A new paper on sea-level rise by Grinsted et al is currently doing the rounds, with horror stories about what the future holds in store being touted to newspapers across Europe. The authors have provided a list of the "probable" levels of sea-level rise in major European capitals, a step that editors no doubt find extremely helpful.
The University of Delft, home to some of the paper's authors, has a blog post on the findings. It's typical of the genre, reporting a rise of 0.83m for The Hague and generally trying to drum up a bit of excitement. The paper itself is entitled `Sea level rise projections for northern Europe under RCP8.5', so it's fairly clear that it's exploring outlier scenarios. As if to emphasise the point, there's this quote from Grinsted himself:
Our probability distribution also takes some of the more pessimistic opinions regarding the situation in Antarctica into account.’
But you could come away with a different impression: RCP8.5 touted is in the blog post as:
"a business-as-usual scenario – the situation where globally no restrictive measures are imposed to structurally limit CO2 emissions".
without any mention of RCP8.5's business-as-unusual shift from gas to coal, the surge in population way above official projections and the fictional carbon-cycle feedbacks.
And of course, by the time the newspapers get hold of the story, you are definitely going to come away with a different impression. The paper was picked up this weekend in the Irish editions of the Sunday Times, where the findings were embellished with a headline about a "monster climate event". The paper also wheeled out one of the usual suspects to comment on it: Professor John Sweeney, who opines that although Grinsted at al report 0.69m by 2100 for Dublin, there is a 5% chance of 1.63m. Not wanting to be outdone, Grinsted et al up the bidding to a 1% chance of 2.29m, rounding off with a claim that they can get up to 4.89m by adding in a storm surge.
I wonder if Professor Sweeney can up the bidding still further?