NASA spots worrisome Antarctic ice sheet melt

Over the next hundreds of years, sea levels could rise by as much as 12 feet
Associated Press
May 13, 2014

The huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a glacially slow collapse in an unstoppable way, two new studies show. Alarmed scientists say that means even more sea level rise than they figured.

The worrisome outcomes won't be seen soon. Scientists are talking hundreds of years, but over that time the melt that has started could eventually add 4 to 12 feet to current sea levels.

A NASA study looking at 40 years of ground, airplane and satellite data of what researchers call "the weak underbelly of West Antarctica" shows the melt is happening faster than scientists had predicted, crossing a critical threshold that has begun a domino-like process.

"It does seem to be happening quickly," said University of Washington glaciologist Ian Joughin, lead author of one study. "We really are witnessing the beginning stages."

It's likely because of man-made global warming and the ozone hole which have changed the Antarctic winds and warmed the water that eats away at the feet of the ice, researchers said at a NASA news conference Monday.

"The system is in sort of a chain reaction that is unstoppable," said NASA glaciologist Eric Rignot, chief author of the NASA study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "Every process in this reaction is feeding the next one."

Curbing emissions from fossil fuels to slow climate change will probably not halt the melting but it could slow the speed of the problem, Rignot said.

Rignot, who also is a scientist at the University of California Irvine, and other scientists said the "grounding line" which could be considered a dam that stops glacier retreat has essentially been breached. The only thing that could stop the retreat in this low-altitude region is a mountain or hill and there is none. Another way to think of it is like wine flowing from a horizontal uncorked bottle, he said.

Rignot looked at six glaciers in the region with special concentration on the Thwaites glacier, about the size of New Mexico and Arizona combined. Thwaites is so connected to the other glaciers that it helps trigger loss elsewhere, said Joughin, whose study was released Monday by the journal Science.

Joughin's study uses computer simulations and concludes "the early-stage collapse has begun." Rignot, who used data that showed a speed up of melt since the 1990s, said the word "collapse" may imply too fast a loss, it would be more the start of a slow-motion collapse and "we can't stop it."

Several outside experts in Antarctica praised the work and said they too were worried.

"It's bad news. It's a game changer," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, who wasn't part of either study. "We thought we had a while to wait and see. We've started down a process that we always said was the biggest worry and biggest risk from West Antarctica."

The Rignot study sees eventually 4 feet (1.2 meters) of sea level rise from the melt. But it could trigger neighboring ice sheet loss that could mean a total of 10 to 12 feet of sea level rise, the study in Science said, and Rignot agreed.

The recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change don't include melt from West Antarctic or Greenland in their projections and this would mean far more sea level rise, said Sridhar Anandakrishnan, professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University. That means sea level rise by the year 2100 is likely to be about three feet, he said.

Even while the West Antarctic ice sheet is melting, the much larger East Antarctic ice sheet seems stable because it is cooler, Scambos said.

Climate change studies show Antarctica is a complicated continent in how it reacts. For example, just last month Antarctic sea ice levels — not the ice on the continent — reached a record in how far they extended. That has little or no relation to the larger more crucial ice sheet, Scambos and other scientists say.

Comments

From the Grave

Spill The Wine~yeah!!!
Who needs those the arctic ice~that's why we have freezers and ice makers!

Contango

Re: "Curbing emissions from fossil fuels to slow climate change will probably not halt the melting but it could slow the speed of the problem,"

Doesn't read like empirical science at all, but instead is full of: speculation, possibility & conjecture.

If true, better be building dams along U.S. coasts, e.g. The Netherlands.

When are rich libs like the Kennedys posting fire sale prices on their Hyannis Port compound?

Truth2u

After Gores buddies DELIBERATELY and criminally falsified years of weather information, boldly communicating deceptions to entire groups, I seriously don't think there is anything to worry about.

Besides, its reported that global cooling is in effect AND the Ice Caps are increasing, which proves the earth is simply shifting as it always has and will.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/...

With NASA pictures, seems they can't get the story straight.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/...

The Bizness

Deniers just spread garbage science without peer reviewed studies behind it.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/...

I don't understand why its so hard for some people to believe that a organism, that can conquer a world and change landscapes almost at will, cannot alter, even slightly, the climate of the worlds ecosystems.

