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Greenland ice sheet is disintegrating

Written By: - Date published: 4:48 pm, August 28th, 2020 - 34 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, science - Tags: , , , ,

For the last 30 years, earth scientists have been warning that Greenland was nearing a tipping point into complete disintegration. Now authors of a new study published in Nature “Dynamic ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet driven by sustained glacier retreat” has claimed that, even if the climate now reverted to the levels where it was stable a few decades ago, that would probably still happen.

The paper is pretty impenetrable (I had to read it several times despite having a degree in earth sciences). But there is a human readable summary at CNN “Greenland’s ice sheet has melted to a point of no return, according to new study“.

Greenland’s ice sheet has melted to a point of no return, and efforts to slow global warming will not stop it from disintegrating. That’s according to a new study by researchers at Ohio State University.

“The ice sheet is now in this new dynamic state, where even if we went back to a climate that was more like what we had 20 or 30 years ago, we would still be pretty quickly losing mass,” Ian Howat, co-author of the study and a professor at Ohio State University, said.

CNN “Greenland’s ice sheet has melted to a point of no return, according to new study

Most of the mass loss over the past few decades has been around the coast where relatively warmer seawater can nibble at the edge of the glaciers. They’re retreating.

The study also found that the ice sheet is retreating in rapid bursts, leading to a sudden and unpredictable rise in sea levels, making it difficult to prepare for the effects.

The study used four decades of satellite data to measure changes in Greenland’s ice sheet. The authors found that after 2000, the ice sheet shrank so rapidly that replenishing snowfall would not keep up with the rate of melting from parts of the glacier newly exposed to warmer ocean water, even if climate change were reversed.

Entire coasts of ice are retreating at once due to climate change, Howat said, adding that all 200 glaciers that make up the Greenland ice sheet have been observed retreating within the same episode.

Even though the retreat of the Greenland Ice sheet likely cannot be reversed, it’s just the first in a series of tipping points. If climate change continues at this rate, the rate of melting will get much worse.

“We’ve passed the point of no return but there’s obviously more to come,” Howat said. “Rather than being a single tipping point in which we’ve gone from a happy ice sheet to a rapidly collapsing ice sheet, it’s more of a staircase where we’ve fallen off the first step but there’s many more steps to go down into the pit.”

CNN “Greenland’s ice sheet has melted to a point of no return, according to new study

This study clearly shows that the coastal loss over the last 4 decades has been the biggest contributor over that time period, presumably mostly from the retreat of the glaciers and calving at the ice / seawater interface. It has increased in rate significantly over the last two decades to the point that the current IPCC worst case is now the observed case.

However that isn’t the whole story, and in a lot of ways that isn’t the most worrying factor. When you look just over the last decade in Greenland, another factor shows up as being more of a worry in the furture. Melting due to surface conditions on top of the ice sheets.

The surface ice rot that has become evident over the last decade that helps to speed up the movement of ice at the coastal regions. This was particularly evident in 2016. There is a graphic example including a photo that was written about the quite warm 2016 season.

From a helicopter clattering over Greenland’s interior on a bright July day, the ice sheet below tells a tale of disintegration. Long, roughly parallel cracks score the surface, formed by water and pressure; impossibly blue lakes of meltwater fill depressions; and veiny networks of azure streams meander west, flowing to the edge of the ice sheet and eventually out to sea.

Science: “The great Greenland meltdown
Science: “The great Greenland meltdown
Meltwater fills bus-sized fractures near the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet, while dust and algae darken adjacent ice. ADAM LEWINTER/EXTREME ICE SURVEY

In Greenland, the great melt is on. The decline of Greenland’s ice sheet is a familiar story, but until recently, massive calving glaciers that carry ice from the interior and crumble into the sea got most of the attention. Between 2000 and 2008, such “dynamic” changes accounted for about as much mass loss as surface melting and shifts in snowfall. But the balance tipped dramatically between 2011 and 2014, when satellite data and modeling suggested that 70% of the annual 269 billion tons of snow and ice shed by Greenland was lost through surface melt, not calving. The accelerating surface melt has doubled Greenland’s contribution to global sea level rise since 1992–2011, to 0.74 mm per year. “Nobody expected the ice sheet to lose so much mass so quickly,” says geophysicist Isabella Velicogna of the University of California, Irvine. “Things are happening a lot faster than we expected.”

