Its ice sheet may be melting, but West Antarctica’s rocks are on the way up. In a dramatic demonstration of geology’s in-depth response to surface change, the submerged bedrock of that part of the southern continent is springing upwards at 41mm a year. And as it does so, it may slow the rate of inexorable ice melt, as the western part of the continent sheds ice in response to global warming driven by profligate human combustion of fossil fuels. At the heart of such research is the puzzle of southern polar dynamics: the complex interplay of ocean, atmosphere, precipitation and topography that keeps Antarctica the coldest, driest, iciest place on the planet: it may be technically a desert, but its continental crust carries almost two thirds of the world’s freshwater in frozen form. If it all melted, global sea levels would rise by 70 metres. But such is the weight of ice that some parts of the continent are depressed below sea level. In West Antarctica the surrounding sea ice is so thick it is anchored to submerged bedrock, to provide a buffer that slows the rate of glacial flow from inland.
Climate News Network 26th June 2018 read more »
The Irish government is misleading the public about levels of greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s cows, according to An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland. As the country’s dairy herd has grown in recent years, emissions of climate change-inducing gases from the livestock have also increased. In April, agriculture minister Michael Creed told Irish parliament: “in the five-year period 2012-2016, dairy cow numbers have increased by 22 per cent and corresponding milk production by 27 percent while emissions increased just 8 per cent, demonstrating a level of decoupling is occurring.” His point was echoed by other senior officials and ministers in the agriculture department, each indicating that while milk production had been increasing substantially, emission increases had remained low. Data collected by the Irish Environment Protection Agency (EPA) refutes these claims – suggesting the increase in emissions from dairy cows has closely matched the increase in both animals and milk volume.
Independent 26th June 2018 read more »
Sea level rises are not some distant threat; for many Americans they are very real. In an extract from her chilling new book, Rising, Elizabeth Rush details how the US coastline will be radically transformed in the coming years. “The big story in Greenland and Antarctica is that the warming ocean is working its way in, deep under the ice sheets, causing the ice to collapse faster than anyone predicted, which in turn will cause sea levels to rise faster than anyone predicted.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects roughly two feet of rise by century’s end. The United Nations predicts three feet. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates an upper limit of six and a half feet. Hal says it doesn’t matter whether you live six feet above sea level or sixty-five, because he, like James Hansen, believes that all of these predictions are, to put it mildly, very, very low. “The rate of sea level rise is currently doubling every seven years, and if it were to continue in this manner, Ponzi scheme style, we would have 205 feet of sea level rise by 2095,” he says. “And while I don’t think we are going to get that much water by the end of the century, I do think we have to take seriously the possibility that we could have something like 15 feet by then.”
Guardian 26th June 2018 read more »