In a new article in the journal Nature, Stephen Rintoul and colleagues present two very different visions of Antarctica’s future, from the perspective of an observer looking back from 2070. In one vision, humanity continues to exploit Earth’s natural resources (such as fossils fuels) and does little to protect the environment, and in the other, there is a global movement towards conservation. The article shows how Antarctica will change over the next 50 years, should either of these two situations occur.
A new paper by Levermann et al. in PNAS uses the record of past rates of sea level rise from palaeo archives and numerical computer models to understand how much sea level rise we can expect per degree of warming in the future. These data suggest that we can expect a global sea level rise of 2.3 m per 1°C of warming within the next 2000 years: well within societal timeframes. A 2°C of warming would result in a global sea level rise of 4.8 m within 2000 years. This would inundate many coastal cities in Europe alone, and cause untold economic and societal damage.
How much ice is there in Antarctica? And if it were to melt, how much would global sea levels rise, and how quickly? Continue reading
The Arctic’s sea ice extent reached an all-time low in September 2012, with the smallest recorded extent since satellite observations began. At 3.42 million square kilometres, it may still sound large, but this small extent of Arctic sea ice could have profound long-term consequences, and it follows a long trend of low sea ice conditions. Sea ice extent has been decreasing over the past 4-5 decades (Kinnard et al., 2011), and sea ice extent is now about 2 million square kilometres less than it was during the late twentieth century. Continue reading
Dr Tom Bracegirdle from the British Antarctic Survey presented a plenary at the 2012 SCAR-OSC, where he showed us his projections for climate change and sea level rise over the next 100 years from his modelling experiments. Continue reading
Busy day at the ISMASS Workshop here at SCAR 2012 (see here: ISMASS website). There were invited lectures from a number of prominent scientists, including Erik Ivins, Pippa Whitehouse, Jay Zwally, Catherine Ritz, Slawek Tulaczyk, Catia Domingues, and Robert Nicholls. For me, two talks stood out as exceptional. Continue reading