Thongchai Thailand

The Antarctica/Sea Level Rise Obsession

Posted on: July 16, 2019

FIGURE 1: MAP OF ANTARCTICA

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antarctica-LOCATION

 

FIGURE 2: GREENLAND ICE SHEET 

 

 

FIGURE 3: THWAITES GLACIER

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FIGURE 4. LARSEN B ICE SHELF COLLAPSE OF 2002

 

FIGURE 5: THE ROSS ICE SHELF 2018

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FIGURE 6: THE LARSEN & WILKINS ICE SHELVESantarctic-peninsula-iceshelves

 

FIGURE 7: SEA LEVEL IN GLACIATION AND INTERGLACIAL PERIODSglacial-cycle-sea-levels

 

FIGURE 8: GLACIATION CYCLE FROM THE EEMIAN TO THE HOLOCENE

 

 

 

FIGURE 9: PAST FORECASTS OF AGW DRIVEN SEA LEVEL RISE

  1. 1999: An article in the Journal Science says that the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is a natural event not related to global warming contrary to claims by climate scientists. The WAIS is indeed melting quite rapidly receding at the rate of 400 feet per year but it has been doing so for thousands of years long before human activity and greenhouse gas emissions, having receded 800 miles since the last ice age. If the process continues unchecked it will melt completely in another 7000 years.Therefore it seems unlikely that the event is linked to human activity or that the time frame of a collapse of the ice shelf could fall within 100 years.
  2. 2001 ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE: A report by the National Research Council (USA) says that global warming may trigger climate changes so abrupt that ecosystems will not be able to adapt. Look for local or short term cooling, floods, droughts, and other unexpected changes. A growing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere due to the use of fossil fuels is to blame. Some regional climates have changed by as much as 10C in 10 years. Antarctica’s largest glaciers are rapidly thinning, and in the last 10 years have lost up to 150 feet of thickness in some places, enough to raise global sea levels by 0.4 mm. Global warming is a real problem and it is getting worse.
  3. 2002, ICE SHELF COLLAPSE: A piece of ice the size of Rhode island broke off the Larsen ice shelf in Antarctica and within a month it dissipated sending a huge flotsam of ice into the sea. At about the same time an iceberg the size of Delaware broke off the Thwaites Glacier. A few months ago parts of the Ross ice shelf had broken off in a similar way. These events serve as a dramatic reminders that global warming is real and its effects are potentially catastrophic and underscores the urgent need for a binding international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. 2004: An unprecedented 4-year study of the Arctic shows that polar bears, walruses, and some seals are becoming extinct. Arctic summer sea ice may disappear entirely. Combined with a rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet, it will raise the sea level 3 feet by 2100 inundating lowlands from Florida to Bangladesh. Average winter temperatures in Alaska and the rest of the Arctic are projected to rise an additional 7 to 13 degrees over the next 100 years because of increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. The area is warming twice as fast as anywhere else because of global air circulation patterns and natural feedback loops, such as less ice reflecting sunlight, leading to increased warming at ground level and more ice melt. Native peoples’ ways of life are threatened. Animal migration patterns have changed, and the thin sea ice and thawing tundra make it too dangerous for humans to hunt and travel.
  5. 2004A meltdown of the massive Greenland ice sheet, which is more than 3km-thick would raise sea levels by an average seven meters, threatening countries such as Bangladesh, certain islands in the Pacific and some parts of Florida. Greenland’s huge ice sheet could melt within the next thousand years if emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and global warming are not reduced.
  6. 2004: The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) report says: increasing greenhouse gases from human activities is causing the Arctic to warm twice as fast as the rest of the planet; in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia winter temperatures have risen by 2C to 4C in the last 50 years; the Arctic will warm by 4C to 7C by 2100. A portion of Greenland’s ice sheet will melt; global sea levels will rise; global warming will intensify. Greenland contains enough melting ice to raise sea levels by 7 meters; Bangkok, Manila, Dhaka, Florida, Louisiana, and New Jersey are at risk of inundation; thawing permafrost and rising seas threaten Arctic coastal regions; climate change will accelerate and bring about profound ecological and social changes; the Arctic is experiencing the most rapid and severe climate change on earth and it’s going to get a lot worse; Arctic summer sea ice will decline by 50% to 100%; polar bears will be driven towards extinction; this report is an urgent SOS for the Arctic; forest fires and insect infestations will increase in frequency and intensity; changing vegetation and rising sea levels will shrink the tundra to its lowest level in 21000 years; vanishing breeding areas for birds and grazing areas for animals will cause extinctions of many species; “if we limit emission of heat trapping carbon dioxide we can still help protect the Arctic and slow global warming”.
  7. 2007: A comparison of Landsat photos taken on 8/11/1985 and 9/5/2002 shows that global warming caused by our use of fossil fuels is melting the massive Greenland ice sheet and exposing the rocky peninsula beneath the ice previously covered by ice.
  8. 2007: Climate scientists say that the current rate of increase in the use of fossil fuels will melt the Greenland ice sheet and cause sea levels to rise by 7 meters in 100 years and devastate low-lying countries like Bangladesh. When these estimates were challenged and their internal inconsistencies exposed, the forecast was quietly revised downward 100-fold from 7 meters to 7 centimeters on their website but the news media alarm about 7 meters continued unabated with “thousands of years” inserted in place of “100 years. 
  9. 2008: IMMINENT COLLAPSE OF PETERMANN GLACIER IN GREENLAND 
    Climate scientists looking through satellite pictures found a crack in the Petermann glacier in Greenland and concluded that it could speed up sea level rise because huge chunks of ice the size of Manhattan were hemorrhaging off. Yet, scientists who has been travelling to Greenland for years to study glaciers say that the crack in the glacier is normal and not different from other cracks seen in the 1990s.
  10. 2008: When there was a greater focus on Antarctica climate scientists said that global warming was melting the West Antarctic Ice Sheet; but the melting was found to be localized and with an active volcano underneath the melting and the attention of “melt forecast” climate science shifted to Arctic sea ice after the an extensive summer melt was observed in September 2007.
  11. 2008: Climate scientists have determined that Adelie penguins in Antarctica are threatened because climate change is melting Antarctic glaciers although it is not clear whether the melting is caused greenhouse gas emissions or by volcanic activity underneath the ice.
  12. 2008Mt. Erebus along with most of the mountains in Antarctica are volcanic mountains and it is now known with certainty that volcanic activity under the ice there is causing great amounts of ice to melt and to cause glaciers to flow faster. The attempt by climate scientists to represent these events as climate change phenomena is inconsistent with this reality.
  13. 2008: THE FIRE BELOW: A volcano under the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, that last erupted 2000 years ago, is now active and responsible for melting ice and for retreating glaciers in that part of the continent (The fire below, Bangkok Post, April 28, 2008). Yet, climate scientists claim that these changes are man-made and that they are caused by carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels as predicted by their computer model of the earth’s climate.
  14. 2008: In March 2008, the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula lost more than 400 square kilometers to a sudden collapse. Following that event, the it continued to break up even as the Southern winter brought frigid temperatures.
  15. 2009: Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels have caused the Wilkins Ice Shelf to break up. If all of the land based ice in Antarctica melted it would raise the sea level by 80 meters
  16. 2009: Human caused global warming is causing havoc in Antarctica with potentially incalculable results. Over one hundred icebergs broke off and a huge flotilla of them are floating up to New Zealand. 
  17. 2009: Our carbon dioxide emissions are causing the East Antarctic ice shelf to lose 57 billion tonnes of ice per year and that if CO2 emissions are not reduced this process could raise sea levels by 5 meters.
  18. 2009: Temperature data 1957-2008 show that the whole of Antarctica including Western Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsula, and Eastern Antarctica, is warming due to CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.
  19. 2009: Man-made global warming is causing Greenland’s glaciers to melt at an alarming rate. By the year 2100 all the ice there will have melted causing a calamitous rise in the sea level that will inundate Bangladesh, the Maldives, Bangkok, New Orleans, and atolls in the Pacific. 
  20. 2009: Climate scientists say that the melting of Antarctica is more severe than “previously thought” because the melt is not limited to the Antarctic Peninsula but extends to West Antarctica as well. The melt could cause devastating sea level rise. (although new data show that the West Antarctic ice shelf collapses every 40,000 years or so and that this cyclical process has been regular feature of this ice shelf for millions of years (Antarctica ice collapses were regular, Bangkok Post, March 19, 2009). These melting episodes can raise the sea level by as much as 5 meters but the process takes a thousand years or more.
  21. 2009: Climate scientists say that the Wilkins Ice Shelf collapse is caused by warming of the Antarctic Peninsula due to man-made “global climate change”.
  22. 2009: In 2005 two glaciers in Greenland were found to be moving faster than they were in 2001. Scientists concluded from these data that the difference observed was a a long term trend of glacial melt in Greenland and that carbon dioxide was the cause of this trend. The assumed trend was then extrapolated forward and we were told that carbon dioxide would cause the land based ice mass of Greenland to be discharged to the sea and raise the sea level by six meters. They said that the only way out of the devastation was to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. However, in 2009, just before a meeting in Copenhagen where these deep cuts in emissions were to be negotiated, it was found that the glaciers had returned to their normal rate of discharge.
  23. 2009: Some glaciers on north and northeast Greenland terminate in fiords with long glacier tongues that extend into the sea. It is found that the warming of the oceans caused by our use of fossil fuels is melting these tongues and raising the specter of devastation by sea level rise.

