Thursday, November 24, 2005

CO2, Methane and Rising Sea Level

The BBC's Richard Black carries a couple of reviews of scientific papers today. The results of some important research can be interpreted many ways but of course man-mad global warming-speak gets in the way of objectivity.

First, we read that CO2 levels are higher than at any time in the past 650,000 years. Air trapped in Antarctic ice can be analyzed and, assuming there has been no differential diffusion of gases from the trapped bubbles, this appears to be a good indicator of a lengthy geological time span. Without seeing the details, it is likely that the CO2 and methane contents will correlate nicely with the various Ice Ages and intervening warm periods. So why are today's values higher than ever (not that 650,000 years is actually "for ever")?

The article fails to answer this question. Hmmm. What was discovered is a major change in fluctuations around 420,000 years ago. This appears to be the main achievement of the study and has very little to do with the present day "global warming due to man using hydrocarbons" debate.

Second, a paper has been published showing that sea level has been rising faster during the past 150 years than during previous centuries. This sounds like "hockey stick" science to me, in that it would appear that the measurement system used for the past 150 years was different from that used for the previous centuries.

Next the IPCC comments that sea level rose 1-2cm during the past 100 years but is set to rise by anything up to 88 cm during the next 100 years. Quite what this prognostication is based on I do not know. And what does "anything up to 88 cm" mean anyway?


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