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Earth Science

Grim Picture of Polar Ice-Sheet Loss 412

ananyo writes "A global team of researchers has come up with the most accurate estimate yet for melting of the polar ice sheets, ending decades of uncertainty about whether the sheets will melt further or actually gain mass in the face of climate change. The ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting at an ever-quickening pace. Since 1992, they have contributed 11 millimeters — or one-fifth — of the total global sea-level rise, say the researchers. The two polar regions are now losing mass three times faster than they were 20 years ago, with Greenland alone now shedding ice at about five times the rate observed in the early 1990s. This latest estimate, published this week in Science, draws on up to 32 years of ice-sheet simulations and 20 years of satellite data to give an estimate two to three times more accurate than that in the last IPCC report."
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Grim Picture of Polar Ice-Sheet Loss

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  • Re:Fingers in ears (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:19AM (#42141675)
    When shit eventually hits the fan, those fingers will be pointing blame... at someone.
  • by actiondan ( 445169 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:19AM (#42141681)

    I predict:

    People who don't believe in AGW/man made climate change will think that this study is just part of the conspiracy

    Most people who do believe in AGW/man made climate change will continue to suggest remedies that just will not happen due to economics/human nature

    The small amount of actually useful discussion of how we can adapt to a changing climate (no matter what it's cause) will be drowned out in the accusations and counter accusations

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:20AM (#42141687)

    At this point the evidence for warming is so overwhelming that I wonder if the shift to "..but humans aren't causing it!" will be begun en masse soon. I've already started seeing "It's not worth doing anything about!", but they're still a small chunk of the denier population.

  • by skids ( 119237 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:23AM (#42141719) Homepage

    55mm in 20 years, 11mm due to ice loss, a bunch more due to thermal expansion of the oceans which is also AGW-related.

    5cm may not sound like much to you, but to someone looking for a 30+ year real estate investment, and observing this trend of accelerating ocean rise, it will effect property valuations for some coastal property. Especially since the expectation is that, unchecked, this measurement will eventually be in meters.

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:29AM (#42141789)

    So, you came up with a model that accurately predicts the past?

    What nonesense is that? The accuracy of a model can only be determined by testing it against reality, and not against the data it has been fitted to. You need new data to do that and I'm sorry to tell you that new annual data sets will arrive only at a pace of one per year.

    Meanwhile, shut up and look at the models you've made so far and be ashamed of the constant revisions in both directions.

    In any other branch of science coming up with the kind of models and inaccuracies that climate science comes up with, scientists would simply say .. well, sorry, we cannot model these processes with any degree of accuracy and be done with it. If you came up with a better model, well, good for you, but now you have to *prove* it is actually better than all the rest so far.

  • by ratbag ( 65209 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:30AM (#42141811)

    I mean, seriously, why do you care if Earth becomes another Venus?

    My twin nieces, Ruby and Winnie. My nephews Leo and Max.

    Sorry to appeal to emotion, but I find your attitude a little cold, a little remote, a little shitty.

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:41AM (#42141935)

    The small amount of actually useful discussion of how we can adapt to a changing climate (no matter what it's cause) will be drowned out in the accusations and counter accusations

    Well, the good news is that the status of the atmosphere, and the survival of the human species, does not depend on discussions on slashdot.

    The bad news is that it instead depends on discussions between politicians, lobbyists, and voters.

  • Re:GW is real (Score:4, Insightful)

    by agentgonzo ( 1026204 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @11:50AM (#42142083)
    There's a difference between coming out of an ice-age (a natural process over tens of thousands of years) and global warming, where there is a noticeable change in temperature/ice-caps over a period of years/decades.
    And it's trolls like you spreading FUD that don't help matters.
  • Sea Level (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deimtee ( 762122 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:06PM (#42142247) Journal
    Easiest way to fix sea level rises is to dig two channels.
    Connect the Caspian Sea and the Dead Sea (and the rest of the Great Rift Valley) to the open ocean and watch the water level drop.
  • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:14PM (#42142371)
    Guys, guys.... Engage brain before a) posting and b) modding "informative". 1000 years ago Greenland had a couple of ice-free bays with just enough land for a handful of settlements. Which fared poorly. You do not seriously believe that then whole inland ice of Greenland was gone 1000 years ago?
  • by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:19PM (#42142437)

    Everything is AGW related - hot spells, cold spells, droughts, floods, riots, earthquakes, locusts, hurricanes, doldrums - that's a cop out.

