Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Antarctica Is Undergoing an Extraordinary Melt - by Dr Reese Halter

Last year, all signs were pointing towards this shattering event.

Last December, 2016, the crack in the Larsen C ice shelf grew by 10.5 miles. (Photo Credit: smh.com.au) Click to Enlarge.
The area of sea ice surrounding Antarctica is the lowest since the inception of continuous record keeping began in 1979, and it’s still tumbling.

Last year, all signs were pointing towards this shattering event.  In May, 2016, the massive West Antarctic ice sheet began tearing apart.  My colleagues sounded the alarm that the melting could destabilize enormous areas of ice, resulting in global sea rise of more than 10 feet.

“We present observational evidence that a large sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet has gone into irreversible retreat,” said NASA’s Dr Eric Rignot.  “It has passed the point of no return.”

The only unknown is how quickly a 10-foot sea level rise will occur.

Rignot and his coauthors cautiously estimate an epic sea level rise in the coming centuries.

Eminent climate scientist, Dr James Hansen, former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has spent his entire career tracking the effects of climate-altering carbon dioxide released from burning subsidized fossil fuels.

In the lead-up to the Paris Climate Agreement, Hansen warned:  “It’s crazy to think 2C is a safe limit.”

Man-made heat, infused into the oceans from heat-trapping fossil fuels, has doubled since 1997.  That’s the equivalent energy of detonating one atomic Hiroshima-style bomb every second for 75 straight years.

“The ice sheets are losing mass faster and faster, with a doubling time of about 10 years,” Hansen said.  “If that continues, we would get sea level rise of more than six feet by 40 to 50 years.”

Since 2011, the Larsen C ice shelf, West Antarctica, developed a rift of approximately 110 miles in length.  Any day now it will calve an iceberg four times the size of Los Angeles.

Read more at Antarctica Is Undergoing an Extraordinary Melt

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