Upwelling seawater along parts of Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf has carved out caves in the ice.
The news release by Columbia University’s Earth Institute explains:
Stronger ocean currents beneath West Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf are eroding the ice from below, speeding the melting of the glacier as a whole, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience. A growing cavity beneath the ice shelf has allowed more warm water to melt the ice, the researchers say—a process that feeds back into the ongoing rise in global sea levels. The glacier is currently sliding into the sea at a clip of four kilometers (2.5 miles) a year, while its ice shelf is melting at about 80 cubic kilometers a year – 50 percent faster than it was in the early 1990s – the paper estimates.
This new study, “Stronger ocean circulation and increased melting under Pine Island Glacier ice shelf” (subs. req’d), gives us a better understanding of just how PIG is being undermined from underneath: “We conclude that the basal melting has exceeded the increase in ice inflow, leading to the formation and enlargement of an inner cavity under the ice shelf within which sea water nearly 4◦C above freezing can now more readily access the grounding zone.
Here is a particularly remarkable observation the scientific team made one day:
On Friday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) gave a moving speech on the unprecedented flooding unfolding along the Missouri River basin due to record levels of precipitation. He told of the terrible cost of this ongoing climate disaster to residents of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa, saying “we will lose businesses over the long-term and we’ll lose people over the long-term who can’t get back into their homes.” He correctly noted that the flood — which may last the entire summer — is “unprecedented in duration” and “unprecedented in volume,” and “unprecedented in modern recorded history.”
Calling for the the president to declare a national disaster for the entire region, King said that he and other members of Congress are “determined to do all we can to help” the residents of the Missouri River basin. King also claimed that the extreme precipitation that led to this “semipermanent” flooding “couldn’t have been anticipated,” and that flood officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “could not have known that they were going to get the heavy snowfalls” and “[n]either could they have known there would be this huge unseasonal rain”:
In very, very late March and in early April heavy snows in the mountains began and the snow pack began to build in the mountains and they couldn’t have been anticipated to 140% of the anticipated volume of snow that would have to, of course, melt and come down the Missouri River. . . .
Corps of Engineers could not have known that they were going to get the heavy snowfalls that would come down on the mountains, that would be melting even now. Perhaps half of that snow is melted today and the balance of it still has to melt. They couldn’t have known that until the snow actually arrived in late March and earlier April. Neither could they have known there would be this huge unseasonal rain that would run off to the extent it did and saturate the soil so that the big rains that hit Billings, as I mentioned, would run off to the extent that it did. . . .
That’s unprecedented in duration. It’s unprecedented in volume. This is more water than has ever come down the Missouri River in a year that we know of since we’ve been reporting these records. . . .
I appreciate the Iowa delegation for standing with me and the delegations up and down the river who have stood together. We need to stand with the people whose property is under water and help them get through this. They are stoic people, they’re determined people. They’re not going to be standing there complaining, they’re going to be doing all they can to help themselves and to honor their effort, I and others are determined to do all we can to help them.
The Missouri River basin flood is not a “natural disaster,” as King describes, but a human-made one. Man-made climate change, land-use change, and engineering the river have combined to create this unprecedented disaster.
“Because climate change will significantly modify many aspects of the water cycle, the assumption of an unchanging climate is no longer appropriate for many aspects of water planning,” the U.S. Global Change Research Program warned in 2009. The report cautioned that flood-management practices by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “based on historical flood data” would need to be changed.
“There are very clear statistics on increasing extremes of heavy rains that are directly linked to climate change and global warming,” top climate scientist Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, tells ThinkProgress. “The planning has not adequately taken these changes into account. This disaster is not a natural event but has the human signature all over it.”
“The liberals, the environmentalists, the extremists, the Al Gores of the world were wrong on the science,” King claimed in the winter of 2010. He argued that the extreme, record precipitation during that winter throughout the United States disproved the science behind global warming, because it came down as snow. “Sorry, Al. But I’ve got a scoop shovel for you if you want to come any place in the fifty states in America. For the first time in the history of keeping records, there’s snow on the ground on all fifty states. It’s tough to make an argument when the evidence is all around us in a snowy white crystal cathedral.”
Given that scientists have accurately warned of the risks of unprecedented, catastrophic flooding to his state, and given that King claims to care about the safety and well-being of his constituents, it’s time for King to apologize for his denial of climate science and become a conservative champion for action against climate pollution.
When asked if he had changed his position on global warming after studying the flood, King’s spokesperson Brittany Lesser told ThinkProgress, “I don’t know that, no.”
Today, NPR just filed a stunner of a story: Air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan costs $20.2 billion annually, when factoring in the manpower and logistics to deliver fuel.
That’s more than NASA’s budget. It’s more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It’s what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia.
To power an air conditioner at a remote outpost in land-locked Afghanistan, a gallon of fuel has to be shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven 800 miles over 18 days to Afghanistan on roads that are sometimes little more than “improved goat trails,” [retired Brigadier General Steven] Anderson says. “And you’ve got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way.”
In 2010, the US spent $165.1 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Congressional Research Service. This means roughly 12.2% of expenditures were on air conditioning.
