Wellington sea level

July 13th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Parts of coastal could be drowned if doomsday predictions from a new study pan out over the next 100 years.

Two reports issued yesterday by Greater Wellington regional council show Wellington’s sea level is the fastest rising in New Zealand – made worse by seismic rumblings causing the city to sink 1.7mm a year since 2000.

Worst-case scenarios coupling massive sea level rise with intense storm floods show low-lying coastal parts of the Eastbourne bays, Petone, Pauatahanui, as well as the river mouths at Otaki, Hutt, Whakataki (near Castlepoint), and Waikanae and the lower Wairarapa valley, could be forever swamped if sea levels rose 1.5m by 2115.

The scenario of 1.5m in 100 years is rather detached from reality. It would be sea level rise 10 times faster than what is actually happening. A 1.7mm rise a year is 17cm over 100 years if the rate stayed the same. Now sure it may increase – but it is not going to be 10 times as fast.

A reminder that the latest IPCC forecast is that on average over 100 years sea levels will rise between 19 and 59 cm. A 1.5m increase is three times greater than the “maximum” forecast by the last IPCC report.

On the plus side, the doomsday map shows that my apartment block will become a beachfront property, which would be great. So I’m all in favour.

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55 Responses to “Wellington sea level”

  1. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    I’m not sure Wellington sinking beneath the waves is any New Zealander’s “worst case scenario”.

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  2. Mark (496 comments) says:

    Why does the Dom Post or should that be Dumb Post print this crap in it’s newspaper. Retards.

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  3. Manolo (13,828 comments) says:

    The shameless rag, The Dominion Post, must be desperate and scraping the bottom of the barrel.
    Yellow sensationalism and pandering to Luddite lies will not help its cause.

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  4. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Mark, Wellington is fine… while the Dung Post’s business model is sliding under the tide.

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  5. RRM (9,932 comments) says:

    Bring it on!

    How awesome would the bottom end of town be, if the basin reserve reverted to being a mooring basin for superyachts, with Kent & Cambridge Terraces as the cafe-lined Grand Canal up which you sail when heading out to sea?

    It would be like the Viaduct Harbour, only better.

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  6. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    RRM… The Basin might be a lake, but it would still have the viewing stands. So why waste it on super-yacht mooring? Why not stage sea battles like the Romans did?

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  7. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Wellington is far more likely to drown in its own crap than the sea.

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  8. jims_whare (403 comments) says:

    Its most likely caused by a localized version of global warming. All the hot air released from a certain group of buildings is causing warming in the Wellington harbour and thermo-expansion of the seas water.

    Parliament should be forced to meet only half as often as it does and the warming effect would dramatically be reduced.

    But seriously – how much of this crap is driven by Ms Wade-Brown?

    I seriously question that it is possible to measure sea water levels in increments of 1.7mm a year – think about it – where do you measure it from? How do you get so accurate.

    Its a load of rubbish.

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  9. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    It’s odd the weight people place of sea levels. Our land, including the seafloor, is not fixed to a billard-ball solid sphere called earth. It is floating on intercontinental ocean plates, and these move and buckle above and below each other, while seismic faults push land up and down. Sea levels have, do and always will change. And we adapt.
     
    The rising desperation of the UN inspired ‘CO2-is-evil brigade’, coupled with the failing business models of the MSM are the reason junk publications like the Dom Post dish up this nonsense.

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  10. hj (7,031 comments) says:

    The fact that oceans will rise in a warming world is well established, but depending on how wind patterns change, climate change could mean quick inundation or more beach space for different coastlines. Wind patterns maintain height differences between different regions of the ocean, and if altered or intensified, they would push water from one part of the ocean to another.

    The resulting sea-level changes could be up to 30 percent more, or less, than the global average in some regions, says oceanographer Axel Timmermann.

    The problem is that scientists are just beginning to understand what will happen to climate at scales smaller than entire continents or ocean basins.
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/07/regional-sea-rise/

    seems some people are smarter than the scientists.

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  11. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Its not the Dominion but the Regional Council who should be pillored for this.

    Its Wellington rate payers paying for this shit Its not science its not even good guess work, its rubbish perpetuated by loonies .

    And you can laugh about it DPF. Find out how much these rpeorts cost out of your rates and then laugh

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  12. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    You know you’re dealing with fuckwits when they try to tell you the sea level is rising faster on one part of the coast than it is on another.

    It won’t be long before they convince themselves the Waikato river is actually flowing uphill and spilling out into lake Taupo.

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  13. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Also can someone tell the fuck wits that the ocean is not a swimming pool so I struggle to see how there could be little localised rises or falls.

    Water finds its own level over its entire area

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  14. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    @hj: “The resulting sea-level changes could be up to 30 percent more, or less, than the global average in some regions, says oceanographer Axel Timmermann.”

    Now that is pure drivel. The impact of wind on sea level is independent of timescale whereas sea-level change is entirely dependent on the time it is measured over. Either Timmermann is misquoted or is a moron.

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  15. kowtow (8,512 comments) says:

    With the land sinking DPF s apartment is more likely to end up as a basement.

    On a serious note though,when I were young lad the joke was the religious nutter with the sign “repent ,the end is nigh”

    Now it’s the green nutters saying the same thing,only the repentance isn’t about old fashioned sinning but the modern sin of fossil fuel use, mining,fracking,animal testing,meat eating ,carbon footprint etc

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  16. cha (4,036 comments) says:

    Some FAQ’s about sea levels and a nifty article: If the Earth Stood Still.

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  17. flipper (4,077 comments) says:

    Paul EB..
    Well said.

    Only an earthquake CAUSING THE LAND to subside into the ocean could cause a LOCALISED sea level rise. Sort of contradiction in terms, is it not?

    As for the IPCC projections, they are crap. They have as much credibility as those once promulgated by the Club of Rome – or the folks who predicted doom and gloom and world woe in the bronze age.

    DPF… How abouty it ? What did the Wellington Region pay for this garbage? And to think they (the WRC) will now attempt to base “policy” on such rubbish.

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  18. Martin Gibson (247 comments) says:

    I’ve worked out a formula to create a graph that has the sea levels rising 200m in the next 100 years! Now THERE’S a headline. Any advance? Morons.

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  19. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    @hj

    “The problem is that scientists are just beginning to understand what will happen to climate at scales smaller than entire continents or ocean basins.”

    The problem will be over when scientists are beginning to understand how little understanding they actually have about an extremely complex system with thousands of variables.

    “Not all scientists actually agree

    http://www.mediatheque.lindau-nobel.org/#/Video?id=1410

    But science isn’t about consencus. Science is about theories, testing of theories using empirical data and revising theories.

    “We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.”
    Albert Einstein

    He also said:
    “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.”

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  20. s.russell (1,642 comments) says:

    Interesting about Wellington sinking. My guess about what is going on is this:

    Westward relative movement of the Pacific tectonic plate periodically produces an earthquake in which crust material is pushed under the Australian plate (subduction), causing it to rise. Over subsequent centuries, the land gradually settles back down as that subducted material melts into the mantle and spreads out and the land above crumbles from its own weight on the uneven material underneath.

    Over thousands of years this process is repeated again and again. The geological records suggest that in aggregate the rises have been greater than the falls (you can see old coastline marks on the hills on the south coast). If I am right then extrapolating the sinking of Wellington would be a mistake, but the autocorrection by earthquake would hardly be something to look forward to!

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  21. mistywindow (27 comments) says:

    Here’s one of Adolf’s f*ckwits.

    Sea level can and does differ in different places. Several reasons. Prevailing winds, prevailing currents, local gravity variations are some.

    Climate change will change some of these drivers.

    Do your homework.

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  22. Cobolt (93 comments) says:

    Am I the only one that reads it as the land is sinking by 1.7mm/year as opposed to the sea level rise, which according to these very official studies must be much faster.
    From the same article: “Wellington Harbour had an average sea level rise of about 2mm a year over the past century. This was mainly due to climate change but was magnified by subsidence in the city over the past decade, caused by slow slips triggered by deep tectonic plate movements.”
    So wait… what? Since 2000 Wellington has sunk on average about 1.7mm/year. AND over the past 100 years the sea level has risen by about 2mm/year mainly due to seismic sinking so actual sea level rise/year = .3mm. times that by 100 = 300mm or 1 foot by 2115.

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  23. mistywindow (27 comments) says:

    If you base your assumptions on a straight line increase in sea levels, eventually you’re in for a bit of a shock. The increase is not linear and is not likely to be for some time. In addition, many of the sea level contributors have not been factored in to the official predictions because of a lack of certainty.

    The news will get steadily worse, just as it has for the last decade – only more so.

    Most of you commentators could do with a little education. Try reading a book one of these days. For those who’re determined to remain deluded try Ian Wishart.

