Friday, January 4, 2019

Apocalypse On Ice

Glaciers are safe, for now:
Two years ago, the glaciologists Robert DeConto and David Pollard rocked their field with a paper arguing that several massive glaciers in Antarctica were much more unstable than previously thought. Those key glaciers—which include Thwaites Glacier and Pine Island Glacier, both in the frigid continent’s west—could increase global sea levels by more than three feet by 2100, the paper warned. Such a rise could destroy the homes of more than 150 million people worldwide.

They are now revisiting those results. In new work, conducted with three other prominent glaciologists, DeConto and Pollard have lowered some of their worst-case projections for the 21st century. Antarctica may only contribute about a foot of sea-level rise by 2100, they now say. This finding, reached after the team improved their own ice model, is much closer to projections made by other glaciologists.

It is a reassuring constraint placed on one of the most alarming scientific hypotheses advanced this decade. The press had described DeConto and Pollard’s original work as an “ice apocalypse” spawned by a “doomsday glacier.” Now, their worst-case skyrocketing sea-level scenario seems extremely unlikely, at least within our own lifetimes.
The ice is still nice...

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