Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is 'past its tipping point'

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reikiman
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Scientists have identified some geological feature in the Antarctic that, combined with already rising sea levels, will cause a sudden collapse sometime in the not-so-distant future. They've identified two specific glaciers in west antarctic that are way past their tipping point beyond which collapse is unavoidable. Their estimate is 50% collapse within the next 100 years.

Collapse of glaciers into the ocean causes sea level rise. The melting of sea ice does not cause sea level rise.

http://www.7gen.com/blog/david-herron/major-antarctic-glacier-risk-major-collapse-past-its-tipping-point

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18383-major-antarctic-glacier-is-past-its-tipping-point.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=climate-ch...

http://theenergycollective.com/TheEnergyCollective/56558

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MikeB
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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

This is potentially a serious problem:

New Scientist article wrote:

"Before the retreating grounding line comes to a rest at some unknown point on the inner slope, PIG will have lost 50 per cent of its ice, contributing 24 centimetres to global sea levels," says Richard Hindmarsh of the British Antarctic Survey, who did not participate in the study.

This assumes that the grounding line does eventually stabilise, after much of PIG is gone. In reality, PIG could disappear entirely, says Hindmarsh. "If Thwaite's glacier, which sits alongside PIG, also retreats, PIG's grounding line could retreat even further back to a second crest, causing sea levels to rise by 52 centimetres." The model suggests Thwaite's glacier has also passed its tipping point.

Observations already show that the model severely underestimates the rate at which PIG's grounding line is retreating, says Katz.

These two glaciers alone (Pine Island & Thwaite) can produce half a meter of sea level rise, which an insurance industry study identified as sufficient to cause $28 Trillion in damages to coastal real estate. And Greenland appears to be melting much faster than Antarctica, so additional sea level rise will be generated from Northern glaciers. This is going to be very expensive to deal with, and sea level rises are not the most troubling problem coming.

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reikiman
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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

This is going to be very expensive to deal with

I'm glad that you were able to see the danger in that article. Those glaciers are already gone, it just hasn't happened yet.

Sea level rise is an especially interesting issue to me because of where I live. The SF Bay Area has a lot of highways and two international airports and important power transmission lines etc etc ringing the bay hugging close to the water. San Francisco International Airport - Oakland International Airport - both of them are built on land created by filling marshes to form runways. With any significant sea level rise (the estimates are upwards of 10 feet) and those are gone/useless. U.S. 101 .. many parts run right next to the bay. I-880 is a little better but for the stretch near Berkeley.

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marcopolo
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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

MikeB wrote:

This is potentially a serious problem:

New Scientist article wrote:

"Before the retreating grounding line comes to a rest at some unknown point on the inner slope, PIG will have lost 50 per cent of its ice, contributing 24 centimetres to global sea levels," says Richard Hindmarsh of the British Antarctic Survey, who did not participate in the study.

This assumes that the grounding line does eventually stabilise, after much of PIG is gone. In reality, PIG could disappear entirely, says Hindmarsh. "If Thwaite's glacier, which sits alongside PIG, also retreats, PIG's grounding line could retreat even further back to a second crest, causing sea levels to rise by 52 centimetres." The model suggests Thwaite's glacier has also passed its tipping point.

Observations already show that the model severely underestimates the rate at which PIG's grounding line is retreating, says Katz.

These two glaciers alone (Pine Island & Thwaite) can produce half a meter of sea level rise, which an insurance industry study identified as sufficient to cause $28 Trillion in damages to coastal real estate. And Greenland appears to be melting much faster than Antarctica, so additional sea level rise will be generated from Northern glaciers. This is going to be very expensive to deal with, and sea level rises are not the most troubling problem coming.

This report contrasts with the core sample studies completed recently in East Antarctica, which demonstrate the exact opposite, that is to say that the ice coverage of the continent overall is in fact increasing. Since most of the western ice ledge is offshore, I am baffled how exactly the melting of sea ice, can raise see levels.

Almost any hypothetical model can be made to seem valid if only selective material is chosen to validate belief. Likewise, when you quote Insurance Industry Studies, out of context, to confirm your doomsday predictions. In fact the studies were not based on a recognition of the certainty of this prediction but an actuarial study in response to various scenarios.

Now I'll grant you that some of the more vociferous climate change sceptic fall into the usual category of right-wing fools. This could also describe the more extreme of climate change advocates.

Professor Henrik Svensmark, however is widely respected scientist, as are many of his colleagues who were originally sold on the consequences of man made GW, and now find themselves more doubtful as the evidence becomes less certain and more complex.

Professor Plimers argument regarding the discovery of new subterranean volcano's in Antarctic western waters waters, may or may not be significant. Nevertheless, to completely dismiss the factor without adequate research is neither scientific, nor honest.

The alarming headline, "A major Antarctic glacier has passed its tipping point", panic, panic, !

Is alarmist, without being accurate. The headline refers to a new modelling study, whose supporting material seems to be fairly vague. The dire prediction that 'sea levels will rise by 24 centimetres', is weakened by the authors admission that " the model can represent only a simplified version of the physics that govern changes in glaciers" is followed by "Ours is a simple model of an ice sheet that neglects some important physics.The take-home message is that we should be concerned about tipping points in West Antarctica and we should do a lot more work to investigate," Interspersed with comments from learned academics (not part of the study)hypothesising about additional effects that may occur.

Now I could be cynical and say that this is where Richard Katz and his team ask for more grant money! But perhaps that's too cynical.

Nevertheless, this is hardly a well researched report. I note your reference to the new Scientist article left out the above qualifying admissions. Could this be just a little partisan on your behalf?

David, you make a good point, the majority of desirable real estate is coastal. Already some environmentally conscious local governments are restricting coastal residential development. But humans love to live in dangerous places, Los Angeles, Naples, Auckland, tropical islands,... etc There may be something to be said for mountain eyrie's after all!

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

marcopolo wrote:

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......
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The dire prediction that 'sea levels will rise by 24 centimetres', is weakened by the authors admission that " the model can represent only a simplified version of the physics that govern changes in glaciers" is followed by "Ours is a simple model of an ice sheet that neglects some important physics.The take-home message is that we should be concerned about tipping points in West Antarctica and we should do a lot more work to investigate," Interspersed with comments from learned academics (not part of the study)hypothesising about additional effects that may occur.

Now I could be cynical and say that this is where Richard Katz and his team ask for more grant money! But perhaps that's too cynical.

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...

No, you would not be cynical, would you?

But you seem to have missed a crucial part, just by accident, of course, which turns the meaning of the quoted passages into their opposite. Oh, what just a little inattention can do....!

The two parts which you say were following each other, did in fact have a few more words in them, and, what a surpise, a very important sentence in between them, too!

The original read:

Quote:

The team that carried out the study admits their model can represent only a simplified version of the physics that govern changes in glaciers, but say that if anything, the model is optimistic and PIG will disappear faster than it projects.

Observations already show that the model severely underestimates the rate at which PIG's grounding line is retreating, says Katz. "Ours is a simple model of an ice sheet that neglects some important physics," says Katz. "The take-home message is that we should be concerned about tipping points in West Antarctica and we should do a lot more work to investigate," he says.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18383-major-antarctic-glacier-is-past-its-tipping-point.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=climate-ch...

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marcopolo
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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

Mik wrote:
marcopolo wrote:

...

The dire prediction that 'sea levels will rise by 24 centimetres', is weakened by the authors admission that " the model can represent only a simplified version of the physics that govern changes in glaciers" is followed by "Ours is a simple model of an ice sheet that neglects some important physics.The take-home message is that we should be concerned about tipping points in West Antarctica and we should do a lot more work to investigate," Interspersed with comments from learned academics (not part of the study)hypothesising about additional effects that may occur.

Now I could be cynical and say that this is where Richard Katz and his team ask for more grant money! But perhaps that's too cynical.

No, you would not be cynical, would you?

But you seem to have missed a crucial part, just by accident, of course, which turns the meaning of the quoted passages into their opposite. Oh, what just a little inattention can do....!

The two parts which you say were following each other, did in fact have a few more words in them, and, what a surprise, a very important sentence in between them, too!

The original read:

Quote:

The team that carried out the study admits their model can represent only a simplified version of the physics that govern changes in glaciers, but say that if anything, the model is optimistic and PIG will disappear faster than it projects.

Observations already show that the model severely underestimates the rate at which PIG's grounding line is retreating, says Katz. "Ours is a simple model of an ice sheet that neglects some important physics," says Katz. "The take-home message is that we should be concerned about tipping points in West Antarctica and we should do a lot more work to investigate," he says.

Well spotted Mik! But just two points; firstly, since my abbreviation was in reply to a commentator in possession of the entire passage, where is my intention to deceive or mislead? Secondly, these sentences do not turn the admissions into opposites at all! In fact they are quite disingenuous,(although probably not intentionally).

The passages you have highlighted are what lawyers refer to as covert self-serving statements. The formula goes something like this; First quote some facts, add some unsubstantiated material, then admit that the investigation is not yet finalised, but when it is, it will reveal an even more watertight and heinous conclusion!

Observe any effective prosecutor with a weak and circumstantial case, arguing against bail, or preliminary dismissal, and you will see the effectiveness of such methods. Of course it is even easier,if you are preaching to the converted.

My remarks about Richard Katz, were not really aimed to reflect aversely on his integrity. However Mik, if you read such comments from say, an oil or coal industry researcher, you would approve of my cynicism. It's very human to apply a double standard when examining your own side isn't it?

This study (or model)is conclusive of nothing more than a desperate search by a GW scientist to bolster his belief in an increasingly complex science, while safeguarding the reputations of his fellow adherents, Many of whom have embraced the more extreme hysterical, interpretation of the effects of climate change, unwisely and precipitately.

This does not invalidate the excellent environmental measures undertaken by leaders such as Boris Johnson.

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MikeB
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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

New Scientist wrote:

Observations already show that the model severely underestimates the rate at which PIG's grounding line is retreating, says Katz.

Gee, I wonder why that piece of text became conveniently overlooked? Certainly there's no chance of being biased by real-world observations.

Marco, we know it's a model, and we know it's wrong. More importantly, we know which side of wrong it's on: it underestimates the potential danger. We can confirm this by doing the most trivial of all science tasks: verifying the predictions of a model by making real-world observations. Are you really saying that a model that is known to underestimate the danger is 'alarmist'? That sounds like emotionally charged language, the type that you yourself decry.

The only legitimate point I can see that you bring up is the question about how melting sea ice can impact ocean levels. First, much of the ice in Western Antarctica is resting on the ocean bottom, so it's not floating. That's what is meant by the 'grounding' line, it's the point at which the ice hits the sea bed. But, more importantly, grounded ice usually sits at the mouth of a much larger land-based glacier. The grounded ice acts much like a cork in a wine bottle, it keeps the upstream ice from flowing into the sea. When the grounded ice melts or breaks up, the speed at which the upstream glacier flows increases greatly. This is basic ice physics, and it's been observed in real world settings quite a number of times. The difference is that the Pine Island Glacier is massive, and it's a feedback situation.

What do I mean by feedback? Small ocean level rises cause the ice to lift up off the sea bed, which allows warmer water to get underneath. Warmer water accelerates the melting, causing additional ocean level rises. Additional rises speed up the melting, which then speeds up the ocean rise. That's a simple feedback, and that's what this particular study was looking at. Because of the shape of the sea bed, this glacier was protected from that feedback until a certain level of melting was reached. That level of melting was passed in 1996, when the grounding line passed the lip in the sea bed. Since there are no additional protective lips in the seabed to block the feedback from continuing, it becomes clear that this glacier is eventually going to break up, and the only question is speed. This model provides a speed value that is already known to be too low.

As for the insurance industry report, your dismissal borders on idiotic. Do you really think that insurance companies are unable to add up the property value of real estate at low elevations? Their model was very specific: if the oceans rise by .5 meters by a certain date, this is the $$ value of real estate effected. Since we're now talking about a potential ocean rise of .52 meters, how can you possibly claim that the report is out of context? In fact, it seems to be almost ideally suited for this discussion. The actual dollar value might be high or low depending on how fast we reach that ocean level rise, and how building patterns change over the next few years, but it's most likely going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of the value they found, and that's a scary large number. The current US recession was partly caused by a much smaller loss of real estate value ($4.2 Trillion is the number I've seen).

Marco, there's an old saying for lawyers: "When the law is on your side, pound the law. When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When neither is on your side, pound the table." As best I can tell, you're an excellent lawyer, but all you are doing here is pounding the table. You are guilty of exactly what you accuse others of.

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marcopolo
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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

MikeB wrote:
New Scientist wrote:

Observations already show that the model severely underestimates the rate at which PIG's grounding line is retreating, says Katz.

Gee, I wonder why that piece of text became conveniently overlooked? Certainly there's no chance of being biased by real-world observations.

Marco, we know it's a model, and we know it's wrong. More importantly, we know which side of wrong it's on: it underestimates the potential danger. We can confirm this by doing the most trivial of all science tasks: verifying the predictions of a model by making real-world observations. Are you really saying that a model that is known to underestimate the danger is 'alarmist'? That sounds like emotionally charged language, the type that you yourself decry.

Underestimate or overestimate, it's still an inaccurate and incomplete study. To extrapolate anything more definite than an interesting hypothesis from such a premise, is at best speculative. The study is selective in it's extrapolation to raising sea levels.It make no reference to, or allows for ice-shelf increase on the rest of the continent.

Quote:

As for the insurance industry report, your dismissal borders on idiotic. Do you really think that insurance companies are unable to add up the property value of real estate at low elevations? Their model was very specific: if the oceans rise by .5 meters by a certain date, this is the $$ value of real estate effected. Since we're now talking about a potential ocean rise of .52 meters, how can you possibly claim that the report is out of context? In fact, it seems to be almost ideally suited for this discussion. The actual dollar value might be high or low depending on how fast we reach that ocean level rise, and how building patterns change over the next few years, but it's most likely going to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of the value they found, and that's a scary large number. The current US recession was partly caused by a much smaller loss of real estate value ($4.2 Trillion is the number I've seen).

So what? My point was that your inference that the Insurance Industry actuarial study confirmed the likelihood of massive rising sea-level increase, is simply not true! I could also ask the Insurance Industry to prepare an actuarial analysis, accurately costed to the cent, of a plague of giant rabbits! Doesn't mean that there is any likelihood of the event occurring!

Incidentally, thank you for the interesting dissertation on glacial feedback. I have been privileged to sail to the Antarctic, not as a scientist but as a Master Mariner. Your description is undoubtedly valid, but I'm curious, if sea-bed ice melts, wouldn't the result be less in volume than the water it originally displaced? Being warmer, the glacial ice would also be absorbed by the increase in evaporation and spread round the world,(hopefully fall on Australia). To the inexpert, this would appear to be a good thing?

Quote:

Marco, there's an old saying for lawyers: "When the law is on your side, pound the law. When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When neither is on your side, pound the table." As best I can tell, you're an excellent lawyer, but all you are doing here is pounding the table. You are guilty of exactly what you accuse others of.

True, very true.. we are all guilty of excessive rhetoric!

Mike, I can understand your hesitancy at the ramblings of the delightful, but egocentric and eccentric, Prof.Ian Plimer. But surely you don't dismiss Professor Henrik Svensmark, and his team, along with the current group of Australia and NZ scientists compiling core sample studies in Antarctica,as mere cranks?

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

marcopolo wrote:

My point was that your inference that the Insurance Industry actuarial study confirmed the likelihood of massive rising sea-level increase, is simply not true! I could also ask the Insurance Industry to prepare an actuarial analysis, accurately costed to the cent, of a plague of giant rabbits! Doesn't mean that there is any likelihood of the event occurring!

Your speculation about my inference was dead wrong. The insurance industry report was exactly what it appeared to be: an attempt to attach a price tag to rising oceans. Most people have no concept of the consequences of ocean rise, and this was a fairly direct assessment of one of those consequences. People who don't live on the beach don't really think about the consequences of sea level rises until you point out the net economic damage to the whole economy.

marcopolo wrote:

Incidentally, thank you for the interesting dissertation on glacial feedback. I have been privileged to sail to the Antarctic, not as a scientist but as a Master Mariner. Your description is undoubtedly valid, but I'm curious, if sea-bed ice melts, wouldn't the result be less in volume than the water it originally displaced? Being warmer, the glacial ice would also be absorbed by the increase in evaporation and spread round the world,(hopefully fall on Australia). To the inexpert, this would appear to be a good thing?

The melting of floating ice results in no net change in ocean volume, since the less dense ice below water is supplemented by the additional volume suspended above water level. However, any flow of ice from land to sea is a direct increase in ocean volume, as is the melting of any ice that is grounded rather than floating. There is a separate issue with the oceans warming up in general, since warmer water is less dense, so warming oceans will expand in volume. The last IPCC report estimated 0.26 – 0.59m of sea level rises in it's worst case scenario, but that number excludes rapid glacier melting, so it's mostly a value for thermal expansion alone. (And we're already seeing faster warming than the previous 'worst case' model.)

Evaporation rates will increase as temperatures increase, but most global evaporation comes from warm tropical water. However, this isn't a good thing, even for people in dry areas like Australia. First, water vapor is itself a strong greenhouse gas, so anything that puts more water vapor into the air is going to trigger another feedback effect, creating additional warming and thus more evaporation and thus more warming. (All of the big risks for climate change are centered around feedback effects, if you hadn't noticed already).

Higher evaporation rates will result in increased rainfall, but mostly in the form of sudden heavy downpours, not a soft irrigating rain. However, higher temperatures will also result in more moisture evaporating from the soil, leaving the soil dryer. Heavy rain on very dry soil tends to result in heavy erosion of topsoil, and is very bad for agriculture in general. Dry soil and erosion produce dead vegetation, coupled with heat waves we then increase the risk of wildfires, which Australia is already seeing enough of, not to mention California.

By the way, did I mention feedbacks a dozen times yet? Melting sea ice (floating ice) is itself a feedback issue: sea ice is bright white, so it reflects solar energy back into space, but ocean water is dark and absorbs that same energy. So melting sea ice also creates more warming, causing more melting of sea ice, causing more warming. And that effect is strongest at the poles, so that warmer water ends up flowing around the terminus of land based glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. We're currently observing drastic reductions in sea ice in the Arctic Sea, both in ice volume and in surface area, indicating that this process is already strongly in action.

There's another huge danger associated with warming water: Methane Hydrate. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas, stronger than Carbon Dioxide but shorter lived. And huge amounts of methane are trapped beneath the sea, mostly along the continental shelves, in the form of methane hydrate, which is essentially a funny form of ice. As long as it stays cold, the methane is trapped, but warmer waters are causing it to melt and thus bubble up into the atmosphere. Yep, here's the feedback again: warmer water allows more methane to escape, causing more warm water, causing more methane to escape. And now we have one feedback enhancing another, since warmer water creates both melting sea ice as well as more methane, both of which create more warm water. Do you begin to see the problem?

Melting sea ice isn't scary because of dead polar bears, it's scary because it's the beginning of several feedback cycles that amplify the effect of an initially small amount of warming.

Just to complete the arctic feedback list, higher arctic temps don't stick to the water, they also warm up the arctic tundra in Canada, Siberia, and Alaska. The tundra contains huge amounts of organic material trapped in permafrost, in some cases hundreds of meters thick. When the permafrost melts, that organic matter rots, and releases additional carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Yet again, warming temps result in increased release of greenhouse gasses, resulting in increased temps, then more melting permafrost, and the process accelerates. This process has also started, but it's still moving rather slowly.

marcopolo wrote:

Mike, I can understand your hesitancy at the ramblings of the delightful, but egocentric and eccentric, Prof.Ian Plimer. But surely you don't dismiss Professor Henrik Svensmark, and his team, along with the current group of Australia and NZ scientists compiling core sample studies in Antarctica,as mere cranks?

Svensmark had an interesting hypothesis that cosmic rays could create particles in the upper atmosphere that would then increase cloud cover, which act as insulation, thus creating warming. I'm not sure he's a crank, but I do know that his work is either being misrepresented by others or he's overstating his conclusions. The big problem with his research is that cosmic ray levels have been measured continuously since at least the 1950s, and they haven't been increasing. Since temperatures have clearly increased, and cosmic ray levels are stable, then something else must be responsible for warming. Secondly, while cosmic rays would create particles in the upper atmosphere, he has not yet demonstrated that those particles would then form clouds at anything other than the normal rate. Without that key piece of research, as well as some additional reason to disprove the obvious connection between greenhouse gasses and warming, he's essentially got nothing but a hunch. His initial research on clouds may have been valid, but any connection to global warming has essentially been disproven by other research.

Compiling core samples in Antarctica doesn't actually refute anything relating to global warming, though it does provide additional data to support paleoclimate-based models. There are clearly places in Antarctica that are gaining ice/snow mass (which global warming models predict), though the overall average is still for loss of mass. Net ice loss in Antarctica has been confirmed and mapped by gravimetric measurements from orbiting satellites, and it's mostly seen on the West side of the continent. One of the interesting patterns is that Antarctica is displaying more of it's warming in the winter, when temps are way below the freezing point no matter what, but circumpolar winds are insulating it from warming in the summer melt season. There's also an effect from the atmospheric ozone hole over the south pole, but that effect is shrinking as CFC pollution goes away. We should desperately hope that the circumpolar wind pattern doesn't change, because the total amount of ice in Antarctica, East and West, would raise ocean levels by dozens of meters or more.

An interesting piece of trivia about ice loss in Greenland: the glacial ice is so thick that it's surface is partly protected by the effects of being at high altitude. If it melts down to ground level, warmer temps at lower altitude would probably keep it from returning, even if average temps return to their pre-industrial levels. Essentially, once Greenland melts entirely, the bulk of the glaciers will be gone forever, or at least until the next major ice age comes along. (Melting all of Greenland adds around 7m to global sea levels, as I recall.)

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

Mr Marcopolo, You have obvioisly never heard of Merphy's laws law one, if IT can happen, IT will happen! I am guessing you are trying to be the Devil's addvocate . Litterly! In the end times there will be those that will decieve you! those that have ears, let them hear, those that have eyes, let them see!!! LaTeR

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

MikeB wrote:

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An interesting piece of trivia about ice loss in Greenland: the glacial ice is so thick that it's surface is partly protected by the effects of being at high altitude. If it melts down to ground level, warmer temps at lower altitude would probably keep it from returning, even if average temps return to their pre-industrial levels. Essentially, once Greenland melts entirely, the bulk of the glaciers will be gone forever, or at least until the next major ice age comes along. (Melting all of Greenland adds around 7m to global sea levels, as I recall.)

I think I understand the various positive feedback loops you described.

Another obvious one might be that any sea level rise will possibly cause the same effect on other glaciers flowing into oceans - their bottom end begins to float, the glacier then flows faster, etc etc.

I expect it will all melt before too long!

What puzzles me is how the ice could have built up against all these feedback loops in the first place!

What causes the ice ages? Is it less net energy transfer from the sun to earth, because of greater distance, or is the sun less hot at times, or what?

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

Mik wrote:

What puzzles me is how the ice could have built up against all these feedback loops in the first place!

What causes the ice ages? Is it less net energy transfer from the sun to earth, because of greater distance, or is the sun less hot at times, or what?

