Global Sea Level Rise Predictions

The physical processes which determine the rates of Greenland ice loss and Antarctic ice sheet melting are not completely understood and have not been adequately modeled (Alley et al., 2005). This means that current model predictions are limited and may not be entirely accurate (Wigley, 2005; Howat et al., 2007; Rahmstorf, 2007). Evidence from paleoclimatic warming events suggests that future rates of melting could be more rapid than current expectations (Overpeck et al., 2006). Acceleration in Greenland ice sheet melt rates comes from increases in glacial velocities (Rignot and Kanagaratnam, 2006; Chen et al., 2006), which also show substantial short-term variability (Howat et al., 2007). In response to model uncertainty, Rahmstorf (2007) proposed the use of a semi-empirical model that, when applied to the IPCC Third Assessment Report emission scenarios, predicts between 0.50 and 1.40 m of sea level rise by 2100 (Fig. 32.1).

1800 1850 1900 1950 2000 2050 2100

Fig. 32.1 Modeled sea level rise from 1765 to 2100 using the simple models in the MAGICC package.

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