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  24. pete (416 comments) says:

    The IPCC estimates are “excluding future rapid dynamical changes in ice flow“. Calling 59cm a “maximum” is very misleading.

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  25. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    The news will get steadily worse, just as it has for the last decade – only more so.

    You’re right. The news will get steadily worse. But the reality won’t change. Other than you growing up a bit.

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  26. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    “The news will get steadily worse, just as it has for the last decade – only more so.”

    What was the bad news mw?
    Try to enlighten us proles oh you wise one.
    The news is only bad if you are an (C)AGW believer.

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  27. backster (2,174 comments) says:

    Prior to 1850 Lambton Quay was the beachfront so why the panic now? The now extinct Maori race hadn’t bothered with long term planning.

    “Much of Wellington had to be rebuilt following the earthquakes. Interestingly, the previously harbourside street of Lambton Quay now sits some 200 metres / 655 feet inland from the actual harbourfront of today, due to the appearance of new raised swampland (later drained and reclaimed) from the ocean as a result of this powerful seismic activity. Of note, the line of the previous waterfront is marked by a series of plaques along a pathway adjoining Lambton Quay. Most of the city’s buildings have been built predominantly from wood since these earthquakes.”

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  28. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    mistywindow, you are right, the increase is not linear. Recently it flattened off. However thermal expansion is linear with temperature. That also flattened off.

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  29. Sonny Blount (1,783 comments) says:

    mistywindow (27) Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 2:37 pm
    If you base your assumptions on a straight line increase in sea levels, eventually you’re in for a bit of a shock. The increase is not linear and is not likely to be for some time. In addition, many of the sea level contributors have not been factored in to the official predictions because of a lack of certainty.

    The news will get steadily worse, just as it has for the last decade – only more so.

    Most of you commentators could do with a little education. Try reading a book one of these days. For those who’re determined to remain deluded try Ian Wishart.

    What an awful ego rant. Just what is consequential about a variable rate of change of sea level?

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  30. seanmaitland (501 comments) says:

    @mistywindow – the news has not got steadily worse over the last decade. The bleating from the left has changed, but its still just as crazy, and arrogant.

    You could do yourself a favor and stop believing what you read on the internet and get on with living your life.

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  31. Chuck Bird (4,895 comments) says:

    “.3mm. times that by 100 = 300mm or 1 foot by 2115.”

    .3mm. times that by 100 = 30mm or a little over an inch by 2115.

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  32. Mr_Blobby (177 comments) says:

    Best case scenario the Beehive falls into the see taking a gaggle of politicians with it. What seems to be the problem?

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  33. swan (665 comments) says:

    DPF, I think the 1.7mm/yr is a rate associated with tectonics, not sea level rise.

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  34. swan (665 comments) says:

    Re the 1.5m think they are mainly talking About storm surges DPF. With respect, I don’t think you know what you are talking about.

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  35. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    Mistywindow

    Your buggered before you even start.

    All those factors you mentioned are fine and dandy however, none of them contributes to a rise in sea levels that is greater in one place and lesser in another. The levels themselves might be different for all sorts of reasons but not the rate of increase or decrease.

    e.g. just because a strong westerly wind will push the apparent level of Lake Taupo up a bit for a while on its eastern shore does not make the level of the lake waters permanently higher on that eastern shore.

    Have you ever held down a real job which requires common sense?

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  36. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    swan says:

    “Re the 1.5m think they are mainly talking About storm surges DPF. With respect, I don’t think you know what you are talking about.”

    Before you insult your host and make a fool of yourself (Oops, too late) read the article.

    Last sentence….

    “Projections for century’s end suggest the sea level in the Wellington region could rise by 0.8m by the 2090s or as high as 1.5m by 2115. “

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  37. chiz (1,144 comments) says:

    Adolf:just because a strong westerly wind will push the apparent level of Lake Taupo up a bit for a while on its eastern shore does not make the level of the lake waters permanently higher on that eastern shore.

    Go read the sea-levl FAQ that cha posted. On a global scale, winds and currents do have an effect on local sea-level.

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  38. swan (665 comments) says:

    Other Andy. The paper may say that, the report, however, does not.

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  39. Joseph Carpenter (214 comments) says:

    Yes it is indeed possible to get localised variations in sea level (due to local differences in water temperature, salinity/density, currents, winds, tides etc – in fact if you could map the sea levels at say the Hutt river mouth you could find it up to 50mm higher than the MSL across the harbour at Shelly Bay).

