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Science

Antarctica Is Melting Three Times As Fast As a Decade Ago (nytimes.com) 289

An anonymous reader writes: Between 60 and 90 percent of the world's fresh water is frozen in the ice sheets of Antarctica, a continent roughly the size of the United States and Mexico combined. If all that ice melted, it would be enough to raise the world's sea levels by roughly 200 feet. While that won't happen overnight, Antarctica is indeed melting, and a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature shows that the melting is speeding up. The rate at which Antarctica is losing ice has tripled since 2007, according to the latest available data. The continent is now melting so fast, scientists say, that it will contribute six inches (15 centimeters) to sea-level rise by 2100. That is at the upper end of what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated Antarctica alone could contribute to sea level rise this century.

"Around Brooklyn you get flooding once a year or so, but if you raise sea level by 15 centimeters then that's going to happen 20 times a year," said Andrew Shepherd, a professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds and the lead author of the study. Even under ordinary conditions, Antarctica's landscape is perpetually changing as icebergs calve, snow falls and ice melts on the surface, forming glacial sinkholes known as moulins. But what concerns scientists is the balance of how much snow and ice accumulates in a given year versus the amount that is lost.

Antarctica Is Melting Three Times As Fast As a Decade Ago

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    More water, less plastic in the ocean?

  • by TimMD909 ( 260285 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @12:52PM (#56784132) Homepage

    Obviously we just need to build a bunch of 6" stilts to raise all buildings along the coast. Done.

    Now I'm off to disprove this globe earth thing with my lawn chair and 45 helium balloons.

    • Obviously we just need to build a bunch of 6" stilts to raise all buildings along the coast. Done.

      Now I'm off to disprove this globe earth thing with my lawn chair and 45 helium balloons.

      Don't forget the BB gun.

      • Obviously we just need to build a bunch of 6" stilts to raise all buildings along the coast. Done.

        Now I'm off to disprove this globe earth thing with my lawn chair and 45 helium balloons.

        Don't forget the BB gun.

        He didn't, but dropped it after the first shot..

        • Obviously we just need to build a bunch of 6" stilts to raise all buildings along the coast. Done.

          Now I'm off to disprove this globe earth thing with my lawn chair and 45 helium balloons.

          Don't forget the BB gun.

          He didn't, but dropped it after the first shot..

          Just use a shotgun, will get you back to earth in one cartridge even if you drop it.

      • Pump your brakes kid, Larry Walters [wikipedia.org] is a national hero.
  • how terrible. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fish_in_the_c ( 577259 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @12:53PM (#56784134)

    People who believe that God created the world and expects us to act as care takers of His gift for the next generation of humanity should be shocked and appalled and take every responsible action to ensure the gift we have been given by God is preserved and passed down to the next generation.

    However I can't think of any reason that would inspire action for those who have no faith because the results of any action on this matter for or against are unlikely to have any effect beyond our lifetime.

    That brings the next real question, how can we motivate people to action , how can we ensure that action does not unjustly disenfranchise the poor.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Errr...because people have sons, daughters, grand-children, great-grand children, humanity, non-human critters, etc.?

      • Which is relevant in what way after you are dead unless you are somehow conscious of it? So do you think most people would be highly motivated or not much by a remote possible future threat to there grand or great grandchildren. Also would such a response be reasonable or simply irrational emotionalism? The latter probably isn't a good foundation for discussion just global economic systems.

    • Possibly the same reason why anyone does the right thing, our own sense of morality? Weather the source of that morality is attributed to our religion, our sense of society, family or simply a personal decision to do what we feel is the right thing, all humans have a moral compass that may or may nor work correctly relative to the societal norms.

      • I've alway found your correct and astute observation interesting. All humans have a moral compass, which may or may not be in agreement with others. The thing is where does that compass come from and how do we decide if we should follow it or ignore it because it is faulty. Should we apply logic? Science? Or just do whatever we feel so long as we accept the outcome? Logically it makes a great deal of difference if our compass exist because there is some greater reality it evolved or was creatededited

        • Honestly I typically go by logic and try to calibrate my compass based on what benefits the majority of first people, second animals and third the earth, regardless of how it makes me feel. I've found other people's opinion (elders, educators but also anyone in general) helps to form ideas but I also often have to account for the possibility that their opinions are based a lot on self interest, which is not necessarily a bad thing. For a long time, humanity survived in a condition of scarcity so the selfi

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      To make any difference requires a drastic change in modern lifestyles. I mean massive and complete change in how modern man lives. Given that you can't convince a majority of people to give up their cars, air conditioning, beef and hundreds of other things that would have to go plus do something about population growth I don't see any real solution. A global thermonuclear war might solve it but that brings it's own problems. Without a world government exercising dictatorial and draconian laws we're on a cou

      • We could fix this by totally backing away from the modern lifestyle and living the Amish life, spending our days doing backbreaking manual farm work and living by candlelight. We could even go to a vegan lifestyle, though that would mean no candles either.