Fuel is not only a budget breaker, it’s a logistical nightmare that can cost lives. Anderson, who manged operational logistics for Gen. David Patreaus in Iraq, explained the impacts of air conditioning on a commander:
Lou Dobbs was on the O’Reilly Factor last Friday touting his energy plan, starting off sounding very progressive in his approach to energy production and jobs creation:
In terms of energy, [we are] the wealthiest on earth – more energy reserves than any other nation on this earth. And it’s time to start exploiting it. This should be a matter of national urgency; this should be urgency on behalf of Republicans and Democrats alike. And this president has an immense opportunity to lead… Nothing is more important than creating jobs in this economy, awakening a new sense of confidence and direction in this country so this great free-enterprise, capitalist economy can begin creating those jobs by the millions.
Is Dobbs about to rally the nation around a clean energy economy? To call for Americans to get serious about tackling climate change? No:
I am saying drill, I am saying mine, exploit and produce. We have so many rich deposits of fossil fuels… it is mindless and self-destructive not to pursue that goal.
The Obama administration is considering requiring cars and light trucks to average 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025 — a move that could boost the cost of vehicles by $2,100 or more.
Top federal regulators and White House aides disclosed their initial proposal — requiring 5 percent average annual increases in efficiency over an eight-year period — in separate, private meetings this week with Detroit’s Big Three automakers, four people briefed on the matter told The Detroit News.
After a period of legal uncertainty, a California court has ruled that the state can proceed with developing a cap and trade program.
Last month, a Superior Court Judge put a temporary hold on the program, saying that California’s Air Resources Board hadn’t properly explored alternatives to a cap and trade system. This latest ruling allows regulators to keep working on the details of the market structure as the court deliberates the matter:
“I was wrong; it was a mistake, and I’m sorry,” said former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty of his previous support for reducing pollution and promoting clean energy. “Nobody’s perfect.”
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (with apologies to The Onion) — Though Tim Pawlenty is considered to be a contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, the national spotlight has forced him to repeatedly confront a major skeleton in his political closet: that as governor of Minnesota he once tried to help reduce pollution.
Pawlenty, who “aggressively led state, regional, and national efforts to promote cap-and-trade legislation and pushed through one of the country’s toughest renewable-energy mandates,” has said “it was a mistake” to give sick kids the opportunity to see fewer asthma attacks in their lifetime, admitting that helping to cut pollution remains a dark cloud hovering over his political career, and his biggest obstacle to becoming president of the United States of America.
“Every day I am haunted by the fact that I gave Minnesota citizens a chance to look forward to cleaner air and a climate that doesn’t resemble El Paso, Texas,” Pawlenty told reporters Sunday, adding that he feels ashamed whenever he looks back at how he forged bipartisan support to help advance pollution-free sources of energy that never run out. “Nobody’s perfect…. If you’ve been in an executive position, you’re going to have some battle scars. You’re going to have a few clunkers in your record. None bigger, of course, than trying to preserve a livable climate for our children and grandchildren — not just here but also in the poorest of countries around the world. That’s my cross to bear.”
“My hope is that Republican voters will one day forgive me for trying to end our addiction to imported oil, which costs us $1 billion a day, some of which ends up in the hands of countries that seek to harm us,” Pawlenty added. “It was a mistake, and I’m sorry.”
Welcome to Clean Start, ThinkProgress Green’s morning round-up of the latest in climate and clean energy. Here is what we’re reading. What are you?
Thousands gathered on U.S. beaches in annual “Hands Across the Sand” events protesting offshore oil drilling and promoting clean energy. [UPI]
The LA Times calls on the EPA to accelerate rules to limit greenhouse gases after the Supreme Court decision cut off other options. [Los Angeles Times]
A front page story in the Washington Post on Sunday parrots oil-industry talking points to attack clean-tech companies. [Media Matters]
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) is “hinting that Republicans upset with the White House decision to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) could seek to limit future releases” with new spending bill riders. [E2]
A California appellate court has ruled that “state regulators can proceed with plans to implement a carbon cap-and-trade system, a decision that puts them on track to launch the market as scheduled in January 2012.” [Reuters]
The U.S. House “passed legislation last week that would give the Environmental Protection Agency six months to approve or reject permits for offshore drilling and force the agency to measure potential air pollution from offshore drilling on land, not at the drilling site.” [NOLA]
Now that NOAA under the Obama administration is asking Congress to approve the budget-neutral reorganization necessary to establish a Climate Service, it is meeting with resistance. Echoing House Republicans, Fox Nation posted the headline, “Obama Admin. Caught Setting Up Global Warming ‘Propaganda Office.’” [Media Matters]
Raging wildfires in New Mexico forced the evacuation of the famed nuclear lab at Los Alamos today. [NY Daily News]
By Climate Guest Blogger on Jun 27, 2011 at 8:38 am
By Eleni Towns
Many of the GOP presidential candidates are seeking the votes of church-goers and religious conservatives by presenting themselves as strong defenders of their faith.
However, while candidates mostly agree with their respective churches on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, they are mostly silent when it comes to environmental issues. Why? Perhaps because their stances directly conflict with the positions of their churches.
A number of leading candidates have embraced an extremist anti-environment platform, in which they deny climate change science, call for the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency, and support the deregulation of the oil and coal industries.
In contrast, their churches call for environmental stewardship and creation care. Their faith leaders have advocated support for the EPA, greater education on environmental care, and policies to reduce air toxins and lower emissions from power plants.
Here are the environmental statements of selected GOP presidential candidates alongside statements of their faith traditions:
Edited by Joe Romm, we cover climate science, solutions and politics. Columnist Tom Friedman calls us "the indispensable blog" and Time magazine named us one of the 25 "Best Blogs of 2010." Newcomers, start here.