In a world that sees two meter sea level rise, with continued flooding ahead, it will take extraordinary effort for the United States, or indeed any country, to look beyond its own salvation. All of the ways in which human beings have dealt with natural disasters in the past…could come together in one conflagration: rage at government’s inability to deal with the abrupt and unpredictable crises; religious fervor, perhaps even a dramatic rise in millennial end-of-day cults; hostility and violence towards migrants and minority groups, at a time of demographic change and increased global migration; intra-and interstate conflict over resources, particularly food and fresh water. Altruism and generosity would likely be blunted. R. James Woolsey former CIA director 2007
As summer begins in the southern hemisphere, global warming has melted huge tracts of Antarctic sea ice. The smallest extent of sea ice ever observed by satellite just a day or so ago.
The Amundsen Sea Inlet is about the size of Texas, and the ice is about two miles thick. The ASE is one of three ice drainage basins in West Antarctica. Includes ice from Pine Island Glacier, Ninnis, and the remaining portion of the Thwaites Glacier Tongue. The seaward flow of glaciers on the embankment has accelerated significantly since the turn of the century. Snowfall is what adds volume to ice streams and it hasn’t changed.
The central tongue of Thwaites Glacier formed a dramatic rift in 2001, and in 2002 it broke away from the main glacier, got stuck on a sea mount and stayed there until NASA Worldview images showed the iceberg called B22 breaking free this month and Now it floats swiftly towards the open sea. The development is critical news as Thwaites is now exposed to storm action from southern ocean waves that will repeatedly lift and batter the vulnerable and retreating shelf coined as the doomsday glacier. The Thwaites collapse and possibly all of the land ice from the Amundsen Sea Embayment to flow into the ocean, raising worldwide sea levels by four feet.
If you’re wondering if this news has already made headlines, it hasn’t.
Meanwhile, the neighboring Pine Island Glacier, a source of geothermal heat from sub-ice volcanic activity, has been confirmed. There is much discussion about what this will mean, but the finding in no way contradicts the severe weather impacts on Pine Island Bay. Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) “is the primary heat source for glacial ice melt and its increased presence on the Amundsen Sea continental shelf has been implicated in the rapid melting and grounding line retreat observed below of the Pine Island Glacier…”
The study confirmed active “Geochemical evidence for a volcanic heat source upstream of the rapidly melting Pine Island Ice Shelf, documented by helium isotope ratios in seawater at the ice shelf cavity front.”
In other words, the volcano is not directly melting the ice. Volcanism has the potential to heat the bedrock together with the friction generated by ice crushing on the bedrock, which will cause land ice to slide into the southern ocean much more easily.
Deniers will likely use this study to deny the science of glaciology. Elon Musk has unleashed trolls to berate, ridicule and threaten climate scientists. Don’t feed the trolls; they will come after you if you do.
The mantle 3Observed in front of the Pine Island Ice Shelf, first in 2007 and again in 2014, reveals the presence of a volcanic heat source upstream of the ice shelf. The observation of this unique helium isotope signature, along with what is known of the glacier’s bed shapes and fluvial morphology, suggests that this volcanic heat source lies within the Hudson Ridge, and is driving a melt. subglacial that later crosses the ice shelf. line. Our calculations indicate that the volcanic heat source is comparable in magnitude to active vent fields found along oceanic spreading centers. The inferred heat supply is more than ten times the thermal energy released by inactive (but not extinct) shield volcanoes on earth.
These geochemical measurements provide an independent line of evidence for current subglacial volcanism in Marie Byrd Land. They also support a growing list of studies showing that regional volcanism is a recurring feature of the basal boundary below the WAIS. The current estimate of the convective volcanic heat flux alone suggests a heat source of what = 2500 MW, which is ~50% the size of the Grimsvötn volcano in Iceland, even before sensible and conductive heat flux has been accounted for. Simulations of the adjacent Thwaites Glacier may suggest that such a heat source will not significantly alter the rate of subglacial melt compared to the high rate of friction.58, but this could be a circular argument if volcanic heat supply is already part of the recipe for the processes that lead to high velocity and frictional heating of the ice streams at Pine Island and Thwaites Glacier. The magnitude and variations in the rate of volcanic heat supplied to the Pine Island Glacier, either by internal migration of magma8or by an increase in volcanism as a consequence of the thinning of the ice sheet61it may affect the future dynamics of Pine Island Glacier, during the contemporary period of climate-driven glacial retreat.