We got another of strong indicator of the ongoing planetary meltdown a few days before Christmas. E! Science News reported the new data in Study shows rapid warming on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
In a discovery that raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise, a new study finds that the western part of the ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought. The temperature record from Byrd Station, a scientific outpost in the center of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), demonstrates a marked increase of 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit (2.4 degrees Celsius) in average annual temperature since 1958 — that is, three times faster than the average temperature rise around the globe.
This temperature increase is nearly double what previous research has suggested, and reveals — for the first time — warming trends during the summer months of the Southern Hemisphere (December through February), said David Bromwich, professor of geography at Ohio State University and senior research scientist at the Byrd Polar Research Center.
The findings were published online this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.
"Our record suggests that continued summer warming in West Antarctica could upset the surface mass balance of the ice sheet, so that the region could make an even bigger contribution to sea level rise than it already does," said Bromwich.
"Even without generating significant mass loss directly, surface melting on the WAIS could contribute to sea level indirectly, by weakening the West Antarctic ice shelves that restrain the region's natural ice flow into the ocean."
Andrew Monaghan, study co-author and scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), said that these findings place West Antarctica among the fastest-warming regions on Earth.
"We've already seen enhanced surface melting contribute to the breakup of the Antarctic's Larsen B Ice Shelf, where glaciers at the edge discharged massive sections of ice into the ocean that contributed to sea level rise," Monaghan said. "The stakes would be much higher if a similar event occurred to an ice shelf restraining one of the enormous WAIS glaciers."
Researchers consider the WAIS especially sensitive to climate change, explained Ohio State University doctoral student Julien Nicolas. Since the base of the ice sheet rests below sea level, it is vulnerable to direct contact with warm ocean water. Its melting currently contributes 0.3 mm to sea level rise each year — second to Greenland, whose contribution to sea level rise has been estimated as high as 0.7 mm per year.
Due to its location some 700 miles from the South Pole and near the center of the WAIS, Byrd Station is an important indicator of climate change throughout the region.
You can find the abstract for the Nature Geoscience finding and some graphs here.
This finding got a lot of attention from such mainstream luminaries as the New York Times and Time Magazine. Other more important research does not get nearly this much attention, but if the WAIS melts down altogether, sea level will rise by an estimated 3.3 meters (10 feet). Right now, it is estimated that the WAIS contributes about 0.3 millimeters fo sea level rise each year. Although time estimates are always risky, it seems likely we will lose the ice sheet in a few hundred years, and by that far-flung future date, the most spectacular fireworks will be over
But do The People care? Hell, no! And why should they? They don't live in Antarctica — you can't live on the WAIS, dummy, it's too fucking cold!
What do The People care about? Well, let's review the top-40 hits of 2012, which I present today in my never-ending attempt to attract more readers to DOTE.
And as a test of your endurance, see how long you can watch the video below without going into convulsions caused by irreversible brain damage. If you feel the risk is too great, don't watch it!
Have a nice weekend.