Friday, July 12, 2013

Maximum Possible Sea Level Rise: 263.5 feet or 80.32 meters

What would the maximum sea level rise be if all the glaciers melted?  I think the answer to this question is fairly simple, as reported by the U.S. Geological Survey, it would be 80.32 meters or 263.5 feet.

But some people, including many scientists and even Global Warming activists, don't want to give this number.  They think it too implausible, alarmist, or whatever.  So for example, we find reported in the New York Times (I have been told...but haven't checked out the links yet) that it would be 25 feet.

How do they arrive at this?  Clearly not by simply adding up all the water, as the USGS does.  Instead, to come up with another number, either based on what they believe is likely to happen, or based on some limited interval, such as 500 years.

But any such limited timespan is just an artificial cutoff, and any such idea of what is likely to happen is based on some kind of model of how things happen in the climate, and how they happen in the ocean, etc.  Even though the question, as stated, is not asking what is likely to happen, or even plausible, just what could possibly happen.

One problem with trying to gauge what is likely to happen is that it is very complex.  There are interactions between the main effects, interactions among the interactions, etc.  Scientists typically make conservative projections, the kind that are not likely to be wrong.  So then if you feed one conservative projection into another conservative model, you get an an even more conservative projection, and so on.  This is why scientists do not (apparently) like to report the 80.32 meters that geologists plainly see.

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