Sea levels rising faster than previously expected

These signs indicate how the coast line is expected to move inward at Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Australia. (go_greener_oz/Flickr)
These signs indicate how the coast line is expected to move inward at Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Australia. (go_greener_oz/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | January 16, 2015

A new study by researchers at Harvard University and Rutgers University finds that the earth’s sea levels are currently rising at faster rate than in the past.

The study – published in this week’s edition of the journal Nature – found that between 1900 and 1990 projected sea level increases were overestimated by as much as 30 percent. The original estimates expected sea levels to rise between 1.5 and 1.8 millimeters per year during most of the 20th century while the actual figure was closer to 1.2 millimeters annually. Throughout the entire 20th century sea levels rose by about five inches, an inch less than the previous estimate of six inches. This increase in sea levels during the 20th century amounts to enough water to fill three billion Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The report also points out that previous estimates for sea levels rises after 1990 are now estimated to be higher than previously expected. Since 1990 sea levels have been rising by about 3 millimeters per year much of which can be attributed to the “quickening thaw of ice.”

Prior to the advent of satellite technology, sea levels were monitored using tide gauges which were “unevenly dotted around the coastlines of the world.” Researchers said that this old method did not include measurements from non-coastal parts of the ocean and that this led to the overestimated figures.


Researchers from two Big Ten universities working on environmentally-friendly lawns

Nick Fetty | September 5, 2014
A house in Gossau, Canton of Zurich, Switzerlan. (Flickr)
A house in Gossau, Canton of Zurich, Switzerlan. (Flickr)

The college football season is underway as the Hawkeyes, Cyclones, and hundreds of other teams from all across the country take to the field for the more than century-old tradition. However, scientists from two Big Ten universities are putting their differences aside and teaming up to develop more environmentally friendly lawns.

Researchers from Rutgers University and the University of Minnesota – both members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation – will work together on a five-year study to develop a strain of grass unaffected by disease and drought while remaining affordable for consumers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture granted the researchers $2.1 million to further develop a strain of grass known as fine fescue. These grasses are known not only for their drought resistance but also their shade tolerance enabling them to survive varying conditions.

Fine fecues are divided into five species and subspecies: Hard fescue, Chewings fescue, (blue) sheep fescue, creeping red fescue and slender creeping red fescue. The grass is native to Europe where it was traditionally used for grazing pastures as well as ornamental landscaping and home lawns. It is ideal for lawns because it grows slowly and requires little to no fertilizer. Lawn fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals can lead to a range of health complications from rashes and headaches to birth defects and even cancer. Children and pets are even more susceptible to these adverse health effects. Use of these chemicals also leads to waterway pollution.

Horticulturalists with the Iowa State University Extension and Reiman Gardens in Ames suggest different grass blends depending on conditions in various parts of Iowa.