• Germany's news in English

Study finds alarming rise in sea levels

The Local · 21 Jun 2011, 14:25

Published: 21 Jun 2011 14:25 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The study, published in the American journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” and co-authored by Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), appears to lend credence to fears low-lying cities are at risk of flooding.

The scientists charted sea level changes by measuring fossil deposits on North America’s Atlantic coast. They found that levels were stable between 100 BC and 950 AD and then rose on average 0.6 millimetres per year for the next 400 years.

But since the late 1800s – when industrialization took off in Western countries – levels have risen by about 2 millimetres per year. That’s the most at any time in the last two millennia.

Rahmstorf suggested the study provides strong evidence that climate change will lead to steep sea level rises in coming years.

Scientists fear such rises could lead to low-lying cities being inundated with water, forcing millions of people to move to higher ground.

“Man continues to heat the climate with greenhouse gases, therefore the ice melts more rapidly and the sea level rises faster and faster,” Rahmstorf said.

To calculate the changing sea levels, the study authors took core samples from 10 North Carolina salt marshes. They then looked at the fossil shells of organisms called foraminifera.

By dating and analyzing the foraminifera – different types of the organisms can be found at different levels of sediment – they were able to calculate ocean depths at the times the foraminifera were trapped.

But though the study’s authors believe the results are likely representative, other scientists have questioned the fact that the study relies so heavily on data from North Carolina.

Michal Kucera, a professor at the University of Tübingen, told the website of news magazine Der Spiegel that this was the study’s “Achilles heel.”

Rahmstorf is one of many scientists arguing that climate change is accelerating, leading to more extreme weather phenomena like flooding and heat waves.

Story continues below…

“A number of studies have shown that the frequency of extreme events has increased,” he said.

DPA/The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

15:24 June 21, 2011 by William Thirteen
scientists! just trying to confuse the good God fearing people with numbers and facts!
16:15 June 21, 2011 by christmascorner
2 millimeters per year. WOW !! Better get someone to start building the "ark"
18:02 June 21, 2011 by DOZ
Lets not ruin a good thing on scientific explanation. Countries in the Northern Latitudes, like Canada, are starting to experience the extreme weather conditions (Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Flooding) like the Equatorial Areas. It's like the old saying, the Bucket of KFC has come home to roost. :)
19:21 June 21, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman

Nonsense. Canada is experiencing the same weather it always has, you just have to live long enough to see the cycles. Hurricane Hazel is out of current memory for example, but much worse than anything seen in the last 20 years (1954 for that one as I recall). Floods and droughts are the common tales of Canadian history. As we were commenting on a particularly harsh winter in the Mid-West of Canada back in '95 one of the fellows there said, "What's the fuss? It was just like this back in the mid '50's." Since most of those present were not yet born in the '50's....LOL

Climate changes without the need to arrogate it to humanity. The history of Greenland alone over the last 1100 years is enough to show us that (if we're paying attention).
19:29 June 21, 2011 by farmon
It amazes me that the talk of global warming always comes up in the summer time.
22:26 June 21, 2011 by MJMH
Just think if all of humanity quit smoking some studies suggest that air pollution levels and greenhouse gasses will drop 1 to 2 percent. There ought to be a law that says if you cause pollution you pay a higher tax. That goes for driving, airplane travel, eating street food and buying food wrapped in plastic. Its the only way people will realize how much pollution they make.
05:59 June 22, 2011 by rfwilson
I live in Vancouver, and our sea level hasn't risen at all. As the old saying goes,

"water finds its own level". So why hasn't the sea level here risen too? How can it rise in one place and not in others? Smells suspiciously like yet another scientist on the "Global Warming Gravy Train" has made up yet another "study" that says what the government with the cash wants to hear!
06:43 June 22, 2011 by jmclewis
So where is the Ocean level data prior to late 1800's ? It does no exists so they at best are making an educated guess they have no idea what is a normal trend over a long time say a thousand years....... This is junk science! They Feel there is a problem they cannot prove they think it with facts! The earths water levels go up and down over time, there were land bridges between North America and Asia as well England and France....... was this the locals burning to much wood or coal?
11:13 June 22, 2011 by m0j0
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
05:05 June 24, 2011 by KewGardensNYC
The only good, I can see of this, is that Washington DC is built on a sea level swamp and even a half a meter rise will cause intensive flooding. A few meters, then the entire Capital is looking out over the Atlantic Ocean.

But of course, this is all liberal fantasy and our good Republicans will prevent this from happening.
21:38 June 24, 2011 by gator52
In 2002, I took a grandchild to an elderhostel program at Northern Arizona University. The program featured geology, astronomy, and archaeology. I asked astronomers at the Lowell Observatory what they thought of the global warming issue. They unanimously agreed that the variations in the sun were the main driver of Earth's climate. The Anasazi Indians of Northern Arizona abandoned their magnificent cliff dwellings because of a thousand year drought that occurred well before the industrial age. The current "science" advisor for President Obama once co-authored a book entitled "The Coming Ice Age" (1977). He is now an enthusiastic global warmist. Sadly, our institutions of higher learning now feature POLITICAL science.
01:55 June 25, 2011 by MarjeHecht
For an analysis by an oceanographic expert who says there is NO alarming sea level rise, see

03:47 June 26, 2011 by WAKeele
One reason talk of "Global Warming" seems to occur in summer more is because most can't seem to see beyond the moment they are in.
19:37 July 13, 2011 by Blefuscu
Rahmstorf is a serial alarmist together with his mate Schellnhuber.

The latest NASA data suggests that there is no sea level rise at all at present.
02:52 August 2, 2011 by Anumakonda
Good article on Sea level rising and consequences of Climate change.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd