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          Thermal Expansion

          Yesterday we talked about how much more potent methane is than the typically-mentioned carbon dioxide (CO2) Greenhouse Gas (GHG). It gets worse, especially if you reside somewhere near the seashore.

          Methane is actually the third most prevalent GHG after CO2 and another “gas” not typically thought of as a GHG—water vapor. In freshwater waterbodies a process known as "methanogenesis" is taking place on a massive scale: tiny microorganisms digesting organic matter and release methane gas into the atmosphere.

          Research conducted Princeton's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology suggest that methane emissions from freshwater systems will likely rise with the global temperature

          Since 1880, a partial eye blink in the evolution of time, seas have risen about eight inches; three inches in the last 25 years, according to a report in National Geographic.  Yes, much of that is from melting Antarctic ice. In fact, In the 1980s, Antarctica lost 40 billion tons of ice annually. In the last decade, that number has jumped to an average of 252 billion tons of ice lost per year.”

          As more and more GHGs are emitted into the atmosphere—6,677 million metric tons just in 2018, according to the EPA, those gases trap the majority of the heat received by the sun. And more than 90 percent of that heat is absorbed by oceans.

          The absorption of that heat by the water causes a chemical reaction known as Thermal Expansion: water molecules become less dense as they heat up and they expand. Causing sea levels to rise. Exacerbating this is the melting of land-based ice, such as glaciers and ice sheets, as what covers a significant portion of Greenland.  Unlike glaciers and icebergs floating in the water that already displace the water they sit on, land-based ice that melts adds to the volume of water in the seas, cause sea levels to rise.

          Scientists are still working on models to project what coastal cities in the US and around the world are most at risk, but like the coronavirus that has wreaked havoc on everyone’s lives, rising sea levels will inundate cities like Boston, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Charleston, SC, St. Augustine, FL. While others like, New York, Miami, New Orleans. Galveston, and parts of San Francisco could be underwater by 2050.  Better pack your bags if you want to see them.

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