 

RELATED POST: GEOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY OF ANTARCTICA  [LINK]

RELATED POST: ANTARCTICA MELTING  [LINK]

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THIS POST IS A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF CONCERNS RAISED IN THE MEDIA AND BY CLIMATE SCIENTISTS WITH RESPECT TO THE IMPACT OF ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING (AGW) ON ANTARCTICA IN TERMS OF ICE MELT AND SEA LEVEL RISE. THE FULL TEXT OF FIVE REFERENCE ARTICLES ARE POSTED BELOW AND PRESENTED AS A CASE STUDY OF SEA LEVEL RISE ALARMISM IN THE CONTEXT OF THE IMPACT OF AGW ON ANTARCTICA AND THE GEOLOGICAL FEATURES OF ANTARCTICA DESCRIBED IN A RELATED POST [LINK] . 

 

  1. We live on an ice planet. The normal equilibrium climate condition of the earth is a state of glaciation in which very cold temperatures and icy conditions persist. The poles and the temperate zones of the earth are shrouded in large ice formations in the form of ice sheets, glaciers, and ice shelves. So much of the ocean water is trapped in land based ice that the mean global eustatic sea level is more than 100 meters lower than the interglacial sea level with which we are familiar. This difference in sea level is shown in Figure 7. 
  2. Every ≈100,000 years or so give or take 20,000 years, the glacial equilibrium state of the earth is interrupted by brief balmy warm periods for ≈15,000 years give or take 5,000 years. Both states of the earth – glaciation and interglacial – are dynamic and chaotic with violent changes in both directions. The video in Figure 8 shows the chaotic rise of glaciation from the previous interglacial (the Eemian) through the last glacial maximum (LGM) to an equally chaotic decline to the current interglacial, the Holocene, in which we live.
  3. By “chaotic” we mean that the system exhibits non-linear dynamics possibly due to Hurst persistence in both directions. In terms of the albedo effect of ice, the more the ice forms, the more the ice can form and the more the ice melts, the more the ice can melt. This kind of behavior is known to impose Hurst persistence and that in turn creates the kind of chaotic behavior seen in Figure 8.
  4. In both glaciation and interglacial states there are sharp changes in both directions – towards warming and ice melt and toward cooling and ice formation at millennial and longer time scales. The difference between glaciation and deglaciation is simply a small advantage to ice formation in glaciation and the glacial state and to ice melt in deglaciation and the interglacial state. This dynamic is discussed in a related post [LINK] .
  5. In the initial phases of an interglacial, the ice sheets of the glaciation state go through violent disintegration and melt events that in turn cause catastrophic sea level rise relative to the very low sea level of the glacial maximum. It must be emphasized that these ice melt and sea level rise events occur early in interglacial period or in the final stages of deglaciation prior to the interglacial state. Although warming and cooling cycles are found throughout the duration of interglacials these cycles do not involve significant changes in global mean sea level (GMSL).
  6. The current Holocene Interglacial period is now more than 11,700 years old. The violent ice melt and sea level rise events of this interglacial have already occurred in the early part of the interglacial. These sea level rise events were driven primarily by disintegration of non-polar ice sheets such as the Laurentide. They are recorded by paleo climatology as melt pulses, described in a related post [LINK] and indicated above in the chart labeled Figure 7
  7. Polar ice may also be taken down in interglacial deglaciation. An example of such an event is seen in the previous interglacial, the Eemian, when the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) disintegrated early in the Eemian to cause significant sea level rise events described in a related post [LINK]It is important to note, however, that even when there is a significant effect of deglaciation on polar ice, that ice melt and disintegration and consequent sea level rise event occurs early in the initial stages of the interglacial.
  8. The anthropogenic global warming (AGW) era comes rather late in the Holocene Interglacial well after the large and violent sea level rise events of the transition to interglacial warmth have already taken place and have already raised mean global sea level by ≈130 meters. It is thus a difficult task to relate the ice melt and sea level rise events of the Holocene to AGW.
  9. The current warming since the Little Ice Age (LIA) is thought to have begun at some time around 1830 accoroding to Abram et al [LINK]. It is attributed by climate science to fossil fuel emissions of the industrial economy. However, it comes rather late in the interglacial to participate in the violent and catastrophic sea level rise events that tend to occur in or soon after the transition from glaciation to interglacials. Furthermore, the current warming period does not seem unusual in the context of the warming and cooling cycles seen throughout the Holocene as described in a related post [LINK] .
  10. However, it remains an important objective of climate science to establish a fear of AGW in terms of ice melt and sea level rise. Since only polar ice remains this late in the Holocene, and since the WAIS had disintegrated early in the Eemian interglacial, climate science has emphasized polar ice melt and sea level rise as a dangerous consequence of AGW that could cause catastrophic melt of the WAIS with equally catastrophic sea level rise. It appears that the underlying motivation for this assessment is to motivate climate action in terms of reducing or eliminating fossil fuel emissions.
  11. Specifically mentioned in Figure 7 (past forecasts of sea level rise) are the Greenland Ice Sheet in the North polar region. In the South Polar Region various features of the ice continent of Antarctica are of interest in this regard. These include the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the Thwaites Glacier, the Pine Island Glacier, the Ross Ice Shelf, the Larsen Ice Shelves, and the Wilkins Ice Shelf. (Figure 1 to Figure 6).
  12. In this line of reasoning in climate science, it is argued that the warming since the LIA being artificial and human caused, is an anomaly in earth’s climate history that may cause a catastrophic collapse of polar ice that are still intact after the natural portion of the deglaciation and sea level rise have already taken place. From the weight of the polar ice that could melt a figure can be computed for sea level rise that the melt would cause, and it is claimed that the theoretical projection of sea level rise thus caused would be a global catastrophe that would inundate low lying areas such as Florida, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and the atolls of the South Pacific.
  13. No evidence exists for sea level rise of this magnitude this late in an interglacial, but climate science explains this anomaly in terms of the artificial nature of the current warming period that is expected to make the warming more intense and more harmful than the natural cycles of warming and cooling seen in the prior history of the Holocene described in a related post [LINK] . The anticipation of such a calamity may serve a purpose in climate change politics aimed at banning the use of fossil fuels [LINK] .
  14. Much of the AGW sea level rise discussion, including those by climate scientists, appear to be emotionally charged with an alarmist component in tone and language. This pattern in the discussion of AGW driven catastrophic sea level rise can be seen in the Congressional testimony of Earth Science professor Robin Bell who admits to being emotionally affected and motivated by the disintegration of the Larsen B ice shelf in 2002 which she had witnessed. Reference Article #1.
  15. It appears that, not just Professor Bell, but many climate and polar scientists working on the AGW driven ice melt and sea level rise hypothesis, have been deeply and emotionally affected by the rapid collapse and disintegration of the Larsen B Ice Shelf shown in the video in Figure 4. Their emotional response is derived from the coincidence that the scientists happened to be there, carrying out polar research on ice sheets and ice shelves and searching for evidence of their possible destruction, when the disintegration of the Larsen B began.
  16. Melting of land ice is expected to cause sea level rise with the extra water added by the ice that melted; but melting of ice shelves do not cause sea level rise directly (ice shelves are already submerged in the sea), but rather as a secondary consequence of the melt. When an ice shelf melts, the source glacier that feeds the ice shelf begins to flow directly into the sea unhindered by the ice shelf. That flow rate is much faster than flow into an ice shelf with rates of 8-times the ice shelf rate reported in the case of the Larsen B ice shelf collapse of 2002.
