Scientific American] Floodwaters that washed icy brine into streets and homes along the eastern seaboard during Saturday’s blizzard reached heights in some places not experienced since Hurricane Sandy. “I just hope it isn’t a sign of things to come,” Pam Bross told a local newspaper as she mopped up the market she operates on a New Jersey street not normally reached by storm surges.
With tides and storm surges inching upward and inward, worsening floods are harbingers of even soggier times ahead. As the weekend’s winter storm hurtles across the Atlantic Ocean, bringing its flood risks to
Europe, new research is pointing to an outsized role that ocean warming
has been playing in raising sea levels — a problem normally associated
with melting land ice.
Water expands as it heats up, and oceans have been absorbing most of
the heat trapped by greenhouse gases released by fossil fuel burning,
deforestation and animal farming. A new study blames expansion of
warming waters for as much sea level rise from 2002 through 2014 as the
melting of all the glaciers and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
“Satellite observations show that sea level rise over the last decade
is explained, by about 50 percent, by thermal expansion,” said Roelof Rietbroek of the University of Bonn, who led the research, which was published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The team of scientists led by Rietbroek concluded that thermal
expansion caused seas to rise globally during the 12 years studied by
about two-thirds of an inch, with ice melt and other factors
contributing to an overall rise of twice that amount.
“We were surprised to find such high rates for the thermosteric
contribution,” Rietbroek said. “Previous studies from hydrographic data
indicated smaller signals, mostly confined in the upper ocean.” Read More