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Earth Japan

Rising Sea Levels Uncover Japanese War Dead In Marshall Islands 182

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-high's-the-water dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The foreign minister of the Marshall Islands says that, 'even the dead are affected' by climate change. From the article: 'Speaking at UN climate talks in Bonn, the Island's foreign minister said that high tides had exposed one grave with 26 dead. The minister said the bones were most likely those of Japanese troops. Driven by global warming, waters in this part of the Pacific have risen faster than the global average. With a high point just two metres above the waters, the Marshall Islands are one of the most vulnerable locations to changes in sea level.'"
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Rising Sea Levels Uncover Japanese War Dead In Marshall Islands

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  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @08:45AM (#47189955)
    Don't follow the lights!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Most of the Japanese troops stationed in the Marshall Islands back in WW II were mostly from Taiwan and Korea as most of the Japanese troops were deployed in China

  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @08:56AM (#47189981)

    How can the water level on earth rise faster in some places than in others? I would expect water to rise uniformly on the surface of a sphere (egg).

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      How can the wind be stronger in some parts of the Earth's atmosphere than in others? I would expect the air to move uniformly on the surface of a sphere (egg).

      • by tempestdata (457317) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @11:12AM (#47190405)

        There are other forces involved.. currents, water densities due to fresh water inflows, tides, topography, etc.. I do not personally understand these forces involved, I am just listing out what I think could be factors... but for instance the pacific side of the panama canal is widely known to be 8 inches higher than the atlantic side. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Canal)

        • by riverat1 (1048260)

          One of those other factors is gravity. For instance the sea level around Antarctica is some 15 to 20 feet higher than it would otherwise be because of the gravitational attraction of the Antarctic ice sheet and some 5 feet higher around Greenland because of the gravitational attraction of its ice sheet. So paradoxically the relative sea level around those big ice sheets will drop compared to the rest of the world as they melt.

    • by i kan reed (749298) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @09:10AM (#47190025) Homepage Journal

      Since all you've got is a sarcastic reply that doesn't actually address the question, I'll help.

      Water pressure only causes perfect leveling to human eyes, but as the transmission distance of that pressure increases, the effects of random interference, and natural obstacles becomes the dominant ones. This manifests most discernably in the relatively huge sea level differences between the pacific side the Panama canal and the Atlantic side.

      Now as to what mechanisms allow changes to be different, instead of just static value, it gets a little bit beyond my comprehension as to the exact mechanisms, but I believe it might have to do with where thermal expansion occurs(the deepest parts of the ocean most) and where land ice is melting to.

      • Thank you for your informative reply. I understand the situation a little better now.

      • by jittles (1613415)

        This manifests most discernably in the relatively huge sea level differences between the pacific side the Panama canal and the Atlantic side.

        Now as to what mechanisms allow changes to be different, instead of just static value, it gets a little bit beyond my comprehension as to the exact mechanisms, but I believe it might have to do with where thermal expansion occurs(the deepest parts of the ocean most) and where land ice is melting to.

        There is a sea level difference between the Eastern Pacific and the Western Pacific. My understanding is that just the flow of the wind across the water causes it to be deeper in the Eastern Pacific than the Western. You don't even need continental mass between the two ends to cause a difference in level.

      • I would also add that the Moon is a factor. Its gravity is the reason for the tides: and with so much of the Earth's surface covered by water, it is reasonable that whatever ocean is facing the Moon at any given time will have a higher water level (tide) than the oceans not facing the Moon.

        • by Deadstick (535032)

          whatever ocean is facing the Moon at any given time will have a higher water level

          The Moon creates two tidal bulges, one facing the Moon and one on the opposite side. Google "gravity gradient" for an explanation. (To put it in a very oversimplified way, the Moon's gravity is strongest on the side toward it, weakest on the opposite side, and intermediate at the center of the Earth.)

          The Sun also creates a pair of bulges. It has much more mass than the Moon, but it's also a lot farther away, so the solar tides are about half as big as the lunar tides. In the course of about a day we get f

      • This manifests most discernably in the relatively huge sea level differences between the pacific side the Panama canal and the Atlantic side.

        There isn't a "huge" difference. It's a matter of a few inches (eight I think on average). It's mostly as a result of wind and current pushing the water up on the Pacific side as the prevailing winds there blow onshore on the Pacific side and offshore on the Atlantic side.

