Energy & Environment

Melting the ice (but not in a fun, life of the party way)

Dan Farber

The NY Times has a lengthy article about glacial melting and sea level rise, with bad news:

But researchers have recently been startled to see big changes unfold in both Greenland and Antarctica.

As a result of recent calculations that take the changes into account, many scientists now say that sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet by 2100 — an increase that, should it come to pass, would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over.

And the calculations suggest that the rise could conceivably exceed six feet, which would put thousands of square miles of the American coastline under water and would probably displace tens of millions of people in Asia.

Here’s what appears to be the mechanism behind the unexpectedly rapid loss of glacial ice:

Water that originated far to the south, in warmer parts of the Atlantic Ocean, is flushing into Greenland’s fjords at a brisk pace. Scientists suspect that as it melts the ice from beneath, the warm water is loosening the connection of the glaciers to the ground and to nearby rock.

My general policy is to respond cautiously to climate studies that have really bad news, for several reasons: (1) they may be outliers, (2) we often don’t have really good data, especially in terms of the past, so it’s hard to be sure what’s a real change and what’s just the fluctuating background noise, and (3) we all have a natural tendency to fixate on dramatic news. For the same reasons, I’m also cautious about studies that show unexpectedly small climate effects  In either case, it’s wise to remember that “one swallow doth not a summer make,”* and not to put too much weight on a single study or two.

Nevertheless, it seems that the “best guess” estimate of sea level rise has just gotten higher, and of course this means that the right tail of the curve has gotten scarier.  And if these results are confirmed by further research, we’ll really have reason to worry — the planet’s warming has just begun, so dramatic changes now are signals of much worse to come.

Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet, a Berkeley Law-UCLA Law collaboration.

Melting glaciers

Bookmark and Share
Comments to "Melting the ice (but not in a fun, life of the party way)":
    • Jennifer Doherty

      Excellent work, excellent article. Let me write a couple of words on social & legal context

      So if an island nation is submerged beneath the ocean, does it maintain its membership in the United Nations? Who is responsible for the citizens? Do they travel on its passport? Who claims and enforces offshore mineral and fishing rights in waters around a submerged nation? International law currently has no answers to such questions.

      United Nations Ambassador Phillip Muller of the Marshall Islands said there is no sense of urgency to find not only those answers, but also to address the causes of climate change, which many believe to be responsible for rising ocean levels.

      “Even if we reach a legal agreement sometime soon, which I don’t think we will, the major players are not in the process,” Muller said.

      Those players, the participants said, include industrial nations such as the United States and China that emit the most carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases. Many climate scientists say those gases are responsible for global warming. Mary-Elena Carr of Columbia University’s Earth Institute said what is now an annual sea level rise of a few millimeters will increase dramatically by the year 2100. “The biggest challenge is to preserve their nationality without a territory,” said Bogumil Terminski from Geneva. International legal experts are discovering climate change law, and the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is a case in point: The Polynesian archipelago is doomed to disappear beneath the ocean. Now lawyers are asking what sort of rights citizens have when their homeland no longer exists.
      t present, however, there appear to be at least three possibilities that could advance the international debate about ‘climate refugee’ protections and fill existing gaps in international law.

      The first option is to revise the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees to include climate (or environmental) refugees and to offer legal protections similar to those for refugees fleeing political persecution. A second, more ambitious option is to negotiate a completely new convention, one that would try to guarantee specific rights and protections to climate or environmental ‘refugees`.

      [Report abuse]

    • Paul Felix Schott

      Read well and study on your own after you have read this.

      This is not a game or joke our Sun gives off a Solar Wind all day year round if you live in the State of Alaska you see it in the sky above what a sight it is going through our Earth’s Magnet Polls of the North and the South, North Poll. Its Called the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis.

