Doomsday glacier "hanging on by its fingernails" scientist says

Originally published at: Doomsday glacier "hanging on by its fingernails" scientist says | Boing Boing


That beachfront real estate in Florida looks better and better, doesn’t it? /s


You misspelled “Arizona”


Nothing in this post, or the one it links to, says that the sea level rise will happen in the next few years. In fact, I see no inaccuracies in this article or the one linked to, based on your comment. It says very clearly that the Doomsday Glacier is a nickname. Please point to any facts in this post or the one linked to that aren’t right.

Also, humans suck. If you tell people that something is probably going to happen, gradually, over the next 200 years, most people will shrug their shoulders and go on with their lives. If you want action on climate change, you need to get people to understand that the impact of this will be in their lifetime. And while the sea level changes from this one glacier may not fully manifest for a couple of hundred years, it absolutely will have a more immediate impact on people’s lives, especially when you combine it with all the other glaciers melting and all the other effects of climate change.


Call it the “riskiest glacier” or “the glacier of most concern” (as some scientists suggest), it’s still very bad news for coastal cities and island nations everywhere, especially since there’s no urgency on the part of industrialised nations to address the larger climate emergency.


Maybe I’m just dense, but I still can’t figure out if the glacier retreating is a good thing or a bad thing. Is the ridge preventing it from retreating or is it holding it back from moving forward? If it retreats does it cause global flooding or is that what happens if it fails to retreat?


A retreating glacier is a melting glacier.

Glaciers move forward mainly because the crushing weight of new snowfall causes it to slide down the slope. If it is retreating it means that the glacier is melting far faster than the rate at which new snow replenishes it.


Thanks for the clarification!

My confusion was compounded because my RSS reader (Inoreader) showed a cover image of a big ice shelf extending out in the air over open ocean like it was just about to break off and fall in. Based on that, I thought a retreat would prevent it from falling! I guess that cover image has nothing to do with the actual glacier.

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No, that is an image of Thwaites Glacier. The perspective is a little tricky is all. That’s not a shelf, that’s just a wall of ice in the ocean.


The important thing to know is that the ice that is already in the sea is not what is going to raise sea levels, that’s already done. The danger is all the ice that is still on land, and the fact that it is accelerating it’s march to the sea that is going to do the damage. If it is melting faster than the snowfall accumulates, then there is a net gain in sea level. And that is exactly what has been happening for some time.


For once, living in the middle of the US has its perks. I am about as far away from a coast line as you can get.

(Which means people who have those Salt Life stickers on their cars/trucks make me laugh.)


It’s ~120km wide, 800m to 1200m deep at the grounding line and moving at >2km a year, with a recently discovered water cavern underneath. It’s big, it’s slippy, will likely contribute centimeters to sea level rise this century, but a full collapse would take centuries. There was a good research meeting this past year with discussions of collapse mechanisms.

There’s a good fact sheet with links to research papers at the
International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration page.


Yeah, there’s been a lot of discussion of the impacts of climate change that were expected to happen “within the next century.” Problem is, people wishfully interpret that to mean, “it’s going to happen in a century, so I don’t have to worry about it.” To make matters worse, the “century” bit was often overly generous, as we’re already seeing some of those impacts after only a decade or two after prediction.

I saw some quote from the head of a major investment bank scoffing about climate change because it meant the sea level would rise ten feet in a hundred years. I thought, well, first of all, that’s hardly going to be the only impact, and second of all even that is an enormously big deal. It’s not something you can put off worrying about for a century, it’s happening now - a foot of sea level rise is pretty much enough to fuck over the entire state of Florida, much less all the other coaster cities, especially if it happens in a decade. And this idiot runs a major bank, knowing nothing about the issues that directly impact his own job (which means, if he’s any indication, that the entire financial system is totally unprepared for what’s coming, making the impacts all the worse, and unnecessarily).


Owners of beachfront homes may wish to console themselves by recalling why they opted for such accommodations: “We love the water!”

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Oh, good

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Houseboat values are rising. As are the houseboats themselves.


Obligs (though I wish it wasn’t):


Glaciers Trickling Down ‘Economics’. :slightly_smiling_face:


Sorry to break it to you, but the midwest is at high risk of wet-bulb temperature events in the coming decades. We’re talking events that could kill hundreds of thousands over the course of a few days. Sigh.


Yeah, but we won’t drown in sea water at least.

And yes - humid summers are the norm/bane here. :confused:

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