      • by Arker (91948)
        Your post is disappointing, you are quite correct that sea level is not completely uniform (and we have some understanding of the reasons why) but when it gets to the question that is actually important here you have nothing but a hand-wave and expression of certainty.

        The sea level differences are explainable in terms of fluid dynamics, but that does nothing to explain how adding water to the global ocean could raise the sea level by more in one area than another (Except on an inappropriately short timescal
        • by Kazoo the Clown (644526) on Monday June 09, 2014 @05:26AM (#47193737)
          Since the melting Greenland ice is mostly above ground, the melt causes the mass of Greenland to reduce. This reduced mass produces less gravitational effect on the surrounding ocean. Consequently, as Greenland ice melts, the sea level nearest the Greenland melt will actually drop, even as more volume is added to the ocean from this particular melt. It is basic physics, and contributions to sea level from various reducing ice masses can and has been estimated. Europe actually is at somewhat less risk of sea level rise from such gravitational changes than the South pacific or the US east coast. That is why Florida is at increased risk, while Italy, not so much.
    • by peragrin (659227)

      Because the earth isn't a perfect sphere or egg shape. It bulges in the middle, but it doesn't bulge evenly.

      That was why the earth wobbles on its axis.

      • Because the earth isn't a perfect sphere or egg shape. It bulges in the middle.

        So, the problem isn't global warming or whatever. The Earth is just getting fat, spinning is more of a strain than before so it's getting hotter, just like a fat guy jogging.

        Stop feeding the Earth junk food! Go green!

      • Because the earth isn't a perfect sphere or egg shape. It bulges in the middle, but it doesn't bulge evenly.

        I'm not sure that this matter of simple geometry has any effect other than determining ocean depths, sea coast shapes and continent elevations. The issue here is the relative altitude of actual sea level with respect to the perfect geoid. The shape of Earth's solid body and the mass distribution inside it determine the geoid, but the question here was related to the fact why isn't the ocean surface following the geoid in all places in exactly the same way (beyond the fact that simply adding more water does

    • I'm just speculating here, but perhaps changes in ocean currents, wind patterns, rainfall patterns and evaporation patterns could be a contributing factor here? Thanks to different evaporation rates, different precipitation rates and different currents and prevailing winds in different places, you probably can't expect the water to follow the geoid precisely.
    • Ocean currents and Prevailing winds push water around but,

      According to a recent report from the UN Environment Programme, sea level is rising in the Pacific around the Marshall's at a much higher rate than elsewhere in the world. The rate of rise between 1993 and 2009 was 12mm per year, compared with the global average of 3.2mm. Climate change helps seas disturb Japanese war dead [bbc.com]

      the Marshal Islands (not realy Islands but coral atolls) are really unlikely to have graves washed away because the sea-level ros

    • by Deadstick (535032)

      It would indeed, if the sphere consisted of a solid, perfect sphere surrounded by water, not rotating, and not subject to the external gravitational fields of the Sun and Moon. However it meets none of those conditions: it has continents and two pairs of tidal bulges, so the water moves in a dynamic and extremely complex fashion. Remember: it's a huge mass of complex shape moving back and forth over thousands of miles.

      If you could just take away the continents, and you stuck a giant dipstick in the bottom,

    • by kenaaker (774785)
      It has been observed for quite a while. At the Panama Canal, the Pacific Ocean average sea level is about 8 inches higher that the Atlantic Ocean average sea level.
    • How can the water level on earth rise faster in some places than in others? I would expect water to rise uniformly on the surface of a sphere (egg).

      The same way the Atlantic Ocean on one side of the Panama Canal is a different height than the Pacific Ocean on the other side.

      And the amount it has actually risen in the Marshalls is roughly about 3". Even then, attributing this to "Climate Change" is a bit of a leap. Even though water has risen there "more than the global average", that's really not saying much since the global average is something like 1/4" over the last century. (Roughly... I don't remember the exact figure.) It is actually lower in

      • by khayman80 (824400)

        And the amount it has actually risen in the Marshalls is roughly about 3". Even then, attributing this to "Climate Change" is a bit of a leap. Even though water has risen there "more than the global average", that's really not saying much since the global average is something like 1/4" over the last century. (Roughly... I don't remember the exact figure.) [Jane Q. Public] [slashdot.org]

        Quoting 3" for the Marshalls makes it clear that Jane is talking about the total sea level rise, not the annual rise. Total global av

        • Pardon me. NOAAs figures are that ocean rise has been about 0.9mm per year [wordpress.com] since 2010. Projecting backward (which I am not sure is a valid technique, Mann nothwithstanding) would give a rise of about 3".

