Whether or not you're experiencing Christmas snow, it's probably warmer than usual where you are. Even if all greenhouse gases had been stabilized in the year 2000, we would still be experiencing a warmer Earth and greater sea level rise right now, in the 21st century, according to a new study by a team of climate modelers.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) says that computer studies show that rates of sea level rise and global temperature increase are already committed to in the 21st century. Even if no more greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere, surface air temperatures would rise about one degree Fahrenheit and global sea levels will rise another 4 inches by 2100.
"Many people don't realize we are committed right now to a significant amount of global warming and sea level rise because of the greenhouse gases we have already put into the atmosphere," says researcher Gerald Meehl. "Even if we stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, the climate will continue to warm, and there will be proportionately even more sea level rise." But that doesn?t mean we shouldn't act. "The longer we wait, the more climate change we are committed to in the future."
The half-degree temperature rise is similar to that observed at the end of the 20th century, but the projected sea level rise is more than twice the 3-inch rise that occurred during the latter half of the previous century. These numbers do not take into account fresh water from melting ice sheets and glaciers, which could at least double the sea level rise caused by thermal expansion alone.
The North Atlantic thermohaline circulation?or gulf steam?which currently warms Europe by transporting heat from the tropics, weakens in computer models, just as Whitley and Art Bell warned us it would. Even so, Europe heats up with the rest of the planet because of the overwhelming effect of greenhouse gases. Alhough temperature rise shows signs of leveling off 100 years after stabilization, ocean waters continue to warm and expand, causing the global sea level to rise. This could lead to major cities, most of which are on the coast, being underwater in the future.
Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk
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