Ocean Rise - How much? How soon?

27 AUG 2015 - NASA's interdisciplinary Sea Level Change Team

Seas around the world have risen an average of nearly 3 inches (8 centimeters) since 1992, with some locations rising more than 9 inches (25 centimeters) due to natural variation, according to the latest satellite measurements from NASA and its partners. An intensive research effort now underway, aided by NASA observations and analysis, points to an unavoidable rise of several feet in the future.

The question scientists are grappling with is how quickly will seas rise?
"Given what we know now about how the ocean expands as it warms and how ice sheets and glaciers are adding water to the seas, it's pretty certain we are locked into at least 3 feet [0.9 meter] of sea level rise, and probably more," said Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and lead of the Sea Level Change Team. "But we don't know whether it will happen within a century or somewhat longer."

Team scientists will discuss a new visualization based on 23 years of sea level data -- the entire record of available satellite data -- which reveals changes are anything but uniform around the globe. The record is based on data from three consecutive satellite missions; the first a collaboration between NASA and the French space agency, Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES), launched in 1992. The fourth in the series will be Jason-3, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with participation by NASA, CNES and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).
In 2013, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued an assessment based on a consensus of international researchers that stated global sea levels would likely rise from 1 to 3 feet (0.3 to 0.9 meter) by the end of the century. According to Nerem, new research available since this report suggests the higher end of that range is more likely, and the question remains how that range might shift upward.
The data reveal the height of the sea surface is not rising uniformly everywhere. Regional differences in sea level rise are dominated by the effects of ocean currents and natural cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. But, as these natural cycles wax and wane, they can have major impacts on local coastlines.
"Sea level along the west coast of the United States has actually fallen over the past 20 years because long-term natural cycles there are hiding the impact of global warming," said Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "However, there are signs this pattern is changing. We can expect accelerated rates of sea level rise along this coast over the next decade as the region recovers from its temporary sea level 'deficit.'"
Scientists estimate that about one-third of sea level rise is caused by expansion of warmer ocean water, one-third is due to ice loss from the massive Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and the remaining third results from melting mountain glaciers. But the fate of the polar ice sheets could change that ratio and produce more rapid increases in the coming decades.
The Greenland ice sheet, covering 660,000 square miles (1.7 million square kilometers) -- nearly the area of Alaska -- shed an average of 303 gigatons of ice a year over the past decade, according to satellite measurements. The Antarctic ice sheet, covering 5.4 million square miles (14 million square kilometers) -- larger than the United States and India combined -- has lost an average of 118 gigatons a year.
"We've seen from the paleoclimate record that sea level rise of as much as 10 feet [3 meters] in a century or two is possible, if the ice sheets fall apart rapidly," said Tom Wagner, the cryosphere program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We're seeing evidence that the ice sheets are waking up, but we need to understand them better before we can say we're in a new era of rapid ice loss."
Although Antarctica's contribution to sea level rise currently is much smaller than that of Greenland, recent research indicates this could change in the upcoming century. In 2014, two West Antarctica studies focused on the acceleration of the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector showed its collapse is underway.
East Antarctica's massive ice sheet remains the primary unknown in sea level rise projections. Though it appears to be stable, a recent study found under a major glacier two deep troughs that could draw warm ocean water to the base of the glacier, causing it to melt.
"The prevailing view among specialists has been that East Antarctica is stable, but we don't really know," said glaciologist Eric Rignot of the University of California Irvine and JPL. "Some of the signs we see in the satellite data right now are red flags that these glaciers might not be as stable as we once thought. There's always a lot of attention on the changes we see now, but as scientists our priority needs to be on what the changes could be tomorrow."
One of the keys to understanding future rates of ice loss is determining the role ocean currents and ocean temperatures play in melting the ice sheets from below their edges. A new, six-year NASA field campaign took to the waters around Greenland this summer to probe how warming ocean waters are triggering Greenland glacier degradation. The Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project is taking coastal ocean temperature measurements, observing glacial thinning at the ice's edge, and producing the first high-resolution maps of the seafloor, fjords and canyons in the continental shelf surrounding Greenland.
NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

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North Pacific negotiators prepare for Paris climate change talks

