Monday, April 30, 2018

Think Of It As a Glacier the Size Of Britain.

Glaciers are typically an ice sheet sitting atop some hard surface, usually rock. With climate change they've been retreating, melting, turning that ice into runoff water that finds its way to the sea. Here's a great video illustrating the problem.

Climate change is having a similar effect at the south pole where they have a lot more ice, way more. When that goes it's essentially game over for port cities and seaside towns around the world.

West Antarctica hosts the Thwaites glacier which is about the size of Britain. Scientists now fear that glacier may be resting atop a giant rocky bump. They think it may be about to fall off that bump into the sea fairly abruptly, i.e. over the next decade or two.

British and American experts are launching the largest joint mission for more than 70 years to investigate how long the 113,000 square-mile Thwaites Glacier can last in its current form. 
A fleet of research ships, submarines and aircraft and more than 80 scientists will be dispatched to the remote west Antarctic region later this year following warnings the ice structure could collapse within decades.

Glaciologists predict the collapse of both Thwaites and the nearby Pine Island Glacier, two of the largest and fastest retreating on the continent, could cause sea levels to rise by over one metre. 
However, this could then trigger the collapse of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet, meaning ocean rises of more than three metres.
Remember this is extra sea level rise atop the one to three metres already predicted by the end of this century.

Three metres, ten feet, that doesn't sound like that much of a problem does it? I suppose not unless you live on some Pacific atoll or the Maldives or any of the world's great port cities or Miami or the Florida Keys or much of the Caribbean or my own little town. Oh shit.

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