Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Why Sea Level Rise May Be The Greatest Threat To Civilization - 3

Fig. 1 East Coast Ground Zero
I. Some Background

Regular readers know that recent posts have covered the coming invasion of the East Coast of the United States by sea level rise (SLR).

We don't know if that is happening because the U.S. Military has taken Dredd Blog's advice to invade ourselves, because that is probably the only way to get rotting U.S. infrastructure repaired (every nation we invade gets billions for repairs, so we might as well invade ourselves and get it over with: War - Great Stimulant - Let's Invade us, 2).

Anyway, to read more about SLR areas already covered by those Dredd Blog posts, click here ("Series Posts" tab link), then arrow down to the "SEA LEVEL RISE" link area.

II. Even More Ice Streams

In those previous posts we covered various sources of SLR in ice streams, but we need to continue to keep a general focus on them, because there are a lot of ice streams in Antarctica (List of Antarctic ice streams).

So, today we will cover a different ice stream source in an area where ice loss has doubled, the Antarctic (BBC).
Fig. 2 USGS (click to enlarge)

Specifically, we will look closely at only a few ice streams there, as we have already closely looked at ice streams elsewhere (Greenland & Antarctica Invade The United States).

Then, we will zoom in to focus on two ice streams in a specific area, the Amundsen Sea Embayment, which engenders the Thwaites Ice Stream and the Pine Island Ice Stream (a.k.a. glaciers).

The reason I have chosen those two ice stream glaciers is because they are accelerating substantially, and they have enough SLR potential to qualify as an area of interest (Antarctic glacial melt rate triples in Amundsen Sea embayment).

III. Our Area of Interest Is 1 meter / 3 feet of SLR

Fig. 3 Amundsen Sea Embayment
The entire Antarctic Peninsula, if all ice melted and entered the sea, would only generate 1.51 feet of SLR (see Fig. 2).

However, if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to do the same, it would generate 26.44 feet of SLR (again, see Fig. 2).

Thus, only about 11% (3 ÷ 26.44) of that potential is needed to cause SLR of 3 ft / 1m, the threshold level I am using as a point to focus on (that figure is based on the statement by scientists, in the video below, that a 1m / 3ft SLR would be catastrophic to coastal areas).

Including the East Coast area that already has 1.5 feet of SLR (see Fig. 1).

IV. The Nitty Gritty

Over a year has passed since the paper referred to in the following quote was published:
"A massive glacier system in West Antarctica has started collapsing because of global warming and will contribute to significant worldwide sea-level rise, two teams of scientists warn in a pair of major studies released Monday.

Scientists had previously thought the two-mile-thick (3.2 kilometers) glacier system would remain stable for thousands of years, but new research suggests a faster time frame for melting.

A rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in irreversible decline and will sink into the sea, scientists at the University of California, Irvine and NASA reported Monday.

"This retreat will have major implications for sea-level rise worldwide," said Eric Rignot, a UC-Irvine Earth science professor and lead author of a study to be published in a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
The glaciers contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 4 feet (1.2 meters) and are melting faster than most scientists had expected, which will require adjusting estimates of sea-level rise, said Rignot, who is also a glaciologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California."
(National Geographic, emphasis added). Those two glaciers only need to melt / calve 75% of their potential in order to engender 1m / 3ft SLR (3 ÷ 4 = 0.75).

V. The Odds Are Against Us

These two glaciers alone can contribute more than 1m / 3 ft of SLR necessary to cause a global catastrophe, but they are definitely not the only SLR game in town:
To spark our interest, and bind ourselves to a sober view of this phenomenon which is called "The Biggest Story in the World" (according to a worldwide circulation news source), first consider the following quote from the video below:
2:43 - "One meter [of SLR] would be a global catastrophic event, 3 meters would remap the world as we know it?"

2:50 - "Yes, absolutely."
(emphasis added). This allows us to focus our attention on 1m / 3ft. of SLR, because it would be "a global catastrophic event."

The delicacy of the issue can be seen ... by realizing that only 1.14% of the global ice volume needs to melt to get us there (3 ft ÷ 263.5 ft. = 0.011385 = 1.14%).

The overall invader needs to use only 1.14% of its forces to accomplish the invasion.
If a small portion of one glacier (the Totten Glacier) in East Antarctica melts, or otherwise slides into the sea, the same will happen:
"How little it will take can also easily be seen by a statement from a scientist who is studying those locations closely and regularly:
'One of them, Totten glacier, holds the equivalent of seven metres of global sea level.' [a lower estimate is "at least" 3.3 metres here]
(Dr. Rignot East Antarctica glaciers, cf. Totten Glacier Melting). The percentage of that one glacier which needs to melt to cause 3 ft. / 1 m. of SLR is: 1÷7 = 0.142857143 = 14.3%."
(Why Sea Level Rise May Be The Greatest Threat To Civilization). That is a slim margin, because the Totten Glacier is showing signs of decomposition (Nature).
The NEGIS is 16% of the entire GIS, JI is 8%, while KG & HG are at ~2% each.

These four entities make up 28% of the total ice in the GIS.

The entire GIS represents 21.49 ft. of SLR (Fig. 2), so 28% of that is (21.49 × .28) 6.02 feet.

Which means that only half of that amount (14%) is needed to reach "3 ft. / 1 m. of SLR."
(Greenland & Antarctica Invade The United States). There are many more ice streams to consider, but you get the point (they are all melting in some degree at the same time NOW).

VI. Don't Wait For The Models

The scientists keep saying (and I keep quoting them) that the models are seriously underestimating SLR.

That means catastrophic SLR is closer than we think, and far more certain than we have been told.

SLR is on the march, and there are no defenses other than leaving the fossil fuels in the ground, going code red for renewable, non-polluting energy sources, and waiting to see if it works or not (i.e. are we already too late?).

It would not hurt at all in the long run, to consider shutting down civilization as we know it for awhile (if we don't SLR will).

VII. Conclusion

Now you know why the "pessimists" (a.k.a. realists) are winning most of the bets on this issue, and why I am repeating some of this information ad nauseum.

We really need to get this particular point, because it is happening, and it is even a matter of law.

Law, one of the slowest areas to get much of anything that is current (Global Warming Induced Climate Change Is A Matter of Law, Public Trust Litigation).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

HBO Vice: "Our Rising Oceans", with Dr. Eric Rignot:

2:43 - "One meter [of SLR] would be a global catastrophic event, 3 meters would remap the world as we know it?"

2:50 - "Yes, absolutely."

1 comment:

  1. Remember that the destruction of civilization is not the same as the destruction of the human species.

    One comes before the other.