One intuitively expects that if enough of Greenland melts to raise global sea levels by, say, three centimetres, that rise will occur everywhere more or less simultaneously. Detlaf Stammer, of Hamburg University, has suggested otherwise. His research on meltwater data since 1948 shows that meltwater forms a ‘slow wave’ of “rising sea levels that gradually works its way south from Greenland, down the American coast, reaching the tip of southern Africa after about a decade.”
Fifty years after any Greenland melting occurs, Stammer’s model suggests that sea level rise will be thirty times greater around Greenland and the east coast of North America than it will be in the Pacific ocean. If true, this will have a big effect on the kind of climate change adaptation planning that needs to take place. Everyone is exceptionally worried about Bangladesh right now, but perhaps they should be more immediately concerned about Florida and the Maritimes.