The melting of glaciers – and accompanying sea level rise – may not seem like some major issue you need to address now … especially with all the concern about the Covid-19 pandemic and global economic recession. But something like 80% of Earth’s population lives within 50 miles of a sea. Most our biggest cities are very near the sea. And more and more cities are experiencing regular flooding, even without a major storm coming. It’s no longer a problem “for some future generation.” It’s here. Now. After the report, I’ll add “actions to take” suggestions you might consider.
• • • • • • • •
Greenland Is Melting
at Some of the Fastest
Rates in 12,000 Years
If greenhouse gas emissions do not decline, melt
rates could quadruple and further add to sea level rise
October 1, 2020
The vast Greenland ice sheet is melting at some of its fastest rates in the past 12,000 years. And it could quadruple over the next 80 years if greenhouse gas emissions don’t decline dramatically in the coming decades.
Research published yesterday in the journal Nature warns that the ice sheet’s future losses depend heavily on how quickly humans cut carbon emissions today.
Led by Jason Briner of the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, the study is among the first to compare the possible future of the ice sheet with its ancient past. Josh Cuzzone, a co-author of the study and a scientist at the University of California, Irvine, said …
“Now we’re really able to
put into perspective just
how anomalous our cur-
rent change is and fu-
ture changes might be.”
The researchers used models, informed by data from ancient ice samples drilled out from the ice sheet, to reconstruct a history of Greenland spanning the past 12,000 years. They also used models to predict how the ice sheet might change under different climate scenarios, assuming both higher and lower levels of greenhouse gases, through the rest of this century.
The findings were concerning.
Before the industrial era, the highest rates of Greenland ice loss in 12,000 years were around 6 trillion tons of ice in a single century. That’s similar to the rate at which ice is melting in Greenland today.
As the climate continues to warm, those rates are expected to increase. How much depends on how fast the climate warms.
The researchers examined two possible future climate scenarios. The first assumes that humans manage to keep global temperatures within about 2 degrees Celsius of their preindustrial levels — the major goal of the international Paris climate agreement.
In this scenario, Greenland will likely still lose more than 8 trillion tons of ice over the course of this century — a faster rate than at any other point in the last 12,000 years.
The second scenario assumes high rates of greenhouse gas emissions, similar to today’s emissions, for the rest of the century. If that happens, the models suggest the ice sheet could lose 14 trillion to 36 trillion tons of ice over the course of this century. Researchers are now …
“… increasingly certain that we are
about to experience unprecedented
rates of ice loss from Greenland,
unless greenhouse-gas emissions
are substantially reduced,”
… Andy Aschwanden, a researcher at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, said in a commentary on the research also published yesterday in Nature.
The amount of future ice loss could make a big difference to communities around the world through its effect on sea levels.
Greenland is already the biggest contributor to global sea-level rise. And the difference in 20 trillion or 30 trillion extra tons of ice between now and the end of the century could amount to several centimeters of sea-level rise around the world.
That may not sound like much, but …
… it could make a dramatic differ-
ence in the amount of flooding
experienced by coastal cities.
There are other consequences as well. The influx of cold, fresh meltwater pouring into the sea could have far-reaching effects on the structure and flow of ocean currents and the way they exchange heat with the atmosphere. That could affect weather patterns around the world.
The new study reiterates that preventing the worst of these consequences requires swift, stringent efforts to reduce global carbon emissions today. Cuzzone said …
“It does show that, at least with these
scenarios and this ice sheet model,
that if we cut back on our carbon emis-
sions we can avoid the worst case that
we’re kind of heading toward currently.”
• • • • • • • •
Well, melting glaciers that are hundreds of miles away might not seem like much of a pressing issue where you live, today. When the impacts of climate change were initially projected by climatologists and those forecasts included increases in the frequency and severity of major negative weather events – such as hurricanes and tornedos – that also felt like something that wasn’t especially immediate or threatening. Now we’re experiencing the reality of those forecasts.
- Because of constant flooding, prime ocean-front estates in Miami are being sold for whatever the owners can get.
- Californians and other west coasters are looking for places to live that will not be burned down by forest fires.
- More and more streets in Norfolk, Virginia are flooding with each high tide … not just storm-related tidal surges.
The question, then, is:
What’s the best thing for you to do … now?
Asking D, the entity my wife channels, here are a few comments …
“Wherever you live, start determining if there are weather-related issues that are getting worse … or more severe. This includes flooding from oceans or rivers, increases in heat and forest fires, or droughts (which deplete the aquifers.) If “yes” is the answer, you need to start considering leaving where you live now if it’s slowly becoming uninhabitable.
“It is difficult to leave one’s home. And yet, you can probably receive more money for your home if you leave before catastrophe strikes. Only you can determine when or if it’s time to make changes. And now is the time to reflect on what is appropriate for you and your family.”
Also … Support climate change politicians who look to find large-scale solutions to climate change … such as to increased use of renewable energy for homes, businesses, and cars.