  17. A history of the interest in climate science of the possibility of catastrophic polar ice melt an sea level rise is described in a related post [LINK] with some salient features listed above in Figure 9This history reveals a keen interest in and apprehension of the possibility of collapse of polar ice formations that would cause catastrophic sea level rise and submerge low lying areas (Florida & Bangladesh).
  18. Specific polar ice areas targeted by these forecasts in Figure 9 include the Greenland Ice Sheet, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the Thwaites Glacier, the Larsen Ice Shelves, the Wilkins Ice Shelf, the Ross ice shelf, and Mt. Erebus. As seen in the reference articles below and in Figure 9 above, climate science has often mistaken geological phenomena in the Antarctic as climate change phenomena driven by a warming atmosphere.
  19. In a related posts on Antarctica [LINK] and the Arctic [LINK], it is shown that both of these regions are very active geologically such that warming and melting of ice as well as warming of the ocean can be understood in terms of he known geological features of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula. It appears that, in its investigation of sea level rise by melting polar ice, climate science is hindered by an atmosphere bias.
  20. The atmosphere bias in climate science favors the presumption of atmospheric heat driven by fossil fuel emissions as the the primary planetary force that explains ice sheet and ice shelf melt phenomena. The atmosphere bias of climate science is described in a related post [LINK]  and also in an online paper posted by geologist James Edward Kamis [LINK] . In the attribution of ice melt phenomena in Antarctica, it is necessary to understand the seasonal cycle there. In the context of atmospheric explanations of Antarctica’s ice melt phenomena, it is instructive to appreciate its seasonal cycle described below (source: antarcticajournal.com)
  21. Antarctica’s seasonal cycle: In Antarctica, the sun rises in September and sets in March with essentially 6 months of daylight and 6 months of darkness. During the summer the temperatures can rise up to 0C in the Antarctic Peninsula but it remains at -10C to -60C in the rest of the continent. During 6 months of winter the temperature can fall by as much as 20C.
  22. As an example of atmosphere bias, consider items #8 &#9 in Figure 9. Item#8 describes an event in which climate science identified ice melt in the WAIS as an AGW impact of the atmosphere but eventually had to concede that the ice melt in the WAIS was due to volcanic activity under the ice. In item#9 climate science attributes the disintegration of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in 2008-2009 [LINK] to AGW as the effect of rapid climate change in a fast-warming region of Antarctica.
  23. The breakup of the Wilkins Ice Shelf began during the southern summer in March 2008 (southern summer) and it was reported by climate science as “Antarctic Ice Shelf Disintegration Underscores a Warming World“. However, the melt continued and intensified into the depth of the southern winter in July 2008. It was then that it began to disintegrate. It was reported as “Wintertime disintegration of Wilkins Ice Shelf“. It was feared that in the coming summer weather the ice shelf would fully disintegrate and break off into icebergs. Instead, in December 2008, all they could report was that “New Cracks” had appeared on the Wilkins Ice Shelf. As the summer intensified researchers gathered to watch what they thought would be the demise of the strip of ice connecting the Wilkins Ice Shelf to Charcot Island; but this did not happen. But in April (southern autumn) the ice bridge did finally collapse.
  24. The articles below shed further light on the atmosphere bias of climate science in the investigation of ice melt in West Antarctica, a region that is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and with known geological sources of heat and fluid flow that can cause ice melt directly and also warm the oceans under ice shelves.
  25. Reference Article #1: Professor Robin Bell addresses a Congressional body with multiple diverse objectives that include (1) informing audience on the nature of Antarctica, the AGW concerns about Antarctica, and how much climate science knows about the Arctic and its relationship with climate change particularly in terms of catastrophic sea level rise. But it appears that she is also there to seek additional research funding and in doing so she emphasizes how much they don’t know and how much more they need to learn before they can save the planet from AGW caused sea level rise. More noteworthy in the presentation is that the climate science emphasis on taking climate action by eliminating fossil fuels from the energy infrastructure reinforced by the fear of the catastrophic consequences of inaction and inadequate research funding. As part of this presentation, Professor Bell becomes emotional at at the horror of watching the Larsen B Ice Shelf Collapse in 2002 describing her personal emotional experiences that event and the importance for properly funded research expedition to learn more about these events so they can save the planet from these kinds of horrors of AGW.
  26. Reference Article #2 is an assessment of the risk faced by the Ross Ice Shelf and of sea level rise consequences of its collapse. It says that the Ross ice shelf is the largest ice shelf in the world and if it collapses in the way the Larsen B shelf collapsed in 2002, it would speed up glacial flow of sufficient quantities of ice into the sea to cause sea level rise of 11.6 meters. What concerns the authors is that the potentially catastrophic collapse of the huge Ross Ice Shelf is not being taken seriously because there is no evidence that the ice shelf is at risk. The authors suggest that the rapid and dramatic disintegration of the Larsen B in 2002 should serve as a wake up call that the Ross Ice Shelf could do the same but with more catastrophic results. This assessment if a logical anomaly where we are told to fear things without evidence based entirely on the enormity of consequences without consideration of the absence of evidence that the hypothetical events could occur. This assessment also serves as an example of the Larsen-B hangover. The emotional impact of the Larsen-B collapse of 2002 appears to have created an irrational fear of ice shelf collapse that can now be assessed purely on the basis of the enormity of the consequences regardless of the probability of the event.
  27. Reference Article #3: This is a media report of studies by climate scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Washington published by the PNAS. It is a continuation of the fear of the collapse of the Thwaites glacier that also goes back to an event in the year 2002 when it was described as “an iceberg the size of Delaware broke off the Thwaites Glacier”. Since then climate scientists have kept a close watch on thee Thwaites glacier for further signs of what is thought to be its imminent collapse due to climate change and a collapse that can be prevented by taking climate action. However, no further alarming signs have been found for this glacier.  The scientists then undertook a climate model simulation of the glacier to examine how the glacier could degrade. A time span of 800 years was used. The simulation did not show that the glacier was at risk of imminent collapse. However, it did show that “the glacier was in danger of becoming unstable“. Instability is then interpreted as a potential for collapse and collapse is interpreted as a sea level rise of one meter that could inundate Florida and Bangladesh at some time 200 to 600 years from now. These scientists recommend that “engineers and planners start building future critical infrastructure farther away from the sea-level line” as a precaution so that future generations will be safe from the projected sea level rise.
  28. Reference Article #4: This report describes the results of research undertaken by scientists from the University of Otago in New Zealand who used a hot water drill to dig a hole deep into the Ross Ice Shelf. They expected that as they go deep into the part of the ice shelf below water level they will find evidence of melting and potential collapse. Instead, what they found was that the deeper they went the more ice crystals they found indicating that the ocean was not as warm as they had thought and that the Ross Ice Shelf was apparently not about to undergo the 2002 event seen in the Larsen B Ice Shelf.
  29. Reference Article #5: This article from The Express in the UK cites climate scientists Rob DeConto, “an Antarctic expert at the University of Massachusetts” to report that since the West Antarctic Ice Sheet disintegrated in the Eemian interglacial which was similar to the Holocene, it is likely to disintegrate in the Holocene as well with catastrophic sea level rise of the same magnitude (5 to 9 meters) seen in the Eemian. The parallel drawn between the Holocene and the Eemian is not supported by the data LINK] .

