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Earth Science

Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans As Antarctic Ice Melts 784

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday. The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis."
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Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans As Antarctic Ice Melts

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  • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @03:24PM (#46982403)
    Just kidding... the Antarctic ice has been melting for decades []. More precisely, the mass of the old, thick land ice is decreasing due to rising temperatures, but the surface area of the short-lived, thin sea ice has been increasing, partly due to decreased salinity in the Southern Ocean because the land ice is melting. Overall, the Antarctic has been losing ice at an accelerating rate [] as temperatures have continued to increase.
  • pfft (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @03:37PM (#46982583)

    Pfft. Math. Science. That stuff is for weaklings.

  • Re:In other words... (Score:5, Informative)

    by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @03:55PM (#46982801)

    Nobody should build anything along the coast. At least any coast that is not at least 100m above sea level.

    Push the button for the interactive map -
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.... []

  • by mrvan ( 973822 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @03:57PM (#46982825)

    You're probably trolling, but here goes:

    Any continent will rise if the mass on top is reduced, because the mantle acts as a liquid on geological time scales (

    However, it's not the loss of mass or height of the antartcic that is causing sea levels to rise, but the movement of water from "long term storage" on top of the antarctic continent into the ocean. What the container does after the contents have been released is immaterial.

    (for the arctic ice it is different because it is all floating, so melting it won't do anything to sea levels (it will to salinity and hence ocean currents) - and greenland has a lot of land ice, of course)

  • Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:02PM (#46982891)

    It's not "waterfront property" that anybody is worried about. It's the fact that a very large number of the world's current cities happen to be located near the water for historical reasons (major trading hubs built around ports for oceangoing ships.) The utter annihilation of those cities is a huge economic problem.

    And flooding Death Valley with seawater doesn't create a single acre of arable land. You can't farm jack $hit out of soil contaminated with salt. The shores of the Persian gulf (nor, for that matter the shores of southern CA) don't support much in the way of farms, despite the large body of water next door.

  • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:03PM (#46982893)
    That's the surface area of ice, not the amount of ice, which is measured by volume or mass. If you look at the mass of ice in the Antarctic, you can see it's been melting for decades at an accelerating rate []. Funny how the real facts get in the way of a good misinformation campaign.
  • Re:Chicken Little (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:06PM (#46982929) Journal

    Do some reading about base load power [], then contemplate the fact that the United States consumed 3,866,000,000,000 kilowatt hours (that's 13,917,600,000,000,000,000 joules, if you were wondering) of electricity in 2012. Since nuclear fission is politically explosive, explain how you propose to generate a sizable fraction of that energy (never mind all of it) without relying on carbon based sources. Limit yourself to technologies that are actually here, not distant fantasies like nuclear fusion.

    After you do that, you can further depress yourself with the realization that I'm only talking about electricity. The actual energy budget of the United States is far higher when you account for the transportation sector and other non-electrical needs. And we're only talking about the United States here, one country out of ~190, with 4.5% of the global population. The rest of the World aspires to our standard of living, and they're not going to abandon that goal because of a distant and hard to quantify threat.

  • Re:In a century... (Score:3, Informative)

    by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:14PM (#46983049)
    You mean like maybe north of Canada or in the Bering Sea where there is so much ice the last few years that boats can't follow their normal schedules and are shut down for months at a time because of the ice? But I never see an alarming article about MORE ice. Always less.
  • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:20PM (#46983131)
    No, melting of ice will cause the temperature rise to be slower than it would otherwise be. What I said, and read this carefully, is that if the temperature remained stable, that the rate of ice melting would decrease until the amount of ice reaches a new stable equilibrium. The fact that the rate of ice melt is accelerating is evidence that the temperature is still increasing. And, of course, we are directly observing this temperature increase as well. It's not that hard to understand, is it? You know, global warming, been in all the papers and on the news for years?
  • Only one link man... (Score:4, Informative)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:24PM (#46983171)

    How hard can it be when the summary has but a single link:

    "Scientists said the ice sheet was not melting because of warmer air temperatures, but rather because of the relatively warm water"

  • Re:In a century... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Layzej ( 1976930 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:25PM (#46983177)

    we have no idea what might happen. Its possible that the ice may reform there or somewhere else

    Actually, thanks to science we do have an idea!

    "at this point, a decrease in the melt rate back to earlier levels would be “too little, too late to stabilize the ice sheet,” said Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the University of Washington and lead author of the new paper in Science. “There’s no stabilization mechanism.” The basic problem is that much of the West Antarctic ice sheet sits below sea level in a kind of bowl-shaped depression the earth. As Dr. Mercer outlined in 1978, once the part of the ice sheet sitting on the rim of the bowl melts and the ice retreats into deeper water, it becomes unstable and highly vulnerable to further melting."

