Monday, January 23, 2017

SLC Due To Melting of Sea Ice

Mother Nature Cleaning Up The Mess
I. Background

Regular readers know that I have posted about the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice recently (e.g. Databases Galore - 16, Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 58).

Thus, they would also probably expect that the published peer-reviewed paper with the title "The melting of floating ice raises the ocean level" would catch my eye.

It is probably because I like to search out common myths in science, both ancient and modern, and remind myself and others that we are not immune from being utterly devoid of understanding an issue at any point in time (What Is Pseudo Science?).

II. Yet Another Common Scientific Myth

The part of the paper that hooked me up was this statement:
The melting of floating ice in a global warming will cause the ocean to rise.
Common lore (Warrick et al. 1996; Church et al. 2001; Miller & Douglas 2004; Oppenheimer 2004; Spokes 2004; Wadhams & Munk 2004; Williams 2004; Weart 2005; Kolbert 2005) holds that, due to Archimedes’ Principle (Archimedes, ca. 220BC), the melting of floating ice will not change the global mean sea level. The melting of ice was heretofore believed to raise the sea level only when the ice is supported by land (‘grounded ice’). This supposition is implicit in analyses of sea level rise that omit floating ice from the fluid budget (Meier & Wahr 2002) and explicit in Munk (2003), as well as Antonov et al. (2002), who directly state that the melting of floating ice is to be excluded in calculating sea level rise.
(SLC Due To Melting of Sea Ice, PDF version). They go on to point out that the common lore is myth, then they calculate the amounts involved.

But, this change is a minor player in the overall dynamics of sea level change (SLC).

I have written the same thing about melting Arctic sea ice (The AnthropoScenic Garbage-Gyre Level Rises).

Anyway, this interesting paper we are considering did not mention the relocation in any meaningful context, nor did the refer to Woodward 1888 or Mitrovica 1998, 2001, 2011 etc. concerning ice sheet gravity dynamics.

III. 2017 Collector's Report

I also ran across a report that may become a collector's treasure ... in the sense that if the deniers who have now taken power have their way science may be booted out of government considerations (CDC abruptly cancels long-planned conference on climate change and health, EPA Freezes Grants).

The report begins:
Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States

This report describes the output from a set of subtasks of the overall Task Force effort—specifically, developing updated scenarios of GMSL rise, and then regionalizing these global scenarios for the entire U.S. coastline, to serve as inputs into assessments of potential vulnerabilities and risks in the coastal environment. In addition to supporting the longer-term Task Force goals, this new set of products will also be a key input into the USGCRP Sustained Assessment process and the upcoming Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), due in 2018, including serving as a technical input to the in-progress USGCRP Climate Science Special Report (CSSR).
(NOAA Report SLC, Jan 2017, PDF). Get your free copy now, before the fact munchers get hold of it and make "alternate facts" out of it.

Anyway, it does mention Mitrovica several times, but does not seem to fully comprehend what he said or meant.

The bottom line was that there could be an 8 foot sea level rise by 2100, although they were not specific because they did get a glimpse of the point that global mean sea level (GMSL) is another episode of common lore.

The reality is that coastal area regional planners need to find out what their sea level rise at their location is going to be, not what it will be out in the middle of the ocean.

IV. Conclusion

Take care, put your lab coats on, and pitch in to thwart common lore, myth, ignorance, and the "alternate fact zone" as things heat up (Hansen et al. 2016).

We can do that much.


  1. "Multiple federal agencies have told their employees to cease communications with members of Congress and the press, sources have told The Huffington Post.

    The freeze has startled aides on the Hill and people at those agencies, who worry that it could abruptly upend current operations and stifle work and discussions that routinely take place between branches of government." - link

  2. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn't it?


    1. Indeed, Tom, any way we look at it.

      There are some massive things down under where we know less about it than we know about the moon (On Thermal Expansion & Thermal Contraction - 10).