 

UAH TEMPERATURE DATA FOR THE SOUTH POLAR REGION

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FIGURE 10: TEMPERATURE ANOMALIES AND DECADAL WARMING RATES

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FIGURE 11: FULL SPAN WARMING RATE FOR EACH CALENDAR MONTH

 

FIGURE 12: MAX & MIN TEMPERATURES FOR EACH CALENDAR MONTH

 

FIGURE 13: AVERAGE TEMPERATURE FOR EACH CALENDAR MONTHAVG

 

FIGURE 14: STATION DATA 

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  1. UAH satellite measurements of lower tropospheric temperature over the South Polar region are displayed in Figure 10Figure 11, Figure 12, and Figure 13. It should be noted that the temperatures used in the analysis are not temperature as measured but temperature anomalies, that is, differences between the measured temperature and the corresponding temperature in a reference period.
  2. Figure 10 consists of GIF animations cycle through the twelve calendar months showing the temperature in the left frame and decadal trends in the right frame. The top panel shows data for the entire South Polar region both land and sea. The middle and bottom panels displays data for land and sea surfaces respectively.
  3. Figure 11 compares the full span warming rate for each calendar month computed as the mean decadal trend. A common pattern across the three surfaces shows low rates of warming and even cooling for the calendar months January to September.  Very high rates of warming for are seen for the months of October to December, when it is daylight and summer in Antarctica. The warming rates during this period is very high for land at 0.055C/year and a low for sea surfaces at 0.012C/year. The average over both surfaces is 0.025C/year. The average temperature trend for all calendar months is found to be a warming rate of 0.0084C/year for land surfaces and a cooling rate of -0.0014C/year for sea surfaces with an overall warming rate of 0.0017C/year for the whole of the south polar region.
  4. Figure 12 compares the maximum and minimum temperatures seen in each calendar month. These temperatures are averages across the geographical region specified and not for any specific weather station thermometer. The comparison of the average temperature for each calendar month over the period 1979-2018 in Figure 13 shows that in the Arctic summer (September to March) land temperatures are the highest and they rise steeply from September to November reaching a high of +0.25C before declining to +0C by February. A slight warming is seen in the southern Autumn before a steep decline to -0.25C in the southern winter. Though sea temperatures follow the same general pattern, there are significant differences. Sea temperatures decline from +0C in May (southern autumn) to -0.2C in June (southern winter) before returning to +0C by August. Thus for sea surface temperatures, there are only two states – -0.2C in the dead of winter and +0C otherwise. This behavior makes it unlikely that melting of ice shelves by warm sea water is an atmospheric phenomenon and suggests that ice shelf melts are geological phenomena.
  5. Some examples of measured temperatures in weather stations in Antarctica are displayed in Figure 14. A comparison of three different weather stations shows some differences in the demarcation of seasons. Two seasons are identified as summer and winter. Also of note is that no much separates the highs in the winter months from the lows in the summer months with the most dramatic difference between the two seasons is the very low temperatures possible in winter. A thick black line is used to trace the seasonal mean temperature in each of the two seasons. These temperature profiles of the continent do not indicate that ice melt in Antarctica are explained by in terms of atmospheric phenomena.

