Quick — tax the magma
It’s another round of Antarctic Doom about next to nothing. In April Antarctica’s ice was melting five times faster than usual. Now it’s losing ice three times faster in the last five years than the 15 before that! What you won’t hear is how the Antarctic ice cap has 29 million cubic kilometers of ice and has been there for 30 million, mostly warmer, years. You also won’t hear how Antarctica was warmer in Roman Times, or that the Antarctic Peninsula has cooled by almost 1 degree.
You also won’t hear a word about any volcanoes
The new paper has zero mentions of the word. But other scientists have published plenty of papers describing how the West Antarctic zone is being warmed from below by 1200 degrees of magma. According to scientist Dustin Schroeder and co, it is as if the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctic is sitting on a “stovetop burner”. His words. Thwaites Glacier,, smack in the middle of the warming is being melted from below by geothermal heat. Then there is the large blob of superheated rock 60 miles below West Antarctica. The researchers use the phrase “like a blow-torch”…. Capping it off, only last year 91 new volcanoes were discovered 2km underneath the West Antarctic Rift. That’s new, as in, we didn’t know they were there.
Follow the reasoning, either a trace gas 10 kilometers up is causing some spots of Antarctica to warm and other parts to cool, or hot magma at 1,200C is. What’s more likely?
From the new paper we get the same old pattern. The biggest part of Antarctica is East Antarctica and it’s not melting — even in this alarming new paper.
I thought there was CO2 there as well?
The battle of Big Meaningless Numbers
From the abstract we find tiny fractions are written up as big numbers of small units with no real context. Then they extrapolate a 6 year trend on an ice mass that’s been around for millions of years. Adding up the losses, in this “worst of the worst” scenarios Antarctica might be losing 187 billion tonnes of ice per year (give or take a lot). That’s 187 cubic kilometers of ice, which sounds like a lot until we look at the size of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (29 million kilometers cubed). At this new “accelerated” rate the total loss is one 155,00oth of the total mass. Expressed another way, it’s 0.0006%. At this rate Antarctica will be entirely melted 155,000 years from now.
This agrees quite well with the April round of Antarctic Doom which implied it would melt in 118,000 years. Lucky us, we have 30,000 years to spare now.
The first line in the paper’s introduction:
Handy to know what people in 155,000 A.D. will be facing. Now that’s forward planning….
Other posts on this topic:
- Panic time: a tiny 0.01% of Antarctica, resting on volcanoes, melts five times faster than nothing
- The Cryosat study telling us melting was twice as fast as expected had only 3 whole years of data.
- Longer studies (800 years) show that this has all happened before.
- The Medieval Warm Period hit west Antarctica too.
- Antarctica – 91 volcanoes coincidentally found under glaciers warming “due to climate change”
- There goes that scare: Antarctic Peninsula cooling by almost 1 degree
- Antarctic scientists may find climate Holy Grail, ice with magic 7 digit age
From beneath west Antarctic’s ice-sheet,
Where magma is thrust,
Through miles of the crust,
And would likely some glaciers deplete.
h/t Marc Morano, Cliff O, Don A, Greg in NZ, Pat,
The IMBIE Team (2018) Mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017, Nature, volume 558, pages219–222 (2018)
Dustin M. Schroeder, Donald D. Blankenship, Duncan A. Young, and Enrica Quartini. Evidence for elevated and spatially variable geothermal flux beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. PNAS, June 9, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1405184111 [Abstract]
Lough et al. (2013) Seismic detection of an active subglacial magmatic complex in Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica, Nature, PDF
Lloyd et al (2015) A seismic transect across West Antarctica: Evidence for mantle thermal anomalies beneath the Bentley Subglacial Trench and the Marie Byrd Land Dome. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 2015; DOI: 10.1002/2015JB012455
Maximillian van Wyk de Vries, Robert G. Bingham and Andrew S. Hein (2017) A new volcanic province: an inventory of subglacial volcanoes in West Antarctica Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 461, 29 May 2017. doi.org/10.1144/SP461.7