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More on Antarctica. It IS melting….and fast!

A couple of days ago I posted an article from Time that discussed the rate of loss of Antarctic Ice. Another article has appeared, this time from Slate that explains what’s going on in simple terms, so that even deniers might be able to understand it.

Iceberg B31 recently broke off of Pine Island Bay in West Antarctic. Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE / EOSDIS Rapid Response

by Phil Plait from Slate

The scientists used observations from four different techniques to measure the amount and change in rate of ice loss from a region in West Antarctica. This area was already known to be melting at an astonishing rate; a recent study using Cryosat 2 showed that in the period from 2010 to 2013, the region was losing ice to the tune of 134 billion metric tons of ice per year.

The new study looked at four observation sets covering the years 1992–2013. They found that on average over that time, ice loss from West Antarctica was about 83 billion metric tons per year … but the average increase in that loss was 6.1 billion tons every year. By the end of the time range, the numbers between the new study and the one from CryoSat2 are consistent.

Amundsen sea
The location of the Amundsen Sea embayment, where the studies were done.

Illustration by NASA

This is staggering. Staggering. Imagine a block of ice a mile wide, a mile long, and a mile high—the size of a mountain. That would weigh something less than 6 billion tons.*

But it’s worse than that. We’re not just losing more ice every year; the rate itself is accelerating. We’re losing ice faster now than we were 21 years ago, and the rate at which we’re losing ice has more than doubled that average over that time span.

Think of it this way. Imagine in a given year that area lost 100 billion tons of ice. At an increase of 6 billion more tons per year every year, then the next year it would lose 106 billion tons, then 112 the year after that, and so on.

But in fact that loss rate is increasing. So it goes from 100 billion tons one year to 106 the next, then (say) 113 the year after that, to (say) 121 after that … The new study indicates that at the more recent end of the time range (2003-2011), ice loss is accelerating by nearly 16 billion tons per year every year.

This is the same math as freefall, an apt analogy. Antarctica is melting. Fast.

And this isn’t some natural variation, it’s not sunspots, it’s not the Earth’s orbit changing. It’s us. These changes aren’t happening on geologic or astronomical timescales, they’re happening on human timescales. We’re dumping carbon dioxide into the air at an accelerated rate, and there’s now more CO2 in the atmosphere than there has been for at 800,000 years. As my Slate colleague Eric Holthaus points out, the North Pole is draining away as well. We’re melting at both poles.

For decades, we’ve played at geoengineering by accident. Now we know what we’re doing, and it’s time we stopped playing. The deniers may stick their fingers in their ears and ignore or distract or sow doubt about what’s going on around them, but the rest of us can hear what our planet is telling us quite well.

The science is in, the scientists agree, and the global thermometer keeps rising ever upwards. After all this time, maddeningly, we’re still at Step 1: acknowledging the problem. It’s way past time we got past that and started doing something about it.

As always, don’t be fooled by people saying Antarctic sea ice is growing. Its growth is tiny, far smaller than what’s being lost, and sea ice comes and goes every season; the ice loss in West Antarctica is from glaciers on land, and won’t be coming back.

*Correction, Dec. 3, 2014, at 14:30 UTC: I originally wrote that mass loss was increasing at 6 billion tons per year, but neglected to add that this loss was accelerating, and is now at 16 billion additional tons per year every year. My thanks to Twitter user @didaclopez for pointing this out.

Original article here

For anyone who might be struggling to grasp what an accelerating rate of loss means, this old video from 2000 is an excellent primer for understanding exponential growth.

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Fastest-Melting Region of Antarctica Triples Rate in a Decade

Originally posted on TIME:

The fastest-melting region of Antarctica is doing so at a rate triple that of a decade ago, according to a new analysis, making it the largest area contributor to the rise in sea level.

The findings of the 21-year study by scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of California, Irvine offer the most precise estimates yet of just how fast glaciers in West Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea Embayment are melting. Scientists determined the rate by taking several radar, laser and satellite measurements of the glaciers’ mass to measure changes over time; between 1992 and 2013, they lost an average of 91.5 billion U.S. tons per year, or what they calculated as the equivalent of losing the water weight of Mt. Everest every two years.

“We have an excellent observing network now,” Isabella Velicogna, a co-author of the study, said in the statement. “It’s critical that we maintain…

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December 10th. An hour of climate activism, please. Mark your calendars.

December 10th. An hour of climate activism, please. Mark your calendars..

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Australia should export more ideas and fewer greenhouse emissions

Originally posted on News @ CSIRO:

Our solar-concentrating heliostats can be used for several purposes, including creating high-energy ‘SolarGas’

Our solar-concentrating heliostats can be used for several purposes, including creating high-energy ‘SolarGas’.

ByAlex Wonhas, Executive Director, Energy and Resources 

As climate negotiators meet at the United Nations’ Lima summit, which comes hot on the heels of the landmark US-China climate deal, there is a renewed focus on how the world can move to a lower-emissions future.

As a global energy superpower, Australia can and should play a significant role in ensuring that its exports contribute as few greenhouse emissions as possible. Exporting ideas, technologies and solutions can play an important part in achieving this outcome.

One of Australia’s great strengths is its vast natural resources. Australia is a global top-three energy exporter; by 2018, it is expected to be the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the world’s second-largest exporter of coal, and world’s third-largest exporter of uranium.

All of these exports drive…

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“Real” experts’ on climate change? Really?


This poster and the claims on it, including calling these people “experts” is so ridiculous it actually kills satire.

Originally posted on Open Parachute:

The Heartland Institute has produce a new propaganda poster on climate change. Here it is:

heritage poster

And this is what they say about it:

This poster presents clear and undeniable evidence that the debate is not over. Looking out from this poster are 58 real experts on the causes and consequences of climate change. Each of them refutes the existence of a “consensus of scientists” on the size of the human impact on climate, or whether it merits immediate action. Many of these experts say the threat is grossly exaggerated, often to advance a political agenda.

So they have raked up 58 “experts” – and how do they define “real experts?

Apparently their criteria is that they have spoken at one of the Heartland Institute’s climate denial conferences!

Sure they claim of these “real experts:”

“They include current and former professors of climatology, geology, environmental science, physics, and economics at…

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Tony Abbott is beyond appalling

Originally posted on oecomuse:

You know how Abbott is just too appalling for words? How every single thinking Australian – and many others besides – are all cringing in horror at the evil clown act we have as Australian Prime Minister? Which is insulting to evil clowns?

You know how all these claims are kicking around social media about Tony Abbott’s brain, some of which have – but should not have – ventured into intellectual disability and mental health diagnosis territory? Because we simply can not fully comprehend the repulsive creepiness of this which was apparently democratically elected?

Yes, it is all questions. Tony Abbott is stupendously dense and revolting. But that is not the main problem. The key question we struggle with is this: how is it that a man who is an apparently legitimately elected leader of the country incapable of speaking sense? What the hell kind of system produces a head…

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Economic growth and climate change

Originally posted on Climate, People & Organizations:

With the coming G20 talks about to kick off in Brisbane, the focus of the agenda centres on economic growth as the panacea for all our troubles. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey have been adamant in their focus upon the need to increase economic growth globally. It’s rare, if not impossible to find anyone in the mainstream public debate who questions the wisdom of ever-increasing economic growth. And yet there is a major underlying problem in our collective worship and addiction to growth – climate change.

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