Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Does this article fail to communicate the correct amount of panic?

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 collapsing
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.
That'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?

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?
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.
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.


nephos said...

Not sure about this, but I believe the ice shelf in question wasn't in fact resting on land, but was rather floating in the ocean, attached to ice on land. No net displacement from the collapse. So, I'd guess its the sliding of land ice into its place that is more of a concern, which, off hand, sounds slower.

Perhaps a tribute to the penguins, and not the limousine-liberals of Manhattan?

Rionn Fears Malechem said...

Is there anyone you can talk to who would be sure? I'd sort of like to know if we're facing an imminent Tidal Wave Event of Global Scale (TWEGS).

Rionn Fears Malechem said...

And, to your other point, I am a limousine liberal of Manhattan. I'm not a penguin. So, I have a little more sympathy and concern for my, you know, self. Call Morgan Freeman if you want to hear about how tough penguins have it.

nephos said...

In my non-professional capacity as a mere disher out of commentary on your blog, I hardly think it reasonable to expect me to back-up anything I say. Even if this writer is in some capacity AAA rated, this in no means precludes his potential to write utter crap. So, like, Fuck You. I'm calling Morgan Freeman, you stupid New York villager.