Saturday, 20 April 2019

Research: Global Warming

Credit: kwest shutterstock
By 2071 A Brief History of the Future suggests that the global temperature had risen by one degree and Greenland's glaciers were collapsing. Sea level had risen by half a metre and many countries were building flood defences and floating homes.
Coastal erosion at Hemsby UK (BBC)
In the real world, in the UK today, local councils are already planning coastal defences in some places and to leave the coast to erode in others. We have seen dramatic pictures on the news of houses topping over eroded cliffs.

Perito Moreno glacier
An article on the Time website reports the current extent of global warming.
Earth’s glaciers are melting much faster than scientists thought. A new study shows they are losing 369 billion tons of snow and ice each year, more than half of that in North America. 
The most comprehensive measurement of glaciers worldwide found that thousands of inland masses of snow compressed into ice are shrinking 18 percent faster than an international panel of scientists calculated in 2013. 
The world’s glaciers are shrinking five times faster now than they were in the 1960s. Their melt is accelerating due to global warming, and adding more water to already rising seas, the study found.

I had never thought before about warming the seas, I just thought the rising climate temperature was melting the ice. But the article points out that as water warms, it expands.
A number of factors are making sea levels rise. The biggest cause is that oceans are getting warmer, which makes water expand. The new figures show glacier melt is a bigger contributor than thought, responsible for about 25% to 30% of the yearly rise in oceans, Zemp said. 
Rising seas threaten coastal cities around the world and put more people at risk of flooding during storms. 
Glaciers grow in winter and shrink in summer, but as the Earth has warmed, they are growing less and shrinking more. Zemp said warmer summer temperatures are the main reason glaciers are shrinking faster.

I remember reading some years ago that the United Kingdom is tilting, with Scotland rising and south of England and Wales sinking into the sea. As sea level rises Scotland will be protected and the south will fare even worse. I live in South Wales, on the coast, so I’m very glad I live on a big hill!

NASA have moved into research on climate change and have several monitoring systems operating world-wide. They say their remit is to provide data so that policy makers can make decisions, not to offer solutions, but their climate change website make fascinating reading.

So, as a science fiction writer, I haven’t given any consideration so far to how Earth will look in the future. Maybe one of the spurs to space travel is the need to find somewhere else to live.

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at

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