  • Re:Translation... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:28PM (#46983231) Homepage

    You mostly need to use science to see it, unless you live in unfortunate areas like the arctic. It still happens gradually enough that you can conveniently forget that things were ever different if you go by your trusty, truthy gut feeling.

  • Re:Chicken Little (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:37PM (#46983339)

    I read a reference that said that a 108-mile square of the US Southwest could, if completely covered with solar panels, supply all the US's power needs.

    That's barely big enough to show as a dot on a map of the US.

    Now, of course, there are certain... realities... we need to face. For instance, we can't pack the panels in without roads and access spaces, and we'd need to store power (how?) for the night time. And so on, etc. But, it is an interesting hypothetical that shows that alternate, 'green', energy is certainly possible. I mean it's not like we'd need more surface area to power the US than the US has, or anything impossible like that.

  • Re:In other words... (Score:5, Informative)

    by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:44PM (#46983417)

    Thats 10ft due to the west antarctic ice sheet. There is a lot more ice out there.
    10m =~ 30ft
    The last time the planet was steadily 2 degrees C warmer than pre-industrial times, some 120,000 years ago, sea levels were 5 to 10 meters higher than today. It’s likely we’ll hit 2 degrees C of warming by 2100, unless we take extreme measures to mitigate emissions.
    And there are factors other than ice melt.
    In China, the Yellow River delta is currently sinking so fast that local sea levels are rising by up to 25 centimeters per year, nearly 100 times the global average. Places that were once covered by kilometers of ice, like northern Canada, are now rebounding upwards — which means local sea levels are actually falling in some parts of Alaska. But that upward-moving land is hinging nearby areas, like the U.S. East Coast, downward by millimeters per year — adding millimeters per year to the local sea level rise there. The U.S. East Coast has another problem too: Climate change is weakening the Gulf Stream current, and that is allowing water to slop back towards shore. Overall, the U.S. East Coast is seeing rates of sea level rise that are 3 to 4 times the global average. The tropics, meanwhile, are seeing extra sea level rise thanks to a strange gravitational effect. As high-latitude ice melts, there is less mass at the poles to pull ocean water towards them; instead, the water slopes more towards the equator.

  • Re:In a century... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Beavertank ( 1178717 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:47PM (#46983451)
    Right. Because the national debt is equivalent to climate change.

    Also, as has been pointed out, your contention is completely unsupported by reality. But nice try. Maybe you should take your own advice about not being a "partisan pawn"?
  • by DiamondGeezer ( 872237 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:48PM (#46983469) Homepage

    "Ah, nothing like quoting an anti-AGW blog as if it were the equivalent of a published article"

    Ah nothing like quoting Skeptical Science or Real Climate or DeSmogBlog or HughPickensDOTcom, because those are outlets of pure unvarnished truth that no sane man may object to.

    In fact the WUWT article points to an article in "The Australian" and quotes the NSIDC.

    I assume you get your answers from Genesis because you like things handed down as Holy Writ, probably because its easier than thinking. Climate alarmism is deeply religious and very much creationism without all of the messy stuff about Cain and Abel.

    Like "The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is 50 below zero, so how is it melting?"

    But that's for people who understand science and critical thinking, something you're not capable of.

  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @04:49PM (#46983483)

    Except the ice sheet is not at float eqilibrium.

    If the ice was at float equilibrium its melting would then take up less space. But because the ice sheet is stacked so high above sea level the floor of the glacier is grounded there is much more ice there than the float equilibrium point. There is a lot more ice there than the water it displaces. Your argument does not cover that point.

  • Re:In a century... (Score:5, Informative)

    by rochrist ( 844809 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @05:06PM (#46983703)
    You know this whole 'back in the seventies the scientists we're all about global cooling' has been debunked so many times that it makes you really look moronic to post it yet again.
  • Re:In a century... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Old97 ( 1341297 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @05:14PM (#46983779)
    There was no "global cooling" phenomenon being widely touted in the 1970's. That's a myth. The climate change report recently issued http://nca2014.globalchange.go... [] addresses that among other things. Global warming and this particular problem of glacier melting in Antarctica were both called out in the 1970's though. According to the NY Time reporting the second case - Antarctica is related to a variety of factors in addition to global warming. There are no big bucks to be made being an environmentalist. Provide some names of a few folks who became billionaires from pushing environmental protection. There are trillions being made producing fossil fuels.
  • Re:In a century... (Score:3, Informative)

    by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @05:40PM (#46984067)

    For your information, "Clinton's surplus" was because of Republican Congress that didn't let him spend much money. It also was only possible because of the DotCom Bubble of the 1990s. Once that burst during Clinton's final year in office, the surplus vanished.

