Ice sheets, that is. NASA's latest calculations are that we've gone past the point of no return on stopping polar ice cap collapse.
The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday.
The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis.
“This is really happening,” said Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research. “There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.”
No longer a question of "if" on catastrophic sea level rising, but of how quickly it happens.
Richard B. Alley, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved in the new research but has studied the polar ice sheets for decades, said he found the new papers compelling. Though he has long feared the possibility of ice-sheet collapse, when he learned of the new findings, “it shook me a little bit,” Dr. Alley said.
He added that while a large rise of the sea may now be inevitable from West Antarctica, continued release of greenhouse gases will almost certainly make the situation worse. The heat-trapping gases could destabilize other parts of Antarctica as well as the Greenland ice sheet, causing enough sea-level rise that many of the world’s coastal cities would eventually have to be abandoned.
Insert your own beachfront property in Nevada joke here. These predictions have been around since the late 70's, folks, effectively my entire lifetime. We've done nothing. Hell, half of us refuse to believe this is even happening, and that it's really a HUGE LIBERAL PLOT and stuff.
Make sure you tell your great-grandkids about New York City.