Shrinking sea could disrupt weather patterns

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 03 Sep 2011

Arctic sea ice cover has already shrunk to its third lowest level on record this year, in an irreversible trend that may see an ice-free summer around 2030, said the head of the world’s main monitoring centre.

The Arctic is on track to be completely ice-free in summer at some point this century

The sea ice area will be reduced further in the next two weeks but was unlikely to beat a 2007 retreat in a 32-year satellite data record, said Mark Serreze, director of the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center.

While sea ice does not raise sea levels when it melts, just as melting ice in a glass of water, an ice-free summer would have implications for the exploitation of resources in the area, scientists say. It could also disrupt weather patterns or cause the Greenland ice sheet to melt more rapidly.

Exxon Mobil Corp and Rosneft signed an agreement on Tuesday to extract oil and gas from the Russian Arctic, in exploration which may be assisted by the recent trend of summer sea ice retreat north of Russia.

“The numbers today are saying that if all further melt stopped right now it would be the third most in the satellite record,” Serreze said today.

“We just dropped below 4.6 million square kilometres and that’s what we had in 2010 (at the minimum). We’re continuing the overall pattern of loss, and there’s still a couple of weeks to go in the melt season.” Continue reading

Disputed island disappears

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 25 March 2010

For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them: The island’s gone.

Sunderbans consists of 54 tiny islands

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said.

“What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.

Scientists at the School of Oceanographic Studies at the university have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels have risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal.

Until 2000, the sea levels rose about 3mm a year, but over the last decade they have been rising about 5mm annually, he said.

Another nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitants to move to the mainland, while almost half the land of Ghoramara island was underwater, he said. At least 10 other islands in the area were at risk as well, Hazra said. Continue reading

Cape Town suburbs at high risk from rising sea levels

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
03 February 2010

Sixteen prime coast areas, including Milnerton Harbour, Green Point, Sea Point, Camps Bay and the entire Strand beachfront are at “high risk” from rising sea levels, says the City of Cape Town’s latest sea-level risk assessment.

If sea levels rise, as they are predicted to do in the next 25 years, billions of rands of coastal infrastructure will be damaged.

Camps Bay Beach is at high risk from rising sea levels

In a report submitted on Tuesday to the planning and environment portfolio committee, Darryl Colenbrander of strategy and planning, said the sea level risks can no longer be viewed as something to be addressed in the future but must be considered as a priority in city planning.

The weak outcome of the Copenhagen climate conference and apparent inability worldwide to reduce carbon emissions meant that a global temperature increase of at least 3°C was likely, he said in the report.

Higher temperatures would have “multiple implications” for Cape Town as a coastal city. The areas identified as “highly vulnerable” to sea-level rise events are Blouberg Bay, Table View beachfront and Milnerton beach and harbour.

On the Atlantic Coast: Green Point, Sea Point, Glen Beach, Camps Bay, the cottages at Bakoven, Kommetjie and Witsands will be affected. Glencairn, Kalk Bay, Baden Powell Drive, Monwabisi and Macassar pavilions, Strand Beach front and Bikini beach on the False Bay coast will also be hit by sea-level changes.

Research already done for the city on sea levels predicted an 85 percent chance of a 4.5 metre storm surge sea-level rise in the next five years, which would cause about R20 billion damage to infrastructure. Continue reading