13 July 2015, Pohnpei
A crucial workshop to prepare three North Pacific nations for their participation in negotiations at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference opens in Pohnpei today, supported by the Government of Germany.
Senior officials from Palau, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) were updated on the current status of climate change negotiations and assisted to analyze the draft Paris treaty text and to prepare proposals for the 21st UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties in Paris (COP 21) by end of this year.
Climate change is a real and serious threat to the livelihoods and sustainable development of Pacific people and the Pacific Islands will continue to call for a significant reduction in the rate of global greenhouse gas emissions to prevent further long term impacts.
The workshop is hosted by the Government of FSM and jointly organized by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community(SPC), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme (SPREP) and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).
The UNFCCC process for developing a protocol, another legally-binding instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention is complex and challenging for many small states.
European countries, among them Germany, are standing side by side with Pacific Island governments to achieve a positive outcome at the climate change negotiations, the Programme Director and Senior Adviser for GIZ, Dr Wulf Killmann, said.
"The stakes are high for Pacific nations so there's been anticipation in this intensive training for negotiators which complements ongoing financial and technical support to strengthen their resilience against the impacts of climate change," said Dr Killmann, the workshop's moderator.
"It's important that the international community comes to an ambitious, comprehensive climate change agreement at COP 21 at the end of the year," he said.
The financial and technical support of industrialized nations is essential for small island nations, which are among the most vulnerable to climate change, the Director of SPC's North Pacific Regional office, Gerald Zackios, said.
"Importantly, the workshop has improved the participants' understanding of climate finance, including the Green Climate Fund and the concept of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions and the related preparation process in the North Pacific," Mr Zackios said.
Around 30 participants were expected at the workshop which ran until Wednesday (15 July). It was made possible with funding from Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.

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USAID grants help FSM communities cope with climate change and enhance livelihoods


Embassy of the United States of America in Kolonia - April 09, 2015 -  The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Pacific American Climate Fund (PACAM) has awarded grants to two organizations in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) to enhance the resilience of the island communities against the impact of climate change and improve their livelihoods. Marine and Environmental Research Institute of Pohnpei (MERIP ) will receive $343,590 for its initiative, Climate Change Adaptation and Income Diversification in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, to boost the income-earning opportunities for Pohnpei Island's 35,000 inhabitants, and the College of Micronesia - FSM, will receive $556,264 for its Climate Resilient Adoption and Mainstreaming (CREAM) project to educate community members of climate-resilient agricultural methods on the Island of Yap.

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Australia's Pacific neighbors facing unaffordable climate change bill study funds

The Sydney Morning Herald - July 7, 2105

Australia's small island neighbours in the South Pacific face an enormous bill to protect their coastal buildings and infrastructure from the impacts of climate change and extreme weather, one they are unlikely to afford.
Research out of the University of New England has for the first time sought to determine the extent of coastal buildings at risk across 12 South Pacific island nations, including Vanuatu and Samoa, putting the cost of replacing those in harm's way at almost $24 billion.
The study also found that more than half (57 per cent) of the buildings assessed across the 12 countries were within 500 metres of the coast, making them susceptible to damage under current climate conditions and to the more intense extreme weather, rising sea-levels and storm surges projected with further global warming.

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Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum passes resolution on climate change

Quito, Ecuador - JAN 14 2015
The members of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum yesterday passed a resolution on climate change. The resolution was sponsored by Chile. It was acknowledged in the plenary session as being the hardest and the most delicate resolution to work on, with at times contentious debates in the Drafting Committee. "Finally compromise and good will prevailed," said Lam Dang who represented the FSM on the drafting committee. The resolution follows:
Considering with great concern the anticipated impacts on the global climate system described in the contribution made by the Work Group One to produce the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Referring to the fact that Climate Change presents significant threats to the achievement of the MDG´s and post 2015 development agenda and also has irreversible potential consequences for human societies, the future generations and the planet; Acknowledging the urgency and importance of adopting a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC applicable to all Parties to the Convention at its twenty-first session and for it to come into effect and be implemented from 2020; Bearing in mind that the continuous emission of Greenhouse Effect Gases (GHG) is the primary cause of a greater warming effect and of the changes in all of the components of the climate system, and that stopping the Climate Change requires substantial and constant reductions of GHG emissions; Considering that even with a zero level of net emissions in the immediate future, the global warming phenomenon will continue its effect in the future due to the high levels of accumulated concentrations of GHG; Drawing attention to the fact that the predictions made by the IPCC which are based on rigorous analyses of different climate models, not always can assess, in its true dimension, the synergies amongst the different variables that take part in the evolution of the climate;
Emphasizing the urgent need to take effective and sustainable global measures to deal with the Climate Change and to implement local and nationwide adapting measures to fight, even partially, the effects caused by the Climate Change; Acknowledging the role of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the main forum to talk about Climate Change; Acknowledging with appreciation that the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) held in Peru in December 2014 underscored its commitment to reach an agreement in 2015 that reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances; Acknowledging the problems the different countries are facing not only regarding the coordination of their policies and efforts aimed at reaching a global binding agreement to change: current energy production patterns, current consumption patterns, industrial plants technologies but also to carry out other actions in the short and long term that involve large economic investment and the development of new technology; Highlighting the role of the incentives, including market mechanisms, can make the advance possible in order to replace the high Green House Effect Gasses (GHG) technologies with new technologies based on renewable and efficient energy; Noting the human and economic effect that may be the result of climate change; Noting that safety, health and welfare of the APPF Member States and people of the Asia Pacific region and other parts of the world can benefit from effective measures that can reduce the GHG worldwide; Realizing the need for APPF Member States and other Nations to assume their responsibilities both towards their own people and towards humankind and to move forward and honor their commitments; Valuing the importance of regional cooperation and, at different levels – the information exchange to face climate change through international cooperation initiatives.
1. Urge all APPF Member States to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with relevant decisions of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Lima Peru in 2014;
2. Exhort APPF Members States to work together inside the UNFCCC, to develop a protocol another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC applicable to all Parties;
3. Encourage all APPF Member States to start preparing their contributions for 2015;
4. Boost initiatives inside our own parliaments that could complement the UNFCCC Framework Convention;
5. Support to the strengthening of the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) in the developing countries within the sustainable development framework;
6. Encourage the sharing of practical experiences of domestic mitigation actions to reduce emissions;
7. Call the governments of the region to support sustainable development policies and consider innovative models of international cooperation to reach sustainable development;
8. Work towards a new agreement on Climate Change through our parliamentary work to stimulate adaptation actions;
9. Work towards improving clean developing mechanisms;
10. Welcome the decision to set the Warsaw International Mechanism for loss and damage under the Cancun Adaptation Framework; 13. Implement an inter-parliamentary communication mechanism to exchange information, successful legal experiences and knowledge that could provide the proper and timely elements in response to Climate Change, amongst others, to our own domestic legislative bodies to promote stronger coordination efforts and eventually the progress during their normalization processes.
Quito, January 14th, 2015

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March 2015: Another Warmest Month on Record for the Planet

global temperatures march 2015

18 April, 2015 - The average temperature across global land and ocean surface temperatures combined for March 2015 was 0.85°C (1.53°F) higher than the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F). This marks the highest March temperature in the 136-year period of record, surpassing the previous record of 2010 by 0.05°C (0.09°F). The Northern Hemisphere had its second highest March temperature on record, behind only 2008, while the Southern hemisphere tied with 2002 for third highest.
The March 2015 global temperature was the third highest monthly departure from average on record for any month, just 0.01°C (0.02°F) lower than the monthly anomalies for February 1998 and January 2007. This also replaces February 2015 (+0.84°C / +1.51°F) as the third highest departure from average among all months, moving that month to fourth highest. Seven of the past eleven months (May, June, August, September, October, and December 2014, along with March 2015) have tied or set new record high monthly temperatures.

global table
The average March temperature over land surfaces across the globe tied with 1990 as the second highest for March on record, at 1.59°C (2.86°F) above the 20th century average. The warmth was spread fairly evenly across the hemispheres, as the Northern and Southern Hemisphere each observed their third highest March land surface temperatures on record. Most land areas were warmer to much warmer than average, as shown by the Temperature Percentiles map above, with record warmth in parts of the western United States and Canada, various regions in eastern Africa, parts of Scandinavia and northwestern Russia, part of south central China, and an area of northeastern Australia. Central India, southeastern Mauritania, central Mexico, and eastern Canada were cooler than average. Part of northeastern Canada was much cooler than average, with the region observing temperatures at least 3°C (5°F) below average. On the other side of the continent, most of central to western North America had temperatures at least 3°C higher than the 20th century average. Temperatures were also at least 3°C above average across most of Eurasia, with the exception of Far East Russia south of the East Siberian Sea, which was cooler than average.