 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

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  1. A survey of forecasts about catastrophic sea level rise ascribed to anthropogenic global warming and climate change (AGWCC) made in the context of ice melt in Antarctica is presented.  The survey reveals patterns in these claims and certain anomalies in the collection and interpretation of data in the context of an interglacial initiated more than 12,000 years ago. Although dramatic ice melt and catastrophic sea level rise events are normal in interglacials, and this pattern is seen in this interglacial, it is noted that these events occur at the initiation and in the early stages of interglacials as described in a related post [LINK] .
  2. Figure 7 is a time stamp of these events in the current interglacial, the Holocene. It shows a series of catastrophic sea level rise events that raised global mean sea level (GMSL) by more than 120 meters from its low point in the last glaciation. It is noteworthy that the early violent sea level rise events were driven mostly by continental ice sheets in the temperate zones and not by polar ice. It is noted however, that polar ice can also play a role, as seen in the disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet early in the prior interglacial, the Eemian [LINK].
  3. The eventual flattening out of the curve in Figure 7 about 6,000 years ago suggests that the sea level rise chapter of this interglacial is now over. The history of the Holocene interglacial since the violent sea level rise events shows a series of  warming and cooling cycles at millennial time scales as described in a related post [LINK]. These warming and cooling cycles have not had significant sea level implications. The most recent such cycle, shown in the chart above, displays the cooling from the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) [LINK] to the the Little Ice Age (LIA) by about 0.8C [LINK] and the subsequent warming from the LIA to the Current Warm Period (CWP) by about 1C. The polar ice melt and consequent sea level rise concerns are presented in terms of this event.
  4. Since the melt pulses ended after the initial Holocene sea level rise of 120 meters, the sea level has continued to rise at an inconsequential rate of <2mm/year equivalent to a 2 meter sea level rise in a thousand years. Yet, climate science appears to be desperate for a catastrophic sea level rise event by way of massive ice collapse and disintegration in Antarctica, This line of inquiry in climate science likely derives from events that left an impression. These are two ice shelf melts (Larsen B and Wlkins), and two significant melt events, one in the WAIS and the other in the Thwaites glacier.
  5. Yet in all of these events, the likely cause is not the atmosphere but known geological sources of heat in Antarctica. First, these events are highly localized and second, the temperature data presented above do not imply an atmospheric cause. A related post on the geology of Antarctica presents detailed evidence that highly localized events that cannot be related to atmospheric temperature changes turn out to  e geological and not atmospheric phenomena [LINK]

 

 

 

 

