Antarctica’s Glaciers Disintegrating

Unstoppable Retreat Of Glacial Antarctica Officially Launched:

Two independent teams working differently arrived to similar conclusions about the main glaciers plunging in Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea next to the Pines Island Glacier (PIG) (see map below).

Modelling and radar data from Amundsen Sea suggest current melting will run away.

This has to be put in the context that, as far as official science was concerned, this was not supposed to happen. A completely independent agent such as yours truly predicted this many years ago, and incredibly much worse, because of a confluence of very precise reasons.

Don't Worry, Be Happy: Catastrophe Ineluctable, And Soon

Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Catastrophe Ineluctable, And Soon

Pine Island Glacier covers about 160,000 square kilometers, about two-thirds the area of Great Britain. Just one glacier.

Like the Thwaites, Smith, Haynes, Pope, Smith and Kohler Glaciers in this region – the PIG has been thinning and retreating rapidly. The Twaithes is much larger than PIG.

Joughin’s team found that Twaithes glacier’s grounding line — the border between sections of ice that float on the sea and sections that rest on the bedrock — currently sits about 600 meters below sea level (2,000 feet!). But 60 to 80 kilometers inland, the bedrock topography under the glacier drops to more than 1.2 kilometer below sea level!

When the grounding line reaches that inward-sloping basin, the glacier’s retreat will speed up dramatically, Joughin’s team calculates (I have explained the same phenomenon will happen in giant basins of East Antarctica in “Sun Cooling, Ice Melting“).

The reason for this is that two degree Celsius water is denser than colder water (!), and will slip below the ice. That will happen in a matter of centuries, the team suggested (to please the higher-ups).

The team has, of course, to suggest total melting would take centuries, otherwise it would irritate the powers that be, and, thus, the financing of the entire field.

These scientists have to earn a living, feed their families, bask in successful careers. They have comfortable houses, cars… They sell not just science, but hope. As the great mathematician Gregory Perelman, who solved the Soul, Thurston and Poincare’ conjectures, among other things, said, about American mathematics:

It’s possible to sell a theorem and it’s possible to buy it. Even if you don’t have anything to do with it.”

(Perelman was talking about a few dozen top mathematicians that I personally knew for years, before getting as disgusted by their dishonesty, not to say viciousness, as he later would be!)

If that intrusion of the lowest human traits happens in math, it’s worse in much more money oriented fields. Such as the confluence of the fossil fuel plutocracy and climate science (typical representative of fossil burn plutocracy: Vlad Putin.)

This buying and selling of theorems is exemplary of the problem of mixing power, politics and money, as is the case in the mightiest “private” or “public” universities in the USA (and wherever the American university system is imitated). I am NOT saying that the system these universities (Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, pseudo-public Berkeley, etc.) represent is to be condemned and eradicated like RasPutin, just that it needs to be taken for what it is: a plutophile system.

Plutophilia needs to be counterbalanced by the love of wisdom. (Thus a true public university system ought to be preserved.)

In the case of these glaciers, wisdom consists into realizing that considering that it will take centuries for these glaciers to melt, is wishful thinking. The evidence, both factual and theoretical, points the other way.

Grounding lines determined by radar from now defunct European satellites were found in some cases to retreat by more than one kilometer per year.

Radar data show that the Pine Island Glacier retreated by 31 kilometers between 1992 and 2011. It retreated fastest between 2005 and 2009.

Rignot’s team found no underlying ridge that could potentially slow the retreat, for any of the glaciers studied.“These systems, whether Greenland or Antarctica, are changing on faster timescales than we expected. We are kind of rediscovering that every day,” says Rignot.

Telling us that it will take at most centuries to melt those glaciers is exactly the sort of politeness that authorities and the plutocrats who have elected (“financed”) them would expect.

Actually Observing Glaciers Thinning

Actually Observing Glaciers Thinning

Yet, is that science? Indeed, how do they know it will take centuries? Well, they roll out “models” that are as good as what they put inside them, and no better. Let’s reason a bit.

Why will the glaciers melt ever faster? The glaciers will melt ever faster because their cold bellies rest on what would be the new ocean bottom after enough warm sea water has insinuated itself below.

The seas are warming up around Antarctica, because wind speeds have augmented, augmenting the up-welling, another of these run-about effects from global warming. Around Antarctica, surface waters are colder than those in the depths. Wind speed have augmented because of my (six year old) generalization of the Equipartition of Energy Theorem that rules the climate (and also all of thermodynamics!).

Such phenomena as the warming of the underbellies of ice sheets by sea water, tend to be exponential, not linear. And we have the proof: the Hudson Bay, now a sea, transformed itself from ice shield to ocean in a few decades. That, in turn, made the Mediterranean spill catastrophically into the fertile Black Sea area, flooding there around 100,000 square kilometers in no more than 30 years. (That gave the legend of Noah’s Ark.)

Notice that retreating over a continent at one kilometer per year (the speed of the Labrador-Quebec Laurentide ice sheet disintegration), is probably slower by orders of magnitudes to that a sub-oceanic margin. The “forcing” at the time was caused by more insolation, 8,200 years ago (from more sun in July-August then). Now, though, the situation is worse as the “forcing” is from a low lying blanket of man-made greenhouse gases (so, instead of warming equally the entire atmosphere, the greenhouse concentrates the warming at low altitudes, say below 8,000 meters; the stratosphere is actually cooling!).

It was already known, in 1990, that the disintegration of the gigantic Laurentide ice sheet centered around Hudson Bay took no more than 4 centuries. (That ice sheet used to be more than 3,000 meters thick, being the world’s largest, 20,000 years ago).

It boils down to this: is it wiser to risk underestimating the speed of melting of these glaciers, or is it wiser to risk overestimating said speed? Obviously, for those who are anxious to please their masters who feed them, it’s wiser to say there will be a problem, but only in a generation or two.

For those who don’t want to risk the biosphere we know, it’s much wiser to consider the worst possible case. Remember inertia: short of astronomical objects, the system with the most inertia is the biosphere itself. That’s a system that has been capable of maintaining the planet’s temperature within fifteen degrees (Celsius) of the present temperature for more than three billion years. It has enormous inertia. However, our stupid obstinacy to burn all the carbon we can find has definitively got that enormous system to start moving.

We imparted acceleration to the biosphere. We are pushing the biosphere around. And we know that the force we are applying is only augmenting. That means the acceleration, and even more the speed of the change, is going to get worse quick. That’s basic dynamics, first quarter of undergraduate physics.

Of course, neither the leaders of France, Great Britain, or the USA has taken such a course: they are basically ignoramuses at the helm (and Angela Merkel, who knows plenty of physics, made a risky bet she seems to be losing).

Clearly, we should instead apply the brakes to the maximum (instead of flooring the accelerator). What would be the price of this cautious? None, for common people: hard work to de-carbonize the world economy would require dozens of millions to be employed that way, in the West alone.

That, of course, is a scary thought for plutocrats, who much prefer us unemployed, impotent, and despondent.

Patrice Aymé



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29 Responses to “Antarctica’s Glaciers Disintegrating”

  1. Paul Handover Says:

    Yes, read about this earlier today. Scary! Big time!

  2. Benign Says:

    There is some little con-sol-ation in that solar cycle 25 is forecast to be one of the lowest since the Maunder Minimum.

    Life will go on, maybe not the human species in such great numbers. But who will survive? The plutocrats or the meek?

    I would not bet on humankind taking any significant action to reduce CO2 (although I note Germany is at 78% of total energy being supplied by alternative means).

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Benign: I would suggest you carefully (re) consider the number about Germany. It’s more like…2%. It’s not because they got peaks of renewable electricity that the average is high.
      My essay on the Sun, five year old, mentions the weak sun as a major factor (it has a five times multiplier). Yet, as a professional sun astronomer I know said: one can expect a reversion to the mean.

  3. Ian Miller Says:

    In my view, the climate models are crap, more designed to get more funding than anything else, BUT there is no doubt the planet is warming, nor that CO2 is what I call a blanket gas. (I know, we are probably stuck with Greenhouse, but greenhouses don’t work this way) . We burn 9 Gt of carbon a year, the seas are just about saturated, the CO2 levels are about 400 ppm, and in the last four interglacials, sea levels rose 7 metres above where they are now with CO2 at 280 ppm. That indicates that without drastic efforts, we are facing sea level rises of somewhere between 7 – 35 metres. Even stopping burning ALL fossil fuels will not do anything. We all suffer, except (and Patrice will love this) most of Russia.

    The only way out of a serious disaster is a massive effort at geoengineering. Good luck getting cooperation for that!

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Ian: Geoengineering and CSS do not exist, except as propaganda tools.

      I agree with your reasoning. However notice the add-on in CO2 equivalent is 50 billion tons per year.
      Although the CO2 has passed 400ppm, we are much higher with the equivalents. At least 460 ppm. Antarctica freezes below 430 ppm.

      An essay of mine brushing this was

      But I have mentioned that for years. The reasons the models are crap is that the locations will change everything. I have my own guesses about some places I know well.
      Yet, they are all over the place: both Northern California or Southern France could get much drier, or much wetter. Only one thing I’m pretty sure of, is that California will lose its snow (even if much wetter, likely with constant El Nino, it will get too warm, something plainly evident already).

      • Enots Says:

        I Think there is too much science/ modelling going on and not enough common-sense.
        After the cataclysms the existing polar ice will melt, while at the same time reforming over the new poles(poles shift). The melting will occur faster than the reforming, as for ice to form there are more factors at play than for ice to melt. We will explain. The ice over the former poles will now be facing the Sun, and the melt rate will proceed based on the air temperature and the absorption of solar rays, both of which will be high as the old poles will now be situated essentially at the new equator. Any water at the new poles will freeze, but the buildup of ice on a pole is not altogether from the water that happened to be there when the pole took position. The buildup comes from precipitation, and this accumulates over hundreds of years. At some point an equilibrium is established, with icebergs breaking off and floating to warmer waters and the like. The Earth, therefore, will experience More Water in its oceans for some time after the cataclysms.

        Where new poles take centuries to fully form, existing poles thrust under an equatorial sun melt rapidly. The melting poles will thus raise the sea level, worldwide, by 650 to 700 feet within two years. Survivors living below this level will find themselves moving repeatedly as rivers begin to overflow their banks and marsh areas become lakes.

        Going on the assumption that the poles have always been, essentially, where they are found today, humans have extracted core samples which they assume will be a frozen record of climatic changes back through the eons – a dust layer here, bits of vegetation there, a higher carbon dioxide level here, and on through any number of variables. However, unlike the rings in a tree, which show its age, layers of ice do not show what is absent. The tree trunk is viewed as a whole, reflecting the life of a tree, but polar ice reflects only that portion of its life that has not melted away. Many shifts are slight, thus causing partial melting or melting on only one side. Thus, for the existing poles, there are places where the debris and gasses caught in the ice tell a long tale.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          @ Enots: I don’t understand this pole migration. Something a bit like that happens on Mars, except the poles disappear altogether and there is a super spring (because the axis of rotation is inclined 40 degrees).

  4. red Says:

    plutocratic influence is only half the problem. Current global decisions are being increasingly driven by geo-politics and power games. stakes getting bigger by the day. global warming is just another pawn for these guys.

    • red Says:

      Here is your beloved france still trying to deliver 2 warships to russia.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        France is not “still trying to deliver 2 warships to Russia”. Is the USA “still trying to go to the International Space Station?”
        The Reuters article was typical of the sort of Kremlin-Wall Street-Washington fascist propaganda that stinks to high heavens.
        There is a big difference between delivering goods that have been paid for, and engaging in new business.
        The ones with the highest stakes with Russia are the City of London and its world wide empire of Pluto and, secondarily, Germany.

        An argument can be made that the plutocratic Putinocrats ought to be threatened enough to modify their behavior, that would be the best. They are getting increasingly angry.

        On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin, one of the plutocrats slapped by sanctions from the EU and USA, announced that the country would consider ending its participation in the space-station program in 2020; would prohibit the US military’s use of a rocket motor that powers the Atlas V, one of two launch workhorses for defense and intelligence satellites; and would close down global-positioning-satellite monitoring stations in Russia unless it was allowed to build comparable monitoring stations in the US for its own usage.

        I would suggest to quit with French bashing.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Red: As I encompass both money and the rest of the Dark Side in “plutocracy”, and as indeed careful scholarly studies have recently showed that the Peoples are of absolutely no influence on the elites (= the plutocrats and their agents), there is absolutely no reason to believe plutocracy is not 100% the problem. Who, what else?

      For example, when “China” decides to drill off Vietnam, it’s the Chinese plutocracy around Xi that decides to show to the tini-tiny Viet plutocracy who is the boss. Geopolitically.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Or are you saying that (plutocratically created) systems have a life, an inertia of their own? If so, I agree…

      • red Says:

        plutocrats are driven by self-interest, mostly. The system on the other hand, has its own interest to survive. Geo-political games often have no single plutocrat directing them. Its often the culture(inertia) of rabid power games doing its thing. Global warming has become just another pawn in these games.

        Nuland’s comment do you think some plutocrat made her do it ? She is following the system (inertia). Look for russia, and china, and even some other emerging to play their aggressive moves soon. game of thrones is going to look like childs play.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Which of Nuland’s comments are you referring to? I made a whole essay about her “Fuck Europe!” several months ago. To have people like that (NeoCon married to prominent NeoCon historian) in the Obama administration shows that, in some ways, we have a NeoCon administration (Obamacare was an idea of the Heritage Foundation, and then… Romney).

          Anyway, I will reply a bit to your main point in a separate comment. I added a glacier sat pic in the essay…

  5. Progressing Wisdom – the essay. | Learning from Dogs Says:

    […] significant melting of Antarctica’s glaciers now unstoppable. (Patrice has just released an informative post on the […]

  6. Paul Handover Says:

    Just shared your essay with Jean. It’s incredibly difficult to envisage a future that doesn’t include some form of apocalypse!

    The only hope is that the power of unanticipated consequences comes to the rescue.

    As I said in my opening comment: Scary. Big time!

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      It’s better than that. Apocalypses rarely come alone. (A number of simultaneous disasters affected the Roman empire; 1348, Black Plague & 1918, “Spanish” Flu, another.)

  7. Patrice Ayme Says:

    (@ red:) This site is about “Systems of Thoughts and Moods”. So is plutocracy. Same as a glacier, that has always changing ice, but stays the same, so is plutocracy. Putin is not Ivan the Terrible, but he plays one on TV, just so. Obama is not Clinton, or Blair, but plays just the same role, with the same aspirations (power and perks), etc.

    Careful studies have shown that it was difficult to stay a plutocrat in Rome… Plutocracy was that brutal. Until, after four centuries or so, the plutocratic status got increasingly hereditary on a secular basis… Because the rest of society had disintegrated (like the glaciers do now).

    • red Says:

      thanks PA, i guess the current systems are children of plutocracy all over the world.

      I am trying to think on individual plutocrat level, does he/she even care about global warming (either for or against).

      The foot soldiers of the system, on the other hand, are heavily influenced(indoctrinated) by the culture of the system.

      who do we blame.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Hi Red: maybe Krugman’s latest, editorial, addressed in my very latest essay, will help…
        Who do we blame? Hmmm… I think we have to learn, fight and change, and it can be done…

  8. Paul Handover Says:

    Thank you, Patrice. Thank you very much.

    But at the risk of being slightly cheeky, my/our 😉 essay
    was about wisdom and how she is gained! Not about the changing climate of our planet, per se!

    • Paul Handover Says:

      In case PA readers aren’t clear, the above comment was from me in thanks and response to a comment left by Patrice over on Learning from Dogs, Paul.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Thanks Paul! Just surfacing now, after being off the Internet since yesterday (I was disgusted by New York Times, and other cases of absolute censorship… see my latest essay… And I was doing some thinking, between various duties…)

  9. Running on empty! | Learning from Dogs Says:

    […] understand the message that Planet Earth is sending out to us humans, I would recommend reading Antarctica’s Glaciers Disintegrating over on Patrice Ayme’s blog.  Here’s how Patrice finishes that […]

  10. Paul Handover Says:

    BBC News had this today:

    Antarctica is now losing about 160 billion tonnes of ice a year to the ocean – twice as much as when the continent was last surveyed.

    The new assessment comes from Europe’s Cryosat spacecraft, which has a radar instrument specifically designed to measure the shape of the ice sheet.

    The melt loss from the White Continent is sufficient to push up global sea levels by around 0.43mm per year.

    Full story here:

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Wow, thanks Paul! Another recent news item in the same area: several reports that there are at least 100 deep fjords (my word) penetrating Greenland. That means melting there is going to go faster than expected in all models.

  11. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to Learning From Dogs.]

    France, a country with basically no oil, ran out of the little gas she had, long ago, and of coal, even earlier… Although Neanderthals used coal there, 73,000 years ago (!), all good things have to come to an end…
    That’s why France went nuclear long ago, and inaugurated what is still the one and only massive tidal plant, the Rance, in the 1960s (smaller such installations existed in… the Middle Ages).

  12. Mediterranean Coral Reef | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] little relative to those which are already coming… those which are already baked in. For example, West Antarctica will melt. It’s just a matter of […]

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