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How Long Can You Tread Water, Coastal America?
By Ernest Stewart
"We know we're going to have sea rise. This is literally a one-way street now. The only thing we're discussing now is how fast, it's not whether anymore, and then eventually how much." ~~~ Dr. Harold Wanless, chairman of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Miami
British researchers say regional patterns of melting of glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula are linked with warming oceans in the region. The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the biggest contributors to sea level rise, so the new finding will help pinpoint how fast and how high seas will rise in the decades ahead.
The southernmost glaciers flowing to the coast on the western side of the Peninsula are retreating rapidly, but those in the north show little change, the scientists said in a new study published last week in the journal Science. Since accurate measurements started in the 1940s, 94 percent of the 674 glaciers in the region have retreated. I'm going to repeat that again for those of you on drugs!
"The findings change the way scientists think about the effects of global warming in Antarctica. Most previous evidence suggested that atmospheric warming was the main cause of the meltdown, but the warming ocean may be a bigger factor," said Swansea University researcher Dr. Alison Cook in a press release accompanying the study.
"The numerous glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula give a key insight as to how environmental factors control ice behavior on a wide scale. Almost all glaciers on the western side end in the sea, and we've been able to monitor changes in their ice fronts using images as far back as the 1940s. Glaciers here are extremely diverse and yet the changes in their frontal positions showed a strong regional pattern.After analyzing temperature data from around the peninsula from the last few decades, as well as photography and satellite data of the 674 glaciers, the researchers found that the north-south gradient of increasing glacier retreat was found to show a strong pattern with ocean temperatures, whereby water is cold in the north-west, and becomes progressively warmer at depths below 100 meters farther south. Importantly, the warm water at mid-depths in the southerly region has been warming since as long ago as the 1990s, at the same time as the widespread acceleration in glacier retreat.
Study co-author Mike Meredith, of the British Antarctic Survey, said:
"Warm waters intruding onto the continental shelf and spreading toward the coast carry heat to the glaciers, causing them to break up and melt.The researchers emphasized the speed with which the glaciers are changing.
"We have known the region is a climate warming hotspot for a while, but we couldn't explain what was causing the pattern of glacier change," said Professor Tavi Murray, who leads the Glaciology Research Group at Swansea University.
Now we know why West Antarctica is melting faster than East Antarctica and the great West Antarctic ice sheet, which is, larger than Mexico, is thought to be potentially vulnerable to disintegration from a relatively small amount of global warming. Therefore, capable of raising the sea level by 12 feet or more should it break up, and breaking up at an accelerated rate is what it is doing. A 12 foot rise in the oceans would make life unlivable in most US coastal cities. Can you imagine what a 12 foot ocean rise would do to a force five hurricane? Ergo, if we do nothing to stop global warming, then we may soon find out!
07-31-1938 ~ 07-16-2016
Thanks for the music!
11-13-1934 ~ 07-10-2016
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09-13-1933 ~ 07-21-2016
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Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2016 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for 14 years was the managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.