Good questions, Mik. Mostly, with the exception of water vapor, the feedback loops don't happen until some sort of threshold temperature is reached. One big debate right now in the science community is how much additional warming (or CO2 concentration) is 'safe', which is another way of asking wheat the various trigger temperatures are. There are strong arguments that we are already above the safe CO2 level, we're at 387 and the safe level is around 350. The Copenhagen conference was targeting an additional warming level of 2C, though several nations (most especially low-lying island nations) argued for 1.5C. The big fear is that we let things warm up above a trigger or two, perhaps 3C, and then warming feedbacks create something unstoppable until it reaches 10C or higher.

Ice accumulation is usually a very delicate balance between snowfall/freezing in the winter and melting in the summer. As it turns out, a very small change is often sufficient to change that balance, and over long periods of time that can mean a big change in the size of a glacier or icepack.

Ice ages have a number of causes, and it's usually several factors coming together at once. You're on the right track when you ask about the sun, but it's not quite what you suggest. Earth's orbit is elliptical, and right now it's closest to the sun when the Northern Hemisphere is in Winter, but the close point changes over time. Also, due to the planet's tilt, our rotation has a wobble in it. When you combine a couple of these different orbital cycles, along with the fact that most of Earth's land mass is in the Northern Hemisphere, you get a periodic warming & cooling cycle forming. As it turns out, we're in the middle of one of these orbital cooling cycles (well, 6k years in, 23k years to go).

Once you get some cooling going on, some of these feedbacks work in reverse. Lower global temps drop the amount of water vapor in the air, causing further cooling. CO2 levels also drop as it gets cooler, since the oceans are able to absorb and hold more dissolved gas. Increased ice on the surface pushes temps down further by reflecting more solar heat. Combined, a relatively small change in orbital dynamics can create ice ages that are several thousand years long.

Other triggers for ice ages exist, such as a strong eruption of volcanoes putting cooling particles and chemicals into the air, or continental drift changing ocean currents (like the opening and closing gap between South America and Antarctica). Volcanoes can also bump up CO2 concentrations, which could be enough to end an ice age off schedule.

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

MikeB wrote:

Your speculation about my inference was dead wrong. The insurance industry report was exactly what it appeared to be: an attempt to attach a price tag to rising oceans. Most people have no concept of the consequences of ocean rise, and this was a fairly direct assessment of one of those consequences. People who don't live on the beach don't really think about the consequences of sea level rises until you point out the net economic damage to the whole economy.

I accept, your clarification that you didn't intend to infer Insurance Industry endorsement of support for the concept of rising sea-levels. However you must concede that this sort of oblique 'expert' inference, has been widely used on both sides of this debate, particularly by journalists and non-science commentators. Once erroneously adopted it becomes popularly accepted truth, and is very hard to challenge .

Quote:

Higher evaporation rates will result in increased rainfall, but mostly in the form of sudden heavy downpours, not a soft irrigating rain. However, higher temperatures will also result in more moisture evaporating from the soil, leaving the soil dryer. Heavy rain on very dry soil tends to result in heavy erosion of topsoil, and is very bad for agriculture in general. Dry soil and erosion produce dead vegetation, coupled with heat waves we then increase the risk of wildfires, which Australia is already seeing enough of, not to mention California.

Once again, I am grateful for your informative, well reasoned and obviously well researched replies. One can't help being impressed by your patience at questions from people, like me, with far less scientific knowledge. The above quote is absolutely correct,but, and this is probably wishful thinking on my part, isn't it possible that this sort of rainfall could be managed, and techniques developed to counteract the negative aspects?

Quote:

An interesting piece of trivia about ice loss in Greenland: the glacial ice is so thick that it's surface is partly protected by the effects of being at high altitude. If it melts down to ground level, warmer temps at lower altitude would probably keep it from returning, even if average temps return to their pre-industrial levels. Essentially, once Greenland melts entirely, the bulk of the glaciers will be gone forever, or at least until the next major ice age comes along. (Melting all of Greenland adds around 7m to global sea levels, as I recall).

But, isn't there a historical precedence? During the early middle ages Greenland was ice free, yet there is no record of significant difference in sea levels? Surely that warming period had all the same possibilities, for catastrophe ? True, no Miami Condo's existed to be swept into a raging tide, (why is that a bad thing?) but neither could industry created greenhouse gases contribute. There are no historical records of the behaviour of Antarctica, (I am informed that's one of the purposes of the current core drilling expedition).

Perhaps you could explain why this precedent does not apply?

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

marcopolo wrote:

Once again, I am grateful for your informative, well reasoned and obviously well researched replies. One can't help being impressed by your patience at questions from people, like me, with far less scientific knowledge. The above quote is absolutely correct,but, and this is probably wishful thinking on my part, isn't it possible that this sort of rainfall could be managed, and techniques developed to counteract the negative aspects?

I'm always happy to try to share such knowledge, and I'm glad to be able to translate some of the more technical pieces of science for those with less exposure to the concepts.

Rainfall management is rather primitive right now, but it's being attempted in both Russia and China. But here's the trick: it's much less effort to try to prevent such changes than to try to live with them. At this point, we have no choice, we are going to have to do quite a bit of both. But irrigation is always more expensive than natural rain fall, intensive soil management is more expensive than just using the dirt that is already there. Farming won't halt, it'll just be more expensive all around, though yields will probably fall. But much of the world is malnourished and dirt poor right now, they can't afford more expensive food, and I see nothing on the horizon that will bring costs down.

Adaptation to rising oceans means dealing with situations like New Orleans during hurricane Katrina. Such protective levies are very expensive to build, and the damage is astronomical when they break. Sure, we're going to end up building such protections around most every big coastal city, but imagine the cost of just one failure every decade or so. The alternative is to simply abandon the land next to the sea, but nobody seems to want to abandon their beach homes after a hurricane hits, so why would things change?

marcopolo wrote:

But, isn't there a historical precedence? During the early middle ages Greenland was ice free, yet there is no record of significant difference in sea levels? Surely that warming period had all the same possibilities, for catastrophe ? True, no Miami Condo's existed to be swept into a raging tide, (why is that a bad thing?) but neither could industry created greenhouse gases contribute. There are no historical records of the behaviour of Antarctica, (I am informed that's one of the purposes of the current core drilling expedition).

Perhaps you could explain why this precedent does not apply?

Greenland has never been completely ice free, not since humans have existed. In the early middle ages, there was a period of time when the southernmost tip of Greenland had less ice than it does now, and there was villages and even some farming. Even now, the southern tip is not a glacier, it's just a nasty cold place to live, and there's actually towns there. Bring it up in Google Maps or Google Earth, and scroll around a bit. There are even herds of Caribou up there, living on the green areas between glacier and sea.

There appears to have been a small shift in the Gulf Stream back in the middle ages, and it resulted in a warmer weather pattern across Greenland, Iceland, the UK and some of Europe. This was a regional warming, not a global one, since the heat delivered by the Gulf Stream results in cold somewhere else. But the difference in ice coverage would probably be measured in hundreds of acres, not in thousands of square miles.

I know that ice cores taken in Antarctica contain over a million years of yearly deposits, and they are just a fraction of the total depth of the ice. I think the deepest ice cores in Greenland exceed 100,000 years, and are in range of 3km deep. Clearly, the bulk of Greenland was not ice free a mere thousand years ago, it was just a little less icy in some places.

The purpose of ice core drilling is that ice provides an precise record of climate, with yearly precision, for immensely long periods of time. Tiny air bubbles trapped in the ice allow us a direct measurement of the CO2 concentrations at the time that the ice was formed. The ratio of two Oxygen isotopes in those same air bubbles allows us a good estimate of the water temperature at the same time. Between the two, we have a detailed history of world temperatures and CO2 concentrations that is over 800,000 years long, and shows the world going into and out of several ice ages. We can also spot soot and ash from volcanic eruptions, if they were large enough. It's that type of detailed history of the past that helps refine our computer models, helps us figure out exactly how fast world temps can change given a specific amount of CO2 change, figure out how strong individual feedbacks might be.

Miami-Dade county currently has a property tax base somewhere in the $200 Billion range. Back in the early middle ages, the total value of property in that same location was exactly zero. By the end of this century, I'd really hate for that tax base to be back at zero. Sure, I'll agree that we could afford to get rid of some of the tackier condos on the beach front, but there's an awful lot of people who are going to simply lose their homes and livelihoods. If all of Greenland melted we'd see 7m of ocean rise and lose all of Florida, but all of Greenland won't melt in a single century (as far as we can tell). However, if we activate some of the stronger feedbacks, we may set up a condition where Greenland will eventually melt, it'll pass a tipping point just like the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. In the mean time, even a meter of sea level rise would create horrible economic consequences, and a meter could easily happen by the end of the century, if not mid-century.

The biggest scientific revelation in the last 10 years has been the potential speed of glacier melt. A decade ago, nobody though glacier melt would substantially raise ocean levels on a time frame less than a century. But we've been observing very rapid glacier melt lately, and massive ice shelf breakups in Antarctica. These observations have radically changed the estimates as to how fast such events can happen. We still don't have good models that specify an upper limit to this speed, but we know that our previous estimates on lower limits are already wrong.

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

I've been spectating this exchange and I've been impressed. Good points have been made and the tone has been very civil. Kudos. This sort of conversation is rare on the internet.

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

MikeB wrote:

The biggest scientific revelation in the last 10 years has been the potential speed of glacier melt. A decade ago, nobody though glacier melt would substantially raise ocean levels on a time frame less than a century. But we've been observing very rapid glacier melt lately, and massive ice shelf breakups in Antarctica. These observations have radically changed the estimates as to how fast such events can happen. We still don't have good models that specify an upper limit to this speed, but we know that our previous estimates on lower limits are already wrong.

What significance do you place on reports of increases in the ice shelf and general ice cover of the continent. Is this simply a temporary anomaly, or a serious inconsistency in the GW timetable? Why is western Antarctica losing ice, and glaciers, while eastern Antarctica is gaining ice?

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

marcopolo wrote:

What significance do you place on reports of increases in the ice shelf and general ice cover of the continent. Is this simply a temporary anomaly, or a serious inconsistency in the GW timetable? Why is western Antarctica losing ice, and glaciers, while eastern Antarctica is gaining ice?

Short answer: it's irrelevant for global warming as a whole.

For the long answer, let's bring in some charts.
Here's a map of actual mass gain/loss as measured by NASA satellites. These use very sensitive measurements of gravity changes over their orbit to determine how much mass is below them.
Antarctic Mass Change
Clearly, there are a few yellow areas, indicating mass gain. But they are overwhelmed by the areas of deep blue, indicating loss. If I was to summarize the effect across the entire continent, the mass gain is pretty clearly regional and generally irrelevant.

Here's a related map showing the decadal average of atmospheric warming over Antarctica :
Decadal Warming Average

What this shows is that warming and it's effects are not uniform. (And nobody should expect it to be.) On average, Antarctica has warmed by 3C over the last 50 years, which is far more than the global average of 0.8C, and more of that warming is on the Wast side than the East. But most of Antarctica is really really cold to start with, so the fact that it's still cold enough to accumulate ice in some places is entirely unsurprising.

Why the difference between the two sides of the continent? I really don't have a clear answer. I'm sure that there's a function of how the circumpolar winds keep the cold air isolated from the rest of the planet. And there's another factor about ocean currents, especially since most of the heat gained by global warming is ending up in the upper layer of the oceans. But this becomes a discussion of regional weather pattern, not global changes.

I should probably correct my earlier language, my use of the term 'melt' for glaciers was not really correct. What's happening is that the glaciers flow into the sea and break up into floating icebergs (which then melt as they float into warmer waters). It's this flow and breakup that is happening far faster than expected, not the simple melting of glacial ice into water. One explanation is that a small amount of meltwater on the surface flows into holes ("moulins") and ends up underneath the glacier, between the ice and the rock below. This lubricates the movement of the glacier, or even floats the whole thing, allowing it to flow towards the ocean faster, where it then breaks up. Glaciers in Greenland that used to move inches per year are now moving 2 meters per hour, prompting a potential re-definition of the concept 'glacial change', since it's no longer 'really really slow'.

Since the glaciers in West Antarctica are grounded on the sea bed, as explained way upthread, they are far more vulnerable to breakup than the more land-based glaciers in East Antarctica, especially if warmer water, not air, is driving this change. You also get some odd patterns forming as the result of glacial breakup: since this puts large quantities of glacial ice into the water, sea ice extent may actually increase locally, as surface water is cooled by the melting ice.

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

MikeB wrote:
marcopolo wrote:

What significance do you place on reports of increases in the ice shelf and general ice cover of the continent. Is this simply a temporary anomaly, or a serious inconsistency in the GW timetable? Why is western Antarctica losing ice, and glaciers, while eastern Antarctica is gaining ice?

Quote:

Short answer: it's irrelevant for global warming as a whole.

Firstly, let me thank you for the excellent explanation that followed. Very logical, and clearly explained.

The following article appeared in The Australian newspaper as to the findings in Antarctica.

ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap.
The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent's western coast.

Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth's ice and 80 per cent of its fresh water. Extensive melting of Antarctic ice sheets would be required to raise sea levels substantially, and ice is melting in parts of west Antarctica. The destabilisation of the Wilkins ice shelf generated international headlines this month.

However, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia.

East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week's meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown "significant cooling in recent decades".

Australian Antarctic Division glaciology program head Ian Allison said sea ice losses in west Antarctica over the past 30 years had been more than offset by increases in the Ross Sea region, just one sector of east Antarctica.

"Sea ice conditions have remained stable in Antarctica generally," Dr Allison said.

The melting of sea ice -- fast ice and pack ice -- does not cause sea levels to rise because the ice is in the water. Sea levels may rise with losses from freshwater ice sheets on the polar caps. In Antarctica, these losses are in the form of icebergs calved from ice shelves formed by glacial movements on the mainland.

Last week, federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett said experts predicted sea level rises of up to 6m from Antarctic melting by 2100, but the worst case scenario foreshadowed by the SCAR report was a 1.25m rise.

Mr Garrett insisted global warming was causing ice losses throughout Antarctica. "I don't think there's any doubt it is contributing to what we've seen both on the Wilkins shelf and more generally in Antarctica," he said.

Dr Allison said there was not any evidence of significant change in the mass of ice shelves in east Antarctica nor any indication that its ice cap was melting. "The only significant calvings in Antarctica have been in the west," he said. And he cautioned that calvings of the magnitude seen recently in west Antarctica might not be unusual.

"Ice shelves in general have episodic carvings and there can be large icebergs breaking off -- I'm talking 100km or 200km long -- every 10 or 20 or 50 years."

Ice core drilling in the fast ice off Australia's Davis Station in East Antarctica by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-Operative Research Centre shows that last year, the ice had a maximum thickness of 1.89m, its densest in 10 years. The average thickness of the ice at Davis since the 1950s is 1.67m.

A paper to be published soon by the British Antarctic Survey in the journal Geophysical Research Letters is expected to confirm that over the past 30 years, the area of sea ice around the continent has expanded.

Fairly harmless stuff, you would agree. But from the moment the article appeared it was pounced on by the more redneck and opportunistic of journalists to promote the wildest sort of populist attack on GW. This is exactly the sort of disinformation which discredits both sides.

The response from the left, was even more rabid. The Minister of Education called for the prevention of small children being told that Santa lives at the North Pole, and a rather banal, politically correct piece of cartoon propaganda showing the immediate cancellation of Christmas, be compulsory curriculum. The cunning of the cartoon was subtly associating it's preachy GW theme, with other leftist feminist political messages.

One famous extreme climate chain activist has demanded "climate Change Denial' be made a criminal offence! On the basis that sceptics are promoting the mass murder of many species, and committing act of sacrilege against Mother Earth, in the same way as the holocaust! Oh,and if repeated in the presence of children should be considered child abuse and delt with accordingly.

I stand by my original proposition, in that the serious scientific issues of GW, are being hi-jacked by political extremists of both sides. These activists add no clarification to the science debate or indeed and form of practical solution(always presuming one could be found). They are simply attempting to hitch old waggons to the GW star, in the hope of furthering power seeking agendas, which have little to do with GW.

I was impressed by my meeting with Boris Johnson. The Mayor of London has a most pragmatic approach to GW. His explanation for his support of a raft of Green initiatives, derives not from a deep conviction of the perils of GW, but from the concept that a whole bunch of new, more efficient, industries and exiting new technologies are worthwhile pursuits in themselves. His efforts would seem (so far) to involve no loss of personal liberty.

These are the issues that really concern me. The science may be correct, flawed or incomplete, but no climate change effect could be as damaging to humans, as the misery and cruelties humans will inflict on each other, in the name of far less important issues than GW !

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

marcopolo wrote:

...
...
...
These are the issues that really concern me. The science may be correct, flawed or incomplete, but no climate change effect could be as damaging to humans, as the misery and cruelties humans will inflict on each other, in the name of far less important issues than GW !

I wonder who wrote it!

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

Mik wrote:

I wonder who wrote it!

The 'Science' reporter for the Australian, Greg Roberts .The article was seized upon by the odious right wing columist Andrew Bolt and his cronies to debunk GW, in the most distorted and dishonest fashion.

Andrew Bolt, like his fellow Australian commentator, Alan Jones is not a valid GW sceptic seeking sincere evidence, but simply an oppourtunist, the reverse side of George Monbiot. The fact that Andrew Bolt highlights some issues that I also feel should be debated, does not mean I approve of his methods or motivation.

I read a great review of the Andrew Bolt school of journalism; Andrew Bolt as a small boy is playing soccer with the other children, when one of his playmate complains, "Andrew,you can't keep grabbing the ball, this is soccer!It's against the rules," Bolt replies, " Shudup! You Smell! And you're probably gay!Smelly Gay! Smelly gay!Smelly Gay! ....ad nauseum until the others just give up and acquiesce.

Nevertheless, I believe it is important with any issue to separate propaganda from valuable information.

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

Just trying to keep up with the discussion... I have a suggestion (or request actually). Could we include our qualifications when citing evidence or offering opinion?

I have a mere 2 year Associates Degree in Science and I exclude myself from offering an expert opinion; I am in no way qualified to do so. But, I learned enough science to understand the basics of how it works (theory vs. hypothesis, statistical significance,etc.) and I have learned enough science to respect the depth of knowledge and understanding that people with advanced science degrees have.

Since there is consensus among actual scientists around the world that global climate change is real and man-made, who am I to question their expert opinion based on actual research?

What really doesn't help is when people who are less qualified than myself, such as Rush Limbaugh (does he have a science degree??), pronouncing global climate change to be a hoax. Maybe if these folks took a basic survey of science course at a local junior college they would at least learn enough to understand how unqualified they are to offer advice.

In any case, since we are all here on 'V is for Voltage', I suppose it's safe to assume that we all agree that global climate change has been a big influence in the politics that support the introduction of EV's (and other alternative fuel vehicles). If one were to cry 'conspiracy' surely it would apply to the multi-trillion dollar oil industry and not the fledgling EV industry, of which the former has all of the power and everything to lose, while the latter is a smattering of unorganized entrepreneurs that have little or no influence at all.

Food for thought?

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

oobflyer wrote:

Just trying to keep up with the discussion... I have a suggestion (or request actually). Could we include our qualifications when citing evidence or offering opinion?

I have a mere 2 year Associates Degree in Science and I exclude myself from offering an expert opinion; I am in no way qualified to do so. But, I learned enough science to understand the basics of how it works (theory vs. hypothesis, statistical significance,etc.) and I have learned enough science to respect the depth of knowledge and understanding that people with advanced science degrees have.

Hmmm... In theory, that approach seems to make sense. However, in reality, we live (well some of us), in democratic societies, where every opinion should be considered on its merit not the prestige of the opinion holder.(a`la Norman Rockwell). The old saying, 'you don't have to be a master carpenter to know the table has one leg shorter..', possesses merit.

After all, juries decide the facts of very important matters and yet possess no specialist knowledge. For that matter, legislators have no special knowledge, yet pass laws regarding very complex matters. Hmmmm.. perhaps that maybe a step too far! Never mind, the point is that just being able to pass various university subjects, doesn't necessarily make anyone wise or an original thinker. In fact some of our most brilliantly educated people have rendered terrible disservice to their fellow citizens.

Neither Henry Ford, Bill Gates, or Chuck Yogul graduated, but the first two did ok.(Chuck, sadly, really is an idiot)

Quote:

Since there is consensus among actual scientists around the world that global climate change is real and man-made, who am I to question their expert opinion based on actual research?

You are exactly the right sort of person to question, 'expert opinion'! You and your fellow citizens are not sheep! It is the function of everyone in a free society to challenge 'conventional wisdom'. I do not agree that there is a consensus of actual scientists that agree that climate change is man made, and even if it was true, it would still be valid to test such expert opinion. Science should not become a matter of qualified priests and a congregation of faithful sheep. In all fairness, most of the scientists I know would abhor such a concept.

MikeB's excellent and very knowledgeable contributions to this thread, are facinating, and he is obviously a person with considerable scientific training, but I think he would agree with me, that scientific knowledge is not a hierarchical priesthood, where the greatest academic can never by challenged by the acolytes?

Of course, there will always be those opportunists who corrupt any scientific research for political or popular advancement. That is why the scientist must be rigorously examined by his peers, when this process breaks down, the science breaks down, and the scientist becomes tainted by the political process.

Quote:

In any case, since we are all here on 'V is for Voltage', I suppose it's safe to assume that we all agree that global climate change has been a big influence in the politics that support the introduction of EV's (and other alternative fuel vehicles). If one were to cry 'conspiracy' surely it would apply to the multi-trillion dollar oil industry and not the fledgling EV industry, of which the former has all of the power and everything to lose, while the latter is a smattering of unorganised entrepreneurs that have little or no influence at all.

But why cry 'conspiracy theory at all?

You are correct when you say the EV lobby has very little lobby influence,at least until it is adopted by the major manufacturers. However, the environmental/ GW lobby is an enormous, highly organised,well funded, very influential, movement with a vast political/industrial/bureaucratic/governmental infrastructure to protect. Likewise, fossil fuel/resource industry lobby must also protect its own interests. (although to be fair, oil giant BP spends gigantic sums on alternate energy research programs).

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

marcopolo wrote:

I do not agree that there is a consensus of actual scientists that agree that climate change is man made, and even if it was true, it would still be valid to test such expert opinion. Science should not become a matter of qualified priests and a congregation of faithful sheep. In all fairness, most of the scientists I know would abhor such a concept.

Marco, you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. The opinion of scientific experts is a measurable quantity, and it's been measured. The simple fact is that there is a very strong scientific consensus about present day climate change and it's dominant cause is human industrial & agricultural activity, 97% of climate scientists agree with that. I posted the survey results in the other thread, and I challenge you to find a rigorous study that produces radically different results. (A 'list of dissenting experts' doesn't count if it contains weathermen and dentists, btw)

More important than the opinion of scientific experts is the actual published data appearing in scientific journals. Published in 2004 in the journal Science was an important meta-survey done by Naomi Oreskes. She wanted to see how the published data matched up with the various opinion statements by scientific groups.

Naomi Oreskes wrote:

That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change" (9).

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point.

Even more important was the IPCC report from 2007. The IPCC does no direct research, their job was to examine all of the published research available and summarize it into a 'current state of the art' statement. The IPCC Summary for Policymakers was extremely clear (it's short and targeted at non-technical readers, you should read the whole thing, btw):

IPCC SPM wrote:

Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years(see Figure SPM.1). The global increases in carbon dioxide concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land use change, while those of methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture. {2.3, 6.4, 7.3}
...
The understanding of anthropogenic warming and cooling influences on climate has improved since the TAR, leading to very high confidence7 that the global average net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming, with a radiative forcing of +1.6 [+0.6 to +2.4] W m–2 (see Figure
SPM.2). {2.3., 6.5, 2.9}
...
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread
melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level (see Figure SPM.3). {3.2, 4.2, 5.5}
...

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.12 This is an advance since the TAR’s conclusion that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations”. Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns (see Figure SPM.4 and Table SPM.2). {9.4, 9.5}
...
Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century. {10.3}

*Note that the SPM clearly specified that terms such as 'very likely' indicate a better than 90% confidence level.
*Also Note that the IPCC is an inherently conservative process, every participating country has veto power over the language used. Oil-rich countries such as Kuwait, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia participated in the process, as well as a Bush appointee from the US. We already know that some of the 2007 estimates on items such as glacier melt speed were overly conservative.

Sure, I agree that having a consensus doesn't imply having a fact. However, having a strong consensus of appropriate experts, built upon decades of research, provides the closest thing to a scientific fact that a non-scientist can ever possibly achieve. But, more importantly, you can't challenge the science by claiming such a consensus doesn't exist. The only legitimate way to challenge the science is by actually publishing, in peer-reviewed science journals, the data that supports such a challenge. That's a job for scientists, not weathermen, journalists, or lawyers. (Actually, anyone can publish if they do the research and write it up well)

And, in case you want to argue that publishing dissenting views is somehow being suppressed by the journals, you need to check out the paper by Lindzen and Choi, published last year in the Geophysical Research Letters of the American Geophysical Union. The Lindzen and Choi (LC09) conclusions appear to be incorrect, but they were actually published, and are being subjected to scientific scrutiny as they should be. If the data can be reproduced by independent research (which appears to be the first sign of trouble in this case), the scientific consensus will change. If the conclusions are not robust, then this paper will be refuted by additional papers.

Marco, this isn't about any sort of priesthood of knowledge. It's about supporting claims via the scientific method. Claims with scientific support are, by the nature of the scientific process, far more reliable than claims without such support. I don't care if a paper is authored by your pet poodle, if it meets the standards for publication in a reputable journal then it's got some merit. However, the number of papers published by poodles is going to be low, as compared to the number of papers published by those who's job it is to collect and analyze the data. Don't mistake the people for the process, but understand that the people who are deeply embedded in the process have a big advantage when it comes to understanding the results of the process.

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Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

oobflyer wrote:

Just trying to keep up with the discussion... I have a suggestion (or request actually). Could we include our qualifications when citing evidence or offering opinion?

Hiya oob,

I think you're right, but I think you're also wrong. Here's the deal: on the internet, it doesn't really matter what your qualifications are, it matters what evidence you provide and the quality of your argument. Marcopolo appears to be giving my statements more respect because my explanations are clear and logical. It doesn't really matter if my degree is in Physics or Computer Science or Beekeeping, I've earned some respect simply by the quality of my argument. (It's actually Computer Science with a strong Physics background.)

However, I'm not really offering my own opinions. I'm really parsing and understanding the statements of real experts, including a number of climate scientists who are actively analyzing data and publishing results. Sometimes I'm getting second hand data from experts who have subscriptions to various science journals, which I don't. I could probably spend a great deal more time linking to their writings when I make a statement, creating a sort of bibliography for each post. If pressed for confirmation of a fact, I'll do exactly that, but I prefer to just paraphrase and explain what I know from memory.

Btw, if you are interested in the source for anything I've said, please don't hesitate to ask. Links, charts, and more explanation are available upon request.

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kevin smith
kevin smith's picture
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Joined: 12/29/2008
Points: 444
Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

really all i would like to add is when will manafacturies lurn to get electric scooters and cars etc etc..
to shut themselfs of and not put them selfs in higher state of there version !!!!!!!!!!!!
of standby... AND SHOULD USE THE STANDARD meaning zero meaning zero electric been wasted when charged complete ....
i do not have a degree but an intrest in been / have been most of my life economical and like an juce extractor .this is the best way of discribing my self quickley befroe i go to bed.
is you use something helthey. lets say an apple or carrot then you 1 . put it in jucer drink juce no wast there.
2 drink very good for you 3 use the wast product to mix in to past etc etc 4 ends of carrots go to my compost bin so my worms are very happy..
and machine soon as i fin with it wash and away its goes there.
why carn't thing be that simple.?????
please take note manufactures..lets all just try a little harder
i love my ev scooter but this year i am going to use the push bike more there for keep fitter/help the enviroment a little .?
but not too shore that i would be helping that much as worked out that a quick shower at work and then another at home seems a lot of
wast electric / water?? but i do feel better inside ?? fitter
kev

marcopolo
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Points: 837
Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

MikeB wrote:
marcopolo wrote:

I do not agree that there is a consensus of actual scientists that agree that climate change is man made, and even if it was true, it would still be valid to test such expert opinion. Science should not become a matter of qualified priests and a congregation of faithful sheep. In all fairness, most of the scientists I know would abhor such a concept.

Marco, you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. The opinion of scientific experts is a measurable quantity, and it's been measured. The simple fact is that there is a very strong scientific consensus about present day climate change and it's dominant cause is human industrial & agricultural activity, 97% of climate scientists agree with that. I posted the survey results in the other thread, and I challenge you to find a rigorous study that produces radically different results. (A 'list of dissenting experts' doesn't count if it contains weathermen and dentists, btw)

Sure, I agree that having a consensus doesn't imply having a fact. However, having a strong consensus of appropriate experts, built upon decades of research, provides the closest thing to a scientific fact that a non-scientist can ever possibly achieve. But, more importantly, you can't challenge the science by claiming such a consensus doesn't exist. The only legitimate way to challenge the science is by actually publishing, in peer-reviewed science journals, the data that supports such a challenge. That's a job for scientists, not weathermen, journalists, or lawyers. (Actually, anyone can publish if they do the research and write it up well).

We seem to be in furious agreement, with the exception that you have missed the reply was in context of oobfyers remarks. I was not challenging the validity of GW science, but the dangers of unquestionly accepting the edict of university qualified people from any discipline simply based not on the coherance of their arguements but the eminence of acedemic qualifications.

The example I gave of consensus, wasn't mean't to be a matter of debate into the validity of consensus, (that is is a seperate issue) but of the right of anyone to test expert opinion on any subject. Of course, any challenge to expert opinion, must be supported by careful research, or at least based on substanial flaws and serious inconsistancies in the expert opinion. I believe that I was careful to say that my concenus remark was not a fact, but an opinion. Since I was not claiming this to be fact, how am I inventing my own facts?

Quote:

Marco, this isn't about any sort of priesthood of knowledge. It's about supporting claims via the scientific method. Claims with scientific support are, by the nature of the scientific process, far more reliable than claims without such support. I don't care if a paper is authored by your pet poodle, if it meets the standards for publication in a reputable journal then it's got some merit. However, the number of papers published by poodles is going to be low, as compared to the number of papers published by those who's job it is to collect and analyze the data. Don't mistake the people for the process, but understand that the people who are deeply embedded in the process have a big advantage when it comes to understanding the results of the process.

My example of a preisthood, wasn't intended to imply such a condition existed, but that oobflyer's devotion to the enoblement by colledge degree, was in danger of creating such a mindset. The observation was adressed to ooflyer and related to his perspective.

I am not sure about the scientific knowlege of poodles, my cat reliably informs me that it is extremely limited. The cat also informs me that it possesses all the necesssary science to save the planet and advance mankinds quest to the stars. It's unfortunate that these enlightenment sesions only seem to occur late at night, and after the consumption of .. oh, and what's really annoying is in the morning she simply refuses to repeat this information!

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strawhistle
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Joined: 03/10/2008
Points: 340
Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

I understand you are concerned PEOPLE will jump to conclusun's based on "experts" evidence !!! I GET It what I do not get is WhY Must YoU go on SOOOOOO.? some ware in the trial the judge would say " enough reteric " you end up just wasting My time gettin NO-WHERE! LaTeR

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thank GOD I wake up above ground !!!!

MikeB
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Joined: 04/14/2008
Points: 517
Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

marcopolo wrote:

I was not challenging the validity of GW science...

The following sentence seems to say exactly the opposite, that you do not think a scientific consensus exists: "I do not agree that there is a consensus of actual scientists that agree that climate change is man made..."

Perhaps we aren't communicating clearly, and I apologize if that is the case. To be clear: Do you, or do you not, think that a scientific consensus exists? If you think that such a consensus exists, do you think that said consensus is incorrect on the science?

marcopolo wrote:

I believe that I was careful to say that my concenus remark was not a fact, but an opinion. Since I was not claiming this to be fact, how am I inventing my own facts?

I consider the existence of a strong scientific consensus to be a fact, as demonstrated by the rest of my post. You may have an opinion about the validity of that consensus, or how we should react to such a consensus, but I think it's existence is not reasonably debatable.

marcopolo wrote:

I am not sure about the scientific knowlege of poodles, my cat reliably informs me that it is extremely limited. The cat also informs me that it possesses all the necesssary science to save the planet and advance mankinds quest to the stars. It's unfortunate that these enlightenment sesions only seem to occur late at night, and after the consumption of .. oh, and what's really annoying is in the morning she simply refuses to repeat this information!

The cat is most certainly correct. Even more importantly, any solution proposed by a cat would undoubtedly contain an abundance of naps, which is a good thing.

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marcopolo
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Points: 837
Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

MikeB wrote:
marcopolo wrote:

I was not challenging the validity of GW science...

The following sentence seems to say exactly the opposite, that you do not think a scientific consensus exists: "I do not agree that there is a consensus of actual scientists that agree that climate change is man made..."

Perhaps we aren't communicating clearly, and I apologize if that is the case. To be clear: Do you, or do you not, think that a scientific consensus exists? If you think that such a consensus exists, do you think that said consensus is incorrect on the science?

This would depend on how you define consensus. From my observation, I would agree that a substantial majority of reputable scientists, (with appropriate qualifications), agree on the basic principles of Climate Warming. The differences that exist between these scientists on timing, man-made ratios, and other issues, are not major differences, but rather degrees of emphasis rather than basic differences. Whether the scientists are right or wrong, I am simply not qualified to say. I would however say, on the balance of probability, the evidence would strong confirm the threat of Global Warming, with the quantum of man made contribution less certain.

Phew...never use one word when 10 will do!

marcopolo wrote:

I believe that I was careful to say that my consensus remark was not a fact, but an opinion. Since I was not claiming this to be fact, how am I inventing my own facts?

Quote:

I consider the existence of a strong scientific consensus to be a fact, as demonstrated by the rest of my post. You may have an opinion about the validity of that consensus, or how we should react to such a consensus, but I think it's existence is not reasonably debatable.

Again we are basically in furious agreement, except your definition of consensus. My definition of consensus is group solidarity of belief or sentiment. In other words 100%. So I would consider if dissension exists,no matter what size the minority, there can be no strict consensus.

However, I think you are using the wider definition more popular definition of consensus, as agreement by a significant or overwhelming majority, and I would agree that consensus within that definition is established beyond debate.

Of course this does not mean that dissenters, should be bullied or shouted down. So long as the dissenter or sceptic can demonstrate a creditable, rationale theory, based on research and at least a modicum of evidence, then a fair and courteous hearing should be provided. Ideally the dessenter should match the research, and clarity of thinking that your contributions display.

How we should react to the scientific predictions is more problematic. Once we move from the science into remedial action, the political process begins to raise all sorts of complex issues beyond the scope of the scientist.(except as an adviser). Most of my posts really relate to this arena, rather than the accuracy of the science itself.

As to the Bolt -v- Monbiot, type of unqualified utterings, I say a pox on both their houses!(Mercutio-Romeo and Juliet)

marcopolo wrote:

I am not sure about the scientific knowledge of poodles, my cat reliably informs me that it is extremely limited. The cat also informs me that it possesses all the necessary science to save the planet and advance mankind's quest to the stars. It's unfortunate that these enlightenment sessions only seem to occur late at night, and after the consumption of .. oh, and what's really annoying is in the morning she simply refuses to repeat this information!

Quote:

The cat is most certainly correct. Even more importantly, any solution proposed by a cat would undoubtedly contain an abundance of naps, which is a good thing.

Ah, here speaks the true scientific observer!

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marcopolo

MikeB
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Joined: 04/14/2008
Points: 517
Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

marcopolo wrote:

Again we are basically in furious agreement, except your definition of consensus. My definition of consensus is group solidarity of belief or sentiment. In other words 100%. So I would consider if dissension exists,no matter what size the minority, there can be no strict consensus.

I think asking for 100% agreement from scientists is a bit excessive, that produces a threshold that can never be reached in practice. There are always crackpots, contrarians, and just plain lunatics out there that will argue a point. By your definition, even such basics as a spherical Earth orbiting the Sun does not have a strict consensus. In fact, I'm pretty sure that virtually every basic tenet of modern science has at least one individual arguing that it's wrong, from Newtonian mechanics, relativity, quantum mechanics, conservation of energy and the laws of thermodynamics, etc. It's a big world out there, you can always find someone who takes a contrarian stance on any subject. In the realm of global warming, there are individuals who assert that no warming is happening at all, or that the world is actually cooling, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

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marcopolo
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Points: 837
Re: Major Antarctic glacier at risk of major collapse - is ...

MikeB wrote:
marcopolo wrote:

Again we are basically in furious agreement, except your definition of consensus. My definition of consensus is group solidarity of belief or sentiment. In other words 100%. So I would consider if dissension exists,no matter what size the minority, there can be no strict consensus.

I think asking for 100% agreement from scientists is a bit excessive, that produces a threshold that can never be reached in practise. There are always crackpots, contrariness, and just plain lunatics out there that will argue a point. By your definition, even such basics as a spherical Earth orbiting the Sun does not have a strict consensus. In fact, I'm pretty sure that virtually every basic tenet of modern science has at least one individual arguing that it's wrong, from Newtonian mechanics, relativity, quantum mechanics, conservation of energy and the laws of thermodynamics, etc. It's a big world out there, you can always find someone who takes a contraries stance on any subject. In the realm of global warming, there are individuals who assert that no warming is happening at all, or that the world is actually cooling, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

I did say, "Of course this does not mean that dissenters, should be bullied or shouted down. So long as the dissenter or sceptic can demonstrate a creditable, rationale theory, based on research and at least a modicum of evidence, then a fair and courteous hearing should be provided. Ideally the dissenter should match the research, and clarity of thinking that your contributions display.'"

I felt that excluded the "I don't care what you say, I'm agin it!" But we are really arguing semantics! If we exclude the unqualified, and the Andrew Bolt's of the world, then we get down to those qualified scientists, who rightly or wrongly, may dissent in part or whole. If there are no creditable scientists, then you have a consensus. If you have even a small percentage then you only have a qualified consensus.

Now it was you who provided an interesting graph, that showed 93% support for GW, that would suggest 7% dissent? So no true consensus.

I can understand most readers would consider this a pedantic point, but such an important claim, once established as accepted fact, is very hard to change. To be more pedantic, you can shift the goal posts and re-define the term qualified scientist to suit any claim. Oh shit, I done it again! please don't think I mean you as in you personally, but in general.

But more interestingly, I would be interested to hear your views on what could, if anything, be practically done to remedy the changes GW will create?

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marcopolo

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