Pam Eastlick

Pam Eastlick

It’s time to dip into the global warming/weather file and see what scientists predict might be in store for us. Have you been wondering how global warming – a non-event according to the current administration – is going to affect you personally other than the fact that it’s been beastly hot here for the past few months?

Well, according to researchers from NASA, the University of Colorado, the University of Florida and several other institutions, global sea-level rise isn’t cruising along at a steady 3 millimeters per year, it's accelerating a little every year. The researchers looked at 25 years of satellite data and discovered that the rate of increase is accelerating about 0.1 mm every year which could mean that by 2100, the sea level could be rising 10 mm every year.

This acceleration, which is driven mainly by melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea-level rise from 30 centimeters to 60 cm. And in case you don’t do metric, that’s 1 to 2 feet.

I suggest you grab a ruler or a yardstick and take a little trip around the island. Guam is a "high island" and most people and places are above this level, but you’ll still find plenty of things near the ocean that would be affected by this kind of rise.

And you might want to give a thought to your neighbors that live on all those low-lying atolls. Did you ever consider where they might move to if they can’t live on their islands anymore?

But right now, I suspect you’re more concerned about rising temperatures than you are about sea-level rise. Ninety degrees in Alaska? Low 90s here? Well, there’s research news there too.

An international study co-authored by scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes and the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies shows that marine heatwaves have increased over the past century in number, length and intensity as a direct result of warming oceans.

From 1925-2016, the study found the frequency of marine heatwaves had increased on average by 34% and the length of each heatwave had increased by 17%. Together, this led to a 54% increase in the number of marine heatwave days every year. They also found that from 1982 there was a noticeable acceleration in the occurrence of marine heatwaves.

Some recent examples show just how significant marine heatwave events can be. In 2011, Western Australia saw a marine heatwave that shifted ecosystems from being dominated by kelp to being dominated by seaweed. That shift remained even after water temperatures returned to normal.

Persistent warm water in the north Pacific from 2014-2016 led to fishery closures, mass strandings of marine mammals and harmful algal blooms along coastlines. That heatwave even changed large-scale weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest. More recently, Tasmania's intense marine heatwave in 2016 led to disease outbreaks and slowed growth rates in aquaculture industries.

The researchers say there’s a clear relationship between the rise in global sea-surface temperatures and the increase in marine heatwaves, just as increases in extreme heat events are related to the increase in global average temperatures. Since more than 90% of the heat from human-caused global warming goes into our oceans, it is likely marine heatwaves will continue to increase.

But the current administration still denies it’s happening. Hey guys, tell that to my indoor/outdoor thermometer!

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