· Australia observed its eighth warmest March since national records began in 1910, due mainly to heat in the north and east of the country. Queensland was the hotspot, with its warmest maximum (anomalies of +2.88°C / +5.18°F), minimum (+1.62°C / +2.91°F), and mean (+1.89°C / +3.40°F) temperatures compared to the 1961–90 average in the 106-year period of record. Victoria and Tasmania were cooler than average for the month, while South Australia and Western Australia were close to average.

· It was also a warm March in New Zealand thanks to frequent tropical airflow over the country, according to NIWA, with the national temperature for the month 1.0°C (1.8°F) above the 1981–2010 average. Many sites observed temperatures well above average (at least +1.2°C / +2.2°F).

For the oceans, the March global sea surface temperature was 0.55°C (0.99°F) higher than the 20th century average for the month. This marks the third highest globally-averaged March temperature in the 136-year period of record. Only March 1998 and 2010 ocean surface temperatures were warmer, with both months 0.56°C (1.01°F) higher than the 20th century average. Record warm temperatures continued to dominate in the northeast Pacific Ocean and were also notable in the southwest Pacific and parts of the Arctic Seas to the north and northwest of Scandinavia. Overall, every major ocean basin had at least some areas with record warmth and large areas with much warmer-than-average temperatures. Also, continuing a pattern seen since fall 2014, much of the North Atlantic Ocean between Canada and the United Kingdom had much cooler-than-average temperatures during March, with an area of record cold observed within that that region.
El Niño conditions were present during March. Ocean temperatures in the Niño 3.4 region—the area between 5°N and 5°S latitude and 170°W to 120°W longitude where ENSO conditions are monitored—was +0.7°C (+0.11°F) during the last week of March, according to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC), indicating that a weak-phase El Niño is continuing. According to the CPC, there is about a 70 percent chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere summer 2015, and more than 60 percent chance it will last through fall. El Niño conditions tend to enhance global temperatures, with stronger events having generally larger impacts.

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for March 2015

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2014 was the warmest year across global land and ocean surfaces since records began in 1880


Global Highlights

  • The year 2014 was the warmest year across global land and ocean surfaces since records began in 1880. The annually-averaged temperature was 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), easily breaking the previous records of 2005 and 2010 by 0.04°C (0.07°F). This also marks the 38th consecutive year (since 1977) that the yearly global temperature was above average. Including 2014, 9 of the 10 warmest years in the 135-year period of record have occurred in the 21st century. 1998 currently ranks as the fourth warmest year on record.

  • The 2014 global average ocean temperature was also record high, at 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average of 16.1°C (60.9°F), breaking the previous records of 1998 and 2003 by 0.05°C (0.09°F). Notably, ENSO-neutral conditions were present during all of 2014.
  • The 2014 global average land surface temperature was 1.00°C (1.80°F) above the 20th century average of 8.5°C (47.3°F), the fourth highest annual value on record.
  • Precipitation measured at land-based stations around the globe was near average on balance for 2014, at 0.52 mm below the long-term average. However, as is typical, precipitation varied greatly from region to region. This is the third consecutive year with near-average global precipitation at land-based stations.

    Global Temperatures

    A record warm December sealed the deal to make 2014 the warmest year across the world's land and ocean surfaces since recordkeeping began in 1880. The average temperature for the year was 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F), beating the previous record warmth of 2010 and 2005 by 0.04°C (0.07°F).

    This marks the third time in the 21st century a new record high annual temperature has been set or tied and also marks the 38th consecutive year (since 1977) that the annual temperature has been above the long-term average. To date, including 2014, 9 of the 10 warmest years on record have occured during the 21st century. 1998 currently ranks as the fourth warmest year on record.

    This is the first time since 1990 the high temperature record was broken in the absence of El Niño conditions at any time during the year in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, as indicated by NOAA's CPC Oceanic Niño Index. This phenomenon generally tends to increase global temperatures around the globe, yet conditions remained neutral in this region during the entire year and the globe reached record warmth despite this.

    Six months of 2014 (May, June, August, September, October, and December) were record warm, while April was second warmest, January, March, and July were fourth warmest for their respective months, and November was seventh warmest.

    Overall, the global annual temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.06°C (0.11°F) per decade since 1880 and at an average rate of 0.16°C (0.28°F) per decade since 1970.

    NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for Annual 2014






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