

So yeah - just don't worry. Stop trying to model this stuff, eh? It's too complex for us to understand right now, and therefore out of our control. Just buy another SUV and use your F350 to pick up groceries. All is well.

By grenableu on 12/29/2008 2:14:47 PM , Rating: 2
The mistake you (and other environmentalists) make is by assuming that any change = "adverse effect". People have been changing the environment for centuries and its almost always been for the better.

By FPP on 12/29/2008 6:38:10 PM , Rating: 2
Is a plowed field better than a forest?

For who?

Is a dam better than a free flowing stream?

Ask a Beaver.

Science should have perspective.

By meepstone on 12/29/2008 9:18:51 PM , Rating: 2
Better off? what are you even comparing. better off compared to what? your trying to sell your point with nothing. how about something constructive instead of a rant.

By Jim28 on 12/29/2008 11:42:06 PM , Rating: 2

I guess then don't eat. Everything you eat comes from plowed fields of some sort. People have been farming for how many milenia now? Indians used to set fires to drive game. ALl through our history we have changed the environment. Even animals change the environment dope.

By arisch on 12/30/2008 12:56:22 PM , Rating: 3
Organic farming includes plowing fields.

"Eurocentric lies"

What the hell are you babbling about?

You might check this link out:

You just might qualify for special assistance. =)

By Ringold on 12/30/2008 4:14:58 PM , Rating: 2
that they were in tune in with the spirit of nature.

Thats debatable. Native Americans are not extinct; they're still living semi-autonomously around the arctic circle. They think environmentalist and government counts of animal populations are bunk, and gleefully continue to hunt various species to near extinction. The natives there as well as primitive folk in the Amazon and Africa also eat quite a bit of meat. Modern environmentalists are probably the only people in the history of man who don't eat at least a little meat.

Oh, and there are plenty of people in parts of Africa who still live today like they did a thousand years ago, with the only difference being the occasional AK-47. They also over-work the land to the detriment of the environment and themselves. Like many others, I think you have a romanticized view of history and certain groups of people. Government education ftw.

By plowak on 12/30/2008 5:27:02 PM , Rating: 2
What spirit of nature? The one the brought the dinosaurs to extinction - not to mention the thousands of species before and after.

By Jim28 on 12/30/2008 11:36:26 PM , Rating: 2
Blow me,

Considering I am partly creek indian I think I know a hell of a lot more of about this then you.

There are lots of stories all over the place about different tribes setting fires to drive game, and setting fires to kill neighboring tribes.

If you want nature stop posting on the Internet doofus. Go be a part of it. Go try it. Parachute out of a place in the middle of nowhere with no civilzation at all, and see how long you can survive.

I really hope you are being sarcastic with your response, otherwise you are simply not equipped to live in this world on your own.

By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 8:25:29 AM , Rating: 2
I eat organic too. Cows are organic. Chickens are organic. Fish are organic. Carrots are organic. Potatoes are organic.

Tofu. Not organic.

By Etsp on 12/31/2008 8:47:14 PM , Rating: 2
Uhhh, Tofu is made directly from Soy beans.... I think that's still organic. You know what isn't organic? Soylent Green.

By SilthDraeth on 1/3/2009 9:18:09 PM , Rating: 4
Uhhh, Tofu is made directly from Soy beans.... I think that's still organic. You know what isn't organic? Soylent Green.

Lies! Humans are organic!

By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 8:21:59 AM , Rating: 3
So kill yourself.

By truk007 on 1/1/2009 5:29:56 AM , Rating: 2
Once again Fit, you made me laugh out loud at work. Thanks!

By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 8:30:02 AM , Rating: 1
Other than his second "paragraph" he is mostly right. Doesn't matter that man-made global warming is a complete sham. Government's nationwide are going to spend billions of dollars fighting it until enough proof points to the contrary and is actually reported on.

Here goes Asher again
By Totalcarbs on 12/29/08, Rating: -1
RE: Here goes Asher again
By omnicronx on 12/29/2008 10:40:00 AM , Rating: 3
139 million square miles of ocean, works out to a sea level rise of only 2.1 inches per century.
Simple math.. try it sometime..

RE: Here goes Asher again
By rvd2008 on 12/29/2008 10:51:01 AM , Rating: 2
no, Masher is right
it is ~2.5 inches per 100 years, not 2.1
check your math as well :-)

RE: Here goes Asher again
By omnicronx on 12/29/2008 9:08:42 PM , Rating: 2
You do realize I was quoting the article..

RE: Here goes Asher again
By cochy on 12/29/2008 10:47:31 AM , Rating: 3
Did you try using a calculator before making that post?

RE: Here goes Asher again
By Totalcarbs on 12/29/08, Rating: -1
RE: Here goes Asher again
By TomZ on 12/29/2008 11:41:53 AM , Rating: 5
Read the banner and tell me it doesn't say "Blog."

RE: Here goes Asher again
By Hieyeck on 12/30/2008 7:57:00 AM , Rating: 3
Now now, be nice. I'm sure he was just confusing Asher's posts with Mick's posts.

the shoe falls.
By ang sang on 12/29/08, Rating: -1
RE: the shoe falls.
By FPP on 12/29/2008 7:22:58 PM , Rating: 5
No he was not doing his job. The article points out the glaring conclusions they made, versus the actual data. This is typical of the liberal media.

RE: the shoe falls.
By Rockjock51 on 12/29/2008 8:59:21 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps you have proof that global warming is a serious problem?

RE: the shoe falls.
By FITCamaro on 12/31/2008 8:27:40 AM , Rating: 5
Al Gore said so. Isn't that enough? I mean, the man invented the internet and killed ManBearPig. Surely he is all knowing.


RE: the shoe falls.
By Ringold on 12/29/2008 9:49:05 PM , Rating: 3
Normal people wont make the sacrifices needed under normal conditions.

I'd rather "normal people" decide to do whatever they want to do and face the consequences than coerce or cajole them to do something else, compromising individual liberty for mere comfort. I was under the impression that undue fear and coercion was the tool of empire, not enlightened democracy.

But that's just my 2 cents. :P

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