When I wrote “The Dinosaurs’ Last Roar” (available for $1 at amazon.com as an e-book) one of the plot points was that sea levels were rising much faster than predicted, mainly due to loss of ice from Greenland. New data from the CryoSat satellite supports other data that might have been frighteningly prescient.
There is enough ice and snow packed deep over 1.7 million square kilometres of Greenland that were it all to melt or flow into the ocean it would cause a rise in global sea levels of about six meters. That doesn’t sound like much, until you realize that the base of the Washington Monument is 9 meters above sea level and the average altitude of Miami is 2 meters. The other thing to remember is that in addition to melting ice from Greenland, melting in Antarctica and water expanding as it warms will also contribute to the rising tide.
The CryoSat satellite (Greenland And West Antarctic Ice Sheet Loss More Than Doubled In Last Five Years) support what scientists have been seeing for decades: that Greenland is losing ice faster than the climate models predicted. Greenland’s Ice Sheets Are Melting at the Rate of 8,000 Tons Every Second.
The New York Times just published Greenland is Melting Away about a team that went to Greenland to collect on-the-ground measurements to support the satellite measurements. Their drone captured video of a river flowing across the icy surface of Greenland until it reached a Moulin, where the water plunged towards the bedrock. Hopefully the water refreezes, but if it reaches the bedrock it can flow to the sea and lubricate the movement of the glacier above. There are thousands of such rivers in Greenland.
When climate change deniers talk about scientific uncertainty as an excuse to do nothing, they have it backwards. There is uncertainty, but that means things might be worse than predicted. In the case of the sea level rising, that seems to be the case.