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Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 8:26 pm
by bayouboy
Has anyone thought about this besides me... If the height of a mountain is measured from "seal level" and global warming is causing the seas to rise then the mountains are shrinking. I know the height of the mountain isn't changing, but the terms for our measurements need to change. We need a standard. They may have already changed it...

Re: Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 8:39 pm
by Doug Shaw
If you're going to be anal, don't be half-assed about it. :wink: "Sea level" is just an abstract concept, not an absolute, concrete, measured value or position. How could it be? Consider the tides...

Since we're being anal, yes, the height of the mountains is changing. Some are rising, some are falling. They are doing so imperceptably from our perspective, but they are changing nonetheless. Continental plates colliding are forcing mountains higher, while weathering (and human activies) are reducing the height of the mountains.

You might appreciate this old thread.

Re: Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 8:44 pm
by GIS_Dave
Doug Shaw wrote:If you're going to be anal, don't be half-assed about it. :wink: "Sea level" is just an abstract concept, not an absolute, concrete, measured value or position. How could it be? Consider the tides...
that's why they officially use the term "mean sea level" when recording elevations triangulated with gps technology

Re: Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 8:53 pm
by jhodlof
The USGS, which is responsible for the surveying of the 14ers and other mountains, uses mean sea level. Its the average of the tides, basically. If it weren't used a mountain could gain and lose 10 feet in the Colorado area and as much as 20 feet or more in Alaska with the tides. But isn't any measurement of a mountain rather arbitrary? Is a 14,001' mountain really more important to climb than a 13,997' one? If you use the metric system a 14er is pretty much irrelevant anyway, its all about 4,000 meter mountains to the rest of the world. I did Elbert again today, but I didn't feel that I was really 14,433' above the mean sea level. I couldn't tell the difference in height between it and any other 14er I have done, or any mountain I could see in the area. In the end, is it really the height that makes a mountain (in our area), isn't it more the challenge of the hike or climb and the view that comes with it? Well, maybe its just the height if you are a peak bagger, but I think differently. I did Hesperus Mountain (13,232') a few weeks back (trip report forth coming). I thought it was the hardest mountain I've ever done. It was lots of lose scree and talus and was very steep climbing in places. I saw only 3 other people the entire time and had an excellent climb. Yet its little known to most people because its not a famous 14er, still I liked it a lot more than Elbert today and Pikes last week. It was certainly more challenging. I'm rambling now.

Re: Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:10 pm
by bayouboy
Doug: not being anal here. Just curious. I thought it was a goofy thought but thanks for the responses. :lol:

Re: Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:36 pm
by Prairie Native
an interesting topic on mean sea level and the way mountains are measured : http://www.14ers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12510

Re: Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:38 pm
by MountainHiker
Various articles on the topic have sea level rising by up to a meter over the rest of this century. This is not as much elevation as was "added" to the fourteeners with the newer vertical datum. Over the centuries the mountains will lose elevation to rising sea level.

This will be much more significant to those living near the ocean than to us who keep track of mountain heights!

Re: Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 11:49 pm
by bustaheel
Sealeveisgoingupsfast!!!!!

Re: Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:14 am
by mtn_hikin
Did global warming start at the end of the ice age?

Re: Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:00 am
by pw
bayouboy wrote:Has anyone thought about this besides me... If the height of a mountain is measured from "seal level" and global warming is causing the seas to rise then the mountains are shrinking. I know the height of the mountain isn't changing, but the terms for our measurements need to change. We need a standard. They may have already changed it...
Even the IPCC report only forecasts a rise in the range of 7-20 inches in the next 100 years. For some reason sea level has actually fallen in the last two years (ocean cooling possibly?). Here is a short article by Bjorn Lomborg on the subject.

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/lomborg30

Re: Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:13 pm
by ShawnShannon
bayouboy wrote:Has anyone thought about this besides me... If the height of a mountain is measured from "seal level" and global warming is causing the seas to rise then the mountains are shrinking. I know the height of the mountain isn't changing, but the terms for our measurements need to change. We need a standard. They may have already changed it...
Possibly, but since the worst case scenario report on sea level rise (scientific report, not media) is a maximum 18 inches during the next 100 years, I think our measurements should stay fairly accurate. Though if you really wanted to get into sub-foot measurements, I have a feeling that erosion and mountians rising from plates coming together might be a bigger impact than sea level rise.

Re: Global warming shrinks mountains

Posted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 1:14 pm
by JB
mtn_hikin wrote:Did global warming start at the end of the ice age?
Do you mean the current ice age? It hasn't ended yet.

By the way, the tides affect the lithosphere as well, so even if the ocean were still the mountains are rising and falling a few inches with tides as well.