Scientists call for system to monitor climate change, like sea level rise

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(Photo: Courtesy of U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
<p>A group of scientists envision a system that would use satellites to “vigorously monitor” potential threats resulting from climate change, similar to storm monitoring.</p>

Photo: Tornado storm map (stock)A council of expert scientists at the National Academy of Science is calling for the development of a abrupt climate change early warning system. It would alert the public and scientists to potentially harmful natural disasters, such as rising sea levels or an increases in global temperature. The imagined system would keep close watch of potential threats, even if they are years off in the future.

The recommendations were released in early December, along with a broader report from the Committee on Understanding and Monitoring Abrupt Climate Change. Jim White, a professor of geological studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, is chairman.

The report, says White, aims to convey a greater sense of urgency to counter, as he has observed, how most tend to think of climate change -- as slowly unfolding events or patterns, like increasingly longer droughts that provoke a less imminent and lower-level sense of concern. To the contrary, the professor cautions that issues affecting the climate will eventually reach a major tipping point, triggering natural disasters.

The recent push by White and fellow scientists also serves as their message to the federal government. The Boulder geologist says the Obama administration isn't investing enough resources into monitoring long-term climate patterns and their potential consequences, investments that could be made in tools like warning systems proposed by the group.