Monday February 18, 2019
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Rising sea level may become a serious threat in the coming decades

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photo credit: rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com

By Nithin Sridhar

A latest study by NASA scientists using satellite data suggests that a rise of up to 1 meter in the global sea level may become inevitable. NASA scientists used a series of highly sensitive altimeters to measure the ocean height from the space.

photo credit: lima.nasa.gov
photo credit: lima.nasa.gov

The study further reveals that there has been an average increase of 8 centimeters in the sea levels since 1992. Scientists add that the sea levels have been rising at a faster rate than they were half a decade ago and this rate is going to further increase over coming decades.

Previously, United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had predicted in 2013 that the sea level rise would be in the order of 0.3 to 0.9 meters by the end of the century.

IPCC

If these predictions turn out to be true, then they may lead to serious disasters across the world. Let us try to understand why sea level rises and what are its likely consequences.

Why does the sea level rise?

A sea-level basically refers to the average level of the surface of water in the ocean. Many factors like ocean currents, ocean density, and water and ice mass exchange between land and ocean influence the sea-level. But, the major factors behind sea level rise are thermal expansion of water and melting of ice caps and glaciers.

Thermal expansion of water refers to the property of water to expand, i.e. increase in volume when there is an increase in temperature. Therefore, even a slight increase in temperature can cause a large increase in the volume of water resulting in sea level change.

The melting polar ice-caps and glaciers are another contributing factor. Melting of polar ice caps and glaciers during summer season is a natural phenomenon. This used to be more or less compensated by the re-formation of ice caps and the falling snow during winter seasons. But, the ever increasing global temperature has induced a rapid melting of ice during summer and a decreased falling of snow during winter. This has in-turn led to an increase in the net quantity of water in the ocean. This phenomenon has occurred even in case of ice-sheets of Greenland and West Antarctica. The ice-sheets are melting at a very faster pace with each passing year.

photo credit: www.whoi.edu
photo credit: www.whoi.edu

One report on sea level change states: “Observations since 1971 indicate that thermal expansion and glaciers (excluding Antarcticglaciers peripheral to the ice sheet) explain75% of the observed rise (high confidence). The contribution of theGreenland and Antarctic ice sheets has increased since the early 1990s, partly from increased outflow induced by warming of the immediately adjacent ocean.

Therefore, global warming that leads to increase in temperature across the world (causing both increased thermal expansion and the melting of ice caps) is the main culprit behind sea level rise. In other words, all those human actions that contribute toward global warming and heat-stress also contribute towards sea level rise.

What are the consequences of sea level rise?

Increase in sea level may have wide change of consequences. Various small island nations and low-lying islands are especially at risk. For example, an estimate released by Copenhagen International Climate Congress has forecasted that many of the islands in the Maldives may get swallowed by the sea by 2100, making the whole country of small islands uninhabitable. Therefore, many low-lying islands are at the risk of getting completely submerged. Other Islands may face severe floods and storms as well.

The coastal areas across the world including India may face various risks. Increased sea-level may cause erosion of soil, increased risks of flooding, cyclones, contamination of agricultural soil, pollution of fresh-water sources etc. Further, people living along the coastline will face increased threat to their life and property. In case of India, sea-level increase may induce cyclones in Bay of Bengal and may cause severe damage to islands like Andaman apart from causing various damages along the coastal area.

photo credit: www.austradesecure.com
photo credit: www.austradesecure.com

 

 

It is high time that the efforts at fighting global warming and climate change are escalated to prevent massive natural crisis that may result from climate change.

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Rising Global Warming Temperatures Could Make Greenland Sand Exporter

The study said that sand and gravel might also be used in the future to reinforce beaches and coastlines.

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greenland, global warming
FILE - The Greenland ice sheet is seen in southeastern Greenland, Aug. 3, 2017. VOA

Greenland could start to export sand in a rare positive spinoff from global warming that is melting the island’s vast ice sheet and washing large amounts of sediment into the sea, scientists said Monday.

Mining of sand and gravel, widely used in the construction industry, could boost the economy for Greenland’s 56,000 population who have wide powers of self-rule within Denmark but rely heavily on subsidies from Copenhagen.

By mining sand, “Greenland could benefit from the challenges brought by climate change,” a team of scientists in Denmark and the United States wrote in the journal Nature Sustainability.

The study, headlined “Promises and perils of sand exploitation in Greenland,” said the Arctic island would have to assess risks of coastal mining, especially to fisheries.

Rising global temperatures are melting the Greenland ice sheet, which locks up enough water to raise global sea levels by about seven meters (23 ft) if it ever all thawed, and carrying ever more sand and gravel into coastal fjords.

Greenland
FILE – A man walks to his boat past a number of abandoned and dry-docked boats in the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 15, 2018. VOA

“You can think of it [the melting ice] as a tap that pours out sediment to the coast,” said lead author Mette Bendixen, a researcher at the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

Worldwide demand for sand totaled about 9.55 billion tons in 2017 with a market value of $99.5 billion and is projected to reach almost $481 billion in 2100, driven by rising demand and likely shortages, the study said.

That meant a rare opportunity for the island.

“Normally the Arctic peoples are among those who really feel climate change — the eroding coast, less permafrost,” said Bendixen. “This is a unique situation because of the melting ice sheet.”

David Boertmann of Aarhus University, who was not involved in the study, said there was already some local mining of sand for the domestic construction industry in Greenland.

Drawbacks for Greenland, common to other mining projects on the island ranging from uranium to rare earth minerals, include the distance to markets in Europe and North America, he said.

Still, Bendixen said sand was already often transported long distances, such as to Los Angeles from Vancouver or from Australia to Dubai.

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The study said that sand and gravel might also be used in the future to reinforce beaches and coastlines. The study said that sand and gravel might also be used in the future to reinforce beaches and coastlines

“At the moment it is an inexpensive resource, but it will become more expensive,” she said.

The study said that sand and gravel might also be used in the future to reinforce beaches and coastlines at risk of rising sea levels, caused in part by Greenland’s thaw. (VOA)