Tuesday, May 13, 2014

'Unstoppable' Global Sea Level Rise Triggered By Fragmentation, Melting Of West Antarctica

Via Dahr Jamail at truthout (whose article is itself worth your time to read), from Justin Gillis and Kenneth Chang at NYT, we learn that part of the West Antarctica ice sheet is falling apart, and if findings and predictions are confirmed, its disintegration could cause a rise in sea level of 10 feet in the coming century. Gillis and Chang:
A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries.

Global warming caused by the human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet, though other factors may also be involved, the scientists said.

The rise of the sea is likely to continue to be relatively slow for the rest of the 21st century, the scientists added, but in the more distant future it may accelerate markedly, potentially throwing society into crisis.

“This is really happening,” Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research, said in an interview. “There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.”

Thwaites Ice Shelf, late 2013
(Photo: James Yungel, NASA)
So... if I had bought a house here in Houston, and if I had married and had kids, my heirs, perhaps my great-grandchildren, could have had beach‑front property...

Seriously: Al Gore told us all of this. He became our modern-day Cassandra, prophesying catastrophe only to be ignored by everyone in a position to do anything to prevent it. And now, pending confirmation, it looks as if it's too late.

Oh well, whatthehell, we won't live to see it, so whothefuck cares, right? <irony />

AFTERTHOUGHT: There is considerable disagreement over the timetable of the sea level rise... some say 100 or 200 years; some say 1000+ years. But practically no one not on the payroll of the oil companies thinks it won't happen. If you're worried about your great-grandkids but willing to see the inevitable suffering inflicted on your great4‑grandkids, you may be OK... aside from being a cold bastard for feeling that way.

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