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expert reaction to new paper comparing observed with predicted sea level and global temperature

Sea-levels are rising 60 per cent faster than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) central projections, new research published in Environmental Research Letters suggests, while temperature rises appear to be consistent with the projections.


Prof Andrew Shepherd, Professor of Earth Observation at the University of Leeds, said:

“This study presents an interesting comparison of variations in global temperature and sea levels, and suggests that in future sea level rise might be greater than the models used by IPCC have predicted.

“Of course for this to be correct, one has to consider the potential sources of that greater increase.  In their study, Rahmstorf et al suggest that accelerated losses from the polar ice sheets may be one such source.  However, when all of the available satellite data are considered, there is in fact little evidence to support the suggestion of accelerated ice loss from Antarctic.  One may therefore need to look elsewhere for potential sources of additional sea level rise.”


Prof Mark Maslin , Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Scholar at University College London, said:

“The World is currently ignoring climate change, assuming that it can put off any changes to the far future.  Our inability to do anything about current carbon emissions means that sea level rise over this century will be faster than the best prediction by the IPCC.  Unless we reduce our carbon pollution rapidly, this study clearly shows we are heading for the nightmare world at the top end of the IPCC predictions.”


Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, said:

“In this paper the authors have stressed what many of us have thought for some time –  the IPCC is far from alarmist in its projections, and this is being made clearer as more recent data becomes available.”



‘Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011’ by S. Rahmstorf et al., published in Environmental Research Letters on Wednesday 28 November 2012.

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