REFERENCE ARTICLE #1: A CASE FOR FUNDING ANTARCTIC RESEARCH BY PROFESSOR ROBIN ELIZABETH BELL. [LINK] Introduction: the changing ice sheets: The ice is melting on home planet. This change is happening at the ends of our planet but is lapping at our doorsteps now. Thirty years ago when I first flew over Antarctica in a Naval Research Laboratory P-3 it seemed unimaginable to me that the vast ice sheet below could change. Now we know those white expanses are changing and these changes matter to our homes and communities around the globe. The changing polar ice is tightly linked to the changing coastlines. My testimony is based on decades of experience studying our planet’s ice. Evidence for Changing Ice: The surprising wakeup call for the polar science community came in early 2002. This buzzing alarm came from the Antarctic Peninsula, the part of Antarctica that is the furthest north, jutting towards South America. The Antarctic Peninsula is where global temperatures have risen the most – more than 7°F over 50 years (3.88C, 0.0776C/year). We had thought that ice shelves changed very slowly. Ice shelves are floating extensions of continental ice sheets. By 2002, warming temperatures had started to produce more meltwater on top of the ice shelves. The floating Larsen B Ice Shelf, the size of Rhode Island, developed hundreds of lakes. Suddenly the ice shelf disintegrated into thousands of icebergs over the course of two weeks. The change occurred before our very eyes. The Larsen B ice shelf had been in place for over 10,000 years. Once the floating ice shelf disintegrated, the glaciers that flowed into the ice shelf sped up, pushing more ice into the ocean. Glaciers are the earth’s conveyor belts delivering ice to the ocean and an ice shelf controls the speed — if an ice shelf collapses, the conveyor belt speeds up. Satellite images of this collapse were printed in major newspapers around the globe. Suddenly, changing ice was newsworthy. Together scientists and the public from Harrisburg to India learned Antarctic ice could change faster than we imagined. The Antarctic conveyor belt had sped up. For the first time many around the world saw the link between blue meltwater on the ice shelf surface, the glacier conveyor belt speeding up and sea level rising. The large ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are thick ice, in places over two miles thick, that rest on solid ground although the ground may be below sea level. Melting these ice sheets will raise sea level around the globe. Antarctica holds 200 feet of potential sea level rise and Greenland 20 feet of potential sea level rise. These very thick ice sheets on land are distinct from the thin floating sea ice that covers much of the Arctic Ocean Antarctic Oceans. Arctic sea ice has been steadily shrinking over the past two decades and recently the Antarctic sea ice has begun to retreat. Changing sea ice reduces the Earth’s albedo thereby increasing the rate of warming and creating weather patterns that impact food available to wildlife from penguins to polar bears. But shrinking sea ice itself will not cause sea level to rise, since sea ice is already floating in the water. The major source of future sea level rise are the grounded ice sheets. Changing ice is not a belief system but knowledge gained from three different sets of satellite data. The first measurement is how fast the ice moves. Several parts of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (key parts of the conveyor belts) have doubled their speed in the past two decades, showing that the ice is speeding up. The second measurement is the height of the ice surface, and is made using laser and radar instruments from a satellite or aircraft. In the same places where the ice is speeding up the ice surface is getting lower. Ice is stretching. The third measurement is ice sheet mass calculated from observations from satellite measurements of changes in the gravity field. In the same places that the ice is speeding up and lowering, it is losing mass. These three measurements together demonstrate in more detail than ever before how the ice in Greenland and Antarctica is changing. We can use these three key observations to quantify how fast the ice sheets are changing. For a large continent like Antarctica, the size of the lower 48 states, requires careful examination of each measurement. After much debate and tests of assumptions, a team of 77 scientists found a clear signal that both Antarctica and Greenland are losing ice. The current mass loss from these ice sheets is contributing one millimeter of global mean sea level per year. Sea level rise is not evenly distributed around the globe. Antarctica is now losing mass at twice the rate it was in the 1990s. For these calculations, the team broke Antarctica up into three parts, the Peninsula where the Larsen B Ice Shelf was; West Antarctica, the ice sheet that rests on low-lying topography and is exposed to changes in the ocean temperature; and East Antarctica, the large ice sheet where the South Pole is located at a higher topography. Each region stores different amounts of ice, has a different history and a different susceptibility to a warming world. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is the most susceptible to warming oceans and atmosphere as it sits lower and is in direct contact with the ocean. West Antarctica is where the greatest changes have occurred over the past decade. Most of the 8 mm of sea level rise from Antarctica in the last decade has come from West Antarctica. Evidence for Changing Coastlines: Why did the changing ice emerge as the highest priority in the National Academy Report? We are beginning to see the melting ice, including from Antarctica, at the tide gauges along our coastline. Globally, average sea level has risen 8-9 inches since 1880, with the global rise since 1993 being 3 inches. Right here at the dock along the bike path in Southeast Washington sea level has risen a foot in since 1919. I put my hand on my leg just below my knee and realize the water level has risen that far since my father was born. At most locations around the globe sea level is rising. At a few locations, sea level is actually falling. Three major components make up the change at an individual coastal city: the change in ocean temperature, the melting ice and whether the land the city rests on is rising or sinking. Up to now the warming of the ocean waters by 0.72°C since 1960 is the major signal that of warming that has appeared at our coasts. Melting ice has the greatest potential for new rapid sea level rise globally. The contribution of ice melt to changes in global mean sea level rise is modulated by the self-gravitation of the ice sheets. Already the modulation of the impact of melting ice in Greenland by the self-gravitation is apparent in the tide gauges along the east coast of the United States. Because of this gravitational effect, sea level is rising faster in the Southeastern US than in New England. Atop these signals are local impacts. The land cities and towns are built on can be rising or sinking, impacting local sea level. In cities like Juneau and Stockholm the land is rising due to the loss of ice 20,000 years ago while cities like Norfolk, Virginia and New Orleans are sinking due to removal of groundwater. Every community is going to see a different future sea level depending the ocean temperature, the changing ice, and whether the land is rising or falling. Linking the changing ice to the changing coastlines is a challenge that will require collaboration from the ice to the shorelines. Impacts of Changing Coastlines We have begun to witness the melting ice and see the impact along our shorelines. The higher sea level made the impact of recent major storms like Maria, Harvey, Irma and Sandy more devastating. For example, close to my home 30 miles from the Atlantic Ocean they used bulldozers to clear boats from the roads after Superstorm Sandy. Because of the sea level rise over the past century, 45,000 more people were impacted by Sandy’s flooding. The impact of rising sea level is not just during major storms. All around the US we are seeing increased nuisance flooding. Nuisance flooding is called sunny day flooding where high tides in fair weather make it difficult to get home because the roads are flooded. Miami and Norfolk are both experiencing this and are working to adapt to this. Scientists are working to provide these cities with the forecasts of future sea level they need to adapt. Ice Sheet Change Projections: Looking ahead the scientific community is scrambling to provide answers to how fast and how much will sea level rise in each community from ice sheet melt. Suddenly city managers, architects, reinsurance companies and resiliency officers care about Antarctic ice. The efforts to answer the how-fast-how-much question range from simple exercises to frame the problem to quizzing experts locked in a room to probabilistic projections and Ice Sheet Models. These models are like climate models only for ice. In contrast to weather and hurricane models, these models are still in the early stages of development. Ice sheet modeling scientists have made big advances in these efforts, such as figuring out how to capture mathematically the changing forces when ice goes afloat and using the latest supercomputing resources to allow the models to include many of the important stresses at play within the ice. The ice sheet models are now linked to different futures, whether temperatures go up a little, a lot or a huge amount. These different futures will be determined by how much CO2 we release into the atmosphere. The science community is working through this collaboratively and through peer review, the way good science happens. An idea is published, the community tests it and new ideas are advanced. Since scientists have never watched an ice sheet disappear, we use records from the past. We know sea level rises when temperature rise — Miami is built on rocks formed in a shallow sea very similar to the Bahamas today. The hills of Miami formed 120,000 years ago when the planet was warm and sea level was 19-30 feet higher than it is now. The other point we use to calibrate our models is from three million years ago, the last time CO2 was as high as it is now sea level was 19-65 feet higher than it is now. The challenge faced by climate scientists working on the models is that we are still learning so much about how ice sheets work. For example, while we are all familiar with how water flows across our familiar landscape, we are still trying to understand what happens when water collects on Antarctica. Greenland wears a necklace of blue ponds every summer and has water hidden in crevasses and in the snow. What happens if Antarctica warms until it looks like Greenland? Will all the new water make the remaining ice shelves disintegrate like the Larsen B, triggering more glaciers/conveyor belts to accelerate, or will rivers form atop the ice? Will we will see giant ice cliffs that become unstable causing a sudden runaway collapse of the ice switching the glacier conveyor belts to hyper-fast? These are the ice processes that might produce drastically accelerate sea level rise. Models with lots of meltwater and collapsing cliffs predict close to six feet of sea level rise from Antarctica by 2100. More recent publications suggest that the number might be closer to 1-1.5 feet (45 cm). As we discover new important processes and discover more, these numbers will change. Our knowledge-base and our models are evolving. My family has a boat on the Hudson and we worry about hurricanes every summer. Thirty years ago the hurricane models could not tell us whether the hurricane was going to hit Maine or our New York home, now we can plan much better. We knew Sandy was possibly coming ten days out and were able to prepare. The improvement in hurricane prediction illustrates that the ice predictions can improve if we work on it by building our knowledge base, deepening the bench of scientists and fostering interdisciplinary and international collaborations. Three Essentials to Improve Ice Sheet Melt Projections: The Antarctic melt projections for 2100 range from just below my knee or over my head, or, quantitatively 1-6 feet. How can we narrow down this answer about how Antarctica will melt in the coming decades? There are three critical things essential to improving the predictions: knowledge of processes (or how ice sheets work), people (to explore, discover, model and communicate, and fostering collaboration: 1) Processes: We have never witnessed an ice sheet collapse and improving our predictions requires getting up close and personal with the ice sheets to better understand how ice sheets work and intense efforts to decide how best to describe these processes in ice-sheet models. 2) People: The community studying ice around the world has grown but the community is still really small. 3) Collaboration: Because changing ice is controlled by the ocean, the atmosphere, the underlying geology and ice physics and Antarctica are huge, this work requires collaboration across disciplines and nations. Our understanding of the process of how ice sheets work has made huge advances. Prior to the International Geophysical Year in 1958, we did not know how much ice there was in Antarctica. By the 1980s we began to understand why those giant conveyor belts of ice can deliver so much ice to the ocean (Alley 1986). These conveyor belts can be over 60 miles wide and in Antarctica move up to about 1.5 miles per year. In Greenland the conveyor belts move even faster – more than 5 miles a year. In the 1990s we began both to drill through the ice sheet and to study extensive regions with aircraft and we discovered that the geology underneath matters. In the 2000s we realized there were extensive networks of water beneath the ice including large lakes, one the size of New Jersey, smaller lakes that will slowly fill and drain, and water networks that move the water. Where the water goes matters because the water is part of the basal lubrication system. Some of the big unknowns include: what is happening in this hidden environment beneath the ice, how will the warming ocean and atmosphere attack the ice sheet and will surface water trigger collapse of all the major ice shelves? A lot remains to be learned. We as a species have lived with changing weather and have a deep knowledge of weather systems Our grandmothers understood the wispy angular clouds they called mare’s tails meant rain soon, but we can now predict to the hour when the rain will arrive. We as a species have far less experience with collapsing ice sheets. To improve our models, we must get up close and personal with the ice sheets. The satellite record has clearly shown us that change is happening but it is the work in Antarctica from surface ships and aircraft that is essential to foster the advances in understanding of how ice sheets work that will improve our projections. NASA’s Operation Icebridge is an example of the importance of comprehensive imaging of the ice sheets that fostered a new norm of freely available open data. The National Science Foundation has responded to the 2015 National Academy report by launching a major program collaboratively with the United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the International Thwaites Glacier CollaborationThe Thwaites Glacier is one of the largest conveyor belts: It is considered one of the most unstable pieces of ice on the planet. Thwaites Glacier is wide and is perched on a topographic ridge where the warming ocean is known to be thinning the ice. Because this glacier can deliver a lot of ice to the ocean fast and because it is already showing signs of thinning and shrinking it is a major threat and a high priority. The major NSF/NERC initiative this as an example of the type of work that is essential to launch around all of Antarctica. Advancing the basic understanding of how the ice sheets work and the processes that control their melting, will improve our predictions. Antarctic scientists are the sea level hunters. The second critical need to improve our projections is people. As President of AGU and as former President of the Cryosphere Section, I am acutely aware of how small our community is. Now, the AGU Cryosphere section has 1,492 members. This number includes scientists from around the globe studying ice, snow and sea ice. To put that in perspective in 2010, there were about 140,000 people enrolled in law school in the US. In a single year, 100 times more people were studying law than the entire global community studying changing ice. There is an acute personnel problem. We need more scientists working on this problem if we are to improve our projections. Science and the science of melting ice from the Arctic to the South Pole must be an open welcoming community. The science is remarkable and the discoveries to be made remarkable. We have barely started to scratch the surface of the ice sheets. The third need is to fully embrace ice as part of the changing earth and enable truly convergent work. When your child is in the hospital with a sudden ailment you really want the specialists to be working together to provide the best care. The ice community is coming to the realization that we need to take a similar approach. We recently completed ROSETTA, a study of the largest ice shelf in Antarctica, the Ross, just a little smaller than Texas. Using Recovery Act funding, in partnership with the New York Air National Guard, we repurposed military imaging technology for ice studies. After three years of flying the IcePod over the Ross Ice Shelf we realized that it was impossible to understand how the ice will melt without bringing all the specialists to the table. We learned that the geology is in essence protecting that sector of West Antarctica from the warming global ocean but the vulnerability is to heat pumped under the ice shelf from the shallow ocean waters by strong winds. It took scientists from many disciplines working together on the same data sets to converge on these complex processes. We were acting like that team of specialists working together for the good for a patient. It is essential to foster this convergent work for the planet and our species. To move the Antarctic work forward will require interdisciplinary and international collaboration as fostered by NSF in the ITGC program but on a larger scale. Ice science must also be more tightly linked to our changing coastlines so each community will know how to respond and adapt. I am hopeful. With investment the hurricane forecasts have improved. We can improve the melt forecasts and provide better information to our neighbors.

