The Heat Is Online

National Assessment: temps in US, Europe not seen for 11,000 years

US climate change outlook worsens after further research

National Climate Assessment report says sea level rising twice as fast as 25 years ago

Financial Times, Feb. 19, 2018

The dire impact of climate change on the US, spelt out in the federal government’s most recent National Climate Assessment report, looks even worse after further research, according to scientists working in the field.

Scientists involved in November’s assessment, an exercise mandated by Congress that takes place every four years, gave an update at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Austin, Texas, which concluded on Monday.

New findings, for example, about sea level rise and the frequency of severe weather, reinforced the report’s message that climate change was a threat, said Donald Wuebbles, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois and a leader of the assessment. “Climate change is not just something for the future.

The bottom line is that our climate is changing now, extremely rapidly,” he said.

“Temperatures over Europe and North America today are the highest they have been in 11,000 years.”

The assessment involves hundreds of scientists in government and universities. Many were worried that it would fall foul of the sceptical attitude of Donald Trump’s administration about man-made climate change — and were relieved that no attempt was made to hold up or change the first volume of report before publication.

The second volume of the assessment, focusing on climate change’s impact on specific US regions and economic sectors, is due to be released this year. Its preparation is proceeding smoothly without political interference, the scientists said.

“So far it’s looking good,” Professor Wuebbles told the Financial Times. “They are leaving us alone.”

Two new studies show an accelerating rise in sea level as a result of both melting polar ice and thermal expansion of water as the oceans warm, said Professor Robert Kopp, director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at Rutgers University.

The sea level is rising twice as fast now as it was 25 years ago when accurate satellite measurements of the ocean surface started, he said. Projections for the future indicate a likely rise of 15cm-35cm by 2050 and 30cm-120cm by 2100, depending on the extent to which greenhouse gas emissions drive global warming, Prof Kopp said.

“We could even get 8ft [2.4 metres] of sea level rise by 2100 in a high emissions path.” We have been smoking fossil fuels for hundreds of years. This report is an X-ray of our lungs. They are in a very serious condition Katherine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University The sea level rise that has taken place, about 20cm since 1900 and 8cm since 1993, is already causing increasingly frequent nuisance flooding along the US east coast at high tide. Professor Katherine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University, another lead author of the assessment, said recent research showed an alarming increase in the frequency and intensity of storms as a result of climate change.

 The risk of extreme rainfall such as that associated with Hurricane Harvey in Texas last August was about 1 per cent in the late 20th century and will increase to 18 per cent in the late 21st century, she said. Prof Hayhoe concluded: “We have been smoking fossil fuels for hundreds of years. This report is an X-ray of our lungs.
They are in a very serious condition.”

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