It’s urgent to figure out why, and how the melting might evolve in the future, because Greenland holds the equivalent of more than 7 m of sea level rise in its thick mantle of ice. Glaciologists were already fully occupied trying to track and forecast the surge in glacial calving. Now, they are striving to understand the complex feedbacks that are speeding up surface melting.

Although the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, high temperatures alone can’t explain the precipitous erosion of Greenland’s ice. Unseasonably warm summers appear to be abetted by microbes and algae that grow on the increasingly wet surface of the ice sheet, producing pigments that boost the ice’s absorption of solar energy. Soot and dust that blow from lower latitudes and darken the ice also appear to be playing a role, as are changes in weather patterns that increasingly steer warm, moist air over the vulnerable ice.

Science: “The great Greenland meltdown

While the water volumes themselves are of note for ocean levels, they are probably less important that their function as a lubricant for glaciers.

Unlike the loss of sea ice mass in both polar regions, this ice on Greenland and Antarctica mostly isn’t floating on water. The main effect of sea ice area reducing is to reduce the reflection of light and therefore energy back into space. It makes little direct difference to sea levels.

But the melt or calving off glaciers of ice that is on land will contribute directly to sea level rise. The reason why both of these factors, calving and surface melt, are important to understand.

But the net loss from Greenland is steadily accelerating sea level rises. Until 2000 Greenland, on average, accumulated as much mass as it shed. In the two decades of this century, it has been falling behind, creating sea water as a result.

Crumbling glaciers and torrents of melt-water slicing through Greenland’s ice block—as thick as ten Eiffel Towers end-to-end—were the single biggest source of global sea level rise in 2019 and accounted for 40 percent of the total, researchers reported in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.

Last year’s loss of mass was at least 15 percent above the previous record in 2012, but even more alarming are the long-term trends, they said.

“2019 and the four other record-loss years have all occurred in the last decade,” lead author Ingo Sasgen, a glaciologist at the Helmholtze Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, told AFP.

The ice sheet is now tracking the worst-case global warming scenario of the UN’s climate science advisory panel, the IPCC, noted Andrew Shepherd, director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds.

“This means we need to prepare for an extra ten centimetres or so of global sea level rise by 2100 from Greenland alone,” said Shepherd, who was not involved in the study.

PhysOrg “Sea level rise quickens as Greenland ice sheet sheds record amount”

Greenland is bad enough. But the West Antarctica Ice Sheet in many ways is in a more precarious state than Greenland. There is more ice to add to sea levels, and much of the ice sheet there is grounded on land that is below sea level.

Intruding relatively warmer water has been melting ice at the grounding lines, the area where the floating ice shelf meets the part resting on bedrock, and hence affects the ice shelf stability and flow rates. The ice streams have been increasing in speed markedly, and the grounding lines are moving inland faster.

Even a more modest rise of a couple of metres would redraw the world’s coastlines and render land occupied today by hundreds of millions of people uninhabitable.

PhysOrg “Sea level rise quickens as Greenland ice sheet sheds record amount”

Personally I’m less worried about people. They will move when sea water starts flooding their homes and sewer systems. It is likely to be a series of events over quite long periods of time as humans measure time. However the effects on the highly productive food growing regions near to coastlines and rivers over time is more worrisome. Sea level rises often are more expressed in ground waters and rivers becoming more saline, which have obvious agricultural implications.

My guess is that the IPCC is going to have to change what its old worst case scenario is to make it the current scenario. God knows what the worst case scenario will then look like.

34 comments on “Greenland ice sheet is disintegrating ”

  1. Byd0nz 1

    I can hear the voice of Private Fraser of Dads Army: "We're doomed"

  2. Pat 2

    Believe there was a similar conclusion re Antarctic ice sheets last year.

    • lprent 2.1

      The eastern ice sheet still looks pretty stable. There are only about two ice streams off it that are increasing in velocity. The only real warning sign there is that there is an increased snow deposition. That tends to indicate that the circum-Antarctica jetstream is leaking more than has been the case since the geophysical year.

      But there isn't enough of a baseline to indicate if those are significiant or not.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        The eastern ice sheet still looks pretty stable.

        Yeah, not any more. Published four days ago we have

        East Antarctic melting hotspot identified

        Ice is melting at a surprisingly fast rate underneath Shirase Glacier Tongue in East Antarctica due to the continuing influx of warm seawater into the Lützow-Holm Bay.

        And from two days ago:

        A new study says that many of the ice shelves ringing Antarctica could be vulnerable to quick destruction if rising temperatures drive melt water into the numerous fractures that currently penetrate their surfaces. The shelves help slow interior glaciers' slide toward the ocean, so if they were to fail, sea levels around the world could surge rapidly as a result.

        Bad news all round for the globe's large ice sheets.

    • lprent 3.1

      Probably why Trump keeps wanting to trade Puerto Rico for Greenland. He probably thinks that he can rename it Trumpland and in 300 years he'd be able to mind the interior.

      It will take a while before the interesting areas can be accessed. Any mining would have to be offshore or coastal for quite a while.

      Of course it'd be one of the more interesting places on earth to put in a mine because the weather there will be interesting for a quite a few centuries.

  3. Stuart Munro 4

    Apparently 50cm of sea level rise will displace 30% of Bangladesh – but NZ will not be well placed to receive them, because we will have to help many Pacific peoples for whom we have more direct responsibility.

    We really need to be making some fairly serious preparation – climate events on this scale are considered major factors in things like the bronze age collapse and the great drought that closed the era of the ancestral pueblo people.

  4. Jackel 5

    Never before in the history of humanity have so many human brains solved so little.

    • Stuart Munro 5.1

      Never before in the history of the world had such mass of human beings moved and suffered together. This was no disciplined march it was a stampede, without order and without a goal, six million people unarmed and unprovisioned driving headlong. It was the beginning of the end of civilization, of the massacre of mankind.

      The War of The Worlds H G Wells / Jeff Wayne

  5. RedLogix 6

    A good and timely post Lynn. I think I first posted here on the science predictions for the Ice caps almost 8 years ago. Well the day has arrived when the predictions became grim reality; a reality none can take pleasure in.

    Somewhere in between the denier tropes that would have us take no action, and the alarmist screeching that we have to shut the human system down in order to save it …. I'm interested in actions that will work for both the planet and for us.

    Without exception every durable human transition has at it's root a step change in how we harvest, accumulate and utilise energy. This means hyper-energising a new global civilisation. This is the fundamental consideration, that in order to progress beyond the current trap, we need the next step change, from the limited one based on carbon stored by photosythesis, to one based directly on the fuel of the stars themselves. This is the path forward, and it lies right at hand if only we can look with open eyes:

    A short 12 min excerpt from the very excellent documentary "Thorium. The Far Side of Nuclear Power.":


    • SPC 6.1

      Some would say the problem will be feeding people with less arable land available – with the loss of land close to rivers into the sea to salination.

      Others will note that other land will come into production with GW – but for mine as much land will be lost as gained from GW. And then the dislocation with transition to global production and supply chains means that for some time it is also a negative impact.

      The immediate problem however will be the need for greater food reserves to cope with climate change impacts.

      Certainly this will be the issue before power generation availability.

      But as for transition away from carbon energy, nuclear is an option. So is storage of more variable power supply to make greater use more practical. As well as investment in efficient use.

      When the world prints money to solve GW issues, rather than to save banks from the GFC or to keep the public economy afloat while lives and health systems are protected – then and only then will real action be taken.

      Capitalism and its debt to government is the threat to our civilisation

      • lprent 6.1.1

        Others will note that other land will come into production with GW …

        Climate change transitions tend to cause pretty chaotic weather effects that last decades. Our current agricultural patterns aren't very good at handling chaotic weather.

        Transition times for soil shifts can also take quite some time.

        • SPC


          The Russians and Canadians are the optimists. They both have carbon and they have a lot of cold areas.

      • RedLogix 6.1.2

        Capitalism and its debt to government is the threat to our civilisation

        The same old boring trope since Marx; a dead end. Political economy is merely the expression of what is possible; and without energy nothing is possible.

        It is science, technology and engineering which makes everything about the modern world possible, and at every step energy is involved in the story. Often in subtle and complex ways that are not immediately obvious. And certainly not obvious to our ancestors prior to the fossil carbon age who had no inkling of what marvels were possible when we burned coal in a high efficiency steam boiler.

        Well the same applies to us; we have no real idea of what is possible in our future if we unfettered ourselves from the bankrupt old orthodoxy's and took the next step; abundant, cheap and clean energy from nuclear sources that are safe, stable and efficient.

        The simple truth is that if Nixon's administration had not made the fatal error of cancelling the MSR-E program in the 1960's we would not be here having this conversation. The CC problem would have been solved decades ago, but we didn't because ideology overrode reality at the crucial moment.

        Climate change is real, it's a science and engineering problem. Lead with the science, the evidence and the data … and the politics will follow.

        • SPC

          Nuclear is not as cheap as carbon (even without the waste safety matter).

          How is non carbon energy afforded? Who affords it? And for whom?

          Solve that and then evidence led science is in the game.

          • RedLogix

            Nuclear is not as cheap as carbon (even without the waste safety matter).

            The old Pressurised Water technology became more expensive in the US because it became insanely over-regulated. In a number of other countries PWR reactors continued to be viable, delivering reliable affordable power at scale, despite it’s fundamental limitations.

            The goal of all the new generation reactors, and in particular the Molten Salt types is to be substantially cheaper than carbon. The fundamental engineering considerations make this a highly realistic goal, and a number of companies have programs well on track.

            PWR reactors that use solid fuel are very inefficient and create more waste volume than necessary. By contrast reactor designs where the fuel is in liquid form can easily consume 99% or better of all the fuel and actinides, resulting in a much lower volume of relatively safe material that only needs storing for a few hundred years at most. There are many places in the world where deep geological storage can achieve this safely and cheaply.

            (Almost all process technologies deal with materials in a liquid or gaseous form. Handling solid materials is extremely inefficient and cumbersome. The ORNL MSR-E reactor used to be sniffingly referred to by outside agencies as a ‘chemist’s reactor’, but in truth this was always it’s great strength.)

            Solve that and then evidence led science is in the game.

            There is a growing number of people, me included, who having looked at the actual science, have completely changed their mind on nuclear power. It's the best bet we have for navigating out of the CC trap.

            • Draco T Bastard

              IMO, nuclear is not an option in NZ. There's a good reason for them being called the Shaky Isles and, as we've learned, shaking a nuclear power station isn't a good idea.

              Wouldn't say no to nuclear powered ships though. They'd be okay unless they got caught in harbour during a tsunami.

              • RedLogix

                In the medium term NZ is in the rare position of not needed nuclear for electricity. I'm perfectly happy for us to extend our renewables within reason.

                However it's a complete misconception to imagine that nuclear power plants are inherently fragile. Current generation PWR designs are incredibly overbuilt from an earthquake perspective. The containment dome is designed to withstand the much greater forces involved in the event of a massive steam leak.

                I've personally been literally inside of a large industrial machine during an earthquake violent enough to throw me off my feet. Scary as hell, but afterwards we found zero damage and the entire plant restarted with nothing but some repairs to a few peripheral things like air handling ducts. The massive amount of steel and highly reinforced concrete that I was surrounded with meant that I was actually in the safest possible place.

                In the Sendai earthquake in Japan every single reactor in the entire country was automatically and safely scrammed before the operators even knew there was a quake. Sensors picked up the fast P-wave and dropped the control rods, stopping all fission, long before anyone was aware of the quake.

                The inherent flaw of all PWR reactors is however that they are not 'walk away safe'. If you park your car and turn it off, it will safely sit there doing nothing until you need it next. Large utility scale PWR reactors by contrast need a continuous flow of coolant for the next 24 – 72 hrs in order to avoid heat damage due to the residual reactivity from the fission products. Earthquakes threaten the security of the electricity supply needed to run these coolant flow pumps. Failure of this coolant flow was the root cause of the infamous Three Mile Island and Fukushima events.

                The man who has his name on the patent for the PWR reactor, Alvin Weinberg, actually understood this. His 1940's design worked well at small scales in submarines, but he foresaw this thermal vulnerability long before anyone else did. And then got ignored when he challenged the wisdom of relying on PWR reactors when scaled up to 1000's MW. With the passing of time he has been absolutely vindicated.

                Instead Alvin headed down the path of Molten Salt reactors. Whether the fuel is thorium or uranium it doesn't matter. The crucial points are these:

                1. The fuel is already liquid, it cannot undergo a dangerous 'meltdown'.
                2. The reactor has zero water inside of it. Steam explosions are designed out. This eliminates the requirement for the huge and expensive conventional containment dome.
                3. The ionic salts are chemically highly stable. Sodium and chlorine are dangerous elements, yet we sprinkle their common salt onto our food. In liquid flouride salts all the radioactive fission products (such as cesium and iodine) are similarly bound to the solution. They cannot be dispersed as volatiles as a steam explosion would.
                4. Unlike a solid fuel reactor, when a liquid fuel reaction increases in temperature the reactivity of the core decreases. This makes them exceedingly easy to control, and I say this as an automation engineer. The guys who ran the ORNL MSR-E reactor for over 6,000 hrs in the 1960's described running it as 'boring'.
                5. Every Friday afternoon the ORNL team shut the reactor down by turning off the cooling fans on the core 'freeze plug', which would then melt, and drain under gravity into dump tanks that were designed to both ensure zero chain reaction by geometry, and passively cool by itself. No power or pumps needed. Then they'd go home for the weekend and start the whole thing up on Monday morning. Essentially they did an 'emergency core dump' every weekend for several years. Worked every time.
                6. And finally, perhaps most importantly, unlike a PWR reactor, molten salt reactors operate at very low pressures, just above atmospheric. This eliminates a huge range of expensive engineering challenges and makes the entire thing self-repairing in the unlikely event of a leak. All that would happen is the salt would dribble out and then immediately freeze into a solid. No dispersion, no need to evacuate the region. The unit itself would need cleaning up, but it's an contained and manageable problem, and a highly unlikely event anyway.

                At each and every point above, we have a design that is now inherently ‘walk away safe’. Everything about the molten salt technology is different to the conventional nuclear paradigm we became accustomed to. Of course no technology is without it's challenges, and MSR's are no different. They still demand sound engineering and close regulatory control. But the core idea was thoroughly tested by Alvin Weinburg's team at ORNL in the 1960's. It's time we caught up with him.

              • RedLogix

                And here is a highly readable paper outlining in more detail the points I make above.