    But what surprises me is WRC coming up with this crap particularly as they have the best access to information regarding sea level, and it is not from the tide guages (or more latterly SL satellites), it’s from geodetic surveys. In Wellington they are accurate and extensive going back to 1838, among the best in the world. The old Harbour Boards (now Port Co’s), Local Authorities, Catchment Authorities (now RC’s), Airports, roading authorities, railways, airports, subdividers, property owners and developers, etc all regularly re-survey the levels of their land and infrastructure. Obviously it’s particularly important to know the exact height of sea level and relative levels of quays, wharfs, drain outfalls, rivers, retaining sea walls to land, roads, railways, airports, etc and with respect to land title allotments the location of Mean High Tide Springs and Esplenade Reserves.

    From memory the last big full survey was done by Ports of Wellington & WRC in 2009, and I believe it was concluded that Mean Sea Level rise was insignificant compared to changes in the underlying Ground Level – the South and East land is slowly sinking/subsiding and the North/West is slightly rising. Any change certainly wasn’t considered to be on the order of 1500mm/century, that would mean approx. 0.5m in the next 3 decades which would definitely affect things and require big investment starting right now.

    This looks more like the pricks at WRC trying on a power grab under the RMA by making all coastal/littoral/riverside land subject to additional special conditions under the Regional Plan and thence District Plans for a Resource Consent and automatically kick in Sections 71-74 of the Building Act = more cost, delay and grief for you if own affected land. It is particularly shit when you realize the WRC still haven’t sorted KNOWN significant flooding hazards from the Hutt river and various other waterways in the Hutt, Wairarapa and Kapiti and they have a clear Statutory responsibility for this. I suppose it must be better to put resources into a trendy vague possible risk hazard occurring at least 100 years from now than doing work on a real flood that has a definite probability of occurring this very weekend.

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  40. Joseph Carpenter (214 comments) says:

    Also forgot that GNS also constantly do very accurate surveys across the Wellington fault lines checking for seismic/tectonic movements in the land levels (and indirectly sea levels) – this is far more significant than possible global sea level changes. Of much greater urgency is the fact that we have a large number of buildings and structures in Wellington (and around NZ) that are known (and yet more unknown) to be “earthquake prone” or “earthquake risk” right now – i.e. a known risk to life. How about WRC gets off it’s arse and works on a plan for a uniform program across the region of checking/surveying, strengthening/mitigating or demo and rebuild? I mean they only spend $224,000,000.00 a year.

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  41. swan (665 comments) says:

    Finished reading the report yet other Andy? Who’s the fool?

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  42. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    @swan

    “Other Andy. The paper may say that, the report, however, does not.”

    As DPF put up a link to the article I (And I expect everybody else) knew he was refering to that article.
    So I think telling DPF that he doesn’t know what he is talking about is a little rude.

    It is a bit rich as well, especially because both the paper AND the report (Oops, it is on-line as well) say similar things.
    http://www.gw.govt.nz/assets/About-GW-the-region/News-and-media-releases/2012-images/SeaLevelVariabilityandTrendsintheWellingtonRegion2012REPORT.pdf

    Anymore excuses and spin or are you going to apologise to DPF?

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  43. swan (665 comments) says:

    The report is about guidelines for development. DPF is the one panning a single number in a report. If he wants to call something “detached from reality” he should do his homework. The engineering and planning disciplines allow for low probability events. I would have thought after Christchurch people might have a better understanding of that. Evidently not.

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  44. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    “Anymore excuses and spin or are you going to apologise to DPF?”

    The report is about guidelines for development…………blah……………… blah …………………………….. blah …………………… blah ………………………….blah………………. blah…………………………….. Evidently not.

    So the answer is “Yes” and “No”.

    And yes even in the “Post Modern Science’s Precautionary Principle” world, 150 cm (The current evidence, real data, not supporting this) IS “detached from reality” just like all the other over-the-top apocalyptic predictions we have seen.
    Like….

    “By 2010 the world will be engulfed with 50 million “climate refugees.” (2005)
    “Global Warming will completely melt away the Himalayan glaciers in 25 years.”(2007)
    “Over 4.5 Billion people could die from Global Warming-related causes by 2012” (2007)
    “Up to 10,000 people could die in South East England as a result of heat-waves by 2012″ (2007)
    “The Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.” ( 2007)

    Detached from reality, absolutely!

