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posted by cmn32480 on Thursday October 12, @01:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the did-they-find-aliens? dept.

We are all aware that Antarctica's ice shelves are thinning, but recently scientists have also discovered huge canyons cutting through the underbelly of these shelves, potentially making them even more fragile. Thanks to the CryoSat and Sentinel-1 missions, new light is being shed on this hidden world.

Antarctica is surrounded by ice shelves, which are thick bands of ice that extend from the ice sheet and float on the coastal waters. They play an important role in buttressing the ice sheet on land, effectively slowing the sheet's flow as it creeps seaward.

The ice sheet that covers Antarctica is, by its very nature, dynamic and constantly on the move. Recently, however, there has been a worrying number of reports about its floating shelves thinning and even collapsing, allowing the grounded ice inland to flow faster to the ocean and add to sea-level rise.

While scientists continue to study the changing face of Antarctica, monitor cracks in the surface of the ice that might signal the demise of a shelf and learn how these changes are affecting the biology of coastal waters, they are also aware of dramatic changes taking place below the surface, hidden from view.

A Sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of the Earth's coastal populations?


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  • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, @02:09PM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, @02:09PM (#581130)

    You've enjoyed it all these years, and I haven't; don't make me pay for your choices.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by bzipitidoo on Thursday October 12, @02:27PM (3 children)

      by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Thursday October 12, @02:27PM (#581139) Journal

      That won't work. Hurricanes are mostly problems for those on or near coasts, and they ought to bear most of the cost. But sea level rise is everyone's problem. People on the coast are not going to stay and drown. If it comes to serious sea level rise, we will all have to adjust.

      No one who ever rode in a car or on a motorbike or otherwise benefited from the power of internal combustion, or used power from a coal or oil burning power plant, is innocent.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday October 13, @02:31PM (2 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 13, @02:31PM (#581766) Journal

        But sea level rise is everyone's problem. People on the coast are not going to stay and drown. If it comes to serious sea level rise, we will all have to adjust.

        Not at all. Coastal people just move uphill a little. Drama averted.

        No one who ever rode in a car or on a motorbike or otherwise benefited from the power of internal combustion, or used power from a coal or oil burning power plant, is innocent.

        So what? We do stuff with that. If we are to be criticized for imaginary crimes, we should at least be credited with the good that comes of those activities.

        • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Friday October 13, @10:25PM (1 child)

          by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 13, @10:25PM (#582051) Journal

          Where's your sense of personal responsibility? True, activities generate waste products, that's just a fact of nature. But waste can't always be blithely dumped into the environment without consequence. Particularly, novel forms and quantities of waste cannot just simply be dumped and forgotten.

          You talk as if the existence of civilization and the massive increase in human population haven't made fundamental changes to the world. "Imaginary"?? It's only workable to think that when the environment can absorb all our waste and just magically make it go away, recycle it back into fertile soil and clean air and water. Hello, the Stone Age is over! We can't all go hunting for dinner any more, picking wild berries and shooting deer, there are now way, way too many people for that to work. The mighty internal combustion engine is an extremely recent change. Over a mere century, we've built them up from nearly nothing to hundreds of millions, and we've pumped a great deal of oil out of the ground to fuel them. Yet "conservatives" think the status quo is to press on with this change, as if they have no sense of history, no memory of a time before paved freeways, and science is just unreliable propaganda. "Drill, baby, drill!" The Romans screwed up on lead, didn't appreciate enough in time that it was toxic. Don't have the arrogance to think we know better on other matters, or even on lead.

          An argument I don't hear much, and I wonder why not, is a cost-benefit kind. Perhaps the price our children will have to pay is worth the immediate gains from burning more fossil fuels. Up through the 1980s, I think yes, it was worth it. By 1990, we needed to get to work on this problem. Instead, conservatives reach for obviously wrong bull, such as denialism, and the media plays that up, followed by conservatives whining like children that the liberal media is being mean and unfair to them. Dammit, we don't have leisure to waste on stupid games like that, we have a problem and we need to do something about it! Conservatives sticking their heads in the sand, like mythical ostriches do, just has everyone else doubting their intelligence and sanity. Why should the rest of us listen to conservative talking points when they do that? And as for "crime", are you expecting to keep on polluting until you're stopped and punished? God going to clue them in that they were sinning with a massive cluebat in the form of an even worse flood than the one in the Bible? That's the attitude I expect of irresponsible little children, not adults.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday October 13, @11:59PM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 13, @11:59PM (#582083) Journal

            Where's your sense of personal responsibility?

            Where's yours? You are not moral here.

            You talk as if the existence of civilization and the massive increase in human population haven't made fundamental changes to the world.

            No I haven't. I'm just being moral here. We can't optimize for some poorly thought out environmental goal without killing a bunch of people. The change happened, it's our obligation to adapt to it such as it is.

            An argument I don't hear much, and I wonder why not, is a cost-benefit kind. Perhaps the price our children will have to pay is worth the immediate gains from burning more fossil fuels.

            That's my take on the subject. The reason you don't hear it is probably because you aren't listening. The entire environmental side is willfully ignorant when it comes to such arguments.

            Up through the 1980s, I think yes, it was worth it. By 1990, we needed to get to work on this problem. Instead, conservatives reach for obviously wrong bull, such as denialism, and the media plays that up, followed by conservatives whining like children that the liberal media is being mean and unfair to them.

