Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why Bidder70, Tim DeChristopher, Went to Prison

I wrote about Tim September 1st, 2011, early in his jail term, in a post titled: "Tim DeChristopher. . . A Citizen With True Grit."  

Tim has now served his time for disrupting the (some say illegal) gas and oil lease auction on over 100,000 acres of Utah wilderness back in the final days of the Bush Administration.

Being allowed to sign up for the auction, Tim became bidder number 70 and proceeded to "purchase" leases to 22,000 acres with 13 winning bids at a cost of 1.8 million US dollars he did not have.  

 As a result of the turmoil Tim's actions triggered, the Obama Administration did a review of the highly controversial midnight sale and ultimately Interior Secretary Salazar nullified the auction leases... 
which were located near Arches and Canyonlands Nat'l Park, Desolation Canyon, Dinosaur Nat'l Monument and Nine Mile Canyon.

Tim is ready to move on with his life and plans to attend divinity school.  However, the environmental movement hasn't heard the last of him given the organization called bidder70.org - which developed around defending him during the early days and is now continuing in the bigger struggle of helping raise public awareness.

In particular, their new documentary: 
"Bidder 70: this is what hope looks like" 

Below is a thoughtful interview with Bill Moyer and then some links to other relevant stories.

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Why Time DeChristopher
Went to Prison for His Protest
By Bill MoyersMoyers & Company | Interview and Video  |  Saturday, 25 May 2013 10:33

(Photo: Linh Do / Flickr)

"In December 2008, during the closing weeks of the Bush White House, 27-year-old environmental activist Tim DeChristopher went to protest the auction of gas and oil drilling rights to more than 150,000 acres of publicly-owned Utah wilderness. 

But instead of yelling slogans or waving a sign, DeChristopher disrupted the proceedings by starting to bid. Given an auction paddle designating him “Bidder 70”, DeChristopher won a dozen land leases worth nearly two million dollars. He was arrested for criminal fraud, found guilty, and sentenced to two years in federal prison — even though the new Obama Administration had since declared the oil and gas auction null and void.

DeChristopher — who was released less than a month ago — joins Bill to talk about the necessity of civil disobedience in the fight for justice, how his jury was ordered to place the strict letter of the law over moral conscience, and the future of the environmental movement. Bidder 70, a new documentary chronicling DeChristopher’s legal battle and activism, opened May 17. DeChristopher is co-founder of the grassroots environmental group Peaceful Uprising. . . "

May 22, 2013 

May 17, 2013

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"At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like.  In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like.  With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow..."   - Tim DeChristopher 
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Abe Streep  |  outside magazine  |  THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2011
Before the Tar Sands protests and before Occupy Wall Street, a young activist named Tim DeChristopher disrupted a federal oil- and gas-lease auction. The act made him a martyr for a newly radicalized environmental movement—and landed him in prison. This is his story.

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"Democracy Now" news hour

shows featuring Tim DeChristopher

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Tim DeChristopher Is a Free Man

The climate activist on his prison stay and the future of the fight

   |  RollingStone  |  April 22, 2013 

There are worse ways for a climate activist to celebrate getting out of jail than speaking to a packed theater of comrades and supporters. 

Tonight, that's how Tim DeChristopher will publically mark his release from two years of state custody, spread over four states and five institutions – from the isolation wings of federal prisons to the halfway house he left yesterday. Following an address that will represent DeChristopher's public return to grassroots climate activism, Salt Lake City's Tower Theater will screen Bidder 70, a documentary about his 2009 trial. Both the talk and the screening will be live-streamed to 50 theaters around the country.   


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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Science of Doom - understanding the physics of global warming

I noticed that my pal Dan Pangburn is at it again with his science in a vacuum.  He's claiming to prove, all over again, that the established climatologists know nothing and that it's actually sunspots controlling Earth's climate, as opposed to the more generally accepted understanding that although sunspot activity does have an influence, these days society produced greenhouse gases are swamping those subtle solar fluctuations.

Unfortunately, Dan doesn't present his science to the experts for their appraisal.  He's satisfied with his uncritical audience of non-experts.  An audience of the ideology committed who will grasp at {but not think through} any notion so long as it gives them cover for avoiding the ominous reality facing our society and future.

Dan inspired me to take another look at the series over at Science of Doom which does a nice job of sharing what the science has to say.  So in keeping with my desire to help spread the information scientists have gathered these past decades - here's an index of a series of very educational articles focusing on greenhouse gases and their impact on our planet's heat distribution engine.
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CO2 – An Insignificant Trace Gas?
Science of Doom series: 

Part One – introduces the shortwave radiation from the sun, the balancing longwave radiation from the earth and the absorption of some of that longwave radiation by various “greenhouse” gases. The earth would be a cold place without the “greenhouse” gases. . . 
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Part Two – why different gases absorb different amounts of energy, why some gases absorb almost no longwave radiation.  

Introducing Radiative Transfer Equations and finished up with a look at what is called the gray model of the atmosphere. The gray model is useful for getting a conceptual understanding of how radiative transfer creates a temperature profile in the atmosphere.
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Part Three – the Beer Lambert Law of absorption and the concept of re-emission of radiation.  

Looking at the “1-dimensional” model. I try and keep any maths as basic as possible and have separated out some maths for the keen students.
When you arrive at a new subject, the first time you see an analysis, or model, it can be confusing. After you’ve seen it and thought about it a few times it becomes more obvious and your acceptance of it grows – assuming it’s a good analysis.
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Part Four – band models and how transmittance of CO2 changes as the amount of CO2 increases under “weak” and “strong” conditions.

These are equations which quite closely match the real absorption of CO2 (and the other greenhouse gases) as a function of wavelength. They aren’t strictly necessary to get to the final result, but they have an important benefit – they allow us to easily see how the absorption changes as the amount of gas increases. 

And they are widely used in climate models because they reduce the massive computation time that are otherwise involved in solving the Radiative Transfer Equations. The important outcome as far as CO2 is concerned – “saturation” can be technically described.
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Part Five – two results from solving the 1-d equations – and how CO2 compares to water vapor.

The equations of absorption and radiation in the atmosphere – the Radiative Transfer Equations - have been known for more than 60 years. Solving the equations is a little more tricky.

Like many real world problems, the radiative processes in the atmosphere can be mathematically described from 1st principles but not “analytically” solved. This simply means that numerical methods have to be used to find the solution.
There’s nothing unproven or “suspicious” about this approach. Every problem from stresses in bridges and buildings to heat dissipation in an electronic product uses this method.
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Part Six  – Visualizing what does the downwards longwave radiation look like at the earth’s surface?

"Upwards Longwave Radiation"

So let’s try and look at it again and see if starts to make sense. Here is the earth’s longwave energy budget – considering first the energy radiated up:
Of course, the earth’s radiation from the surface depends on the actual temperature. This is the average upwards flux. And it also depends slightly on the factor called “emissivity” but that doesn’t have a big effect.
The value at the top of atmosphere (TOA) is what we measure by satellite – again that is the average for a clear sky. Cloudy skies produce a different (lower) number.
These values alone should be enough to tell us that something significant is happening to the longwave radiation. 
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Part Seven – "The 'Boring Numbers".. values of “radiative forcing” from CO2 for current levels and doubling of CO2.

Shows the current best "radiative transfer equations" solutions along with what “radiative forcing” actually means, and where the IPCC logarithmic formula comes from.
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Part Eight  – "Saturation" explaining “saturation” in more detail.

... Saturation, however, means different things to different people. Consider shining a torch through sand. Once you have a few millimeters thickness of sand, no light gets through. So adding a meter of sand won’t make any difference. That’s how most people are thinking about saturation and that is the perspective that we will look at in this article:
  • For CO2 – will doubling CO2 (from pre-industrial) levels add any more warming?
  • And will doubling it again add any more?
The answer already noted in earlier parts of this series is “yes”, but of course, everyone wants to know why, or what this means for the idea of “saturation”.
Boringly, we will first look at some results from the radiative transfer equations.
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– common “problems” or responses to the theory and evidence presented.

After posting some comments on various blogs and seeing the replies I realized that a page like this was necessary.
For people who’ve just arrived at this page, you might be asking:

What effect?
-which in itself is one of the most important questions, but let’s not jump ahead...

