The new focus in Science Magazine Vol. 311 gives insight on the startling amounts of ice slipping into the sea, which has taken glaciologists by surprise. They now fear that this century's greenhouse emissions could be committing the world to a catastrophic sea-level rise.
Multi-century sea-level records and climate models indicate an acceleration of sea-level rise, but no 20th century acceleration has previously been detected. A reconstruction of global sea level using tide-gauge data from 1950 to 2000 indicates a larger rate of rise after 1993 and other periods of rapid sea-level rise but no significant acceleration over this period. The authors extend the reconstruction of global mean sea level back to 1870 and find a sea-level rise from January 1870 to December 2004 of 195 mm, a 20th century rate of sea-level rise of 1.7 +/- 0.3 mm yr(-1) and a significant acceleration of sea-level rise of 0.013 +/- 0.006 mm yr(-2). This acceleration is an important confirmation of climate change simulations which show acceleration not previously observed. If this acceleration remained constant then the 1990 to 2100 rise would range from 280 to 340 mm, which is consistent with projections in the IPCC TAR.
Rising ocean temperatures, warmer air, and changing currents, all a part of the ongoing change in climate, are helping to break up large ice shelves, thereby, resulting in a rise in sea level. CDIAC holdings include coastal hazards data bases for the east, west, and gulf coasts. For informatation offered by CDIAC on coastal sensitivity to sea level, please see the following:
A Coastal Hazards Data Base for the U.S. East Coast - (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ndps/ndp043a.html); A Coastal Hazards Data Base for the U.S. Gulf Coast (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ndps/ndp043b.html); and A Coastal Hazards Data Base for the U.S. West Coast (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/epubs/ndp/ndp043c/43c.htm).