(NATIONAL) -- Just how bad is the continuing ice melt in Antarctica that is attributed to global warning? Here's the lead-in paragraphs from a recent Washington Post story:
"A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise.
Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity."
Bottom line: there's a new paper just out in Nature Geoscience by an international team of scientists and it shows the large Totten Glacier of East Antarctica, the fastest-thinning sector of the world’s largest ice sheet, is, according to new measurements, losing massive amounts of ice because warm ocean water is getting underneath it causing the glacier to float.
The co-author of the study, Martin Siegert says regarding the idea of warm ocean water eroding the ice in West Antarctica, well that's what they're finding could be happening in East Antarctica as well.
Just how big is the ice shelf of the Totten Glacier? It covers an area of 90 miles by 22 miles and it's losing an amount of ice equivalent to 100 times the volume of Sydney Harbour every year.
That should give everyone pause to think because the big glacier "holds back a much more vast catchment of ice that, were its vulnerable parts to flow into the ocean, could produce a sea level rise of more than 11 feet — which is comparable to the impact from a loss of the West Antarctica ice sheet," according to the Post story
And the researchers think that's a conservative lower limit.
Bottom line: if Antarctica continues to lose massive volumes of ice that would translate into major contributions to sea level rise, but that rise would not be distributed evenly around the planet.
The Northern Hemisphere would experience additional sea level rise and for the United States, the amount of sea level rise could be 25 percent or more than the global average.
And what would a ten foot sea level rise mean for the United States? The U.S. could lose over the next two centuries 28,000 square miles of land that is now home to 12.3 million people.
ClimateCentral.org has an interactive map where you can track what changes might be in store for your city or state from a rise in sea levels of from three feet to ten feet.
w research indicates that climate change has already triggered an unstoppable decay of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The projected decay will lead to at least 4 feet of accelerating global sea level rise within the next two-plus centuries, and at least 10 feet of rise in the end.
What does the U.S. look like with an ocean that is 10 feet higher? The radically transformed map would lose 28,800 square miles of land, home today to 12.3 million people.
- See more at: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/u.s.-with-10-feet-of-sea-level-rise-17428#sthash.idz2ax4P.dpuf