The background is the series CO2 – An Insignificant Trace Gas? and especially the last post – which maybe should have come earlier! – CO2 – An Insignificant Trace Gas? Part 6 – Visualization

If you take a quick look at that last post you will find a few simple measurements that demonstrate that CO2 and other “greenhouse” gases have an effect at the earth’s surface.

"What Effect?"

In brief, simply that CO2 and other greenhouse gases add a “radiative forcing” to the earth’s surface. A “radiative forcing” means more energy and, therefore, heating at the earth’s surface. And more CO2 will increase this slightly.

At this stage, we have said nothing about feedback effects or even the end of the world.. The series on CO2 is simply to unravel its effect on global temperatures all other things being equal. Which of course, they are not! But we have to start somewhere.

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The Sun and Max Planck Agree Part One
June 1, 2010 by scienceofdoom

For regular readers of this blog, this post adds nothing new. Think of it as placeholder – a link to send people to when they ask about this basic subject.

A very handy aspect of climate science is that we can easily differentiate between solar (from the sun) radiation and terrestrial (from the earth) radiation. We can do this because emission of radiation changes with wavelength and depends on the temperature of the body radiating:
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The Sun and Max Planck Agree – Part Two
July 25, 2010 by scienceofdoom

I didn’t think that a Part Two would be needed after the initial installment - The Sun and Max Planck Agree

Anyway, I always appreciate commenters explaining why the article hasn’t done its job, and so following various comments, hopefully, this article can address the deficiencies of the first.

I recommend reading the First Article before diving into this one. The main thrust of the article was to explain that solar radiation and terrestrial radiation have quite different “signatures”, or properties, which enable us to easily tell them apart.
For reader unfamiliar with how radiation varies with wavelength, here are two “blackbody” curves. . . 

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Do Trenberth and Kiehl understand the 
First Law of Thermodynamics?
July 26, 2010 by scienceofdoom

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The changing face of our forests - bark beetle and global warming

Sometimes it may seem as though the global warming dialogue is my only interest.  But, that impression would be wrong.  To mix it up a little - here is an article I wrote for the May issue of the Four Corners Free Press out of Cortez, Colorado.  Although, come to think of it, the specter of global warming does hang over this phenomena... there's just no getting away from it.

In any event, this article is the culmination of a day listening in on the "San Juan Bark Beetles and Watersheds Workshop" {which was organized by the Western Water Assessment and Mountain Studies Institute} plus discussions with some participants.

In particular, I thank Mike Blakeman from the Rio Grande National Forest.  A
lthough Mike was a spectator, he has a scientific background and has a long standing familiarity with the developing scientific understanding.  He spent a good deal of time clarifying and offering further details, not all of which made it into this essay.  

Of course, any errors are mine alone and I will gladly fix any that are pointed out to me.  At the end of this essay I include links to authoritative information sources.
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Have you ever driven over Wolf Creek Pass, the one in southern Colorado straddling the Great Divide? At 10,857 ft. elevation, it's an example of America at its most magnificent; with high mountains and spruce forests stretching out in every direction.

NetNebraska presents the ANDRILL Project, Ross Ice Sheet, Antarctica

Here's another series of videos.  These were produced by netNebraska.org and are an introduction to the ANDRILL project in Antarctica.  

These folks set up fifty tons worth of drill rig, pipe, field station and people on a floating Ice Sheet 20 to 26 feet thick, then go through 900 feet of ocean, before hitting bedrock and starting to drill rock cores.  It is an amazing technical and scientific achievement.

The videos include some beautiful footage of Antarctica; a few excellent cross-section schematics of Glaciers and Ice Sheets; also, various aspects of the research teams preparations and work.  If you've never heard of the ANDRILL project you may be as amazed by the technical achievement as by the scientific opportunity.  These videos also convey the current understanding and research goals for the ANDRILL project.

Antarctica's Climate Secrets:
     Antarctica's Ice on the Move - Antarctica's Climate Secret
     Reading Antarctica's Rock Cores
     Tiny Clues to Antarctica's Past
     Decoding Antarctica's Climate History
     Antarctica Today

Antarctica's Ice on the Move - Antarctica's Climate Secret

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Prof. Mitrovica's "Enigma of Global Sea Level Rise" - lecture with notes

The following is another lecture that is worth sharing.  
Professor Mitrovica has a fascinating lesson about what has been learned regarding our global sea levels over these past few decades.  

