Want to Speculate on Beach Front Property in 2100? Here's How.

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As everyone knows, in his Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore implied, but did not actually say that sea level would rise 20 feet by 2100. If you want to find out if your beach condo may be at risk from global warming caused sea level rise, check out this handy interactivie flood map. Of course, the more adventurous can also use the map to identify possible sites with future water views.

The Summary for Policymakers issued in February by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects a rise in sea level between 7 and 23 inches (see page 11 of Summary) over the course of this century.

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  1. Only to the inventor of the internet can 23″ == 20′. And, perhaps, his wife.

  2. Okay, Bailey, which oil company slipped you a c-note to write this?

  3. Captain Holly,

    All it takes is a shot of Johnny Walker Red. Trust me.

  4. No increase in level in the Great Lakes? yawn. don’t care, then.

  5. Cap’n: If I were you, I’d keep an eye out for where Exxon Mobil is buying up land. 😉

  6. Unless they build seawalls to keep the water out. Damn Humans, always using their tools.

  7. It’s the same map no matter which level you pick.

  8. It’s the same map no matter which level you pick.

    Must be Al Gore’s idea.

  9. “JKP | April 3, 2007, 11:55am | #
    Unless they build seawalls to keep the water out. Damn Humans, always using their tools.”

    yeah – but using your tool on the CTA gets you ridership ban.

    or you get the dreaded “bicycle grip” syndrome.

    /munches on some more cheetos

  10. I live on East 74th street in Manhattan, and even when I set this map to flood maximum I am still high and dry. Is this map supposed to make me more or less worried about global warming?

    Hey Neptune, bring it on!

  11. the ammount of co2 emissions required to build sea walls will result in the sea level rising even further and flooding will create dead people.

    you cannot escape the danger

  12. stephen the goldberger,

    Don’t ignore the possibility of recycling the dead people’s bodies as building material for the walls.

  13. The Summary for Policymakers issued in February by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects a rise in sea level between 7 and 23 inches (see page 11 of Summary) over the course of this century.

    The same page of that document remarks that that estimate may not include the full effects of changes in ice sheet flows because those numbers are too uncertain. In English, that means that the 7-23 inch estimate does not take into account the possibility that the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets melt at substantially greater rates in the future, which gets you to the Al-Gore-nightmare-scenario and multiple-meter rises in sea level.

    See Hansen’s comment on this issue:

    The IPCC (2007) midrange projection for sea level rise this century is 20-43 cm [8-17 inches] and its full range is 18-59 cm [7-23 inches]. IPCC notes that they are unable to evaluate possible dynamical responses of the ice sheets, and thus do not include any possible “rapid dynamical changes in ice flow”. Yet the provision of such specific numbers for sea level rise encourages a predictable public response that projected sea level change is moderate, and indeed smaller than in IPCC (2001). Indeed, there have been numerous media reports of “reduced” sea level rise predictions, and commentators have denigrated suggestions that business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions may cause sea level rise measured in meters.

    However, if these IPCC numbers are taken as predictions of actual sea level rise, as they have been by the public, they imply that the ice sheets can miraculously survive a BAU [“business as usual,” i.e., no change in greenhouse gas emissions] climate forcing assault for a period of the order of a millennium or longer. …

    Under BAU forcing in the 21st century, sea level rise undoubtedly will be dominated by a third term ice sheet disintegration. This third term was small until the past few years, but it is has at least doubled in the past decade and is now close to 1 mm/year, based on gravity satellite measurements discussed above. As a quantitative example, let us say that the ice sheet contribution is 1 cm for the decade 2005-2015 and that it doubles each decade until the West Antarctic ice sheet is largely depleted. That time constant yields sea level rise of the order of 5 m this century. Of course I can not prove that my choice of a 10 year doubling time for non-linear response is accurate, but I am confident that it provides a far better estimate than a linear response for the ice sheet component of sea level rise.

  14. TPG: Try using the slider icon on the left and the meter level at the top left.

  15. Alkali’s comment is important. The 20-foot rise projection is based on the assumption of large-scale melting of Antarctica and Greenland. The projection of 7-23 inches is based on the assumption that those ice sheets don’t melt.

    I can’t pretend to know which is more likely, but the second projection doesn’t make the first one a lie. It’s just based on different assumptions.

    Al Gore, on the other hand, is still fat.

  16. As a quantitative example, let us say that the ice sheet contribution is 1 cm for the decade 2005-2015 and that it doubles each decade until the West Antarctic ice sheet is largely depleted. That time constant yields sea level rise of the order of 5 m this century. Of course I can not prove that my choice of a 10 year doubling time for non-linear response is accurate, but I am confident that it provides a far better estimate than a linear response for the ice sheet component of sea level rise.

    Wow. Did a scientist actually say this? Really?

    There are precious few things that rise exponentially. And even fewer that aren’t dominated by an exponential forcing agent. Neither melting ice nor global warming itself are among the exponentially rising processes of the world.

    Why didn’t he pick a polynomial melting rate? Just not fast enough for the point he’s trying to make?

  17. Even if the seas rose 20′, I don’t see the harm. That would unleash a massive frenzy of buying and selling. NYC could be converted into an underwater theme park; meanwhile, Lancaster PA would be built up as a new port. All of this would greatly profit we dynamists who can anticipate change.

    Is there any way we could speed up global warming, so my investments in PA properties will rise in value that much quicker?

  18. Ron, Gore did not imply that sea levels would rise 20 feet by 2100. He did not give any time frame for the 20 foot rise possibly because nobody really knows how long it will take. Please correct your post.

  19. Hey, give me my word back!

  20. There are precious few things that rise exponentially.

    — bacteria population in a cultures
    — cell division in embryos
    — nuclear chain reaction
    — currency hyperinflation
    — melt rate of ice in warming bath

  21. Something bothers me about the fact that environmentalists lauded the IPCC report until, you know, people started taking it seriously, then started condemning it as ridiculously conservative.

  22. — bacteria population in a cultures

    Until it runs out of food.

    — cell division in embryos

    Yep.

    — nuclear chain reaction

    Until it runs out of fuel or geometry.

    — currency hyperinflation

    If you’re talking the valuation of currency, yes. Also, economic growth is exponential — an important input to the global warming debate.

    — melt rate of ice in warming bath

    Most definitely not. Why would you say so, unless the bath is warming exponentially?

    And this is the one actually relevant to Hansen’s point.

  23. Alkali: Thanks for the link to Hansen’s views. The IPCC projection notes:

    Models used to date do not include uncertainties in climate-carbon cycle feedback nor do they include the full effects of changes in ice sheet flow, because a basis in published literature is lacking. The projections include a contribution due to increased ice flow from Greenland and Antarctica at the rates observed for 1993-2003, but these flow rates could increase or decrease in the future. For example, if this contribution were to grow linearly with global average temperature change, the upper ranges of sea level rise for SRES scenarios shown in Table SPM-2 would increase by 0.1 m to 0.2 m. Larger values cannot be excluded, but understanding of these effects is too limited to assess their likelihood or provide a best estimate or an upper bond for sea level rise.

    Note that the IPCC says that the melting could increase or decrease and if the contribution were to grow linearly (not exponentially) that would increase the estimate by .1 to .2 meters.

    Hansen’s exponential scenario may be possible (who knows?), but I must say that I detect a bit of grumpiness from the global warming affirmers that the IPCC best estimate was not, how shall we say, catastrophic enough. The IPCC scientists retort that the grumps don’t know what they’re talking about.

  24. GlobalWarming,

    Good luck with that. Philadelphia’s elevation is 40 feet. Chester is at 79 feet. You might do better with Absecon.

  25. a bit of grumpiness from the global warming affirmers that the IPCC best estimate was not, how shall we say, catastrophic enough

    So what are you saying, Ron? Could it be that the alarmists are not the benevolent guardians of the earth that some believe them to be?

  26. MikeP: Because it’s a phase transition.

    Ron Bailey: “Who knows how quickly the ice sheets will melt?” is precisely the problem: we can’t be confident that the IPCC’s estimate is any better than Hansen’s guess. (The debate you link to seems to pertain to another issue.)

  27. Is that accurate that the Great Lakes won’t rise if the sea levels rise? I’m no ecolonomiclimatist or geologorapher, so I am fairly stupid in these matters. Surely the St Lawrence Seaway would have higher water levels. Why wouldn’t that hit the Great Lakes?

  28. Because it’s a phase transition.

    I’m going to need a lot more than that.

    Actually, I can believe an exponentially decreasing rate of melting in a bath. But that’s not what Hansen posited.

  29. Surely the St Lawrence Seaway would have higher water levels. Why wouldn’t that hit the Great Lakes?

    Because the Great Lakes water levels are way higher than 20 feet above sea level. The seas would need to rise 100 meters before even Niagara Falls got shorter. And, if I recall correctly, there are only 80 sea-level-meters of ice frozen on the whole planet.

  30. highnumber,

    Niagara Falls.

    Also, can’t we Geordi to modulate the phase transition or something?

  31. I would expect that the rate ice melts will be proportional to the rate at which it absorbs heat. That, in turn, is constrained by the surface area of the ice. So, something like dA/dt. If the ice is shaped really funky, I can see A increasing over time, at least for a little while. Eventually, the fact that the ice has finite volume will force A down, and the rate of melting with it.

    At least, that’s how it looks from my back-of-the-envelope perspective.

  32. highnumber

    Omly the parts of Rivers or Estuaries that are below the elevation of the sea level rise would be affected

    Lake Ontario (the lowest of the Great Lakes) has an elevation of about 250 feet. A sea level rise of 20 feet would not affect it.

    The levels of the Great Lakes are determined mostly by the amount of precipitation in their watersheds.

    I seem to recall that someone said there was a small tidal effect in Lake Superior (it’s the only one big enough) but I might be totally wrong.

  33. Dang I see everyone beat me to it.

    I also see I can’t spell worth a damn.

  34. kicks pebble

    i guess that someone else is just a wee bit more popular…

    /stomps off.

  35. Even at +14m, Phoenix still doesn’t have beachfront property. How disappointing.

  36. Thanks for providing all the info, MikeP, de stijl, and Isaac Bartram.

    Eat it, VM!

  37. /takes cheetos and walks home. slowly. in the rain. alone. notices labrador puppy tinkling on his shoes. sigh

  38. Ron, Gore did not imply that sea levels would rise 20 feet by 2100. He did not give any time frame for the 20 foot rise possibly because nobody really knows how long it will take. Please correct your post.

    Yes, but if he had made that clear in the movie it wouldn’t have been as “effective” now, would it?

  39. At least it was a puppy! 🙂

  40. Of course, the answer is to export more jobs to China because their pollution does not cause ‘climate change’.

    Let’s start with light bulbs.

    Perhaps California can ban the ones many there use now and require only bulbs made in China?

    How about some black helicopters to enforce it too?

    Perhaps I am too late. I am sure someone else came up with this crackpot idea before I did.

  41. “can’t we [get] Geordi to modulate the phase transition or something?”

    And that might be the only way anything is done about global warming/climate change/polar genocide. Only two or three countries will actually lower their output in a significant way. So far the Europeans have gamed their carbon trading scheme into the tiolet, the Amercians aren’t going to let any enviro-crazy climate thingy keep them from having more stuff, and the developing world is being pretty honest in telling everyone to fuck-off and let them get their’s like the advance industrial countries got in their time.

    So technological mitigation of the effects of climate is the only realistic answer. So start subsidizing your engineers.

  42. The March 24, 2006 issue of science has a bit about the state of the art in modeling the ice melt; if you are interested and have access. Enough there to get you going if you are really interested in where the modeling sits.

    Anyway, regarding computer modeling of any kind (especially climate); I make my living modeling complex dynamical systems. The systems I work with are firmly grounded in well understood interactions and use reliable and often first principles derived parameters (not so much with the climate folks). Honestly, as far as predictive value of my stuff I would only dare venture a “more likely than not”. Any climate (or ice sheet) modeler who has more confidence in their calculations than that are either an ignorant tool or a liar.

    And of course they could all turn out to be right. We’ll see.

  43. I see that my hometown of St. Louis remains unaffected no matter what, so I’m buying an SUV.

    After me SUV, le deluge.

    By the way, this is how sea levels could rise exponentially: If the sea rises, say, two feet, and then each of those feet also rises another two feet, and each of those feet rises two feet, and each of those rises two feet, then you’ve got a 64-foot rise in sea level in no time. Really, it’s not that difficult to understand, guys. I mean, I can understand it, and I know nothing about how seas rise, or much about math, or even basic personal hygiene.

  44. Piggwiggle brings up an important point about the uncertainty of these predictions.

    So far the models seem to under-estimate the glacial melting…

    eg.
    http://www.physorg.com/news94218193.html

  45. Tim: Nothing to correct. I saw the movie and he did imply it. See National Public Radio story.

  46. When the ice cubes melt in your glass of soda, does the soda overflow the glass?

    If not, then why would the ice melting in the Arctic Ocean raise sea levels?

  47. why would the ice melting in the Arctic Ocean raise sea levels?

    It won’t.

    It’s the ice sitting miles thick on top of the rock of Greenland and Antarctica that will raise sea levels if it melts.

  48. Again, I am far less concerned about global warming increasing the sea levels than I am of decreased salinity in the greater latitudes shutting down the great thermal conveyor and plunging the higher lats into an ice age.

    I can see glaciers from my living room window dammit, I don’t want them galloping through my house!!

  49. Holy galloping glaciers, Kwix-man!

  50. Even a 7 meter sea level rise has a pretty small effect on Maine. The sea level was considerably higher in Maine in the recent (geologically speaking) past. Compare the 7 meter sea level rise to the submerge land after the last ice age.

  51. Anyone else see anything fishy about how sea level rise is supposed to affect the landlocked Caspian Sea? Does it call into question the data used?

    Yes, it’s below sea level, but its major inlet is the Volga River – which has a long way to go to be affected much by sea level rise – and it is mostly surrounded by mountains. It has no outlet.

    According to the flood map, a 1 meter sea level rise will cause the Volga (a meandering river that is mostly flat as it goes through the steppe) to somehow magically acquire waters from the sea and dump it in massive quantities on the shores of the Caspian such that the surface area will increase something like 70%.

    Meanwhile, Bangladesh – who everyone usually worries about – gets off easy. Until you use 14 meters. And again, strangely, the difference between 1 and 14 meters in the Caspian is relatively small.

    That’s some oversimplified data, I think.

  52. Left unmentioned so far is any mention of the International Polar Year.
    http://www.ipy.org/

    whose basic purpose is to find answers to the mysteries of rapid ice melting; which as metnioned was not included in the future modeling of sea level rise.

  53. “the 7-23 inch estimate does not take into account the possibility that the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets melt at substantially greater rates in the future”

    This won’t happen if CO2 is not the main driver of temperature rise. Willie Soon’s graphs of past temperatures back to 1880 shows a correlation of solar activity with temperature and not a correlation of temperature with CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

  54. Another point that needs to be presented is that with the exception of a small peninsula, the ice sheet over Antartic has been growing. Is this trend to all of a sudden start reversing.

  55. Hansen has been wrong in the past. His predictions were in line with the models that had the highest temperature rise when temperature rise has been more in line with the models that predicted the lowest temperature rise.

  56. “Ron, Gore did not imply that sea levels would rise 20 feet by 2100. He did not give any time frame for the 20 foot rise possibly because nobody really knows how long it will take. Please correct your post.”

    The question is, will it ever rise that much? Will we have another ice age before that happens?

  57. Another point that needs to be presented is that with the exception of a small peninsula, the ice sheet over Antartic has been growing. Is this trend to all of a sudden start reversing.

    As I recall, it’s a well known result of global warming predictions that Antarctica will build up ice. Antarctica is, after all, a desert. As the predicted warming is greater at the poles, and as the warmer air holds more water, Antarctica will get more snow, thickening the ice sheet.

    This is yet another reason to doubt a catastrophic rise in sea level in any time frame, much less this century.

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