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Doomsday postponed? What to take from the big new Antarctica studies

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Doomsday postponed? What to take from the big new Antarctica studies

There’s grim, mixed news out about Antarctica.

Two new papers on melting Antarctic ice come just days after NASA scientists announced the discovery of a massive subterranean hole in West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier, the Florida-sized hunk of ice which alone could unleash more than two feet of sea-level rise should it collapse.

One study found that all this melting could have surprising and profound impacts on weather while the other (controversial) study scaled back previous Doomsday estimates. Still, the takeaway from both studies is clear: If we keep on our current path, things could go downhill for humanity very, very quickly.

The worst-case scenario that’s emerging is shockingly bad

In the first paper, an international team of researchers examined the impacts of melting ice on global ocean circulation and weather patterns.

As relatively cool, salt-free meltwater spreads from Antarctica and Greenland across the world’s oceans, it will have dire impacts: The circulation of the Atlantic Ocean will slow, changing how the planet distributes heat, and prompting “a complex pattern of atmospheric and oceanic changes” worldwide, according to the paper.

Weather would worsen almost everywhere, with year-to-year swings in temperature and precipitation increasing in severity by more than 50 percent, especially in eastern North America.

New Zealand and Iceland may warm at a much slower rate than the rest of the world, but ice melt at both poles may actually quicken as heat from the rapidly warming tropical oceans is shunted below the surface where it can stay for hundreds of years. Sub-surface ocean currents would then be able to eat away at the undersides of polar glaciers even more quickly.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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