          So by projection only, without researching actual historical data this Sunday evening, I concede that 3" may be a reasonable figure.
          • by khayman80 (824400)

            Pardon me. NOAAs figures are that ocean rise has been about 0.9mm per year [wordpress.com] since 2010. Projecting backward (which I am not sure is a valid technique, Mann nothwithstanding) would give a rise of about 3". So by projection only, without researching actual historical data this Sunday evening, I concede that 3" may be a reasonable figure.

            So instead of researching actual historical data by simply clicking on the link I provided, you ignored the uncertainties on 4 years of data and project a highly uncertain shor

  • by tomhath (637240) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @08:57AM (#47189983)
    Hard to believe that a couple inches makes all that much difference. Yea, I read the article - the Marshall Islands are low and flat. But I've also seen the open Pacific Ocean, where 20 foot waves are normal. I assume bones have been washing up every year since the war; Japan lost over 17,000 soldiers during the four month battle for the two islands.
    • Not to mention that the difference between high and low tide would be much larger than the increase in average water level.

      • Yes, but high tide has consistently been going up as the average does. I don't think that's a particularly meaningful objection.

        I'm going to have to research the material on this to be sure, but I believe one of the artifacts of increasing water levels is that the gap between high and low tide gets larger, as more mass is available to be pulled on by the moon.

        • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @10:03AM (#47190185)

          Yes, but high tide has consistently been going up as the average does.

          Since, from TFA, water levels have risen just bit more than seven inches, it's probably safe to say that the high-tide has increased a similar amount.

          I fail to see the relationship.

          By the by, have you ever noticed that when a weather event supports AGW, it's caused by AGW, but when one doesn't, it's "just weather". Hint: most of the weather events we've been seeing were just weather events, not proof-positive of AGW, nor proof-positive of !AGW....

          • 7 inches per 60 tears is only a little bit less than the worldwide average of coastal sea level changes(of 2-3 feet per century), so no your counter-argument isn't really rational as we're not over-localizing the phenomenon. Sorry.

            People buried soldiers in WWII imagining sea level as a constant thing, and evidence bears out that this isn't true.

            • by khallow (566160)

              7 inches per 60 tears is only a little bit less than the worldwide average of coastal sea level changes(of 2-3 feet per century)

              By at least a factor of two.

          • "have you ever noticed that when a weather event supports AGW, it's caused by AGW, but when one doesn't, it's "just weather"."

            Actually no, I have never once seen anyone make a scientific argument that a single weather event represents a long term AGW trend. Care to cite some examples?

            I have seen people shoot their mouths off in eitheir direction while supplying no basis, or make joke where an analysis is not expected, and as such I find them to be equally dismissible.

            • by khallow (566160)

              Actually no, I have never once seen anyone make a scientific argument that a single weather event represents a long term AGW trend.

              Impossible. Such arguments are by definition not scientific arguments.

        • I believe one of the artifacts of increasing water levels is that the gap between high and low tide gets larger, as more mass is available to be pulled on by the moon.

          Probably true. After all, in most deserts it's practically undetectable.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @09:12AM (#47190031)

    ... I thought total it was couple centimeters.... which shouldn't be enough to uncover anything but sand crabs...

    Are we sure this isn't erosion? Because that seems far more likely then sea levels changing.

    • by hey! (33014) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @09:34AM (#47190105) Homepage Journal

      Well, it's a bit like stairs. It's really important to make sure each riser is exactly the same, because people going up and down those stairs adapt with remarkable precision to the height of the first few steps they climb. If you took a slow motion picture, you'd see their foot gliding onto each step with a scant millimeter or so to spare. A 2mm difference in all the stairs nobody will notice; a 2mm difference in one stair will trip people up, even though you can't even *see* it.

      People build around flood levels the same way. They build right up to what the historical floodline is for the frequency they can tolerate. If they can tolerate one flood every ten years, they'll build right up to to the ten year floodline. But if the sea levels rise 15cm/5.5 inches, as they have since 1945 or so, that spot might be flooded every year. You can easily imagine a gravesite that was stable in its balance between sand deposition and erosion for many years "suddenly" getting washed away, although in truth the line between stable and unstable has been continually creeping up over the decades.

