“Projecting future rates of sea level rise is challenging,” states a draft report released in January by a federal advisory committee appointed by the Commerce Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency.
“Even the most sophisticated climate models, which explicitly represent Earth’s physical processes, cannot simulate recent rapid changes in ice sheet dynamics, and thus tend to underestimate sea level rise,” states the report by the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee.
Nevertheless, the committee predicts that the “future scenarios” of sea level rise “ranges from 0.66 feet to 6.6 feet in 2100.”
“Higher or lower amounts of sea level rise are considered implausible by 2100,” the committee said.
The U.S. Commerce Department created the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee in December 2010. In May 2011, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco was named to its governing panel.
The committee was charged with developing a new National Climate Assessment report, following up on two previous reports published in 2000 and 2009.
The report also contends that the impact of Hurricane Sandy was made worse by global warming.
“The storm’s strength and resulting impact was certainly increased by the fact that the waters of the Atlantic Ocean near the coast were roughly 5 [degrees] F above normal and that the region’s coastline is experiencing sea level rise as a result of a warming climate,” it said.
In predicting where the global sea level will be in the next hundred years the committee said it cannot narrow its range due to “lack of knowledge.”
“Lack of knowledge about the ice sheets and their behavior is the primary reason that projections of global sea level rise includes such a wide range of plausible future conditions,” they said.
Though studies on the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are ongoing and inconclusive, the committee said “cities, roads, railways, ports, airports, oil and gas facilities, and water supplies” are all vulnerable to climate change.
“Sea level rise is not just a problem of the future,” the committee said, “but is already impacting coastal communities such as Charleston, South Carolina, and Olympia Drive in South Puget Sound through flooding during high tides and impacts on coastal roads.”