Glaciologist Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado ... alerted colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that it looked like the entire ice shelf — about 6,180 square miles (about the size of Northern Ireland)— was at risk of collapsingThat's bad, right? Ice shelves are supported by land -- the melting of the Antarctic Ice Shelves is supposed to raise sea level 20 feet, right? So, should we expect a several inch rise in the next few weeks? I live on a sea-level island, and I'm only planning on leaving it for other sea-level islands in the next six weeks. Should I be doing something? Like panicking?
David Vaughan of the BAS had predicted in 1993 that the northern part of the Wilkins Ice Shelf was likely to be lost within 30 years if warming on the Peninsula continued at the same rate.
Update: Here's an email exchange I've just had in light of this post.
Q: So what exactly does it mean in practical terms? What would be the initial ramifications?I fully expect the global tsunami scenario to pan out. On the other hand, I expect Manhattan to weather this first batch of tidal waves -- most of our construction is pretty sturdy, although some places will suffer pretty devastating damage. Like Long Island. And South Carolina. And Morocco. And South Africa. And Indonesia. And Hawai'i. And pretty much everywhere on a coastline that's not built of stone and steel.
A: It'll drop off, we'll get a tsunami warning, we'll have to evacuate the city. Tidal waves will crash against the coastlines globally, and we'll be able to return to Manhattan after a few days.