                Safety of MSRs are reviewed and assessment compared to conventional solid fueled LWRs. MSRs are safer and more stable since they don't reach high enough temperatures for meltdown (since the fuel is in a molten state) and the primary system is at a low operating pressure even at high temperature, due to the high boiling point (∼ 1400 °C at atmospheric pressure) and therefore do not require expensive containment or highly pressurized hot water. The MSR is not subject to safety concerns from chemical or mechanical violent reactions or explosions. The basic features of MSRs give the solutions for many problems for others solid fueled light water reactors, and eliminate the reasons for serious last accidents like TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima and more of basis and severe accidents will be decreased and limited.

                • Richard

                  Thank you for that link and your point by point summary.

                  The main takeaway for me though is what you point out above:

                  "…in order to progress beyond the current trap, we need the next step change…".

                  There needs to be an order of magnitude increase in clean energy production in order for humanity to thrive and decrease its environmental footprint. Only with the inclusion of next generation nuclear is there any realistic hope of achieving this.

            • SPC

              The British chose – Hinkley Point – to guarantee to pay a high cost for the power. Not cheaper than carbon or (variable) renewables.

              The French seem to be continuing with the pressurised water reactors (moving to 3rd generation as they decommission older ones, albeit reducing the amount of power from nuclear sources – also looking to exporting small reactors).


              With nuclear power type cost competitive in terms of price has to factor in cost of capital to build, corporates would want a rate of return on the investment to bother. Factors influencing this would be carbon taxation (or lack of) and subsidy for renewables.

              The availability of government loans for capital cost would change the game.

              How is non carbon energy afforded? Who affords it? And for whom? Solve that and then evidence led science is in the game.

              Most interested atm in the reactors you mention seems to be India.

              • RedLogix

                The Hinkley Point project has absolutely nothing to do with the MSR reactor types I am talking about. It's costs are irrelevant to my argument.

                Announced on Aug 1 this year is a MOU between ThorCon and the Indonesian govt for a small 50MW pilot scale MSR. The approach here is completely different to the old PWR designs like Hinkley Point.

                The EPC (Engineering, Procument and Construction) company is a large Sth Korean shipyard who have the in house capacity to manufacture units at their own facility and then literally ship them by sea to the end-users.

                Secondly, and this is also critically important to the economics, the temperature that MSR's operate at is typically around 750 degC. By contrast PWR's are limited by the properties of water to about 350 degC. This means the conventional PWR's powered plants must use special large diameter steam turbine type that are only used in these plants. They is only one manufacturer of them, and then in very low numbers, and they are hellish expensive. It's not well understood that in conventional PWR plants some 85% of the total costs are in the balance of plant outside of the reactor, because everything is so specialised. The nuclear qualified cooling pumps that are needed are incredibly expensive (I know I used to work for a vendor that made them in the US). The control systems are triple redundant, highly specialised and expensive. All through the plant the same story repeats over and over, because the industry has been forced to layer multiple levels of redundant systems and protection, to cover for the fundamental limitations of using water in the nuclear core.

                But because MSR's operate at much higher temperatures, very similar to a standard coal or gas boiler, all of the balance of plant equipment is bog standard and commonplace. Even when you go to fancy super-critical turbines for maximum efficiency, there are still many vendors lining up for the job. Most of the critical controls and layers of redundancy are simply not needed; the entire plant has a totally different safety demand profile.

                And the biggest ticket item of all, the huge containment dome necessary on the old PWR’s, and made by only one manufacturer in Japan, is simply not needed.

                The whole of ThorCon's approach is to manufacture power plants in factories using industry standard methods and materials, and then ship them to site, which is most cases will be nothing more than a sheltered sea dock and some power infrastructure to connect to. This is a far cheaper approach than the traditional site construction methods the industry has used in the past.

                Again everything about MSR's is different to the old paradigm, and that includes their economics.

        • SPC

          In reference to Nixon he seems to have changed his mind (possibly because of rising carbon prices and supply concerns) and was supporting nuclear power in 1973.


          Carter's decision in 1977 was the decisive one.