        OR... we could replace our fossil fuel baseload with nuclear, electrify transportation and go on living normal 21st-century lives. The choice is ours.

        • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

          It would help to move away from fossil fuels true, but it will NOT solve global warming. And we are at best 3-5 decades from being fossil fuel free worldwide. At best we might only end up with 100 feet of sea level rise in the next century or so instead of 200 feet. Personally, if I had any high dollar oceanfront property I'd sell it now.

      • To make any difference requires a drastic change in modern lifestyles. I mean massive and complete change in how modern man lives.

        Not really, much of people's impact on greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation and electricity generation. We do not need to eliminate all emissions, we just need to reach a point where we are not rapidly increasing the levels. It's entirely possible to reduce that without dramatic or draconian changes.

        Given that you can't convince a majority of people to give up their cars, air conditioning, beef and hundreds of other things that would have to go plus do something about population growth I don't see any real solution.

        You don't need to do that. Electric cars can be powered by solar and wind energy. Air conditioning is most necessary on sunny days, which means there's solar power to power the air conditioners.

      • To make any difference requires a drastic change in modern lifestyles. I mean massive and complete change in how modern man lives.

        No.

        Also, no.

        This is a horrid straw man argument that is getting rather tiresome. Yes, there will have to be large-scale changes, but in the end, everybody can still have a nice, comfortable modern lifestyle. There will be changes, of course, but they are hardly "drastic" lifestyle changes.

        You may not be able to eat beef 7 days a week for a pittance, but there will st

        • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

          I look at the levels of carbon being released yearly into the atmosphere and I see no slow down globally. Many western nations are cleaning up their act but globally the numbers are rising, not dropping. Solar and WInd power are starting to be implemented but we are nowhere near replacing fossil fuels. Globally somewhere around 25% of greenhouse gas emissions are from electricity and heat production. Industry is responsible for 21%. Agriculture, Forestry and other land use another 24%. Transportation is 14

  • by AlanObject ( 3603453 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @12:54PM (#56784142)
    Those Chinese hoaxers. They sure know their stuff don't they?
  • The NY Times article has this big graph showing an accelerating downward trend starting in 1994. Yet NASA says [nasa.gov] that Antarctica has been gaining ice from 1979 to 2015. So which is it?

    And when you look at the confidence intervals (2720 +/- 1390 - the window is LARGER than the estimate!) you start to get an idea that this is a "well, we don't know but... FLOODING!". I'm sorry, if any engineer or researcher working on my team came and said "I believe the correct value is 50, with a tolerance range from 0 to

    • Re:Alarmist much? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @01:20PM (#56784322) Homepage

      So which is it?

      The NASA article is dated Oct 2015, and it claims that the gains in West Antarctica outweigh the losses in East Antarctica. The Nature article is dated 2018, it specifically addresses the NASA data, and claims that they have even better analysis of the satellite information. This is what peer review is for. Hopefully NASA was consulted in this paper.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        If you look at the list of references for this Nature article, they ignored the NASA paper. And I still wonder how anyone can take the Nature paper seriously when you have a 100% tolerance range (2720 +/- 1390).
        • If you had read the article, it was about NASA data from 1992 until 2008. That was actually a long time ago.
          • The Nature article claims losses every year over that 1992 to 2008 period, and NASA says "nope". So for the 1992 to 2008 period, who do you believe? If you believe NASA, then automatically you need to take the Nature article's conclusions for time periods outside that range with a huge grain of salt. If you believe the Nature article, then why do they disagree so extremely with NASA?

            As Mark Knopfler so eloquently wrote "Two men say they're Jesus one of them must be wrong". Well - we have two groups sayi

            • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

              I know for me, tolerance ranges of 110% of nominal value lead me to cast a VERY skeptical eye on the Nature article

              What is the tolerance range of the NASA article? The one you linked to doesn't say. Right now, you are comparing a paper with little more than a press release, then looking at one number and discarding the paper.

            • There have been a large number of studies that show Antarctica has been losing ice mass overall - Cazenave et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2009; E et al., 2009; Horwath and Dietrich, 2009; Velicogna, 2009; Wu et al., 2010; Rignot et al., 2011c; Shi et al., 2011; King et al., 2012; Tanget al., 2012, Shepherd et al., 2012, Martin-Español et al., 2017 etc, and now Shepherd et al, 2018.

              Yet you chose to second-guess the conclusions of a single one of those (despite lack of expertise in the field) that combines r

    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

      I believe the correct value is 50, with a tolerance range from 0 to 100" I'd send them back to the bench after a good chewing out or they'd be sent out to the street...

      You shouldn't, because you may not need more accuracy than that. If you had an army of 5000 soldiers, and your spies reported that the advancing army had 50,000 +/- 30,000 soldiers, would you send them back out for a more accurate count? No, you would pack up and run. Yes, the confidence interval is greater than the raw number. But it clearly isn't worth going back and getting an accurate count.

