Larry Kummer writes in by email:
Today’s responsible climate reporting, terrifying liberals: “A glacier the size of Florida is on track to change the course of human civilization” by “Pakalolo” at the Daily Kos.
Reposted at Alternet. Number 5 in today’s daily links at NakedCapitalism, one of the major nodes in Liberal America. It will be seen by pretty much the entire Left in America by sunset. The headline photo is about a crying person after a hurricane. Here is the opening:
Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica is enormous and is often referred to as the most dangerous glacier on Earth. It has also been dubbed the Doomsday glacier. The glacier holds two feet of sea level but, more importantly, it is the “backstop” for four other glaciers which holds an additional 10-13 feet of sea level rise. When Thwaites collapses it will take most of West Antarctica with it. This is not new information for those of us that follow the science. For example, Eric Rignot in 2014, stated that the loss of West Antarctica is unstoppable. (You can listen to an excellent interview from 2019 between Rignot and Radio Eco-shock on Antarctica).
According to researchers at the University of Washington back in 2014, Thwaites is already collapsing. “The simulations indicate that early-stage collapse has begun,” notes their news presser. What’s more, the Thwaites Glacier is a “linchpin” for the rest of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet; its rapid collapse would “probably spill over to adjacent catchments, undermining much of West Antarctica.”
About that statement by Eric Rignot in 2014. It is from a NASA press release “West Antarctic Glacier Loss Appears Unstoppable” that announces “Widespread, rapid grounding line retreat of Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith, and Kohler glaciers, West Antarctica, from 1992 to 2011” in GRL, 12 May 2014. The paper’s conclusion (with the only mention in it of timing):
“We conclude that this sector of West Antarctica is undergoing a marine ice sheet instability that will significantly contribute to sea level rise in decades to centuries to come.”
Rignot provides additional detail in the press release. No mention of timing in the story, or of uncertainty.
“This sector will be a major contributor to sea level rise in the decades and centuries to come. A conservative estimate is it could take several centuries for all of the ice to flow into the sea.”
This is just the first two paragraphs. Long quotes from reporters for Wired and Rolling Stone. The article runs on for 2300 words.
Added: NASA says in January 2019:
A gigantic cavity — two-thirds the area of Manhattan and almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall — growing at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is one of several disturbing discoveries reported in a new NASA-led study of the disintegrating glacier. The findings highlight the need for detailed observations of Antarctic glaciers’ undersides in calculating how fast global sea levels will rise in response to climate change.
Researchers expected to find some gaps between ice and bedrock at Thwaites’ bottom where ocean water could flow in and melt the glacier from below. The size and explosive growth rate of the newfound hole, however, surprised them. It’s big enough to have contained 14 billion tons of ice, and most of that ice melted over the last three years.
“We have suspected for years that Thwaites was not tightly attached to the bedrock beneath it,” said Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Rignot is a co-author of the new study, which was published today in Science Advances. “Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail,” he said.
Note the last quote from NASA, about being able to see the detail for the first time. Here’s the thing: before there were advanced satellites, this sort of activity went on for millennia, blissfully unnoticed. It’s business as usual for glaciers; they melt, breakup, and calve into the sea. The Earth and humanity survived then and will now. -Anthony
Larry Kummer is the editor of the Fabius Maximus website and a frequent contributor to WUWT.