By: James Michael Matthew
Select White Paper Topics, Post Graduate Studies, University of Oxford
Thermal Expansion of the Oceans
The oceans will continue to rise for centuries even if and when carbon net zero is achieved. Carbon net zero is a goal that primarily targets temperatures in the atmosphere – the air outside of the oceans. Ocean levels are rising due primarily to the following two reasons:
- Warmer temperatures are melting historically frozen fresh and salt waters frozen solid at the poles, in mountain glaciers, in frozen grounds such as Greenland and Russia, and other cold regions of the World.
- Water expands in volume as it increases in temperature. This process is called thermal expansion. Thermal expansion is due to the fact that colder water is more dense than warmer water. Therefore as ocean waters warm, the oceans are expanding in terms of cubic volume. Cubic volume expansion then creates rising ocean levels encroaching coast lines around the World. Thermal expansion currently accounts for approximately 50 percent of rising ocean levels.
Warmer oceans also magnify the problem of reducing atmospheric temperatures because oceans impact temperatures in the air. Historically, coastal temperatures have been cooled by the oceans. In both global warming and even carbon net zero scenarios, the opposite is true – warmer oceans will increase coastal and other atmospheric temperatures even if and when carbon net zero is achieved. (1) (2) (3)
My critical sustainability challenge is a specific strategy but also addresses the following four SDG Goals:
- SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
- SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
- SDG 13: Climate Action
- SDG 15: Life on Land
I selected this topic as part of my ongoing research and publishing on this topic. (4)
Addressing the Challenge
I plan to publish my next book entirely devoted to this topic. My book will set forth my solutions to address climate change and global warming through focusing on thermal expansion of the oceans and a complementary issue of groundwater depletion. Groundwater depletion accounts for approximately 7% of rising ocean levels. Climate change cannot be understood, let alone solved, without also considering thermal expansion of the oceans and the related topic of groundwater depletion.
How Will This Get Done and the Specifics of What Is Entailed
I also plan to form a private company to implement my recommended solutions for this topic. My company’s strategy will be to transfer ocean waters to land deserts, retain more fresh water on lands and building desalination facilities to replace groundwater use so depleted ground waters can be replenished. The combined strategy is to transfer and keep more water on land and out of the oceans.
I plan to partner with construction companies, desalination companies, pipeline companies, energy companies and others to:
- Build (dig) inland seas and lakes in deserts.
- Build pipelines to pipe ocean waters to those inland seas and lakes.
- The pipelines will have two direction capability to capture fish and all kinds of sea life to create breeding grounds for remediation of biodiversity loss in the oceans and other waters.
- Build desalination plants alongside the inland seas and lakes.
- Fresh water created from the desalination plants will be used to stop desertification and remediate existing, bordering deserts.
- Desalinated water can also be used to remediate rivers and other fresh water bodies currently under attack by climate change induced droughts.
- Build desalination plants along non desert coastlines to replace groundwater use.
- Build nuclear, geothermal, solar, and hydroelectric power companies along side each inland sea.
I will also need to partner with federal, state and local authorities to coordinate and gain approvals for these projects. I intend to demonstrate how my solutions could be used to reduce rising ocean coastlines, replenish depleted groundwaters, rivers and other fresh waters, remediate biodiversity loss and stop desertification. My plan is to begin with the following two projects in the U.S.:
Great Salt Lake
Remediating the Great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Great Salt Lake is almost dried up due to climate change induced drought and depletion of surrounding fresh waters. The State of Utah and U.S. Federal authorities are currently attempting to address this major problem but they have no long term solutions. “Utah’s Great Salt Lake is disappearing – and it could turn the region into a toxic dust bowl.” (5)
My second project will focus on replenishing and remediating the Colorado River. Almost unbelievable but true, the Colorado River is drying up and unless something significant is done, it will actually cease to run in the next few decades. This would be catastrophic to over 40 million people. It would devastate the U.S. economy as so many states and major cities rely on the Colorado River for almost all their water. “The Colorado River is in crisis, and it’s getting worse every day.” (6)
My expected results will include, but not nearly be limited to, the following:
- Calculate the amount of ocean waters than can be reasonably piped inland to calculate the potential of this strategy on slowing global rising ocean coastlines.
- Demonstrate how retaining and storing fresh waters inland can:
- Remediate depleted groundwaters and other fresh waters.
- Slow and remediate rising ocean coastlines.
- Demonstrate how these strategies can be used to remediate biodiversity loss.
- Demonstrate how these strategies can be used to stop desertification.
- Provide irrigation waters for areas currently not using irrigation but will need to do so in the future due to climate change.
Framing Results for Others to Use
I plan to frame my strategies from the outset to set the stage for pursuing longer term projects that will take decades to complete but will become a part of the World’s long term solution to building a climate change bridge from historical fossil fuels to carbon free societies, but without destroying those societies along the way.
- Build a chain of inland seas in North America. Under this plan, the States of Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona and New Mexico would all have one inland sea dug and the aforementioned facilities built in their states. There would also be 2 additional inland seas dug and related facilities built in Northern Mexico.
- The above projects could be used as learning and teaching centers for the rest of the World to emulate, dig and replicate in other great deserts of the World.
- Build a number of other desalination facilities near non-desert ocean coastlines to demonstrate desalinated waters can be used to replace the use of depleted groundwaters.
- Begin a dialogue for the need for international treaties to address large water dam projects being built across the great rivers of the World that cross country boundaries, especially when any of the New Axis Powers countries are involved. Examples of these projects are included below.
- James Conca, “Climate Change Has the Earth in Hot Water”, August 31, 2015, retrieved June 8, 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/08/31/climate-change-has-got-the-earth-in-hot-water/?sh=24704474d89e.
- NASA, “Understanding Climate, Physical Properties of Water”, retrieved June 8, 2022, https://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/ocean-observation/understanding-climate/air-and-water/.
- “IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”, IPCC, https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/, retrieved June 8, 2022.
- James Michael Matthew, “Reject Self-Serving Power”, “Chapter 21, Serendipity Pools for Climate Change”, pages 118-137, published May 5, 2022, Archway Publishing.
- Lottie Limb, “Utah’s Great Salt Lake is disappearing – and it could turn the region into a toxic dust bowl.”, June 9, 2022, https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/06/09/utah-s-great-salt-lake-is-disappearing-and-it-could-turn-the-region-into-a-toxic-dust-bowl, retrieved June 16, 2022.
- Karin Brulliard, “The Colorado River is in crisis, and it’s getting worse every day.”, May 14, 2002, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/interactive/2022/colorado-river-crisis/, retrieved June 16, 2022.
- John Mukum Mbaku, “The controversy over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam”, August 5, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2020/08/05/the-controversy-over-the-grand-ethiopian-renaissance-dam/, retrieved June 17, 2022.
- Science Direct, “Observed changes in the water flow at Chiang Saen in the lower Mekong: Impacts of Chinese dams?”,https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1040618214000962, retrieved June 17, 2022.