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Will the Sun Save Us?

Part II - Is global warming yesterday's news? A typical solar minimum lasts close to 500 days, and occurs between the solar maximums, which happen every 11 years. However, we have now had a little over 700 days without sunspots in the current solar minimum. Researchers are worried that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet this century may drive more water than previously thought toward the already threatened coastlines of New York, Boston and other northeastern coastal. Should they stop worrying?

A group of geologists don't think so. They say that if Greenland's ice melts at moderate to high rates, ocean circulation by 2100 may shift and cause sea levels off the northeast coast of North America to rise by about 12 to 20 inches (even more than in other coastal areas). They think the situation is actually more threatening than previously believed.

Researcher Aixue Hu says, "If the Greenland melt continues to accelerate, we could see significant impacts this century on the northeast US coast from the resulting sea level rise." Scientists have been cautious about estimating average sea level rise this century in part because of complex processes within ice sheets. The 2007 assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected that sea levels worldwide could rise by an average of 7 to 23 inches this century, but many researchers believe the rise will be greater because of accelerated melting in recent years.But unlike water in a bathtub, water in the oceans does not spread out evenly. Sea level can vary by several feet from one region to another, depending on such factors as ocean circulation and the extent to which water at lower depths is compressed. Researcher Gerald Meehl says, "The oceans will not rise uniformly as the world warms. Ocean dynamics will push water in certain directions, so some locations will experience sea level rise that is larger than the global average."

Only our readers and listeners know the secret about where Whitley got his information about the changes in the Gulf Stream that lead to global warming. To learn more, click here and here.

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