planet’s biggest nightmare is coming to life. It may be a bigger
threat much sooner than ever before realized simply because it’s
Antarctica, the world’s largest body of water trapped in ice, is
knocking the socks off expectations. Along the way, it’s the
world’s most horrifying surprise, yet nobody really knows how it
will play out because the science is still in early stages.
a formidable issue is at hand: Vincennes Bay in East Antarctica is
home to humongous glaciers, like Totten Glacier (2,400 square miles),
which is the largest glacier in the bay and equivalent to at least 11
feet of sea level rise alone, but it is only one of several glaciers
in Vincennes Bay.
NASA research indicates that four glaciers west of Totten Glacier in
Vincennes Bay have receded by 9 feet since 2008. Heretofore, there
was no measured change in these glaciers… period!
within one decade there’s measurable loss of 9 feet after years and
decades and centuries upon centuries of East Antarctica stability.
This is disturbing and begs the question of what if the melting
accelerates more, and more, and keeps on accelerating more than
previous rates of acceleration. Then what?
to NASA: “East Antarctica has the potential to reshape coastlines
around the world through sea level rise, but scientists have long
considered it more stable than its neighbor, West Antarctica. Now,
new detailed NASA maps of ice velocity and elevation show that a
group of glaciers spanning one-eighth of East Antarctica’s coast
have begun to lose ice over the past decade, hinting at widespread
changes in the ocean.” (Source: More Glaciers in East Antarctica
Are Waking Up, NASA, Dec. 10, 2018).
and in the opposite direction, or east of Totten Glacier, a
“collection of glaciers” doubled their rate of ice loss since
2009. By all appearances, the past 10 years has served to alter East
Antarctica into early stages of a meltdown phase. As previously
mentioned, this is an unexpected event.
for some time now at the opposite side of the continent, West
Antarctica has been in the grip of rapid breakdown. In fact, Pine
Island Glacier in West Antarctica is one of the fastest-flowing ice
streams on the planet.
example, Pine Island Glacier is dispensing icebergs into the Amundsen
Sea from ice shelves with increasing frequency, which is troubling,
to say the least. The most recent, Iceberg B-46 (87 sq. miles) split
off in October 2018. Pine Island Glacier (equal to 1.7 feet of sea
level rise) shed icebergs in 2001, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, and
shelves are floating ice sheets that do not contribute much to rising
sea levels since they are already mostly afloat, thus displacing
their own weight. They extend out over the water from icy landmasses
but significantly, as a matter of course, serve as a backstop or
physical barrier of ice sheets, holding back rapid glacial ice flow
into ocean waters.
losing ice shelves out of the ordinary in rapid succession is
obviously an ominous signal of trouble dead ahead, meaning glacial
ice flow that directly impacts sea levels is freed-up, up and away.
in years past, West Antarctica shed an iceberg every six years
whereas recent activity has shockingly compressed time over the past
two decades to, respectively, once every 6 years, 4 years, 2 years, 2
years, 2 years, and most recently 1 year. That’s powerful evidence
of a major change in ice sheet behavior.
that reason, among others, scientists have always focused on West
Antarctica’s instability rather than on East Antarctica. Now, in
addition to serious concerns about the western region of the
continent, surprise, surprise, after analyzing 40 years of data and
satellite images, East Antarctica is no longer considered “immune
to climate change.”
only that, but unfortunately this new data about East Antarctica is
at odds with a significant 2018 study that showed less reason for
concern and therefore, assuming this new information is thoroughly
validated, “could dramatically reshape projections of sea level
rise….” (Source: Alex Fox, East Antarctica’s Ice is Melting at
an Unexpectedly Rapid Clip, New Study Suggests, Science, Jan. 14,
say this news is disheartening is comparable to standing dockside at
Berth 44, Southampton on April 10th 1912, waving goodbye to
passengers on the Titanic.
Antarctica destabilization, according to Eric Rignot, glaciologist,
University of California/Irvine: “The more we look at this system
the more we realize this is a fragile system… Once these glaciers
are destabilized there is no red button to press to stop it,” Ibid.
Ice Sheet is larger than the U.S. and India combined. Its three major
ice sheets contain 70% of the planet’s fresh water in ice.
catalyst behind ice sheet misbehavior is ocean absorption of 90% of
anthropogenic global warming, which manages to flow underneath the
massive ice sheets.
global warming multiplies 2xs via “polar amplification,” meaning
Antarctica’s surface temperatures increase twice as fast as the
global average. This is a unique aspect of high latitude polar
temperatures up north in the Arctic as well as down south in
only are temperatures magnified 2xs in high polar latitudes, but also
in everyday contemporary life, global warming is striking hard, which
does not bode well as to further magnification of polar temperatures.
example, Australia sizzled like a blazing hot oven in late 2018 as
temperatures exceeding 42°C (107°F). Roads melted, tens of
thousands of bats dropped dead (many found on city streets) and
hundreds of thousands of bony herring, golden and silver perch and
Murray cod died, demonstrating the impact of erratic and excessive
in similar fashion, due south of Australia, Antarctica’s ice sheets
rumbled and tumbled, threatening inconvenience for coastal
communities as a best-case scenario, but maybe (most probably) much
it happens, the world is changing right before humanities’ eyes.
Nowadays, global warming is more than a threat of rising sea levels,
which in and of itself looks grim, indeed, never so grim as of now,
but it’s also turned into a vicious mass killer.
the biggest questions of the 21st century remain unanswered: What can
be done and who’ll take charge? After all, greenhouse gases are a
fact of life not easily removed.
answer: Build seawalls like Trump International Golf Links &
Hotel – Ireland, which received a permit to build two seawalls in
December 2017. Trump’s 2016 permit application cited “climate
change, rising sea levels, and extreme weather conditions” as
reasons for getting the permit.