And for Bill Gates, Al Gore and all the other wealthy alarmists who own oceanfront mansions. NBC news has announced: “Antarctic ice shelf could crack, raise seas by feet within decade, scientists warn”. And when scientists warn it’s even more ominous than when they just say. Although the subhed dials it back to “a researcher”. And while the disaster is scheduled for 2031, its all depends on “how the glacier will behave over the next 100 years”. Who edited this piece?
It is of course settled science. At least Science.org thinks so, with the unsubtle headlines “Ice shelf holding back keystone Antarctic glacier within years of failure/ Breakup of the Thwaites eastern shelf will ramp up sea level rise”. No could or might there. (NB Science.org appeals to readers to “Help News from Science publish trustworthy, high-impact stories about research and the people who shape it”. And that’s a high-impact story for sure, although trustworthy might not be exactly the word.)
“An alarming crackup has begun at the foot of Antarctica’s vulnerable Thwaites Glacier, whose meltwater is already responsible for about 4% of global sea level rise. An ice sheet the size of Florida, Thwaites ends its slide into the ocean as a floating ledge of ice 45 kilometers wide. But now, this ice shelf, riven by newly detected fissures on its surface and underside, is likely to break apart in the next 5 years or so, scientists reported today at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.”
Likely. Whereupon we all get damp. “A collapse of the entire glacier, which some researchers think is only centuries away, would raise global sea level by 65 centimeters. And because Thwaites occupies a deep basin into which neighboring glaciers would flow, its demise could eventually lead to the loss of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which locks up 3.3 meters of global sea level rise.”
Perhaps some researchers think Thwaites is on its way out, but if it is, we venture to suggest that the cause might be all those volcanoes going off under it. And we have also had occasion to mention evidence that the warming observed over the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) was natural in origin. And that trying to blame any loss of WAIS ice on warming is made difficult by the finding that the last time it was shrinking was in the cold decades of the 1800s, and during warmer intervals of the 20th century it grew.
A funny thing about settled science, when it comes to climate, is that it invariably turns out to be worse than anyone thought including the settled scientists who say. According to NBC, “A series of scientific studies of Thwaites in recent years has shown the enormous glacier is melting more quickly and in ways scientists never expected.” See, back in 2019 “researchers compared aerial films of Antarctica taken in the 1970s to current radar data, which showed Thwaites was melting much faster than researchers thought.”
We wrote about that study at the time, pointing out that the “faster than expected” headline did not match the findings of the study itself. The scientists found some parts melting and other parts remaining stable, and that melting was faster in the past than in recent years.
Yet somehow Thwaites has “doubled its outflow speed within the last 30 years” according to a guy in Colorado who works with an outfit that is a partnership of NOAA and the University of Colorado at Boulder and thus totally disinterested since all their research money depends on there being a climate crisis. And so their main web page greets you with “The Threat from Thwaites: The Retreat of Antarctica’s Riskiest Glacier”.
Still, it must be true, since the paper in question “is currently under review for publication in The Cryosphere, a scientific journal.” So peer-reviewed except not yet. And we are all going to die. Or might be. Possibly. “An Antarctic ice shelf could crack and disintegrate within the next decade, allowing a Florida-sized glacier to slide into the ocean and raising sea levels by feet, scientists warned Wednesday. A dramatic chain reaction in the ice could occur by 2031, starting with the Thwaites Glacier, said Erin Pettit, a professor at Oregon State University who studies glacier and ice sheet dynamics.”
The speculation here is that the ice shelf is keeping the glacier from falling into the sea. Although as far as we understand the settled science, if a glacier is determined to head your way holding it back isn’t easy. But stay tuned because “New research Pettit presented to a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans suggests the final collapse of the ice shelf may occur ‘within as little as 5 years’ and mark the beginning of the end of the Thwaites Glacier.” Unless it doesn’t. That’s a may before mark the beginning of the end. Not exactly the trumpet sounding.
More like a vague crackling noise. “The ice at the top of the shelf is newly crisscrossed with cracks that are expanding toward the center of the shelf as quickly as 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) a year, the research found. Scientists pointed to a zigzag path they say is the likely site for the ice shelf to crack and disintegrate.” And that guy in Colorado, Ted Scambos, says “If Thwaites were to collapse, it would drag most of west Antarctica’s ice with it. So it’s critical to get a clearer picture of how the glacier will behave over the next 100 years.”
No it isn’t. We are all going to be dead in 10, remember? Oh wait. We’re not. Instead “Thwaites contributes 4 percent of annual global sea level rise, according to the British Antarctic Survey. But if the shelf collapses, that amount could rise to 25 percent, the scientists said. All the water in the Thwaites Glacier would raise sea levels by 2 feet — but if its collapse triggers nearby glaciers to fall, the global sea level could rise by up to 10 feet, Scambos said.”
If. Might. Could. According to models. Assuming it’s not still doing things the scientists didn’t expect. Doom looms.