    The fact of the matter here is that 11mm in 20 years, or 55mm in 20 years, is ridiculously small. Seriously, 6 *centimeters* in 20 years. Even with a thirty year horizon, that's not more than 10 *centimeters*.

    Quick quiz: how much did ocean levels rise from 1900-2000, and how many acres of real estate were devalued because of it?

    As for acceleration, sea level rise is actually *slowing* - there's simply no possible plausible scenario that is going to turn *millimeters* of change into *meters* of change in in 20 years, or even 100 for that matter.

  • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:34PM (#42142691)
    The refugees squatting on your front lawn might drastically lower the value, though.
  • Re:GW is real (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stuarticus ( 1205322 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:35PM (#42142715)
    Amazing how denialists don't trust any data that doesn't match their preconceptions but are only too willing to make pretty wild assumptions when they find some vague hint of something that might help confuse the issue.
  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:48PM (#42142997) Homepage

    So where the ice was 100 years ago before global warming started is exactly where "normal" is and where the ice should always have and forever have stayed?

    Depends what you mean by the word "normal." The dinosaurs lived perfectly well in a world that had no ice caps at all, and in which the entire center of the United States was a shallow ocean that stretched from Colorado to Pennsylvania. You could call that "normal" if you like.

    However, there would be a great deal of disruption to human civilization to change to that state. We have an ecosystem (and an economic system) that is well adapted for the climate we have now, not one that is significantly warmer and with significantly higher sea levels. It would cause trillions of dollars of costs just to relocate the part of the population that lives in places that will be underwater, not even to mention changing the agricultural infrastructure. Doing this slowly is one thing. Doing ten thousand years worth of climate change in fifty years is another.

    It would be nice for Canada, Norway, and Siberia, though. Not so nice for the United States (except for Alaska); we have a very good climate for agriculture right now, and don't really want to have the climate of Mexico move up to Kansas. Oddly, Canada, Norway and Russia are the most adamant of the countries that are trying to block restrictions on greenhouse effect gas emissions. That's probably just a coincidence, though, since those countries are also major fossil-fuel exporters.

  • Re:Fingers in ears (Score:3, Insightful)

    by infinitelink ( 963279 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:03PM (#42143281) Homepage Journal
    The USCOE constantly tells their superiors and those they serve what is needed, and they are routinely ignored. They told New Orleans and Louisiana for years, for instance, that the levees were insufficient and vulnerable, and they needed funding and to do this and that... others pointed-out that people shouldn't be permitted to get housing insurance in floodzones or move into certain areas residentially: the scheming asshats in office, however, preaching (on both sides of the aisle) for many decades that a "home" (read "house"), in zoned-and-covenanted-to-death areas, as controlled-by-"city planners"-"property", is an "investment" and yada yada and that we'd all get rich by lending to one another at interest and buying houses on land stolen from farmers and poor people who were previously enjoying the land taken by "eminent domain" for "the public good"...ignored them, didn't give the proper funding; forced "regulations" on "tze evilz" insurance companies to provide flood insurance in areas liable to flooding without the increase in payments any non-idiot would require his company charge...

    I have a grandmother from the south who lived in New Orleans for years: before the blight and economic downturn there. They were ignoring the USACOE back then too. They didn't want to build (or maintain) levees of dirt, but that's all their budget permits in many areas. Later, the democrats of the state started passing-out vote-purchasing checks to minorities in the state (and making no pretenses about the "'reverse' racism", the mayor of New Orleans at the time while I was there after Katrina spoke very openly about how "we're'a gonna hav'a chocolate city again") that were often derived from money intended for...the USACOE...for the levees.

