Sunday, May 17, 2015

Climate change: Loss of antarctic ice shelves, rising sea levels, and what's in it for you

Yesterday AZBlueMeanie at B4AZ wrote a very good summary on the breaking off of antarctic ice shelves. Quoting from a Washington Post report:

Global sea levels are climbing at a faster rate than previously thought, according to a new analysis that underscores scientists’ concerns about the impact of melting glaciers and ice sheets near the Earth’s poles.

The new research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that the rate of sea-level rise appears to have accelerated over the past 15 years, a period in which scientists elsewhere documented a surprisingly rapidly retreat of some of Earth’s great ice masses, from Greenland to West Antarctica.

The practical impact of these changes was condensed in a short comment on AZBlueMeanie's post by "TS":

Excellent article. But it may have readers asking what has this to do with me? The short answer is that the polar ice caps are the air conditioners of the Earth … And we live in an already very hot desert. The second short answer is that the difference between the cold parts of the Earth and the hot parts of the Earth drive the air currents and water currents that we depend on to bring us rains at certain times of the year. As the Earth warms these currents are slowing down, as a result we have large stagnant areas of air and water that don’t move for long stretches of time. The ridge sitting off the eastern Pacific that has blocked so much of California and western North America’s rains causing unprecidented levels of drought appears to be tied to the slowing of the air and water currents. Coincidentally that caused the abnormally snowy and cold winter this year in the northeast. But eventually with more loss of ice and warming of the poles that cold air may not be there in the future. Keep in mind that much of The southern U.S. sits at the same latitude as the Sahara Desert.

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