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  45. swan (665 comments) says:

    You are domonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of probability, Other Andy. The tough question is where do we stop planning for low probability events. Look at the CTV building. Subjected to a 1:2500 year plus earthquake. Not designed for anything like the motions experienced. Is everyone saying “low probability event, get over it”? We “only” design high impact dans for 1 in 10000 year events. We “only” design tunnels for 1300 degrees fires. Or do you think we should be accepting more risk across the board.

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  46. swan (665 comments) says:

    Apologies for the shocking spelling above.

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  47. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Local government should be responsible only for health and safety wrt private property. Even a bureaucrat can move faster than climate change. Earthquakes are a public safety issue. Climate change is not. The morons must be told to butt out.

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  48. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    “You are domonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of probability.”

    you are ‘domonstrating’ something but it isn’t an understanding of probability.
    You are demonstrating a fundamental lack of common sense.
    You are demonstrating why you shouldn’t keep on digging when you’re in a hole.

    There is more change of Wellington being hit by a level 9.0 Earthquake or even an astroid than being swamped by 150 cm of sea level rise in the next 100 years.
    We are not preparing ourselves for a level 9.0 earthquake or astroid strikes.
    If you think we should plan for a 150 cm sea level rise and think that is not detached from reality fine.
    And you base that on what reality, your alternative reality?

    By the way..

    “We “only” design tunnels for 1300 degrees fires. ”

    This shows you haven’t got a clue.
    Fire Safety Design for tunnels is measured in megawatts.

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  49. swan (665 comments) says:

    You’ve never heard of a fire curve Other Andy?

    Don’t just make stuff up about relative probabilities unless you have evidence to back it up. Also for what it is worth, we don’t design for a magnitude of earthquake. It is ground motions at a site that we design for.

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  50. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    “Or do you think we should be accepting more risk across the board.”
    Reason would suggest keeping things in proportion. Spending billions every year to ameliorate a slim chance of 1.5m sea level rise in a century seems outrageous.

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  51. KevinH (1,229 comments) says:

    Wellington’s Seismic History:

    Wellington is susceptible to earthquakes because it rests on the point where two tectonic plates meet. These plate movements have resulted in three major fault-lines running through or very close to Wellington city: the Ōhariu Fault, the Wairarapa Fault and the Wellington Fault.

    23 January, 1855, Wellington experiences a magnitude 8.2 Earthquake:

    The earthquake was caused by movement along a fault in Palliser Bay. It lifted the southern end of the Rimutaka Range by a staggering 6 m. About 10 minutes after the main shock a tsunami 4 m high entered Wellington Harbour, sending water surging back and forth and flooding Lambton Quay. Buildings in a Wairarapa boat harbour were washed away, a ‘gigantic wave swept the beach’ at the mouth of the Wairau River, and waves up to 30 cm high came ashore near Christchurch. The main shock was perceptible as far away as Auckland and Dunedin.
    The quake also helped improve communications in the region. The newly exposed strip of shoreline between Wellington and the Hutt Valley offered a safe road and (later) railway route. Previously parts of the coastal road had been impassable at high tide. Dangerous sections of the coastal route to Wairarapa were also raised. The uplift of land drained the swampy lower reaches of the Hutt Valley and gave Wellington its famous Basin Reserve cricket ground.

    Wellington will not go under water as reported in the Dom Post, quite the reverse.There is every likelihood that the region will continue to push up from the seafloor over time.

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  52. Paulus (2,631 comments) says:

    History shows that New Zealand’s Earthquake “knowledge” came in about 1460 when there was an impressive land uplift in Wellington. Believed possible Richter 8.
    This was followed by more recent history in 1848,1855 and 1942 (from when EQC came about).
    Lifting all the time, so tell sycophant greens to stop talking crap.

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  53. Rob Painting (3 comments) says:

    The scenario of 1.5m in 100 years is rather detached from reality. It would be sea level rise 10 times faster than what is actually happening. A 1.7mm rise a year is 17cm over 100 years if the rate stayed the same. Now sure it may increase – but it is not going to be 10 times as fast.

    These scientific reports are typically piss-poor at conveying the really important points such as:

    1. The threat of large accelerations in future sea level rise stem from the disintegration & melt of the great polar icesheets – Greenland & Antarctica. These were reasonably stable until the late 1980’s early 1990’s, but are contributing to current sea level rise at an accelerated rate.

