Tuesday, November 24, 2009

If true, we're boned

This is the kind of news that makes me want to accept Jesus as my personal lord and saviour:
The East Antarctic ice sheet has been losing mass for the last three years, according to an analysis of data from a gravity-measuring satellite mission.

The scientists involved say they are "surprised" by the finding, because the giant East Antarctic sheet, unlike the west, has been thought to be stable.

Other scientists say ice loss could not yet be pinned on climate change, and uncertainties in the data are large....

Melting the East Antarctic sheet would raise sea levels by much more - about 50-60m.

But scientists have generally discounted the possibility of it happening because the region is so cold.

The Grace measurements suggest there was no net ice loss between 2002 and 2006.

But since then, East Antarctica has been losing 57 billion tonnes (Gt) per year.
If East Antarctica is becoming unstable, then there's no end to the trouble in sight for the next 100 years. Even Jim Hansen -- who, while firmly grounded in the science, is yelling about this stuff as loudly as possible -- has mostly presumed that East Antarctica would remain stable.

These analyses are very preliminary, so here's hoping that, for the first time in a while, that the bad news on the climate front is actually alarmist, instead of prescient.

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