The rise in sea level of the Mediterranean is accelerating

Feb 25, 2011
In this image, scientists are collecting samples during the RADMED campaign. Credit: IEO

At the end of the 20th century, the rise in sea level of the Mediterranean sea was lower than in the rest of the world due to atmospheric pressure, but since the start of the 21st century the levels of the Mediterranean have regained pace and seem to be accelerating. This has been demonstrated by the updated results from the second edition of the book Cambio Climático en el Mediterráneo Español (Climate Change in the Spanish Mediterranean).

"The sea level in the Mediterranean has risen by between 1 and 1.5 millimetres each year since 1943, but this does not seem set to continue, because it now seems that the speed at which it rises is accelerating", Manuel Vargas Yáñez, main author of the book Cambio Climático en el Mediterráneo Español, and researcher in the Spanish Oceanography Institute (IEO), tells SINC.

The publication, which in its second edition includes, for the first time, climate figures from 1943 to 2008 using a marine observation system which is unique in Spain and pioneering in Europe, confirms that the Mediterranean is becoming warmer. Its salinity is also increasing, and the rise in sea level is accelerating. Since the start of the 21st century the level has already risen by 20 centimetres.

However, "during the last three years which were added to the study (from 2005 to 2008) the rise in temperatures has been slower than at the end of the 20th century, when the sea temperatures rose significantly", points out Vargas Yáñez, who insists on the necessity to study long series of figures to show the impact of in the Mediterranean.

According to the book, presented today in Malaga by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and the IEO to mark the third anniversary of SINC, the changes which occurred in the temperatures are not only due to the effects of climate change, but also to natural and "normal" atmospheric changes. "These are changes which are always going to happen; the atmosphere and oceans are chaotic systems", explains the expert.

Something human beings can no longer avoid

On the sea's surface layer, the temperature has risen throughout the 20th century to a level similar to that of the air, in other words roughly 0.7 or 0.8ºC. "It is rising at a speed of almost one degree per century, but it is not possible to extrapolate for the 21st century, because it depends on what human beings do and responds only to the laws of nature", explains Vargas-Yáñez.

Even if humans were to release less CO2 into the atmosphere during this century, emerging countries were to reduce their emissions, and the burning of fossil fuels fell and green economies were promoted, "in the short-term, temperatures would continue to rise", concludes the scientist.

"The climate on Earth is experiencing inertia to a certain extent. Even though we have now decreased greenhouse gas emissions to the levels of the 1990s, during the next 30 years the rise in temperatures and in will continue at the same level as if we did nothing", the physicist points out, who adds, nonetheless, that "the future is not set in stone, and we can still take action to fix it".

Vargas Yáñez and his team plan to continue updating the climate figures for the Mediterranean year after year, thereby consolidating the observation and monitoring system. The next step will be to present a report which is similar but "more multidisciplinary", and which includes a study of the impact of climate change on the Mediterranean's ecosystems.

Explore further: NASA balloons begin flying in Antarctica for 2014 campaign

More information: Manuel Vargas Yáñez, et al. "Cambio Climático en el Mediterráneo Español" Segunda edición actualizada. Instituto Español de Oceanografía, 2011.

Provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

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User comments : 8

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technicalengeneering
1 / 5 (4) Feb 25, 2011
since when can we measure sealevels to half of a millimeter?? That seems awfully precise......
Quantum_Conundrum
4 / 5 (4) Feb 25, 2011
Since the start of the 21st century the level has already risen by 20 centimetres.


Anyone want to call BS?

Anybody?...

That's allegedly 8 inches in 10 years.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2011
Since the start of the 21st century the level has already risen by 20 centimetres.


Anyone want to call BS?

Anybody?...

That's allegedly 8 inches in 10 years.

Nah, it's correct, but the primary reason for this is the exchange through the Straight of Gibraltar which has been positive into the Mediterranean and fluxuates over time. The article isn't wrong with that citation, but the reasoning for the rapid rise is absent, as such I'm not much of a fan of this writer.
Billybaroo
not rated yet Feb 25, 2011
The sea level in the Mediterranean has risen by between 1 and 1.5 millimetres each year since 1943

That works out to 65-97.5 mm = 2.6-3.8 inches between 1943 and 2008! This doesn't make sense compared to
Since the start of the 21st century the level has already risen by 20 centimetres
or 7.9 in.
Moebius
not rated yet Feb 25, 2011
On the sea's surface layer, the temperature has risen throughout the 20th century to a level similar to that of the air, in other words roughly 0.7 or 0.8ºC. "It is rising at a speed of almost one degree per century, but it is not possible to extrapolate for the 21st century, because it depends on what human beings do and responds only to the laws of nature", explains Vargas-Yáñez.


Of course it's possible to extrapolate, we will do what we always do, nothing or make it worse. We will do what the skeptics want in the end. Not because they are right but because it is cheaper to ignore a problem for as long as possible.
NotParker
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 26, 2011
8 inches in 10 years?

Completely bogus.

The current trend of scary unsupported ridiculous predictions has depserately morphed into scary unsupported ridiculous lies.
Dug
3 / 5 (2) Feb 26, 2011
There are quite a number of variables that affect localized sea level measurements - not the least of which are gravitational space affects (moon, sun, and planetary alignments), wind loads, atmospheric pressure, bottom uplift, the list goes on an on. Making sea level measurements in a comparatively small inland sea like the Mediterranean would be even more error prone because localized changes and because of local geologic activity that have nothing to do with climate change sea level affects. I would guess that millimeter variations in sea level are impossible to measure, much less compare to historic levels where there was even less technology available to set comparative bench marks. Making statements like this with dubious technical origin and accuracy quality, does not make climate change less possible, it only makes those working in the field more suspect - deserved or not. Worse it confuses the public and the non-technically trained leaders that ultimately govern the planet
Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2011
"The sea level in the Mediterranean has risen by between 1 and 1.5 millimetres each year since 1943, but this does not seem set to continue, because it now seems that the speed at which it rises is accelerating",


So here is the bottom-line. AGW warming is melting more ice faster an quicker, fitting the "Hockey Stick" predictions of global warming. Enough said.
Man made global warming (AGW) is a fact. Move along deniers.

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