Contango

Re: "Deniers"

Using regurgitated terms like that tends to make the "believers" argument smack of religious fervor, dogmatism and scientism.

Skepticism is the basis for 'good' scientific inquiry.

O'Heritage

Ironic, isn't it, that you "believers" can place so much power in the hands of men, yet you deny that God could have created the universe. I guess we all worship at some form of altar, and Al Gore just happens to be standing behind yours.

The Bizness

I believe in God, and that he started the big bang. Debunks your theory doesn't it?

The catholic church also sees nothing wrong with evolution. God simply had a hand in molding life into what eventually became us.

It be a damn shame if we make this world into a wasteland by not listening to mother natures warnings.

Contango

Re: "mother natures"?

There are ‘at least’ two deities: God and “Mother Nature”?

If one believes in the omnipotence of God, perhaps one should simply pray in order to fix the effects supposedly caused by AGW?

The most successful species that ever lived were the dinosaurs.

If they were wiped out by an asteroid as some theorize, perhaps a much larger danger than AGW exists and we need to construct a global defense shield?

A Star Wars-type “Death Star” anyone?

thinkagain

“There are ‘at least’ two deities: God and Mother Nature”

I suggest God is the universe and the universe is God.

I encourage all to spend a moment in eternity. One moment in the hidden reality beyond the ego. What your senses can define is immaterial, compared to this true reality.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, you don’t even have to be a believer or a Christian to experience it. We all have the ability to reach this higher level of consciousness. Be prepared though, the walls of your mind will vanish forever.

Afterwards, you may even ask yourself this question. Why is it inconceivable that there might exist an ultimate Mind?

Contango

Re: "I suggest God is the universe and the universe is God."

Pantheism?

thinkagain

Anti-atheism! There is nothing separate or distinct from God.

God can dwell in each person if they accept the grace of the Holy Spirit. Yet he is also a God who transcends the universe and our comprehension.

Acts 17:28 “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.”

Colossians 1:16-17 “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

Contango

Re: "There is nothing separate or distinct from God."

It's called: pantheism.

IOW: You are God.

thinkagain

Not correct. If you require a label, a form of Christian Panentheism. God is the Creator and the Created. He is in the world, but He is more than the world.

Contango

Re: "Christian Panentheism"

Understood: You and the universe are the Judeo-Christian God.

------------------

Re: "God is the Creator and the Created."

If God is timeless and omnipresent then there was and is no "creation."

"You" are just another manifestation of God. "You" are an illusion.

Your deity reads schizophrenic.

Read: "A Course in Miracles." It fits in with your philosophy.

jazzbo

Christian Panentheism is unbiblical.

O'Heritage

I have no theories, all I need are the scriptures alone. I don't need church tradition or the misguided interpretation of some man.
Your theory says that there was life and death before Adam. If there was death before Adam, then we have no need for a redeemer. If you don't believe Genesis 1, then John 3:16 is of no consequence.

Factitious

What are "the scriptures" if not the interpretations of men?

O'Heritage

The scriptures are the inspired Word of God. "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

The Bizness

I have nothing but a big open mouth stare.

thinkagain

.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Just as I asked coasterfan I'll ask you: How do you propose to cull our species since we are the only ones absent other terrestrial or celestial forces that are causing the climate to change? Also, has the climate never changed in the billions of years our rock has spun around the sun? Additionally, what is "normal" climate against which we are measuring change? I know this is your thing so maybe you can offer something where coasterfan will offer silence.

The Bizness

Normal climate change is possible and has happened in the past many, many times, but what makes this instance difference than the past is the rate of change. As this graph as the below graph shows you can see how when it has warmed in the past it has been fairly gradual.

http://www.pnas.org/content/109/...

I don't think our species needs culled, I think our species needs to rethink what resources we use, and how much of it we use. People need to walk more, drive less, live closer to work, eat local produce and meats, use solar and wind energy, play outside rather than watch tv. Just use less energy and products. I do think it is also the responsibility of man kind to not overpopulate the planet but I do not think any government should implement family planning methods.

"Normal climate" can be defined a number of ways, usually NOAA uses just an average from the 20th century, or some times the "climate normals" which is a 30 year range updated every 10 years. Another way would be to look at the averages of the Holocene period as a whole. Either way we are rising up above them all.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-ac...

