New report also predicts significant sea level rise

These readings from satellites show the average sea level rise in millimeters over a decade. Graphic: Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

There is some more bad climate news for Costa Rica’s coasts. A panel of arctic experts predicts worldwide sea level rise in the next 90 years of from .9 to 1.6 meters.  That’s from 35.5 inches to 63 inches.

Such an increase would inundate much of the current coast and radically change the country’s geography.

The estimate is far greater that the one by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which predicted a maximum sea level rise during the next 100 years of about 1 to 4 inches.

A 2009 estimate from the University of Colorado said the increase in sea level could be at least 20 centimeters (about 8 inches).

The estimate is much less than those by the University of Oregon and the University of Toronto which predicted that if global warming someday causes the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to collapse, as many experts believe it could, the resulting sea level rise could average between 16 and 17 feet and may be as much as 21 feet in some areas.

A European study said two years ago that coastal residents here could face sea level increase of between 75 and 190 centimeters by 2100.

Converted to the U.S. measurement system, the rise would be between 29.5 and 74.8 inches. That would inundate much of the existing beach properties, at least those held in concessions in maritimes zones.

The spit that holds Puntarenas centro would vanish under water.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional has beenstudying the problem but the issue still has not risen to the attention of politicians.

The new report comes from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, which is holding a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, this week.

The organization has been monitoring the Arctic since 1991. It reports: “The warming of the
Arctic, due to climate change, has been twice as high as the world average since 1980. Surface air temperatures in the Arctic since 2005 have been higher than for any five-year period since measurements began around 1880. Arctic summer temperatures have been higher in the past few decades than at any time in the past 2000 years.

The Arctic mountain glaciers and ice caps are projected to lose between 10 percent and 30 percent of their total mass by 2100, and the Arctic Ocean is predicted to be nearly ice free in summer during this century, likely within the next 30 to 40 years, the scientists reported at the start of their sessions.

The report outlined a feedback mechanism that increased melting in the arctic: “The fact that highly reflective snow and ice surfaces are diminishing means that darker land or ocean surfaces are revealed that absorb more of the sun’s energy, and therefore enhances warming of the Earth’s surface and the air above.”

The full report is due to be presented today. The scientists, however, say candidly that high uncertainty surrounds estimates of future global sea level.

In her state of the state speech prepared for delivery Sunday President Laura Chinchilla spoke about aspects of environmental security. But the topic of sea level rise was not one of them.

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