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Earth Science

Geothermal Heat Contributing To West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting 387

bricko sends this news from The University of Texas at Austin: Thwaites Glacier, the large, rapidly changing outlet of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, is not only being eroded by the ocean, it's being melted from below by geothermal heat, researchers at the Institute for Geophysics at The University of Texas at Austin (UTIG) report in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings significantly change the understanding of conditions beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, where accurate information has previously been unobtainable. The Thwaites Glacier has been the focus of considerable attention in recent weeks as other groups of researchers found the glacier is on the way to collapse, but more data and computer modeling are needed to determine when the collapse will begin in earnest and at what rate the sea level will increase as it proceeds. The new observations by UTIG will greatly inform these ice sheet modeling efforts.
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Geothermal Heat Contributing To West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting

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  • by polar red ( 215081 ) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @02:46AM (#47209909)

    AGW has a straightforward reasoning behind it : 1/ the greenhouse effect of CO2, which you can test for yourself: see youtube. if you have other results, warn the nobel price committee. 2/amount of CO2 released can be estimated as well, by calculating how much oil, coal has been burned the last centuries. this amount is far larger than any removal of forest cutting has been responsible for, and far greater than volcanoes.

  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @03:07AM (#47209997)

    Some parts of the Thwaites Glacier are melting because of geothermal heat, not all of it. In fact probably less than 10% is affected directly by the geothermal heat. Why should you be astonished when scientists report science?

  • Re:Queue the deniers (Score:4, Informative)

    by Layzej ( 1976930 ) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @05:59AM (#47210705)
    To be clear, the researchers did not find an increase in geothermal activity under the west Antarctic ice sheet, they just mapped sources of geothermal activity and found that there were significant sources. If the models do not take these into account they may greatly underestimate the rate of collapse.
  • by Xyrus ( 755017 ) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @08:20AM (#47211463) Journal

    The Thwaites Glacier is melting because of Geothermal heat rather than AGW?

    No. It isn't. Read the paper instead of making inferences from a summary that is significantly lacking in details.

    Scientists knew there was geothermal heat contributing to base melting of the glacier. Most places on Earth have a tiny amount of geothermal heat flux so underneath most glaciers there some small amount of melting due to this heat. On average, the geothermal flux on Earth is about 65 milliwatts/square meter.

    This paper was looking to quantify the geothermal flux under the glacier so that they could model the behavior more accurately. It turns out the the average geothermal flux under the glacier is around 120 milliwatts/square meter with some areas going as high as 200 milliwatts/square meter. This adds a little bit more base melt and thus allows the glacier to move a little bit faster.

    Keep in mind, these are milliwatts we're talking about, so it certainly isn't melting a lot. But since it is base melt it is contributing to glacier movement speed. This contributes to the ice loss already occurring due to warmer temperatures.

  • by mpsmps ( 178373 ) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @08:26AM (#47211497)

    It's worth pointing out that the increased geothermal heat estimate only contributes a few per cent to the melting of the Thwaites glacier []. It's predominately AGW and natural calving. I'm not saying this paper isn't important (we all know about the straw that broke the camel's back), just pointing out that it doesn't provide an alternate explanation to AGW for the melting of the Thwaite glacier.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @08:35AM (#47211587)

    > There was an article here in /. just a week or two ago saying that the Antarctic Sheet is perplexing to climatologists because it is _increasing_, not decreasing.

    Increasing in surface area but decrease in volume. This isn't complicated, but if you won't look stuff up then it is easy to say that all exaggeration is equal. Kind of like -1 and +10 are both numbers so they are really just the same thing.

  • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @09:14AM (#47211987)
    The research shows you are wrong, and yet you still post. That's why your remarks deserve nothing more than "childish" attacks as you are trying to debunk an entire field of science by writing a few childish lines of pseudologic in a slashdot post, and acting as if you are some sort of amazing free-thinker. You're not. You are wrong, and the worst thing is this: you have the tools to easily educate yourself on just how wrong you are, yet refuse to do so. You are part of the problem.
  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @09:44AM (#47212313)

    "People on the coast can move or build sea walls or something.
    It's not that big a deal. There is plenty of uninhabited non-coastal land."

    Sea level rise is not the biggest problem of climate change/global warming.
    In recorded and pre-recorded history, the weather/climate phenomenon thst has killed the most people is drought.
    While there may be some regions in the north that are able to grow more crops due to the warmer weather, most of it won't be suitable for farming.

    The world won't be able to support N billion people if we let it warm by 5 degrees

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @09:52AM (#47212355) Homepage Journal

    I would wager no scientist in their right mind would say that we need to raise taxes on oil and oil based products 100% or 50% even in the short term.

    I imagine you meant the long term? Or for the short term?

    it seems that some politicians want to save the world, at the expense of the people, especially the poor.

    We all breathe. Reducing pollution actually means more jobs. Doing things right is harder.

    just 10 years ago I could get 300 miles on 10 bucks, now that same 300 miles costs me 64 bucks.

    Driving on petrofuel is unsustainable. You haven't done anything to change your habits on your own, so now you're being forced.

    but we have more oil flowing now than anytime in the past, there is no excuse for it to cost as much as it does

    Yes there is, and the excuse is that you have to be some kind of sociopath to think it's a good idea to be burning oil as fuel. It's too valuable to burn, and the secondary effects are harmful to our very existence. We have no need to burn it. For example have the technology (and have at least since the 1980s) to replace one hundred percent of our transportation fuel consumption with biofuels in a way which is carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative. As ever, I refer you to this DoE report [] and information on AIWPS [], as well as on Butanol [].

    I'm tired of your the dichotomy between economic development and ending the wasteful, harmful, and completely unnecessary refining and subsequent combustion of oil. By all means, make plastic out of it. It saves an enormous amount of energy as compared to making plastics from other sources, and the plastics can be recycled. You're repeating this logical fallacy solely to avoid taking responsibility for your own actions, and you're only impressing others suffering from the same brand of cognitive dissonance. In fact, it is wholly possible to reduce and perhaps even eliminate harmful emissions, or at least account for them (e.g. by carbon-fixing schemes) such that there is effectively zero negative impact to human health and biosphere persistence, the latter currently being an absolutely irreplaceable requirement for the former. We have numerous (one might even be tempted to say innumerable) solutions which we are not putting into place for political-economic reasons which boil down to protection of profit for a privileged class of self-entitled robber barons.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban