Antarctica Disintegrating Soon

[One more essay to contribute to the Paris’ CO2 negotiations!] One has to be careful with science. Science is certain knowledge. And certain knowledge is not just hard to gather, it is subtle, and even harder to organize in a coherent logic. It is pretty much certain that Antarctica will melt (in my opinion). However a NASA study, just out, claims that Antarctica is gathering a huge amount of ice:

“A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.

The research challenges the conclusions of other studies, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2013 report, which says that Antarctica is overall losing land ice.

According to the new analysis of satellite data, the Antarctic ice sheet showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001. That net gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008.”

If One Looks Carefully, One Can See The Three Places Where Warm Water Is Sneaking In Below (In Green & Blue in WAIS and In East Antarctica).

If One Looks Carefully, One Can See The Three Places Where Warm Water Is Sneaking In Below (In Green & Blue in WAIS and In East Antarctica).

This, paradoxically, does not contradict any of my apocalyptic predictions about Antarctica. Quite the opposite: a greater snowfall is a mark of a warming climate. Warmer air carries more moisture. The gathering of snow and ice in the interior and at high altitude, over wide expanses has not effect to the melt extending below.

In truth, the situation is dire and will evolve quickly. One is reminded of the Space Shuttle Columbia, when hot gases penetrated in its left wing. After they got in, they melted vital equipment all over inside, including hydraulics, and the shuttle struggled for control, finally losing its wing.

Antarctica’s ice shelves — the thick, floating slabs of ice which encircle the continent — are melting. The shelves slow and stabilize the glaciers, hundreds of kilometers behind them. They are succumbing to a hidden force: deep, warming ocean currents are melting the ice from beneath ice shelves, and up giant valleys penetrating the continent.

The collapse of small ice shelves caused glaciers to accelerate two-fold to ten-fold and spill more ice into the ocean, raising sea level. A study published in April shows that more ice shelves are threatened: From 1994 to 2012, the rate of ice shelf shrinkage increased twelvefold. Parts of the ice sheet considered at risk hold enough ice to raise the global sea level by 22 feet (seven meters). Here’s the latest on Antarctica’s vulnerability in 2015:

More Snow, Less Ice:

Climatologists speculated in the 1990s that Antarctica might slow sea level rise. They fancied that rising temperatures would produce more water vapor, leading to more snowfall and more ice. This is indeed what the latest NASA study shows. Researchers reported in March, and November 20215, that over the past 20,000 years, warmer temperatures have indeed correlated with higher snowfall: For each Fahrenheit degree of warming, snowfall increased by about 2.7 percent. But that does not mean the threat of fast melting receded..

Larsen B’s Last Gasp:

Glaciologists reported in June that the last remnant of the Larsen B Ice Shelf is splintering, and glaciers flowing into it are accelerating. Its approaching demise continues a disturbing trend: the progressive collapse of five ice shelves since 1989.

Next, Larsen C:

The neighboring, and much larger Larsen C Ice Shelf, a significant part of the Antarctica Peninsula, could soon collapse (hey, it’s summer!). A major crack is advancing rapidly, reaching an unprecedented 60 miles long in early 2015. (A British base in the Ross Ice Shelf is threatened by another advancing crack, and is scheduled to be moved ASAP! A German base disappeared altogether.)

Southern Peninsula “Starting to Sweat “:

(“Sweating” was the term used in a scientific report…) While the glaciers in this region seemed stable, warming ocean currents have been melting the belly of the ice. Results published in May show this region crossed a threshold in 2009, with a dozen major glaciers simultaneously starting to thin, “sweating off” 60 billion tons of ice per year.

Weak Underbelly:

The Amundsen Sea coast is the vulnerable underbelly of West Antarctica. Its glaciers slide on beds that lie nearly a mile below sea level, exposing them to ocean currents. New data show ice shelves are collectively losing 100 billion tons of ice per year, and glaciers have accelerated by up to 70 percent.

Hidden Hazards in the East:

East Antarctica, situated on high ground that protects it from warming ocean currents, was considered stable, impervious, a Reich to last 10,000 years, strong and dominating. But not exactly, according to surveys with ice-penetrating radar. A March study shows that one large swath of the ice sheet sits on beds as deep as 8,000 feet below sea level and is connected, by very long, deep valleys to warming ocean currents. Totten Glacier, one of East Antarctica’s largest ocean outlets, is already thinning — an ominous sign, since this single glacier drains enough ice from the AURORA Basin to raise the sea level more than all of West Antarctica’s ice loss would. The mouth of the Totten glacier is well north of the southern polar circle. This means that the potential for warming from decreased albedo is considerable.

The same story is unfolding with the Wilkes Basin, as I have explained.

Thus, right now, sea level is rising slowly, and climate change deniers are chuckling, because Antarctica is gathering warm snow. But, once the warm currents penetrate in force, and they will, Antarctica will go the way of the Space Shuttle: sudden, irresistible disintegration.

A last riddle is that, should the latest story (above) from part of NASA, be correct (and not another piece of disinformation to serve the fossil fuel plutocracy, as happened more than once in the past), how come sea level is increasing as fast as is presently observed? The math just don’t add up: the greatest contribution to sea level rise comes in with the wrong sign! So either the latest NASA accumulation studies are wrong, or there is a massive contribution to sea level rise undetected so far (the worst is imaginable…) Just when we saw that the Green House Gas disaster was boring in its irresistible unfolding, a new mystery surfaces…

Patrice Ayme’


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12 Responses to “Antarctica Disintegrating Soon”

  1. ianmillerblog Says:

    I agree with what you say, but I feel that extra snow falling on Antarctica is at least good news in that it slows long term sea level rise. The bad news is it will encourage politicians to do nothing, and after all, that is what they are particularly good at doing.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      1) The snow is piling up where it was mostly not going to melt proximally, anyway.
      2) As you say, it’s going to give an excuse to politicians to do nothing.
      3) The real danger is melt from below, from a warm ocean sneaking in. That can be incredibly fast, a matter of years, not millennia.
      4) it will also happen in Greenland, where most glaciers falling in the sea are nested in very deep canyons well below sea level.
      5) I am skeptical of what NASA claims to have found. However, if they did find the truth, that means the situation is way worse than we thought, because the sea level rise is dominated by a new factor at this point.


  2. indravaruna Says:

    For you work for Patrice? You speak of “World Govenrment”, says that France is the brain and the US is the body when in fact everybody knows that the brain is the jewish community and they will is jewish interests.


    • De Brunet D'Ambiallet Says:

      Your English is not even clear enough to be sure of what you mean. Not everybody is as crazy about Jews as you are. Antarctica does not care about your racial obsession from the Middle Ages. Are you taking yourself for a Christian fanatic from the Twelfth Century? Or a Nazi, perhaps?


  3. Kevin Berger Says:

    It’s a weird feeling, isn’t it? A slo-mo global train wreck that one can witness, but not prevent, because human lives are so short ultimately, and pursuing one’s personal or collective interests makes much more sense, I got mine, fuck you, après moi, le déluge, literally.

    Thankfully, the ones most responsible won’t have to pay the price, and may well end up rewarded instead… so all that is left to hope for, is that at least some of their accomplices and lackeys will still get swallowed by the monster they helped create.
    Should Saudi Arabia, willfully obstructing any cop deal, gets its comeuppance one way or the other, it certainly wouldn’t be justice, but it should at least be a comfort of some kind.

    I am not especially anti-humanist, reality being ultimately meaningless outside of our human experience… but as a specie of clever, tools-using apes, our use of tools clearly has outpaced our screaming and screeching and shit-flinging, bellicose and destructive and selfishly clever, ape nature.
    In some way, that is a noticeable achievement, a perverse compliment to our very being.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The story of SAUDI Arabia is that gory works best. It’s also the story of early Islam (until they met the Grecian Fire, the Franks, and later, Genghis Khan and his grandson…) So Saudi Arabia will keep on keeping on, until reduced by force… Siad force being Iran, of course. hence their support of the Islamist State. However, this is leading to unforeseen complications.

      It is often said our “nature” leads us to bad stuff. I see it more as history leading us to bad stuff. Some of our nature is bad, sometimes. History is worse, though. History is not just a teacher, it’s the Devil.


  4. Gmax Says:

    Yes, this NASA declaration that snow is piling up high in Antarctica came at a very inopportune moment. It’s actually super scary, as you said, because it means a major factor of sea rise is missing.

    But trust the politicians to play dumb on that one#


  5. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to a climate denier working for a chemical company.]

    Antarctica gathering ice is expected in Global Warming, and it is an ominous signal. Because sea rise is accelerating


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