A new study, a collaboration of the Scripps Institution for Oceanography,, The National Center for Atmospheric Research(NCAR), and Climate Central, is being published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change. It was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.
The research team found that reductions in four pollutants that cycle comparatively quickly through the atmosphere could slow the annual rate of sea level rise by about 50 percent. The short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) are Methane, Black Carbon (Soot), Tropospheric Ozone and hydrofluorocarbons.
Methane, with a warming potential 72 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame, having a half-life of only 7 years. The greatest scource of Methane is livestock
Black carbon or Soot , an intense heating agent in the air and particularly when on ice and snow. Black carbon emissions are responsible for as much as 40% of the net global warming However, they remain in the atmosphere from only one to four weeks . Greatest scource of Black carbon is antropologiic open fire set to clear forest and land for pasture and crop growth for animal feed.
Tropospheric ozone is another substantial greenhouse gas with an estimated warming impact equal to about 20 percent of that of carbon dioxide . It stays in the atmosphere for approximately 20 days, is a contributor to smog and is a health concern. Best controlled by reducing Methane
"To avoid potentially dangerous sea level rise, we could cut emissions of short-lived pollutants even if we cannot immediately cut carbon dioxide emissions, says Aixue Hu of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the first author of the study. This new research shows that society can significantly reduce the threat to coastal cities if it moves quickly on a handful of pollutants".The potential impact of rising oceans on populated areas is one of the most concerning effects of climate change. Many of the world's major cities, such as New York, Miami, Amsterdam, Mumbai, Tokyo, London and San Francisco Bay Area are located in low-lying areas by the water.
"It is still not too late, by stabilizing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and reducing emissions of shorter-lived pollutants, to lower the rate of warming and reduce sea level rise by 30 percent, says Veerabhadran Ramanathan of Scripps, who led the study. The large role of the shorter-lived pollutants is encouraging since technologies are available to drastically cut their emissions."
As glaciers and ice sheets melt and warming oceans expand, sea levels have been rising by an average of about 3 millimeters annually in recent years (just more than one-tenth of an inch). If temperatures continue to warm, sea levels are projected to rise between 18 and 200 centimeters (between 7 inches and 6 feet) this century, according to reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Research Council.Click here to see interactive guide of Sea Level Rise analysis by Climate Central
Such an increase could submerge densely populated coastal communities, especially when storm surges hit.
In February 2012 the US joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a global initiative to reduce the short lived climate pollutants. The coalition is catalyzing rapid reductions in these harmful pollutants to protect human health and the environment now and slow the rate of climate change within the first half of this century.
I've been writing about reducing the short lived climate pollutants as a rapid necessary component for short term fast cooling in conjunction with continual progress to reduce the much longer living C02. We are seeing an acceleration of extreme weather events which are making a fast cooling solution a necessity to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
The technical and societal means for reducing the short lived climate pollutants already exist and we can all be a part of the solution. We have no time to waste.
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