 

 

REFERENCE ARTICLE #2: Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf, World’s Largest, is Melting in a Way Not Seen Before [LINK]: Most of the worry over melting ice in Antarctica has focused on the rapidly melting western shore where there is enough ice to raise worldwide sea levels by up to 3 meters. But new research suggests that the massive Ross Ice Shelf, which has long been considered stable, might be at risk potentially leading to a slower sea level rise of up to 11.6 meters as glaciers that were once held back by the shelf slide more quickly into the ocean. The researchers suspect that other crucial ice shelves could also be at risk. A primary concern is that the potential for melting and collapse of the big ice shelves is not being taken seriously enough because they are not presently showing much signs of change. But on a 100-year timescale, they have the potential for significant change. The largest ice shelf in the world: Located on the side of Antarctica closest to New Zealand, the Ross Ice Shelf spans an area about the size of Spain and has an average thickness of ≈1,300 feet. It is one of many ice shelves that stick out into the ocean from the edge of Antarctica with about 90 percent of their bulk submerged. Melting of these ice shelves has no direct effect on global sea levels, since the ice is already at equilibrium with the surrounding water. But the ice shelves greatly slow the flow of glaciers on the continent that would otherwise slide faster into the ocean, causing water levels to rise. Ice shelves hold back grounded ice: In 2002, Antarctica’s Larsen B ice shelf broke apart in less than a month, and afterward some of the adjacent glaciers sped up by as much as eight times. The shattering of Larsen B shocked scientists, since no one had previously realized that an ice shelf could disappear so quickly. It is thought that the collapse of the Larsen-B was triggered by pools of water that had formed on the ice shelf’s surface. The proposed mechanism is that water leaked into fissures and forced them open in a process described as hydrofracture. Hydrofracture is one of two mechanisms thought to account for most of the ice loss in the Antarctic. The other mechanism happens when deep, warm ocean currents flow far under an ice shelf: The warm water eats away at the “grounding line” where the shelf connects to the land. That’s what’s happening to the smaller Amundsen Sea ice shelves on Antarctica’s western shore. Satellite measurements over the past 26 years show that these ice shelves sinking. indicating that some are thinning by up to 7 meters per year. As a result, the glaciers they support — which contain enough ice to raise global sea levels by over four feet — are flowing rapidly into the sea. A new way to melt: Satellite measurements suggest that the Ross Ice Shelf has been stable for the past few decades, even growing thicker in certain regions. But ROSETTA-Ice researchers have built a computer model of the interconnected factors that control the Ross Ice Shelf, including seasonal conditions, ocean currents, and the structure of ice and bedrock on the adjacent continent. The model is based on data collected by the ROSETTA-Ice team using instruments mounted on aircraft and on undersea robots. The findings suggest that a spot on the northwestern side of the ice shelf is melting in a way researchers have not seen before — neither hydrofracture nor deep currents at the grounding line. Instead, the Ross’s problem is that seasonal masses of warm water near the ocean surface in front of the ice shelf is melting the ice shelfIn winter, a crust of sea ice — far thinner than the actual ice shelf — covers the ocean in front of the shelf. But in summer, that sea ice melts, and the dark water absorbs solar energy and warms the water beneath. This warm surface water then erodes the northwestern corner of the Ross Ice Shelf, eating away at ice under the lip and causing small icebergs to crumble from its edge. In the Ross Ice Shelf, there are some regions that are showing very high melt rates at the front, by the calving front of the ice shelf, as opposed to the grounding line. What it means for sea level is that the lost ice is currently being replaced by ice flowing down from the continent, so the shelf is not yet getting thinner. But it could easily start to thin as the climate continues to warm, and current projections don’t take the processes the ROSETTA-Ice team observed into account. Most of the grounded glacier ice that is being held back by the Ross Ice Shelf is unlikely to melt anytime soon, in part because it is also held in place by the shape of underlying mountains and valleys. But the melting corner of the Ross happens to be located right in front of a particularly vulnerable swathe of ice on the continent. It just happens to be in the right area where if  the ice shelf thinned, you would have an effect on the amount of grounded ice coming into the ocean. Even in a worst-case scenario, melting in the Ross won’t cause a sudden jump in sea levels over the next few decades BUT over centuries or millenia, the changes could be massive. The researchers are working to estimate how fast they might occurIt’s possible that other Antarctic ice shelves also have spots that are melting rapidly due to summer surface warming. For example, no one has yet looked for such a process on the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, a huge ice shelf currently holding back glaciers that could raise sea levels by about 45 feet if they melted completely. “We’re seeing a new process that we didn’t really think was an issue before. “There is no reason why the stuff that they’re seeing on the Ross Ice Shelf wouldn’t be applicable elsewhere.”