            An argument I don't hear much from the climate change mitigation side is what to do about the lack of evidence for viewpoints like this. For example, there's no case for holding climate change at 1.5 C, yet that's the new IPCC religion. Why not 4 C? Because that would mean we could put off mitigation for centuries. Everything is chosen so as to force us to act now even though cost/benefits aren't justified.

            Dammit, we don't have leisure to waste on stupid games like that, we have a problem and we need to do something about it!

            If so, you'll have evidence for it in a few decades. I too am tired of stupid games, but unlike you, all I have to do is wait.

            And as for "crime", are you expecting to keep on polluting until you're stopped and punished?

            And maybe well past that point. Just because you happen to think it's a crime doesn't mean I agree.

            God going to clue them in that they were sinning with a massive cluebat in the form of an even worse flood than the one in the Bible?

            Would be more effective than listening to this hyperventilation.

            What I think is particularly bizarre here is that you accuse me of being childish while you throw a minor temper tantrum. Here's my take. If you're right, then eventually you will find evidence to support your position. Do so - put up or shut up.

            In my defense, we're doing valuable stuff that helps us and future generations with those fossil fuels we burn, such as building a global, technologically advanced civilization. Further, current and projected future global warming is consistent with a much lower [judithcurry.com] temperature sensitivity to a doubling of CO2.

            The horizontal axis is correlated with time but by using cumulative CO2 instead the authors infer a policy conclusion. The line with circles along it represents the CMIP5 ensemble mean path outlined by climate models. The vertical dashed line represents a carbon level where two thirds of the climate models say that much extra CO2 in the air translates into at least 1.5o C warming. The black cross shows the estimated historical cumulative total CO2 emissions and the estimated observed warming. Notably it lies below the model line. The models show more warming than observed at lower emissions than have occurred. The vertical distance from the cross to the model line indicates that once the models have caught up with observed emissions they will have projected 0.3o C more warming than has been seen, and will be very close (only seven years away) to the 1.5o C level, which they associate with 615 GtC. With historical CO2 emissions adding up to 545 GtC that means we can only emit another 70 GtC, the so-called “carbon budget.”

            Extrapolating forward based on the observed warming rate suggests that the 1.5o C level would not be reached until cumulative emissions are more than 200 GtC above the current level, and possibly much higher. The gist of the article, therefore, is that because observations do not show the rapid warming shown in the models, this means there is more time to meet policy goals.

            I calculate on the projections above, that we're speaking of the difference between a 2.5 C per doubling of CO2 equivalent for the model projections versus a 1.75 C projection based on the data. The wording seems to indicate this is long term not short term warming. It's very different than advertised [www.ipcc.ch] by the IPCC.

            The equilibrium climate sensitivity is a measure of the climate system response to sustained radiative forcing. It is defined as the equilibrium global average surface warming following a doubling of CO2 concentration. Progress since the TAR enables an assess-ment that climate sensitivity is likely to be in the range of 2 to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values.

    • (Score: 1, Redundant) by crafoo on Thursday October 12, @04:14PM (1 child)

      by crafoo (6639) on Thursday October 12, @04:14PM (#581193)

      Paying for other people's mistakes and ignorant, destructive policies while they shriek at you and call you a nazi is the new American Way.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by bob_super on Thursday October 12, @05:24PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Thursday October 12, @05:24PM (#581228)

        It sounds like you don't support the new Great American SeaWall...

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DeathMonkey on Thursday October 12, @05:47PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) Subscriber Badge on Thursday October 12, @05:47PM (#581239) Journal

      You chose to live next to a massive body of water. You've enjoyed it all these years, and I haven't.

      You have. How do you think 99% of the items you purchase end up at the stores?

  • (Score: 2) by bradley13 on Thursday October 12, @02:12PM (2 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Thursday October 12, @02:12PM (#581131) Homepage Journal

    From TFA: "scientists ... are also aware of dramatic changes taking place below the surface..."

    Um, no they're not. This is new data, so they have zero information on what the underside of the ice shelves looked like earlier. Beating on the AGW drum gets you published, but unsupported claims like this are not science.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by hendrikboom on Thursday October 12, @02:31PM (1 child)

      by hendrikboom (1125) on Thursday October 12, @02:31PM (#581143) Homepage

      They have old data as well as new:

      Revisiting older satellite data, we think that this melt pattern has been taking place for at least the entire 25 years that Earth observation satellites have been recording changes in Antarctica.

      • (Score: 2) by bradley13 on Thursday October 12, @06:56PM

        by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Thursday October 12, @06:56PM (#581287) Homepage Journal

        "we think that..." is not what you write, if you have actual data. They are making shit up, to get headlines. They have no history: they are using new sensors on Cryosat specifically designed for measuring polar ice, and this satellite has only been up for 7 years. They have no idea what the underside of the ice sheets was like 20 years, 50 years or 100 years ago. Therefore, claiming massive changes is just so much bullshit.

        --
        Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, @02:58PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, @02:58PM (#581157)

    What exactly was revealed?

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by redneckmother on Thursday October 12, @03:54PM

      by redneckmother (3597) on Thursday October 12, @03:54PM (#581187)

      What exactly was revealed?

      Too much sh*t in the human nest.

      --
      Pitchforks? Check. Torches? Check. Lampposts? Check. Rope? Oh crap, Colorado smoked all the Hemp!
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