I include notes for reference and I've also added a few links to sources that Prof. Mitrovica shared, and to others that I felt were appropriate supporting and background information.

In Search of Lost Time: 
Ancient Eclipses, Roman Fish Tanks and 
the Enigma of Global Sea Level Rise
Professor Jerry X. Mitrovica, Ph.D.
Uploaded on Aug 17, 2010   |  DistinctiveVoicesBS 
What do ancient eclipse records kept by Babylonian, Chinese, Arabic and Greek scholars, and fish tanks, built by wealthy Romans during100BC-100AD, contribute to our understanding of modern climate change? Dr. Jerry X. Mitrovica will describe the important role these archaeological treasures have played in the understanding of sea-level rise and how they help scientists both "fingerprint" sources of recent sea level changes and make more accurate projections of future sea levels. 
Jerry X. Mitrovica, Ph.D., is a Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and the Director of the Earth Systems Evolution Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. A 2007 Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, he is also the recipient of the Rutherford Memorial Medal from the Royal Society of Canada and the Augustus Love Medal from the European Geosciences Union.


In Search of Lost Time: 
Ancient Eclipses, Roman Fish Tanks and the Enigma of Global Sea Level Rise - 
personal lecture notes
Professor Jerry X. Mitrovica  -   June 28, 2010


2:20  -  Small talk

5:40  -  Prof. Mitrovica starts off reviewing the core of the "climate problem".

7:30  -  "I'll be talking about sea level" as a very sensitive lens on the climate system.

10:10  -  Globally averaged tide gauge data graph - conclusion sea level is rising, trend is about 2/2.5 mm per year.  During twentieth century sea level has risen on average an inch a decade.

11:00  -  Here's where the skeptics come in.
20th Century Sea Level Rise: The Skeptics
*  2mm/yr is not anomalous - sea level has been rising at this rate for a thousand years.
*  Sea level change varies dramatically from place to place - melting ice sheets cannot be the culprit.
*  Regardless 2mm/yr is small and stable ... it won't change.

13:00  -  Examining the claim: "2mm/yr is not anomalous - sea level has been rising at this rate for a thousand years."

And these things are endemic throughout the equatorial regions.  
But 2mm/yr rise would put those corals 10 meters under sea level today.  
A very strong indicator sea level hasn't been rising past many thousands of years.

15:00  -  We even know why those corals have dropped by a couple meters in the past 5± thousand years.  Isostatic rebound from last ice age (5± thousand years ago)

15:50  -  Archeological evidence.

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"Sea level in Roman time in the Central Mediterranean and implications for recent change" 
Lambeck et al.  |   Planetary Science Letters 224 (2004) 563–575  http://people.rses.anu.edu.au/lambeck_k/pdf/242.pdf
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Many Roman fish tanks along the west coast of Italy built during 2nd and 1st century BC.  These are built at a precise level in relation to the high tide... sluice gate at 20cm below high tide. 

20:45  -  Lambeck measured around 15 tanks all along the west coast of Italy...
... on average these tanks are now a meter under sea level.

21:15  -  Segues into glacial melt and isostatic rebound considerations.

21:50  -  Taking these considerations into account...

22:00  -  What it tells us is that from what we know, that is the ice age (glacial weight) effect - these fish tanks are pretty much at current sea level.
Lambeck et al. concluded that in the past 2,000 years sea level hasn't been doing much at all.
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Instrumental records indicate that ocean volumes during the 20th century have increased so as to raise eustatic sea level by f 1 – 2 mm/year and the few available records suggest that this is higher than for the previous century. Geological data indicate that ocean volumes have increased since the main phase of deglaciation about 7000 years ago but whether this continued into the recent past remains unclear. 

Yet, this is important for establishing whether the recent rise is associated with global warming or is part of a longer duration non-anthropogenic signal. Here, we present results for sea-level change in the central Mediterranean basin for the Roman Period using new archaeological evidence. These data provide a precise measure of local sea level of 1.35 F 0.07 m at 2000 years ago. Part of this change is the result of ongoing glacio-hydro isostatic adjustment of the crust subsequent to the last deglaciation. 

