Antarctic ice shelf collapse will raise sea levels … in about 1,000 years
posted at 5:46 pm on May 14, 2014 by Bruce McQuain
The cult of global warming, aka “alarmists”, have found a new drum on which to bang. Scientists recently announced that the western ice shelf in Antarctica is “collapsing”. Immediately the “Chicken Little” pronouncements of imminent doom were sounded by the usual suspects with all of it linked implicitly to AGW. The UK’s Guardian sounded the alarm in various headlines which read:
“Two separate studies confirm loss of ice sheet is inevitable, and will cause up to 4m of additional sea-level rise
‘Collapse will change the coastline of the whole world’
Reading on into the actual findings of the studies, however, one finds that the drama that is implicit in these headlines could have been tempered a bit with a very slight modification:
But the researchers said that even though such a rise could not be stopped, it is still several centuries off, and potentially up to 1,000 years away.
Oh. So it isn’t a crisis that will impact the world today or anytime in the near future, correct?
This is not new stuff either. This story has been popping up since 2008. I wrote about it here and here. As noted in 2008, a fairly simple discovery, not mentioned in any of these articles, proffered an explanation of why the ocean water was warming and the ice shelf in question then was melting.
“Scientists have just now discovered an active volcano under the Antarctic ice that “creates melt-water that lubricates the base of the ice sheet and increases the flow towards the sea”. That could include the Wilkins Ice Sheet as well (the article cited talks about the Larson A and B sheets.
But, say the alarmists, we’re not talking about Wilkins or the Larson sheets. We’re talking about the Thwaites glacier.
The study honed in on the Thwaites glacier – a broad glacier that is part of the Amundsen Sea. Scientists have known for years that the Thwaites glacier is the soft underbelly of the Antarctic ice sheet, and first found that it was unstable decades ago.
The University of Washington researchers said that the fast-moving Thwaites glacier could be lost in a matter of centuries. The loss of that glacier alone would raise global sea level by nearly 2ft.
Thwaites also acts as a dam that holds back the rest of the ice sheet. Once Thwaites goes, researchers said, the remaining ice in the sheet could cause another 10 to 13ft (3-4m) of global sea-level rise.
Ok. Well, let’s look at a couple of pictures then. The first is from the 2008 post I did on the volcano:
The second picture, from the Guardian article, shows the area of the study. The red dot is the glacier in question:
Does anyone notice anything interesting? Yes, that’s right, the glacier in question, is in the vicinity of the volcano in question. And I don’t think anyone would argue that a undersea volcano can’t heat up the sea in the vicinity to a little higher temperature than it would be normally. Has it had an effect? Who knows … it doesn’t appear to have been mentioned at all in the study. But, if you go to the Guardian article you’ll see an embedded 17 second video that attempts to explain the effect of the warmer water on the glacier. It shows less dense (and therefore lighter) warm water somehow flowing under much denser and therefore heavier cold water to destabilize the glacier. The only reasonable explanation for such a flow would be if the heat source were somewhere near the bottom of the ocean, no? Otherwise its hard to explain how that warm water got below the cold water and stayed there.
But if you question things like this, you’re an ignorant nincompoop. A “denier”, which, by the way is akin to being a member of the KKK and a Holocaust denier all in one. However, I’m certainly not denying that something is happening in Antarctica. I am questioning the purported cause though. It isn’t at all unimaginable that the side of Antarctica most exposed to warmer South Pacific sea currents and experiencing volcanic activity might see some melting due to causes unrelated to CO2 put in the atmosphere by man.
That, of course, won’t stop the cultist from declaring themselves to be the ones with science on their side and deniers to be the fact-challenged among us. Here’s a perfect example of that phenomenon from today’s NYT:
But the unfortunate fact about uncertainty is that the error bars always go in both directions. While it is possible that the problem could turn out to be less serious than the consensus forecast, it is equally likely to turn out to be more serious. In fact, it increasingly appears that, if there is any systemic bias in the climate models, it’s that they understate the gravity of the situation. In an interesting paper that appeared in the journal Global Environmental Change, a group of scholars, including Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard, and Michael Oppenheimer, a geoscientist at Princeton, note that so-called climate skeptics frequently accuse climate scientists of “alarmism” and “overreacting to evidence of human impacts on the climate system.” But, when you actually measure the predictions that climate scientists have made against observations of how the climate has already changed, you find the exact opposite: a pattern “of under- rather than over-prediction” emerges.
Really? If that’s the case, that should be pretty easy to demonstrate, shouldn’t it? Since pictures are worth 1,000 words, here’s a little picture I picked up over at The Federalist that does exactly that – it demonstrates that the pattern of the climate models is exactly as the “deniers” have claimed they are:
Somehow, the claimant from the NYT couldn’t be bothered to actually fact check. Instead she swallowed whole the alarmist line and regurgitated it with the usual ignorant literary smirk found in most of their fact free writing.
Sean Davis sums up the argument for most “deniers” very well:
I have a simple rule when it comes to people who want me to invest obscene sums of money in their forecasts of discrete future events: just be accurate. If you come to me and tell me you can predict future stock market performance based on these five factors, then you had better predict future stock market performance based on those five factors. All you have to do is be correct, over and over again. But if your predictive model is wrong, I’m not going to give you any money, and I’m certainly not going to pretend that what you just did is science. Any idiot can make incorrect guesses about the future.
Science, properly practiced, is the search for truth. Science, properly practiced, rejects forecasting models that consistently produce inaccurate forecasts. There’s nothing scientific about shouting down anyone who has the audacity to point out that the only thing your model can accurately predict is what the temperature won’t be.