Greenland’s rapid melting could mess with the oceanic “conveyer belt” — with drastic consequences

by Matthew Rosza, Salon


  • A study published in the scientific journal Nature details how Greenland’s largest ice sheet is on track to start melting faster than it has in the past 12,000 years, resulting between 8,800 and 35,900 billion tonnes of ice loss over this century
  • The loss of Greenland’s ice can result in sea level rise up to 7 millimeters per year, endangering many coastal cities worldwide
  • In the United States, nearly 40% of the population lives in an area that can be impacted by rising seas. Globally, eight of the largest cities are near the coast. 
  • Another potential problem that can arise from melted icewater from Greenland is the change of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, the conveyor belt type system that moves warm waters from the tropic regions to cooler regions above the equator in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Any disruption of this process can result in unpredictable and catastrophic consequences for life on Earth, comparable to the global warming-themed disaster movie, “The Day After Tomorrow”

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.

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‘Teetering at the edge’: Scientists warn of rapid melting of Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday glacier’

by Harry Cockburn, The Independent 


  • The Thwaites glacier in Antarctica, which is almost the same size as the United Kingdom, is melting and its collapse would raise sea levels close to 2 feet
  • This glacier is considered to be very important to the health of other neighboring glaciers. Its collapse may result in the melting of more glaciers according to Paul Cutler of America’s National Science Foundation:

“It is a keystone for the other glaciers around it in West Antarctica… If you remove it, other ice will potentially start draining into the ocean too.”

  • Melt from this glacier already accounts for 4% of global sea-level rise
  • Earlier this year scientists discovered the presence of warm water under the glacier
  • The world has seen a doubling of sea-level rise since 1990
  • Though the Antarctic is experiencing warming, temperatures are rising higher in the Arctic where Siberia has experienced a record high of 100 degrees Fahrenheit

The Climate Center’s Rapid Decarbonization Campaign sets a goal that by 2025, California will have enacted the bold, accelerated policies required by science to double emissions reductions, accelerate drawdown, and secure resilient communities by 2030.

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California officials need to move faster on sea-level rise, legislative study finds

by Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times

In one of the most comprehensive assessments of the crisis that rising seas pose to California, an influential state panel on Tuesday urged local officials to take ownership of the issue and lawmakers to move fast and consider much-needed legislation.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan arm of the state Legislature that lawmakers turn to for fiscal and policy advice, found that the state was already behind on the issue and made the case that any action — or lack of action — within the next 10 years could determine the fate of the California coast.

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Scientists: Rhode Island is sinking and sea levels continue to rise

by T.J. Del Santo, WPRI

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The Ocean State is getting closer and closer to the ocean. The state is sinking; albeit slowly, but the impacts are already being seen.
“It’s sinking because of processes that happened tens of thousands of years ago,” Simon Engelhart, Associate Professor of Geosciences at the University of Rhode Island (URI), said. Eyewitness News spoke to Engelhart prior to his talk at the Coastal Discussion Series talk last Wednesday.

During the Ice Age, a two-mile-thick ice sheet stretched across Canada and parts of the United States. Its weight pushed down on the middle of the continent, while the coast lifted up. The ice sheet has retreated and now portions of the coast are sinking.
Parts of North Carolina, New Jersey and South Carolina have been sinking at rates of 8 to 10 inches per century. Rhode Island has been sinking 4 inches per 100 years. That has a big impact on long established cities like Newport and Providence, both settled nearly 400 years ago.

“You built that town or you built that city. Sea level is now a foot and a half higher than it was then, and that has a huge implication for things like nuisance flooding,” Engelhart said.

That’s from natural causes.

Rhode Island’s rate of sinking is a millimeter per year and has been measured a couple of different ways, such as through GPS and salt marsh cores. URI has a GPS receiver on top of Woodward Hall on campus. Researchers only have about 10 years of GPS to use, so they also use salt marsh cores which can give them clues about sea level going back 3,500 years.

“If we go into a salt marsh and we go into a core and look at the sediment, what plant remains are in there, what microscopic algae and animals are in there,” Engelhart said. “We can use that and look at the modern environment to see where was sea level in the past.”

GPS and salt marsh core data both indicate that Rhode Island has been sinking at rate of one millimeter per year. Engelhart said that the rate of sea level rise today is faster than any time in the past 3,500 years.

The rate the land is sinking in Rhode Island is much less than the rate the sea level is rising. Data from Providence and Newport indicate that the sea has risen 0.75 feet and 0.90 feet, respectively, in the past 100 years, while Rhode Island has been sinking at a rate of 4 inches per century.

Research conducted by URI and NOAA suggests recent accelerations in sea level rise could swamp many coastal neighborhoods in Rhode Island. Recent sea level projections indicate seas could rise 7 to 11 feet by the year 2100.

“As much as we have the much higher rates projected in the future, we have potential to mitigate by changing our behaviors,” Engelhart said. “Some technological improvements, emitting less green house gases, carbon capture and storage and using more solar panels.”

Engelhart also said that while mitigation is available to fight global warming and sea level rise, there isn’t a mitigation available for subsidence (sinking). It’s a natural process that we can’t control.