Saturday, December 05, 2009

Once the tipping point is reached, there would be essentially no opportunity for humans to react

My expectation is that the Greenland Ice Sheet will start accelerating quite quickly, and one day plunge so quickly into the sea that it touches off a global tsunami, killing everyone within a topographically dependent distance from a coast. My gamble, as I don't want to live in Chicago, is that we'll have several months warning if we watch the sheet carefully, and my vague hope is that this is tens of years away.

That's just to express where I'm starting.

Canadian William Patterson suggests that tsunamis and sea level rise might not be the only problems.

Previous evidence from Greenland ice samples had suggested this abrupt shift in climate happened over the span of a decade or so. Now researchers say it surprisingly may have taken place over the course of a few months, or a year or two at most.

"That the climate system can turn on and off that quickly is extremely important," said earth system scientist Henry Mullins at Syracuse University, who did not take part in this research. "Once the tipping point is reached, there would be essentially no opportunity for humans to react."


[Isotope biogeochemist William Patterson at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and his colleagues]' findings also suggest that it may have taken 100 to 200 years before the lake and climate recovered, rather than the decade or so that Greenland ice cores had indicated.

So, well, I guess this isn't really news. We've expected Arctic melt to shut down the "Conveyor Belt" and plunge Europe into coldness until direct warming by the Greenhouse effect compensated. But, still, the timing's important.

Are the Southern Taconics the best place to hide? Where will the cities of the 22nd Century be?

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