China, the Climate and the Fate of the Planet

If the world’s biggest polluter doesn’t radically reduce the amount of coal it burns, nothing anyone does to stabilize the climate will matter.

China, the Climate and the Fate of the Planet

If the world’s biggest polluter doesn’t radically reduce the amount of coal it burns, nothing anyone does to stabilize the climate will matter.

The Ocean Is Melting Antarctica
Some 60% of the planet’s fresh water stores are locked away in Antarctica’s barren tundra. That’s a lot of water. For the obvious reasons, we’d all rather keep that water frozen away in the icy interior of the world’s southernmost continent than loose it into our already fast-rising oceans.Unfortunately, new research from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows that we may be closer to unleashing an Antarctic flood than previously thought. The study shows that much more of Antarctica’s total mass loss is due to warm ocean water than to iceberg calving—which is what scientists previously thought drove shrinkage in the great white south.So the question is, does that mean Antarctica’s ice stores are now more vulnerable to global warming than we thought? Eric Rignot, a senior scientist at JPL, told me in an email that “the short answer is yes.” That’s because “existing ice sheet models do not include a warming ocean and realistic ice ocean interactions,” he says.
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The Ocean Is Melting Antarctica


Some 60% of the planet’s fresh water stores are locked away in Antarctica’s barren tundra. That’s a lot of water. For the obvious reasons, we’d all rather keep that water frozen away in the icy interior of the world’s southernmost continent than loose it into our already fast-rising oceans.

Unfortunately, new research from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows that we may be closer to unleashing an Antarctic flood than previously thought. The study shows that much more of Antarctica’s total mass loss is due to warm ocean water than to iceberg calving—which is what scientists previously thought drove shrinkage in the great white south.

So the question is, does that mean Antarctica’s ice stores are now more vulnerable to global warming than we thought?

Eric Rignot, a senior scientist at JPL, told me in an email that “the short answer is yes.” That’s because “existing ice sheet models do not include a warming ocean and realistic ice ocean interactions,” he says.


CONTINUE

Watch 62 years of climate change data in 13 seconds.

Watch 62 years of climate change data in 13 seconds.