          • RedLogix

            Alvin Weinburg clearly stated that it was Nixon's administration that defunded and shut down the MSR-E program in the late 1960's. In particular an especially odious and probably corrupt man called Milton Shaw was at the centre of the matter.

            Nixon and his mates wanted to pork barrel a 'fast breeder reactor' design that was being built in Southern California, and shut down the ORNL machine to divert funds to it. It turned out very expensive, very complicated and ultimately a total failure. But it got Nixon votes. A good example of why putting politics ahead of science is always a bad idea.

            Your link to the proliferation issue is a reasonable one. There is ongoing debate over whether the thorium/protactinium/uranium cycle is more or less prone to weapons production than the conventional uranium/plutonium cycle. The point that the article misses however is that U-233 (the isotope of concern) is an intense gamma emitter and readily detectable by satellite sensors anywhere on earth. If a bad actor did attempt such a project it would be not only highly dangerous to the individuals handling the material, but obvious to authorities everywhere.

            And finally while molten salt reactors and thorium fuel are often associated, they are two separate things. It’s entirely feasible to do a conventional uranium cycle in a MSR, and indeed this is the path at least one of the next gen companies is pursuing.

            • Draco T Bastard

              A good example of why putting politics ahead of science is always a bad idea.

              Still say that legislation should conform to the known science. The free-lunch that farmers (and many other industries) have been getting for their polluting would be gone by lunchtime.

        • RedLogix

          A brand new excerpt that includes crucial testimony on why the Nixon administration cancelled the MSR-E and Alvin Weinberg was fired from his role at ORNL for challenging the PWR industry on it's safety profile. Keep in mind this was an industry deliberately shunning the advice of the very man who had invented their design (for submarines) in the 1940’s.

          The consequences of this bad faith decision making are what we now call the climate change crisis. Ponder that.

          (And a correction to the above; it was in 1973. Not the late 1960's as I suggested above.)

  6. PaddyOT 7

    Reply re- NZ, Iprent

    Interesting recent links include the map link which gives a summary of predictions and impacts by regions.


    And this Climate Cloud site is more direct


  7. Draco T Bastard 8

    It has increased in rate significantly over the last two decades to the point that the current IPCC worst case is now the observed case.

    Hasn't that been true for every IPCC report for the last 20 years? The worst case scenario is the one that the world has been following despite the worst case supposedly being the most unlike when the projections were done.

    My guess is that the IPCC is going to have to change what its old worst case scenario is to make it the current scenario. God knows what the worst case scenario will then look like.

    And then, considering just how well we're doing to cut GHG emissions we'll likely follow that worst case scenario as well.

    I think we need to be planning on multiple metre rise in sea levels by the end of the century.

  8. PsyclingLeft.Always 9

    Antarctic Ice melt bad…Arctic Ice melt worse…but the previously solidly frozen Siberian Tundra? Releasing Methane, which is a much worse Greenhouse Gas than CO2…

    National Geographic


    NSIDC…Very Informative Site !


    Scientists….we absolutely must listen to them…and ACTION !

  9. Maurice 11

    … and meanwhile the Earth is greening – the plants are loving the higher levels of FOOD – CO2

    • RedLogix 11.1

      In the long run plants (and most other life on earth) would adapt to higher levels of CO2. This kind of response is exactly why life is such a remarkably diverse and universal feature of our planet. Pretty much anywhere there is an energy source you will find some form of life adapted to exploit it.

      But this of course ignores that our present civilisation is highly adapted to a specific set of climatic and agricultural conditions that have obtained for at least the past 10,000 years. Our food supply systems are remarkably complex and sophisticated and there is absolutely zero reason to think that a rapid (on evolutionary timescales) changes in climate and CO2 levels would have anything other than destructive.

      Sure in another 10,000 years we might well see a new Jurassic era, with an intense and thriving biosphere. But if most of humanity starves inside the next 100 years due to climate disruption, I'd not call this a win. You need a better plan.

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