I appreciate discussing this with people that are genuinely interested, and I will be the first to admit I am wrong when peer reviewed studies come out that disprove anthropogenic climate change. Until then I will continue to work towards reducing my foot print in making things worse.

Contango

Re: "average,"

A poor methodology in which to base a national socio-economic policy.

On "avg." the Great Lakes never freeze.

If Bill Gates walks into a room, the "average" wealth of everyone in the room just increased.

----------

If indeed AGW is an actuality, perhaps the human race is fulfilling it's evolutionary function in order to increase the "avg." temp. of the Earth.

Geologically, it's been warmer in the past you know?

-------------

Lastly:

Reduce one's carbon footprint?

Maybe the CIC should lead by example?

How about couple fewer fund raisers?

Those planes and his extensive motorcade ain't operating on solar or wind power.

That's the way a country's political ruling class works: Do as I say, not as I do.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Thank you for the reply and links to consider. It's just frustrating because this climate change is considered manmade that indicates that mankind is the problem. Even if we go outside and play, we are still consuming more resources, energy, and food by sheer volume of bodies - bodies that naturally produce both water vapor and CO2. As long as there is man there will be manmade climate change. So really we're just beating around the bush at best or urinating in the wind at worst when it comes to ways we think we can somehow "fix" this without decimating our species. Right now the things you propose don't hurt but they're about as effective as what we and Europe are doing to Russia right now over Ukraine in terms of not actually doing anything to the person(s) in actual charge but just piddling around with travel visas for his friends. But that's another topic and I don't want to distract from this with it.

As for the normals, with it being a moving target that is geologically a grain of sand on a beach, the "change" today will be the normal tomorrow. So we are still left with no actual normal. No control against our variable. I appreciate talking about this with you, so please don't think I am being uppity or taking a harsh tone. It's just so frustrating at times that many people in far-removed places keep saying "manmade climate change" and offer no suggestions about thinning the herd of humans or discuss the fact that the climate always has and always will change with or without us and that life as it always has will also die and adapt along with it. The hubris of our race, especially when we think we can "fix" or "normalize" the climate will be very messy in the end and I believe we will do more harm than good with as wild as some are taking measures.

I'm up for discussion on this still if you are, Biz.

The Bizness

Thanks for the conversation. I for one am against all attempts to use engineering to fix or normalize climate change, such as covering up the ice sheets with giant white geotextile fabrics. Use engineering to get our solsr energy systems up to par.

I dont think comparing a human going for a walk to a car runnimg is fair. The difference in gas release is huge. Now big factory meat farms, that is an issue.

Also, if each and every human did what I proposed, our energy needs would be greatly reduced and a few solar panels on everyone's roof would handle most of it.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I wish that those who share your opinion would be more vocal, especially when it comes to humans trying to engineer their way out. Instead we have elected leaders who bleat on and on about something I don't think they fully comprehend (or worse, care to). We have the president suggesting that human beings can somehow reverse the "damage" and physically lower sea levels ourselves. At what cost? To what end? Who gets the power and the money to do these impossible, utopian things which can never see fruition because they are a force of nature intrinsic to our planet?

I would like more thoughts like yours to be projected out toward leadership and echo back from them. Instead we get:

Republicans: HURRRRRRR!
Democrats: DURRRRRRR!

Unfortunately I see where the hurrs and the durrs are doing things like preventing the creation of jobs (something you and I agree need to be brought here if we want to attract/retain younger people) because of excessive regulation (more the durrs, but whatever) and making what we already have more expensive at the cost of an unattainable goal and massive power/wealth grab.

Contango

Re: "a few solar panels on everyone's roof"

And how are these being financed?

"SolarCity is essentially a financing business. Customers lease, rather than buy, panels, signing long-term contracts to buy electricity at a cheaper rate than their traditional utility bill.

Typically, SolarCity utilizes tax incentives to raise financing from third-party investors to cover the installation costs."

Govt. subsidies are goin' into the pockets of financiers.

http://online.wsj.com/news/artic...

buttermaker

I call BS. Just another agenda to push, with no real data to back it up. Try using facts next time, like this article.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/...

DGMutley

We never hear anymore about HARP. I wonder what they are up to?

DGMutley

Sorry about that... HARP should have been HAARP--High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program.

HAARP was supposed to have saved us from all this and more.

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