  • Re:Translation... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @06:14PM (#46984405) Homepage

    Here is a list of the 10 warmest years, globally, since 1880. That's 134 years ago.


    Do you notice any trend or commonality among those data points?

  • Re:Translation... (Score:5, Informative)

    by khayman80 ( 824400 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @06:30PM (#46984565) Homepage Journal

    You mean like the overall long-term increase in Antarctic ice mass, despite breakups in the Western sheet?

    False. Antarctic land ice mass is decreasing [], and reliable estimates of Antarctic sea ice volume (or mass) aren't available.

    Even if you meant to refer to Antarctic sea ice extent (not mass), you already ignored me when I told you [] that this is consistent with Manabe et al. 1991 [] page 811: " sea surface temperature hardly changes and sea ice slightly increases near the Antarctic Continent in response to the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide."

    But maybe you'll listen to the National Academy of Sciences, if you honestly don't think [] the National Academy of Sciences is "alarmist". Again, their recent report [] is educational. They address Antarctic sea ice in question 12 [].

    The gradual, long-term non-warming that has occurred over the last 15-17 years, depending on who you ask?

    Jane and Lonny Eacus have repeatedly ignored me whenever I've told you [] that there's been no statistically significant change in the surface warming rate. But if you honestly doesn't think the NAS is alarmist, you might learn something from their answers to questions 9 and 10 []. This point is particularly relevant: "More than 90% of the heat added to Earth is absorbed by the oceans and penetrates only slowly into deep water. A faster rate of heat penetration into the deeper ocean will slow the warming seen at the surface and in the atmosphere, but by itself will not change the long-term warming that will occur from a given amount of CO2."

    I agree: science is a wonderful thing. You can appear to "prove" almost anything you want if you restrict your study to relatively isolated phenomena, and ignore the bigger picture.

    No, that's not science the way it's practiced by the National Academy of Sciences [], the National Center for Atmospheric Research [], the American Geophysical Union [], the American Institute [] of Physics [], the American Physical Society [], the American [] Meteorological [] Society [], the American Statistical Association [], the American Association for the Advancement of Science [], the Federation of American Scientists [], the American [] Quaternary Association [], the American Society of Agronomy [], the

  • Re:Translation... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @07:43PM (#46985213)

    . You mean like the overall long-term increase in Antarctic ice mass, despite breakups in the Western sheet?

    Yes exactly right. []

    The gradual, long-term non-warming that has occurred over the last 15-17 years, depending on who you ask?

    Anytime anyone cites 1998 you know they are willfully ignorant. Picking a local maxima as a starting point for measurement [] may fool the average guy on the street but anyone on slashdot who believes it is meaningful is making a deliberate choice to lie. In your case, the fact that your very next sentence is railing against exactly that kind of deception beggars belief. That level of arrogance deserves a gold medal, so no surprise that the captcha here is "medals.,"

  • Re:In a century... (Score:5, Informative)

    by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @08:16PM (#46985429)

    For your information, "Clinton's surplus" was because of Republican Congress that didn't let him spend much money. It also was only possible because of the DotCom Bubble of the 1990s. Once that burst during Clinton's final year in office, the surplus vanished.

    Now if your post had contained actual information, instead of made-up stuff.

    CBO analysis [] shows that despite all the economic events that transpired after Bush's election, the U.S. Federal Budget would have remained in surplus (more than a trillion dollars) right up until the time of the Bush economic meltdown that began in 2007.

    Legislative changes - the bills the Republicans passed and Bush signed - spent the entire surplus, and trillions more.

  • by bledri ( 1283728 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @09:25PM (#46985895)
    Is Antarctica losing or gaining ice? []. And more importantly, as one of the commenters point out:

    In a place where the temperature is always well below freezing, "global warming" is not going to melt all the ice. That doesn't mean it isn't a problem elsewhere. Even if there were no net ice loss on earth, if we're losing ice in places we need it (such as mountain ranges that supply people with drinking water), and accumulate it in places that have no humans at all (Antarctica), that's an enormous problem.

    But hey, let's confuse land ice and sea ice and create doubt about the actual science by cherry picking data, spreading half-truths and general misinformation.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein