With rising sea levels, the time for adapting is now

October 11, 2010
One of the lead authors of the new book: Understanding Sea-level Rise and Variability, CSIRO’s Dr. John Church

The authors of a new book have called for the development of more robust international ocean and ice sheet monitoring and modelling programs designed to help community adaptation planning keep pace with the threat of rising sea levels.

“The good news is that a recent concentration of science resources is improving our insight into and ice dynamics, and scientific measurement of the rate of rise,” says the book’s lead editor, CSIRO Fellow and oceanographer Dr. John Church.

“The way the world responds to climate change will become increasingly reliant on a sophisticated integrated atmosphere, ocean and ice observing network generating data on future climates and from which global and regional sea-level rise can be projected.

“The key question is where and how sea-level rise and associated extreme events will have their impact,” Dr. Church says.

The 420-page book: Understanding Sea-level Rise and Variability, is the work of more than 90 scientists from 13 nations, led by Dr. Church, Dr. Philip Woodworth from the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory UK, Dr. Thorkild Aarup from the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), and Dr. Stan Wilson from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It provides a comprehensive overview of current knowledge on the science of sea-level rise, identifies the major impacts, assesses past sea-level change and the factors contributing to sea-level rise, and assesses how extreme events at the coast will change.

The book will be detailed this week at the Australia-New Zealand Climate Forum, being held in Hobart from October 13-15.

Dr. Church says coastal development has accelerated over the past 50 years. Many of the world’s megacities are situated at the coast and new infrastructure worth billions of dollars is being constructed. These developments assume that the stable sea levels of the past several millennia will continue. This assumption is no longer true.

“Populations in low lying islands and deltaic regions are particularly at risk. 

“Our knowledge has improved significantly since satellites were launched to observe the ocean and the ice sheets and robots deployed to explore the oceans.  However, there are critical gaps in observations of the deep ocean, glaciers and ice sheets. 

“Paralleling this, the development of computer simulations projecting ocean and ice sheet dynamics will be the tools that science needs, governments will rely on and coastal communities from the Pacific islands to the river deltas of Asia will be demanding.

“We cannot ignore sea-level change because it has the potential to change forever the crowded coastal fringes of our continents,” Dr. Church says.

The book was initiated by the World Climate Research Programme and IOC shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but before cyclones Sidr and Nargis in 2007 and 2008. All claimed thousands of lives.

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2.3 / 5 (6) Oct 11, 2010
It's just that sea-levels are not rising, so John Church's book may be all waste of time and effort. There is a fascinating 2007 "EIR Economics" interview on this topic with Nils-Axel Moerner (he used to be the head of INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes) at http://www.mitosy...Eng.html that is a true eye-opener. I highly recommend it to all who worry about their sea-side properties.
2.1 / 5 (7) Oct 11, 2010
Quick tell Gore who just spent millions on beach front property that its now worthless...
2.7 / 5 (6) Oct 11, 2010
One significant step would be to end govt subsidy for beach front property.
2.5 / 5 (8) Oct 11, 2010
Wake me if/when sea levels actually rise more than the tiny amounts seen in the past 20+ centuries.
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 11, 2010
Help! There are five short sighted people here who have their heads buried deeply in sand!

Bury the rest of them!!!!!
5 / 5 (3) Oct 12, 2010
"There is a fascinating 2007 "EIR Economics" interview on this topic with Nils-Axel Moerner (he used to be the head of INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes) at http://www.mitosy...Eng.html that is a true eye-opener."

I guess it was an eye-opener for INQUA as well, as he stands accused of misrepresenting his position with INQUA as detailed in this letter from the(then) president of the Russian Acadamy of Sciences: http://www.edf.or...osed.pdf

They're not happy with his ideas on sea level rise either, which they plainly state are bogus. In the interview you linked, he seems to take a lot of credit for a lot of things in his profession. Not very humble, eh?

And what's up with his "dowsing" abilities:


So we're to believe this charlatan and his view that sea levels are not rising?
5 / 5 (3) Oct 12, 2010
".....as detailed in this letter from...."

That should read "a letter to the RAS from John Clague, president of INQUA."
4 / 5 (4) Oct 12, 2010
So, who makes the most noise on this site battling against AGW.

Gustav: Is convinced that the oceans are not rising even though even the technical AGW deniers admit they are, they just say humans didn't cause it. So strike the argument that the oceans are not rising. We have web sites that show the measurements on a real-time basis to track ocean changes.

Marjon: Believes the earth is cooling, the polar bears are bouncing back, the earth is 6,500 years old, and the lack of government in Somalia has produced a wonderful place for growth and life.

3432682: Believes that human impact is much too small to make a difference.

There are others but this is a sampling of the level of logic we find whenever something that hints of AGW comes up. Watch how the deflect the real issues and drop this discussion to one discussing money or religion. It almost sucks the pleasure out of trying to read about progress in science.
1 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2010
Don't forget about me Thermo.

I've looked at the web sites of the organizations responsible for publication of the above book and the web sites of the groups whom they associate themselves with. WCRP seem to be a reputable organization. The projects they organize (and I assume help to organize funding for?) seem to be above the boards. They are heavily focused on comparing and improving models, making better predictions, and filling in gaps where parts of the system are not well understood. They don't have hardly any political propaganda either. That's the good.

Then we have this article. Although the web site of the book's publishers and author seems to be talking about non-climate related events for the most part, this article seems to be a climate related disaster warning. The web sites even said in several places that one of the biggest problems they face is that the public tends to wrongly blame events like Katrina on climate change.
1 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2010
I'm not sure what the book is actually about, but if this article is correct in its theme then it seems to fly in the face of what the WCRP is trying to do.

On the other hand, they associate themselves heavily with groups like GEWEX/CEOP who seem to be extremely political and biased, with little more than propaganda and public opinion campaigns as a goal. Here's a working document from them:


I'll leave final judgement for anyone who wants to read up on the groups responsible for themselves. I've spent hours reading various documents on the associated web sites. Lots of stuff on the WCRP web site for anyone who wants to learn about climate science. Way more informative than NASA or NOAA, but you need a bit of background to understand most of it.

1 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2010
If you take a look at some of the detailed model analysis, they even show error bounds for temperature measurements and predictions!! That's something you certainly don't see every day! They talk openly about uncertainties as well. You almost never see that stuff out in public. I was very impressed actually.
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 17, 2010
Wake me if/when sea levels actually rise more than the tiny amounts seen in the past 20+ centuries.

I have a house on Anna Maria Island, Florida (an ancient sandbar with trees). It used to be 30 meters from the back door to the Gulf of Mexico, now its 200 meters.

The house is still 2 meters above mean sea level, and has been, since the house was purchased in 1968.

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