1,000 years of adaptation predicted for climate
Monday, January 10, 2011
The Ottawa Citizen:
Shawn Marshall says he's not a catastrophist. The world will still be standing in the next millennium if global carbon emissions continue at their current rate for the next 100 years, says the Canada research chair in climate change, who contributed to a study released Sunday.
"I have a feeling a lot of nature will adapt and evolve to this, it's just we'll lose some stuff on the way," he said.
"I mean, we've seen pretty clearly that coral reefs can't adapt quickly, so we'll lose some of that. We'll lose some of our favourite ski areas, a number of different cities like Venice or Manhattan."
Marshall, a geography professor at the University of Calgary, recently completed work with a team of researchers from an Environment Canada research laboratory at the University of Victoria. Together, the team performed the first full climate model simulation to make predictions on the effects of climate change 1,000 years from now.
One scenario simulated the outcome of current emission levels continuing until 2100 then stopping completely.
They found that current carbon dioxide levels would cause unstoppable effects to the climate for at least the next 1,000 years, which could cause an eventual rise of at least four metres in the global sea level by the year 3000, as well as the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, an area the size of Canada's prairies.
The estimated extra four metres is a small amount compared to the volume of water already in the oceans, but it makes all the difference for the hundreds of millions of people who live within four metres of sea level, all of whom will become environmental refugees looking for new homes, Marshall said.