Sunday, June 21, 2015

Risk of major sea level rise in Northern Europe

A press release from Niels Bohr Institute: Global warming leads to the ice sheets on land melting and flowing into the sea, which consequently rises. New calculations by researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute show that the sea level in Northern Europe may rise more than previously thought. There is a significant risk that the seas around Scandinavia, England, the Netherlands and northern Germany will rise by up to about 1½ meters in this century. The results are published in a special issue of the scientific journal Climate Research.

Sea level rise is a significant threat to the world’s coastal areas, but the threat is not the same everywhere on Earth – it depends on many regional factors. “Even though the oceans are rising, they do not rise evenly across the globe. This is partly due to regional changes in the gravitational field and land uplift,” explains Aslak Grinsted, associate professor at the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.

He explains that gravity over the surface of the land and sea varies due to differences in the subsurface and surroundings – the greater the mass, the greater the gravity. The enormous ice sheet on Greenland attracts the sea, which consequently becomes higher around Greenland. When the ice sheet melts and flows out to sea as water, this attraction is reduced and even though more water has entered the sea, the sea level around Greenland would fall.

...Another very important effect for Northern Europe is that during the ice age we had a thick ice sheet that weighted down the land. When the weight disappears, then the land rises and even though it has been more than 10,000 years since the ice disappeared, the land is still rising. The calculations show that in the Gulf of Bothnia the land is still rising faster than the expected sea level rise....

...“Based on the UN climate panel’s report on sea level rise, supplemented with an expert elicitation about the melting of the ice sheets, for example,how fast the ice on Greenland and Antarctica will melt while considering the regional changes in the gravitational field and land uplift, we have calculated how much the sea will rise in Northern Europe,” explains Aslak Grinsted.

,,,The calculations show that there is a real risk that what have been regarded as high scenarios in the Netherlands and England will be surpassed....

Lemvig on the Danish coast, shot by Anigif, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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