Thursday, March 10, 2011

We're melting. Faster than we thought.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but you should know this. There's a sobering post up on Climate Progress summarizing a new study led by JPL which has been peer-reviewed and published. It has concluded:

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new NASA-funded satellite study. The findings of the study — the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass — suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth’s mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted.

As I said elsewhere, that last phrase is key: "... much sooner than model forecasts have predicted."

Those who like to call themselves skeptics about AGW, who like to rail about the uncertainty of the predictive computer models, ought to take this moment to realize that the uncertainty -- which I will of course acknowledge -- works both ways.

We do know this, now, purely from data and observations: There is now increased confidence that sea levels will rise by a foot by 2050. (This is a larger, faster increase than the IPCC reports have suggested.) And that's assuming that things hold constant, which they are not guaranteed to do. It's conceivable that the glacial melting could lead to an increasing release of heretofore trapped ground ice and water. It is reasonable to believe, therefore, that if we continue down the path we're currently on that sea levels could rise by six feet by the year 2100. Picture yourself on your favorite beach and imagine what that would look like. The entire ocean, six feet higher.

The Republicans in Congress will say that the science "remains unsettled," of course. Because DDT.

(h/t: cragger)

1 comment:

Ocean said...

We just got a taste of what Mother Nature can do with a little rattling, shaking and splashing.