10 October 2008

"Prepare for one metre sea level rise this century"

This is higher than the most pessimistic projection by the UN climate panel. And is a finding by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), which advises the German government on environmental policy. More in Sea levels could rise one metre by 2100: German institute.

PIK is part of the group of scientists who raised the idea of Tipping Elements In Earth's Climate System in Feb 08. Which noted that "Society may be lulled into a false sense of security by smooth projections of global change."

However, in some regions, man-made causes affecting the climate system could kick start abrupt and potentially irreversible changes. For these sub-systems of the Earth system the researchers introduce the term "tipping element".

They shortlisted nine tipping elements relevant to current policy-making. All of them could be tipped within the next 100 years.
  • Melting of Arctic sea-ice (approx 10 years)
  • Decay of the Greenland ice sheet (more than 300 years)
  • Collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet (more than 300 years)
  • Collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (approx 100 years)
  • Increase in the El Nino Southern Oscillation (approx 100 years)
  • Collapse of the Indian summer monsoon (approx 1 year)
  • Greening of the Sahara/Sahel and disruption of the West African monsoon (approx 10 years)
  • Dieback of the Amazon rainforest (approx 50 years)
  • Dieback of the Boreal Forest (approx 50 years)

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