      The day will come when you will be able to see it all over Earth as in the year 1859 Solar Flare. Two Astronomer’s Hodgson and Carrington told the World that the Solar Flare made a Geomagnetic Storm reach Earth in hours not days. Back then it gave new meaning to Reach For The Skies from Telegraph Operators. For hours sparks flew from the key board. Even after the Batteries were disconnected.

      Our Sun’s UV Rays will get stronger as each passing day go’s by, read and i will tell you why.

      The Great big forest have be striped from most of the Earth for Greed of Money by the Wicked. The trees our are Main Source of Oxygen on this Plant.
      The Forest Trees scrubs the Pollution out of the air and makes Oxygen from the rain and dirt that it grows in.

      The Forest Trees do more then just make Oxygen they stop Soil Erosion, just Look at the 1930 Dust Bowl. Greed by our Government taxes led farmers to clear cut all their Forest and farm all the land they were being Tax on. They had to farm it to pay for the Taxes. Why leave the Trees when food crop makes Money. This Did not Help the Depression that effected most all Worldwide.

      The Pollution and CO2 Carbon Dioxide go into the Tree Bark as a shield from most bugs so they do not eat the tree.

      Less Forest less Oxygen this is why the moon. That has no Oxygen is very cold on the side with out Sun Light,And hot as ever on the side with Sun Light. Way too cold and too hot to live there.

      With no blank of Oxygen to lessen or reduce the Sun’s UV Rays and Solar Wind they are deadly there on our Moon. Every Mt. Climber and Aircraft Pilot knows the higher you go the thinner the Oxygen and colder it gets.

      Just spend a night on a Mt. top above 13,000 feet with no Sun Light and you will see or should i say feel the cold stinging any of your exposed skin. If you are new to Mt. Climbing stay below 10,000Ft. The Astronauts and the Cosmonauts and Fighter Pilots that i have been with for years know this very well, and the Radiation Hazards to humans at High Altitudes.

      Soon the Sun’s Solar Wind and UV rays will be way to strong for most to go out in the Sun Light for even a short time. The Geomagnetic Storm to come and the Bad Weather Storms well you have not seen nothing yet and the Sea Level is Rising the Oceans.

      The last 30 years On Earth we have broke all high temp records and the temp it is still going up. All the Worlds Ice Glacier are melting at an Accelerating Rate. The Glaciers and Polar Ice Caps store more water than all the Fresh Water Lakes on Earth.

      The Bad Weather Storms now are Babies compared to what is to come.

      They will get even bigger and worse less Oxygen the more UV Rays to the Earth and more Water molecules will evaporate and go up into the Earth’s Atmosphere. Less Oxygen the colder with out sun light and hotter with it.

      The Sky full of more water vapor molecules, more snow in the winter and more Flash Floods in the Summer.

      If every living person on Earth were to Plant A Tree Today we might have a chance.

      The Earth’s Atmosphere Blanket surrounding it protects life on Earth as Our Lord and GOD will all that seek Him.

      Then it is written when the tree is full it is harvest time. All the Earth will someday burn away.

      This is all Foretold in the Bible Read it
      and may our Lord Bless all that do so.

      The Lord’s Little Helper
      Paul Felix Schott
      KI4-AEX

      P.S.
      2 Peter 3:10
      But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the Earth and its works will be burned up.

      Marc when the Ice Glaciers are gone so to will the fresh water start to go for many. If you live by or downstream of a Ice Glacier You better start to pray for it to rain on a regular bases by you.

      [Report abuse]

    • Marc The Sales Techniques Guy

      Melting of glaciers is perfectly normal. The only criterion is that falling snow must exceed the melting ice to sustain the glacier. Many people worldwide depend on melting glaciers for survival. All their freshwater needs are met by these melting glaciers year through. This is the water these people use for drinking and irrigation. If this fresh water source were to stop it will create chaos. People will be forced to shift to places with other sources of freshwater. Certain nations depend a lot on the flow of this water for the production of electricity.

      [Report abuse]

Leave a comment

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


+ 5 = 14