Friends of Science Society has received a number of inquiries about a recent terrifying article in the Washington Post. To help calm people down, we are publishing a response to one of our readers.
The statement “if Greenland’s Ice mass would melt ..” is as meaningless as “if the Moon crashed into the Earth …” or “if pigs could fly …”.
The total volume of the Greenland ice sheet is approximately 2,900,000 km3. Its mass is 2,900,000 Giga tonnes (Gt). The IPCC estimates the ice sheet lost 215 Gt per year over the period 2002 – 2011, corresponding to 0.6 mm annual sea level rise. At that rate it would take 2,900,000/215 = 13,488 years to melt.
However, there are several ways to estimate the rate of ice melt and the IPCC only uses the method that gives the highest melt rate. This paper
says “Luthcke and others (2006) also reported a mass gain of 54 Gt a–1
at elevations >2000 m and a loss of 155 Gt a–1
at elevations <2000 m, with an overall net mass loss of the GIS from 2003 to 2005 of 101 ± 16 Gt a–1
. Using this lower rate of ice loss, it would take 2,900,000/101 = 28,713
years to melt.
says “The net balance changed from a small loss of 7 ± 3 Gt a–1
in the 1990s to 171 ± 4 Gt a–1
for 2003–07, contributing 0.5 mm a–1
to recent global sea-level rise. This rate implies 16,959
years to melt.
The FUND integrated assessment model calculates the social cost of sea level rise for the global total and 16 regions including Canada. The sea level impact for Canada of sea level rise according to FUND is US$-22 million. The impact of storms, agriculture, health and energy combined is US$8,735 million. [I applied a correction to the energy impact due to new research.] The positive impact of these sectors is 395 times greater than the negative impact of sea level rise.
On a global basis, the positive impact of storms, agriculture, health and energy combined is 109 times greater than the negative impact of sea level rise. As a fraction of GDP, the cost of sea level rise from 2018 to 2100 is 0.004% of global GDP in 2100.
Therefore, there is no reason to fear sea level rise.
Related post by Ron Clutz of Science Matters:
Related post by Maria Assunção Araújo – Porto 2018 Basic Climate Science Conference
Greenland Maria_Assunção_Araújo Porto Conf 2018
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