      In science, the idea isn't to only publish when you have certainty. The idea is to publish when you have vali

      • wrong, article is equivalent of saying 50 +/- 50 soldiers are coming. in other words, it is useless bullshit.

        credible studies show antarctic ice *growing*, I'll believe NASA over *nature* alarmist hippies any day of the week

        • wrong, article is equivalent of saying 50 +/- 50 soldiers are coming.

          The article says 1330 to 4110.

          Why make up numbers when they're right there?

          You should be able to tell that since 2720 is larger than 1390 that zero can not fall into the range of 2720 +/- 1390.

          Since this is basic addition and subtraction, it's practically inconceivable that you screwed it up instead of simply choosing to lie to people. Of course, if you did screw it up, then you are so incompetent that you should think long and hard about whether you should post anything anywhere ever again. It might be f

    • Re:Alarmist much? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by njvack ( 646524 ) <njvack@wisc.edu> on Thursday June 14, 2018 @01:50PM (#56784582)

      Okay, I'll bite.

      The two studies do indeed contradict each other. They use different methodologies. The Journal of Glaciology "Antarctica has been gaining mass" presser linked there (here's the paper, I believe [cambridge.org]) appears to use altimeter measurements alone, while the Nature paper [nature.com] uses a combination of altimeter data, gravimetry, and the "input-output" method which appears to estimate glacier melt and snow accumulation more directly. (You may have paywalls, I'm at a university.) Which paper to trust? I'm not a glaciologist, I can't answer that.

      And yeah, the confidence intervals in the Nature paper are kind of wide. Measuring the mass of ice on a sparsely-populated continent is actually pretty hard, I suspect. But an estimate at either end of the CI still means you're losing a bunch of ice. With your engineer... I'd hope your response would depend on what question you were asking. Are 0 and 100 both numbers you can deal with? Is your acceptable range 40 – 60, or -1000 – 1000? Raw numbers are meaningless without context.

      The main takeaway from the two papers are kind of similar, though. There's a LOT of ice in Antarctica. Sea levels are, right now, measurably rising — I mean, "FLOODING" is happening in coastal communities now. Dealing with it is really expensive. If Antarctica's ice melts faster, we'll see more flooding, sooner. If your argument is "increased global temperatures will increase Antarctic snowfall enough to more than offset faster melting," sure, make that argument, but the scientist in the NASA press release you linked to says the exact opposite:

      If the losses of the Antarctic Peninsula and parts of West Antarctica continue to increase at the same rate they’ve been increasing for the last two decades, the losses will catch up with the long-term gain in East Antarctica in 20 or 30 years -- I don’t think there will be enough snowfall increase to offset these losses.

      • I am curious about the accuracy of gravimetry, now that we know there is an active magma chamber under Western Antarctica. Given the density of molten rock is ~2.3 times that of water, it would take very little shifts in the magma chamber to create much larger, apparent changes in the ice levels.
      • Oops. Set the moderation wrong. I guess this is the only way to undo.
    • First that was from 10 years ago. Secondly, if you read it, you will see that the CENTER is gaining ice, as it should if humidity increases in the air. Lo and Behold, with the melting on the edges, that is EXACTLY what is happening. So, the major increase was back in the 90s and then slowed down in the 00s.
      • Nature claims it lost ice every year from 1994 to 2008. NASA says no, it accumulated ice every year from 1994 to 2008. Which one is right? Answer that first before you go any further, please - because the path you take will be DRAMATICALLY different based upon who is correct.
    • The NY Times article has this big graph showing an accelerating downward trend starting in 1994. Yet NASA says [nasa.gov] that Antarctica has been gaining ice from 1979 to 2015. So which is it?

      Boy, you're just in love with that Zwally paper, aren't you? Even to the point of ignoring the caveats that Zwally himself put on it.

  • I moved to a warmer country. The average temperature is 10 degrees Celsius higher than back at home and I enjoy it very much and wish that summer would be longer still.
  • The ONLY way that we will stop adding to the CO2 levels is if we quit building new fossil fuel plants ESP. Coal. Since China is building coal all over the globe, and the far left, along with the Chinese, continue to ignore that, it will only mean that things will speed up.

    As opposed to stopping the CO2 growth, it is now time to focus on what will happen as the CO2 grows? IOW, how are we going to deal with the ocean increases, the lack of precipitation in BOTH America AND CHina.
  • Good. Hopefully we'll learn a lesson from all of this but I doubt it.
  • bad mouthing the BabyBoomers is bad, wait till the generation that is growing up in 2100 ( assuming we survive that long ) starts throwing blame around :D

    " Those GD Neanderthals back in 2018 F*CKED UP THE ENTIRE PLANET FOR US ALL "

    *stomps foot for dramatic effect*

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann

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