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Scientists: Projected Sea-Level Rise May Be Underestimated; IPCC 'Far From Being Alarmist'

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POTSDAM, Germany -- That sea level is rising faster than expected could mean that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) sea-level rise projections for the future may be biased low as well, their results suggest.

Sea-level rise potentially affects millions of people all around the world in coastal areas as well as megacities like Tokyo.

"Global temperature continues to rise at the rate that was projected in the last two IPCC Reports. This shows again that global warming has not slowed down or is lagging behind the projections," Rahmstorf says. Five global land and ocean temperature series were averaged and compared to IPCC projections by the scientists from Potsdam, the Laboratoire d'Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS) in France and the US based Tempo Analytics. To allow for a more accurate comparison with projections, the scientists accounted for short-term temperature variations due to El Niño events, solar variability and volcanic eruptions. The results confirm that global warming, which was predicted by scientists in the 1960s and 1970s as a consequence of increasing greenhouse concentrations, continues unabated at a rate of 0.16 °C per decade and follows IPCC projections closely.

Data of sea-level rise provided a different picture though. The oceans are rising 60 per cent faster than the IPCC's latest best estimates, according to the new research. The researchers compared those estimates to satellite data of observed sea-level rise. "Satellites have a much better coverage of the globe than tide gauges and are able to measure much more accurately by using radar waves and their reflection from the sea surface," Anny Cazenave from LEGOS explains. While the IPCC projected sea-level rise to be at a rate of 2 mm per year, satellite data recorded a rate of 3.2 mm per year. The increased rate of sea-level rise is unlikely to be caused by a temporary episode of ice discharge from the ice sheets in Greenland or Antarctica or other internal variabilities in the climate system, according to the study, because it correlates very well with the increase in global temperature.

"In contrast to the physics of global warming itself, sea-level rise is much more complex," Rahmstorf says. "To improve future projections it is very important to keep track of how well past projections match observational data." Rahmstorf stresses that "the new findings highlight that the IPCC is far from being alarmist and in fact in some cases rather underestimates possible risks."

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Reader Comments

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Climastrology at it’s finest! There has been no global warming for the past 16 years: In order for his statement "Global temperature continues to rise at the rate that was projected in the last two IPCC Reports." Rahmstorf has to “adjust” the temperature data. Here's how he did it: Anny Cazenave says: “While the IPCC projected sea-level rise to be at a rate of 2 mm per year, satellite data recorded a rate of 3.2 mm per year.” No it didn’t. Not unless you adjust it first, and they did. Here’s how it’s done: “One important change in these releases is that we are now adding a correction of 0.3 mm/year due to Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA), so you may notice that the rate of sea level rise is now 0.3 mm/year higher than earlier releases. ” Here’s the sea level chart from with and without the GIA. If you notice the two highest readings, with GIA, the most recent is the peak, but with the GIA fudge factor removed, the peak sea level reading was early in 2010, more than two years ago. Climastrologists always have to adjust data to fit their models in order for any of their projections to come close to reality. Adjusting data to fit models isn’t science. It’s B.S. (Climastrology!)
   comment# 1   - Louis Hooffstetter · Folly Beach, USA · Nov 29, 2012 @ 11:33am

I have lived in the same area for all my near 50 years. Agriculture is what makes our local economy run and we can see the diff. Today is near the end of Nov. and our average temp. is 58 fht. Our forcaste is 78 fht. We set a record high the day befor by 2 degrees. The effects of the nationwide drought is also sighn. Some argue that it is just an earth cycle and, maybe there right but to look at what man has done to the earth by digging and drilling and extracting and exploding, one can only think that there has to be an effect on the overall health of the earth. We are ruining our most important resource WATER and in some areas they are forced to trap, filter, and REUSE their own urine. Clean drinking water is more valuable than crude in some countries. I know you can filter salt or OCEAN water and make it potable but have you ever tried it? It does,nt taste the same. It is all about the all mighty dollar and the thoght that you can,t take it with you so why worry when you are gone. Think of the younger generation and what they face. JUST A THOUGHT..
   comment# 2   - alton grove · lubbock usa · Nov 30, 2012 @ 5:09am

Just how high do they expect the sea to rise in say 20 yrs/10 yrs?How muxch of Florida will be left?
   comment# 3   - Ronnie Smith · Fitzerald Ga · Nov 30, 2012 @ 9:17am

Mr. Hooffstetter, how many years of experience do you have conducting Climatological research? Where did you get your PhD from and where did you do your post doctorial work at? Who funded your research and who was your graduate and post doc advisor? Who is funding your current research and where are you conducting that at? How many papers have you published in the field of Global Climate Change? I'm looking for your credibility and credentials rather than plow through some commic book website called '' or ''. I'll bet dimes to dollars you don't reply to any of these questions I've posed to you here. Do you spend any time counting the number of flying saucer sitings by the Hubble Telescope and report them to NASA?
   comment# 4   - Tom · Columbia, Missouri · Nov 30, 2012 @ 11:52am

Tom, I am a professional geologist, registered in N.C., S.C., and Ga. I have a business degree, a geology degree, and three additional years of graduate geology courses. I spent 15 years as an environmental consultant and worked an additional five years building beaches along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. I have used GPS RTK surveying methods and tide gauge data to assess land subsidence and absolute sea level rise. I read extensively on climate change, but have not published any papers. My major problem with Stephan Rahmstorf’s work is that science relies on empirical (observational) data to arrive at conclusions that are testable and reproducible. ‘Climastrology’ uses synthetic data and computer model projections to reach conclusions that are generally un-testable, and largely irreproducible. In this regard, Stephan Rahmstorf’s work is classic climastrology, as it is not based on empirical data, it cannot be tested, and it cannot be reproduced. In short, it’s conjecture, not science.
   comment# 5   - Louis Hooffstetter · Folly Beach, USA · Dec 3, 2012 @ 12:11pm
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