 

 

 

REFERENCE ARTICLE #3: THE ROSS ICE SHELF IS FREEZING NOT MELTING [LINK]  In November 2018, scientists from New Zealand used a hot water drill to go deep into Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. The shelf, which can be up to 10,000 feet thick, is the largest of several that hold back West Antarctica’s massive amounts of ice. If these were to collapse, global sea level would rise by ten feet. Drilling a hole and lowering a camera and thermometer inside is a way for researchers to understand the history of the shelf, and what is happening to it now. In measuring the temperature and currents below the shelf, they expected to find that the ice was melting. Instead, the water appeared to be crystalizing and freezing. In the video from National Geographic, we can see the white dots of ice crystals as the camera is lowered towards the dark sea below. If the shelf were melting, the hole at that level would have smooth sides. It blew our minds” Scientists have left instruments deep in the hole to measure currents and temperatures below the shelf for the next few years. Though the freezing seems to be a promising sign for the shelf’s stability, it doesn’t tell the whole picture. Scientists also hope to learn whether the ice shelf has melted in the past due to other climate shifts. Though results of this study were unexpected, that doesn’t change the larger trend of accelerated warming and icecap melting. In fact, NASA just confirmed we are losing ice in Antarctica at a faster rate every year. The reasons for these odd Ross results probably won’t become clear until much more research is done. But for now, at the very least, it’s a decent sign that catastrophic melting of the Ross Ice Shelf won’t occur in the near future.

 

 

 

REFERENCE ARTICLE #4: ANTARCTICA’S ICE DEGRADING FASTER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT [LINK] : There are plenty of ominous indicators of the consequences of climate change, but few are more worrying to scientists than the ice sheets of Antarctica. They have been melting for quite some time, and it doesn’t take a degree in physics to understand the risk there. As the ice melts it flows into the ocean, causing sea levels to rise. And rising sea levels are obviously a huge problem. New NASA-funded research published in the journal PNAS reveals a concerning complication. Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Washington ran hundreds of simulations to predict how one large ice sheet, Thwaites Glacier, could degrade over the next 50 to 800 years. The results showed the glacier was in danger of becoming unstable. “Unstable” here means something very specific. An “instability” means a frozen, ticking time bomb. The area of the glacier behind where it cantilevers over the water is eaten away, which can cause the glacier’s ice to break off and flow faster out to sea and add to rising sea levels. What’s more ominous, the research finds, is that once this instability is triggered it will be hard to untrigger it. If you trigger this instability, you don’t need to continue to force the ice sheet by cranking up temperatures. It will keep going by itself, and that’s the worry. In other words, even if climate change were magically reversed, it wouldn’t stop the dangerous and rapid rise in sea levels that could be triggered by unstable ice sheets. The worst-case scenario” could be a rise of two or three feet from the Thwaites glacier. Engineers and planners should start building future critical infrastructure farther away from the sea-level line, you don’t need to pack up your coastal homes like it’s high tide yet.

 

REFERENCE ARTICLE #5: WARNING ANTARCTICA is a ticking TIME BOMB and could one day unleash a staggering 20 feet of sea level rise, scientists have warned. By SEAN MARTIN. 2019.  Some 115,000 years ago when humans first arrived, the Earth was going through a warm period. Early Homo sapiens’ space was more limited at this point, as sea levels were 20 to 30 feet (six to nine metres) higher. The climate was largely the same as it is today, but scientists have noticed that our sea levels are nowhere near as high as it was for the first humans. This has led some to the fearful conclusion that excess water is locked up in the ice sheets of Antarctica, and if the Earth and its oceans continue to warm, then sea levels could quickly stack up. Researchers reached the conclusion by analysing ancient plants in the northern hemisphere – specifically the Arctic Circle. The plant fossils were located on Baffin Island, in northeastern Canada, and scientists determined that the last time they grew was 115,000 years ago when the ice was also not covering them then. A group of researchers then determined that the ice has been locked up on the other side of the world, in the ice sheets of Antarctica. More specifically, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which is mainly submerged under water. The sheet has already thinned by more than 700 metres near the coast throughout the past 10,000 years, and as oceans continue to warm, sea levels could rise astronomically in the future. Rob DeConto, an Antarctic expert at the University of Massachusetts, told the Washington Post: “There’s no way to get tens of meters of sea level rise without getting tens of meters of sea level rise from Antarctica.  “What we pointed out was, if the kind of calving that we see in Greenland today were to start turning on in analogous settings in Antarctica, then Antarctica has way thicker ice, it’s a way bigger ice sheet, the consequences would be potentially really monumental for sea level rise. “We cannot recreate six meters of sea level rise early in the Eemian without accounting for some brittle fracture in the ice sheet model.” Mr Decanto and his colleague David Pollard, ran simulations which examined the melting of ice in the North Pole, and they warn that if the same process happens in the Antarctic, the consequences could be devastating.  According to Google’s interactive map, FireTree, a nine metre sea level rise would make Britain and Ireland much narrower, while the likes of Holland will be almost completely submerged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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