Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Study Confirms World's Coastal Cities Unsavable If We Don't Slash Carbon Pollution | ThinkProgress

Study Confirms World's Coastal Cities Unsavable If We Don't Slash Carbon Pollution | ThinkProgress:

This article discusses the melt-off of Antarctica as discussed in a new Nature article. They did a better and more detailed analysis of the volume of water that would move into oceans as the Antarctic melts. They resolved a few of the issues that were not fully addressed by other studies. In addition to the models of ice volume/dynamics, they compared current warming with other times in history, thus offering benchmarks for validating their analysis.

Even as many areas of Antarctica have been collapsing at an alarming rate, there has also been evidence of the snow building in the center of the (island? of Antarctica). This Nature study seems to resolve these apparent inconsistencies. They build a strong argument that we need to do a LOT now, not later. Many coastal cities will partially or totally under water if we continue for several more decades under the old business-as-usual model of carbon emissions.

DeConto and Pollard (2016) in their article Contribution of Antarctica to Past and Future Sea-Level Rise look at ice dynamics to better analyze the volume of ice that should be displaced into the ocean waters as temperatures rise. They ran models under business-as-usual and more aggressive action scenarios. Then, they paired their results with key times in history where temperatures where high and sea-levels rose.

They concluded that a likely scenario if we delay action is 1 meter (3.28 ft.)  of sea-level rise by end of century and 15 meters (~50 ft) by 2500 that would be attributable to antarctic ice melt. Add thermal expansion and other factors and this represents an ugly, ugly prospect.

DeConto, R. M., & Pollard, D. (2016). Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise. Nature, 531(7596), 591–597. doi:10.1038/nature17145

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