    2. Sea level rise reached its peak rate around 7-8000 years ago and had ground to a halt by 4-5000 years ago. This is how the stable coral platforms formed. We now know them as atolls. Ocean siphoning processes (continental levering & collapsing glacial forebulges) created a fall in sea level in a wide swathe around the equator, which then exposed coral formations as it fell. Sea level rise in the 20th century is anomalous within the context of the last 7-8000 years. Which quashes the idea of a globally warm Medieval Period.

    3. We know that large accelerations in sea level are possible because that is what happened some 14000 years ago, earlier in the Holocene (the two meltwater pulses). Of course the gigantic Laurentide and Fennoscandian ice sheets no longer exist, and the Antarctic icesheet is also much smaller than it was in the last ice age, but we can look back at the last interglacial (perhaps globally 0.5-1°C warmer than today). The Eemian warming was caused by changes in Earth’s orbit and tilt characteristics, but the key point is that the ice sheets were not too dissimilar to modern day in their extent. Despite this, sea level rise at times exceeded 36mm per year – over ten times the current rate.

    4. Will future sea level rise that fast in the future? No one really knows – hence the great spread of the projections. But given the current rate of global warming far exceeds previous interglacial warming, it certainly cannot be discounted.

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  54. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    There is far too much evidence for the global medieval warm period to rule it out on the basis of estimates of global sea levels which in the absence of satellite measurements and averaging are subject to enormous uncertainty.

    Likewise the supposedly fast melts of current ice sheets have not shown up at all as accelerating sea level rises. Color me sceptical.

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  55. Rob Painting (3 comments) says:

    The paleoclimatic evidence suggests only the Atlantic warmed during the Medieval Period. This matches with warming indicated by coral in the Sargasso Sea, a retreat of the Southern portion of the Greenland ice sheet, a rise in sea level along the coast of the USA, and analysis of ice cores in the tropical Andean glaciers.

    At the same time, however, the tropical Pacific was very cold, as was the rest of the world – the Asian High mountain, and Antarctic ice cores indicate a cooler than present climate. The cool Pacific Ocean (a La Nina-like pattern) would have drawn rainfall away from the North American continent (specifically the southern portions of what is now the USA) and created megadroughts if it persisted. The paleo-record does indeed record megadroughts in the USA – which led to the collapse of the native Anasazi. Analysis of tree-rings around the Pacific Rim (including our native Kauri) show a period of reduced ENSO (El Nino/La Nina) activity at the time of the Medieval Period, which matches with a cooler Pacific Ocean during that time. Additionally, the cool Pacific (La Nina-like pattern) would have shifted the Walker Circulation such that it brought wetter conditions to the Amazon rainforest. Again, this is exactly what paleoclimatic proxies indicate.

    When one starts putting the pieces of the puzzle together it’s clear that there is little room for medieval warmth approaching anything like the current global warming. Yes, it was warmer than the centuries before and after, but nothing like today. What better paleotemperature proxy is there than global ice? It requires a global warming to melt it.

    And lastly, disintegration/melt of the vast polar ice sheets is accelerating. That’s what GPS, satellite altimetry and the gravity satellites have recorded. Sea level has increased in a near-linear manner in the last two decades because of two processes; one is the temporary exchange of water mass between the oceans and continents due to La Nina & El Nino, and the other is because the thermal component slowed between 2004-2008. El Nino is when anomalous warming occurs over the tropical Pacific Ocean and focuses rainfall there – creating an abrupt rise in sea level as the continents dry out. And La Nina is when the surface oceans cools and water from the ocean (through evaporation) is dumped over the continents. In the last 4-5 years La Nina has been dominant, so this has masked some of the sea level rise. You will note, however, that global sea level has risen by 10mm in the last year -it’s temporary of course, but it does demonstrate how significant an affect it has over shorter time scales.

    As for the slower ocean warming between 2004-2008 – possibly connected to the increased sulfate aerosol pollution observed over this period. Dimming of surface solar radiation was particularly strong over the Southern Hemisphere (which is predominately ocean), whereas a slight brightening was observed over the Northern Hemisphere. The cooling arm of the solar cycle, which just happened to be the greatest solar minimum in a century, would also have played a part too. The solar cycle is now on its warmer phase of the cycle so we expect ocean warming to increase in response to that, and recent observations show that it is. Whether aerosol pollution (volcanic & manmade) will continue to block as much sunlight reaching the ocean in the future – who knows?

    Nothing is ever guaranteed in science, but the risk of an acceleration in sea level rise is built upon multiple lines of evidence. And very real.

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