When corrected for this, using geologically constrained model predictions, the change in eustatic sea level since the Roman Period is 0.13 F 0.09 m. A comparison with tide-gauge records from nearby locations and with geologically constrained model predictions of the glacio-isostatic contributions establishes that the onset of modern sea-level rise occurred in recent time at f 100 F 53 years before present.

D 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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22:30  -  What does it mean?
The skeptical claim that sea level rise has been rising for past thousands of years at present rate - would mean that these fish tank from two thousand years ago would be found at 3 to 4 meters under sea level, but they are actually about 1 meter under sea level.

What does it mean?
That the sea level rise of the past century is anomalous !

23:00  -  "Long Term Fluctuations in Earth Rotation 700 BC to AD 1990"

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Philosophical Transactions: Physical Sciences and Engineering, F.R. Stephenson and L.V. Morrison | Volume 351, Issue 1695, pp. 165-202 

"Records of solar and lunar eclipses in the period 700 BC to AD 1600, originating from the ancient and medieval civilizations of Babylon, China, Europe and the Arab world, are amassed and critically appraised for their usefulness in answering questions about the long-term variability of the Earth's rate of rotation. Results from previous analyses of lunar occultations in the period AD 1600-1955.5, and from high-precision data in AD 1955.5-1990, are included in the dataset considered in this paper. Using the ..."{Here it get's complicated}
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23:10  -  A quick historic overview of ancient astronomers and their focus on tracking eclipse records, in order to be able to predict future eclipses. 

25:20  -  Stephenson and Morrison results in graph form... 
... explanation of what they were doing... comparing the calculated times for past eclipses (using today's rotation rate) with selected ancient - but precise - observational records from around the world.

25:55  -  The mis-fit . . .  Earth's rotation is slowing.  

26:30  -  In two thousand years Earth's rotation slowed by four hours

26:50  -  Further details...

27:35  -  What do tides matter?

28:35  -  How do we know dissipation is occurring?

29:00  -  Considering the role of the Conservation of Momentum.

26:00  -  The moon... recession rate... mirrors on the moon

30:33  -  Tidal Dissipation 

30:45  -  Can we use this information?

31:10  -  ... further thoughts including respect and awe for the skill of ancient astronomers and the accuracy of their observations... science in action...

31:30  -  Considering potential observational pitfalls and mistakes.

32:00  -  Tidal Regression...  BUT, there's a problem...

32:30  -  Walter Monk's contribution... first, another physics lesson
geophysical thought experiment: arctic, antarctic ice masses, those masses leave the land and enter the ocean... gravity shifts {a UCTV lecture regarding sea level by Dr. Monk}

33:00 -  conservation of momentum...

33:30  -  (some lost audio here) If taken for a given that sea level has been rising at current rate for past centuries - than OK lets do a calculation. 

33:50  -  Bottom-line: There is no way that what we have witnessed this past century has been going on for the past two thousand years.

* Five millennia old corals say no;
* Two millennia old Roman fish tanks say no;
* Even eclipses recorded by ancient astronomers (Babylonians, Chinese, Greeks) say no.

34:00  -  Then, the next "skeptical" argument comes along: 
"Sea level change varies dramatically from place to place - 
melting ice sheets cannot be the culprit"

34:40  -  Review of tide gauge records

34:50  -  Tide gauge placement - a study 
*  Sit selection - sites to avoid:
-  near cities - water extraction... land subsidence...
-  close to convergent plate boundaries
-  with less than 50 year record

35:30  -  Comparison of tide gauge site across the globe.

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Mitrovica doesn't cite anyone in particular - the following is my selection:
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Recent relative sea-level trends: attempt to quantify forcing factors  |  Hans-Peter Plag
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Determination and Characterization of 20th Century Global Sea Level Rise  |  Chung-Yen Kuo
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Monitoring Vertical Land Movements at Tide Gauges in the UK
Ashkenazi, Bingley, Dodson, Penna
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36:30  -  What was causing the geographical variations in sea level rise.