    The USACOE are the lowest-rung the brown is rolled down upon, so I'd just like to use this opportunity to tell this little story (above), and tell all to give them some slack and appreciation: they follow orders and do what...they can with what they're [not] given. Funding that goes to states for the USACOE or projects complementary to them often is robbed by politicians to give to their constituents in one benefit or another; then as in the story you linked, politicians from those states make demands of the USACOE to keep thing running despite their and their residents' neglect of being responsible, planning-ahead, and investing rather than squandering monies and assets.
  • Re:GW is real (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Eunuchswear ( 210685 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @01:05PM (#42143331) Journal

    That's not what I am saying. What I'm saying is that there is just as much FUD thrown around on the global warming alarmist side as there is on the skeptic side.

    Maybe you should learn what FUD means.

    Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

    Denialists specialise in "Uncertainty" and "Doubt". They like to throw a little Fear around from time to time "it's a conspiracy"!

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday November 30, 2012 @02:01PM (#42144377)

    My twin nieces, Ruby and Winnie. My nephews Leo and Max.

    Historically humanity has fared better in times of warmer climate.

    If you truly cared about your nieces you would be happy it looks like we will not have an ice age for a while.

    You don't think those of use that don't buy into the scaremongering don't have nieces (and nephews) also? I have a number, and what I don't want to do is screw over the worlds economies they are living in third world conditions when they grow up. That is a far more real and present danger than from 11mm of rise in a decade (which BTW is a very questionable number as it goes against measured sea level rise which is lower).

    There is not a single life that will be lost from AGW, even if your worst case is true. People would just gradually move out of coastal cities. But all the proposed reactions to AGW to try and slow it down or stop it will end up starving a lot of people, so don't get all weepy-eyed about your own family while you seek to screw over millions of others.

  • Re:Fingers in ears (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rs79 ( 71822 ) <> on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:53PM (#42146323) Homepage

    Couple of things they fail to mention:

    1) A lot of that ice grew in the 1940s. []
    "At the time many glaciers underwent a melt similar or even higher than what we have seen in the last ten years. When it became colder again in the 1950s and 1960s, glaciers actually started growing," says Dr. Kurt H. Kjær"

    "Kurt H. Kjær has previously worked with his colleague Svend Funder from Center for GeoGenetics on investigating sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean. Results showed that the sea ice extent has been far from stable throughout the last 10,000 years."

    2) This is what NASA has to say about the "unprecedented melt": []

    "Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time," says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data."

    3) "Arctic Ice Threatens Northern Hemisphere
    Posted on April 19, 2009 (note the date)
    While the eastern Antarctic ice pack continues inexorable year over year growth, Arctic ice is greater than it’s been in the last 8 years, and showing massive expansion again this year." []

    4) "Antarctic sea ice grows to record extent while Arctic continues to shrink" []

    5) []
    The world is warming, or cooling, depending on the time scale you look at. See for yourself.

    6) The real problems are pollution in a general sense and deforestation. Given mans contribution to carbon is at best 3% and that we've removed so fucking many trees (look for yourself, fly over the Island of Borneo in google maps would be a good start, its gone, it's all gone)... what did you expect was gong to happen. "By Marlowe Hood (AFP) – Jul 14, 2011
    PARIS — Forests play a larger role in Earth's climate system than previously suspected for both the risks from deforestation and the potential gains from regrowth, a benchmark study released Thursday has shown." []

    That's right, in 2011 the geniuses that know all about CO2 got the revelation that trees eat the stuff. Next time somebody calls them "experts" rememnber that.

    Possibly this was in response to NASA and the NOAA bitch-slapping the IPCC by pointing out in 2012 they'd sort of ignored this fact in their "models":
    "8th December 2010 13:24 GMT - A group of top NASA and NOAA scientists say that current climate models predicting global warming are far too gloomy, and have failed to properly account for an important cooling factor which will come into play as CO2 levels rise." []

    Which doubt caused Gaia-dude to recant, showing he has at least a modicum of intellectual integrity:

    ""James Lovelock, the scientist that came up with the 'Gaia Theory' and a prominent herald of climate change, once predicted utter disaster for the planet from climate change, writing 'before this century is over billions of us will die

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine