December 21, 2021

Scientists warned last week that a massive Antarctic ice sheet holding back “the Doomsday Glacier” is fracturing. The resulting melt would raise global sea levels by more than two feet, inundating many coastal areas. Via Fortune:

“What we’re seeing already is enough to be worried about,” Anna Crawford, a glaciologist at the University of St. Andrews, told the Washington Post.

The good news, if there is any, is that the shattering of the ice, which is currently bracing a key portion of the Thwaites Glacier, won’t likely occur for another three to five years, and any rapid acceleration in the pace of sea level rise would happen only in the years and decades after that. So we have some time to potentially prepare. It is also possible that efforts to check global warming could still prevent the worst from happening.

The Doomsday Glacier’s formal name is the Thwaites Glacier. It is a giant sheet of ice, the widest glacier on the planet, and about the size of the U.S. state of Florida. It sits on top of bedrock at the western edge of Antarctica. It abuts the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to its east, and the Amundsen Sea to its West. It sheds about 50 billion tons of ice per year, which already contributes to about 4% of annual global sea level rise.

But if the Thwaites Glacier were to melt entirely, scientists have estimated it would drive sea levels up by more than 25 inches. That’s enough to swamp portions of the Thai capital Bangkok, as well as New Orleans, and cause more frequent flooding in places like New York City. A sea level rise of this nature would threaten the lives of millions of people globally. That’s how the Thwaites got its Doomsday nickname.

Meanwhile, Joe Manchin makes a half-million a year off coal. Isn't that nice.

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