37:10  -  The implicit assumption has been that sea level rises like when you fill a bathtub...

37:30  -  "Now I been working in sea level for two decades now, or two inches of sea level rise.  And what I am going to show you now is the most counter-intuitive result I've ever come across... but it is incontrovertibly true."

38:15  -  When a glacier melts it does not raise the sea level uniformly...
... ice sheet, just like earth exerts a gravitation pull on water.

39:50  -  "... turns out that if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to collapse, the sea level around the peninsula would drop 100 feet. 

40:00 - What does it mean to have a "gravitational hinge point" of 2,000 kilometers from the ice sheet?

40:20  -  Global Sea Level Fingerprints - illustrating different scenarios.

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New Projections of 'Uneven' Global Sea-Level Rise
Spada, Bamber, Hurkmans | Feb. 19, 2013
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42:50  -  Lesson: sea level goes up very un-uniformly...

44:30  -  Embrace it, and let the physics tell you something important.

44:35  -  "Regardless, 2mm/yr is small and stable ... it won't change"

44:20  -  Skeptic will say: "What's the harm it's not going to be so bad?"

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For a little more on that:NASA-GSFC: Is sea level rising? Do we have to worry about it? By how much?
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State of Washington, Department of Ecology - Sea Level Rise and Coastal Hazards
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Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and VulnerabilityChapter 6. Coastal Zones and Marine Ecosystems
45:30  -  But, the current rise is just a symptom.

45:50  -  A look at the sea level rise graph.

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Visual depictions of Sea Level Rise -Peter Hogarth
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46:20  -  Here's what the satellites are telling us... current rise is 3.5mm/yr.

46:40  -  So when people say "it's only 2.2mm/yr, NOPE !
That's already gone...
... the change translates to current rate of SL rise that's one and a half times larger than it was during the twentieth century average.

47:30  -  What the IPCC projected compared to what's happening

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Contrary to Contrarian Claims, IPCC Temperature Projections Have Been Exceptionally Accurate
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Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science BasisProjections of Future Changes in Climate
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20-Year-Old Report Successfully Predicted Warming: Scientists
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How the IPCC Underestimated Climate Change
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48:25  -  Rahmdorf 2007

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Ups and downs of sea level projections
By Stefan Rahmstorf and Martin Vermeer  |  31 August 2009
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Sea-level rise: Where we stand at the start of 2013
By Stefan Rahmstorf  |  9 January 2013
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49:15  -  Ending with a look at the Antarctic Ice Sheet...

50:45  -  The problem with West Antarctic Ice Sheet...
... marine basin and it's implications and evidence.

54:15  -  The mass balance question...

55:45  -  West Antarctic has received the largest warming on the planet

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Central West Antarctica among the most rapidly warming regions on Earth.

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56:45  -  Troubling implications... recalling a study with Natalya Gomez and Peter Clark  
The Sea Level Fingerprint of West Antarctic Collapse. Science, Feb 6, 2009
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“The typical estimate of the sea-level change is five metres, a value arrived at by taking the total volume of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, converting it to water and spreading it evenly across the oceans,  says Mitrovica.  “However, this estimate is far too simplified because it ignores three significant effects:
  • when an ice sheet melts, its gravitational pull on the ocean is reduced and water moves away from it.  The net effect is that the sea level actually falls within 2,000 km of a melting ice sheet, and rises progressively further away from it.  If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapses, sea level will fall close to the Antarctic and will rise much more than the expected estimate in the northern hemisphere because of this gravitational effect;
  • the depression in the Antarctic bedrock that currently sits under the weight of the ice sheet will become filled with water if the ice sheet collapses.  However, the size of this hole will shrink as the region rebounds after the ice disappears, pushing some of the water out into the ocean, and this effect will further contribute to the sea-level rise;
  • the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will actually cause the Earth’s rotation axis to shift rather dramatically – approximately 500 metres from its present position if the entire ice sheet melts.  This shift will move water from the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans northward toward North America and into the southern Indian Ocean.
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59:50  -  So that's it:
* 2mm/yr sea level rise IS anomalous.
* Dramatic geographic sea level differences ARE understood - glacial gravity impact.
* Sea level is NOW rising one and half times faster than 20th century average.