      Understand this is not a simple situation; 5 inches of sea level rise doesn't mean suddenly lots of homes are under water everywhere around the world. But it can mean lots of homes are getting flooded in some parts of the world. It depends on local conditions and building practices. Here in Boston, for example, we have two meter tides, and massive variation between spring and neap tides, and with the direction of wind and air pressure, and we've historically built accordingly. 5 inches of sea level rise over half a century has made no noticeable difference *here*. Other places that have very low tidal amplitudes and don't experience large storms with persistent low pressure (e.g., Venice) might find a lot of stuff getting flooded after a 5 inch sea level rise.

      • by Karmashock (2415832) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @10:24AM (#47190265)

        Well, I know Venice's big problem is that the city is actually sinking into the mud. That's been known for a long time. There are parts of the city that are always a good more then 5 inches under water. You'll see buildings with door ways that are about 4 feet submerged. So I'm a little dubious of that reference.

        As to this situation. I'd have to see the thing. I can't take anyone's word for this sort of thing anymore. There's too much "opinion making" going on with people trying to distort the issue to suit their own personal grinding axe.

        I could do the same thing... but I won't... I'll just say I'll need to see more to believe a word of it.

        • by OneAhead (1495535)
          Well spoken! I for one don't believe in atomic theory [wikipedia.org], continental drift or mircowave background. I'd have to see the thing.... </sarcasm>
          • You're right, if I show anything short of blind faith to any report in the media... if I fail to believe utterly any story in the newspaper or in any press release, then I must question the total sum of all human knowledge. /s

            You're a fucking moron.

        • by hey! (33014)

          As to this situation. I'd have to see the thing. I can't take anyone's word for this sort of thing anymore..

          That's an admirable thing -- if you actually make the effort. Not believing experts but not being bothered to prove them wrong is not quite as admirable.

          • The expert in this case is the media not the scientists. Failing to believe the media because they've lied and misrepresented in the past and failed to offer enough evidence to make me trust them is not in any way dishonorable or foolish.

      • by khallow (566160)

        A 2mm difference in all the stairs nobody will notice; a 2mm difference in one stair will trip people up

        There's a scientific term for this sort of assertion: bullshit.

    • Well, now don't confuse things and ruin the global warming story with facts...
  • Some places on the earth naturally accumulate sand/soil from natural processes. In the Marshall Islands, it is a hurricane now and again. The sand/soil naturally subsides (sinks) into the surrounding lower-lying regions, or sometimes because of the pumping out of groundwater. Here's a description made for the southern shore of the U.S.:

    http://www.agu.org/report/hurr... [agu.org]

    When the next hurricane comes along, the graves of these soldiers will be covered again. Let this "foreign minister" flap about "global warmi

  • Sea level has risen 7-8 inches over the past 100 years. By the year 2200, sea level is expected to rise somewhere between 4 and 30 inches. The sea level in the Pacific has not risen significantly more than on the rest of the earth.

    When people exaggerate the effects of global warming, it only provides ammunition for the global warming deniers.
    • By the year 2200, sea level is expected to rise somewhere between 4 and 30 inches.

      A more reasonable guess might be around a meter by 2100, plus or minus a half meter. What will happen in 2200 will depend too much on our actions before then to say much.

  • Example one... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shellster_dude (1261444) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @11:51AM (#47190555)
    This is the reason we can't have a real conversation about Global Warming. It is a fact that islands sink. Little islands are commonly sinking slowly back into the ocean. This is long established, proved, and accepted. Erosion near cost lines is also well understood and a likely explanation. However, a bunch of "journalists" are using this story to promote Global Warming without ever even mentioning the most likely explanation. The resulting story gets promulgated across the internet because if fits a theme, that is popular and the media likes. This is simply unacceptable from a side that likes to claim "science" at every turn.
  • by Bartles (1198017) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @12:30PM (#47190769)
    ...Why do the Marshall Islands have a yearly rise increase almost 4 times the world average? Is it a low pressure zone? Are there Marshall Island glaciers that no one has discovered yet? How much has the sea level risen in the Marshall Islands since WWII. There is a lot of information missing from this story, and it reeks of politics and money.

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