Washington Post] Last year, we learned what is probably the worst global warming news yet — that we may have irrevocably destabilized the massive ice sheet of West Antarctica, which contains the equivalent of nearly 11 feet of sea level rise. The rate of West Antarctic ice loss has been ominously increasing, and there are fears that if too much goes, the slow and long-term process of ice sheet disintegration could accelerate.
Humans have a hard time conceiving of the incredible
scale of an ice sheet, so the consequences of such a change can be lost
upon us. But in a new paper in the Proceedings of the Institution of
Civil Engineers — Forensic Engineering, researchers Ted Scambos of the
National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., and John Abraham of
the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. – summarize what we now know about West Antarctica. That includes a finding that may serve as a wake-up call for Americans in particular.
If West Antarctica collapses entirely — a process that would likely
play out over centuries, but that could substantially begin in this
one – the expected 11 feet of sea level rise won’t just spread out
evenly across the ocean. The United States will actually get a lot more sea
level rise than many other parts of the world — possibly over 14 feet.
Call it geophysical karma — we’re the nation most responsible for global
warming and, at least in this particular case, we’ll get more of the
So what source of cosmic equity will mete out just
deserts in this case? As it turns out — and the mechanisms will be
explained in much more detail below — the answer is none other than Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation
— which states that all objects in the universe attract one another in
relation to their masses (and the distance between them). Read More