Sarasota News Leader

03/29/2013

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A GENUINE THREAT Much of Bayfront Park could be inundated by the rising sea level, Nobel laureates told a Sarasota audience this week. Photo by Norman Schimmel NOBEL LAUREATES WARN SARASOTA ABOUT RISING SEAS By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor At one point in the Wednesday, March 27, New Topics New College lecture, climate change professor Pier Vellinga showed a green map of the globe, with all the regions most at risk from rising sea levels marked in red. And there was the Gulf Coast — bright crimson. The talk, which Vellinga delivered in conjunction with the University of Michigan's Henry Pollack, was titled, Sea Level Rise in Florida: Is it Time to Start Building the Ark? Wednesday's answer to that question: Perhaps not yet. But we do need to take action, because one thing is certain: The Gulf is rising. century, he showed, oceans climbed up our shorelines, but that rise is accelerating and is expected to accelerate more in the years to come. The cause of that acceleration is climate change, which is fundamentally altering our atmosphere and warming our oceans. The sea level rises in three major ways, Pollack said. The first is simple thermal expansion: As water gets warmer it expands. On top of that, "We're adding new water to the ocean basins by the melting of mountain glaciers." Pollack showed photographs of Switzerland's Rhône Glacier taken across the decades. Each Pollack spoke first, laying out the science of them showed a major retreat in glacial ice, behind sea level rise. Throughout the 20th ice that is now water in our oceans.

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