Antarctic ice shelf collapsed by recent NB4 heat spike

Satellite imagery shows last week’s unimaginable high temperature spike in East Antarctica has fueled the collapse of at least one ice shelf

Satellite data shows the Conger ice shelf has broken off iceberg C-38 and collapsed in Antartica. Photograph: USNIC (From the article)

by Donna Lu, 25/03/2022 in The Guardian

Satellite data shows entire Conger ice shelf has collapsed in Antarctica: Nasa scientist says complete collapse of ice shelf as big as Rome during unusually high temperatures is ‘sign of what might be coming’

Featured Image: Sketch of the Antarctic coast with glaciological and oceanographic processes. 7 April 2000. / Author: Hannes Grobe, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany via Wikimedia / Permission: Own work, share alike, attribution required (Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-2.5)

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Expert explains NB4 polar temperature extremes

Yale Climate Connections‘ Bob Hensen discusses and explains the unimaginable heat episodes observed at in north and south polar regions

A research caravan seen from above by a research drone in early 2020 on the East Antarctic Plateau south of Concordia Station. Concordia recorded its highest temperature in more than 15 years of data collection on March 18, 2022 – a date when temperatures are normally closer to their winter lows than summer highs. (Image credit: Pete Akers via Article)

by Bob Hensen, 23/03/2022 in Yale Climate Connections

How this month produced a mind-boggling warm-up in eastern Antarctica (and the Arctic): Two atmospheric rivers surge toward opposite poles:

The bloodless term “anomaly” doesn’t do justice to the stupendous temperature departures seen across parts of both the Antarctic and Arctic in mid-March 2022. With the initial shock now behind them, scientists are taking stock of exactly what happened and what it might portend.

Read the complete article….

Featured image: The high temperature at Concordia Station, Antarctica, on March 18, 2022, soared above any temperature on record, even from midsummer, in data going back to 2013. (Image credit: Eric Lagadec, via ASTEP from the Article).

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Extreme Antarctic heat is NB4 for any time of year!

38 °C above normal for any day of any year is a Never Before (NB4) extreme temp for Antarctica. Increasing number of NB4s says worse to come!

Featured Image: Antarctic temperature anomalies on 17/03/2022. Generated by William Hall, on Climate Reanalyzer on 22/03/2022.

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Antarctic sea ice reaches NB4 low extent this summer

Southern sea ice coverage fell below 2 million km² for first time since satellite records began in 1979, exposing more ocean to solar heating

For details see

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Rising sea-level risk: can’t know when or how much

Melting polar glaciers are main contributors to rising sea level. The melting process is highly non-linear and thus inherently unpredictable

At least since the 1800s, world sea levels have been rising gradually but at a slowly accelerating rate. Since in the last 140 years it has risen around 17 cm, with around 6 cm of that in the 20 years between 2000 and 2020. And this is only a small part of the hugely complex planetary climate system that has an inherently unpredictable capacity to produce abrupt and catastrophically large changes in climate conditions.

Shows a slow acceleration in the rate of sea level rise.

The rising sea-level has two sources: runoff from the land (mostly glacial melt water) and thermal expansion of the ocean itself due to warming from excess solar energy accumulating from the global warming process.

Sourced from East Coast flooding is a reminder that sea level is rising as the climate warms – here’s why the ocean is pouring in more often – by Jianjun Lin, 07/11/2021 in the Conversation.

The melt water in the rising sea-level comes from two primary sources, melting glaciers and ice cap on Greenland that has increased 6-fold over the last couple of decades; and melting glaciers and ice cap on Antarctica which has more than doubled over the same time. This is measured by the loss of mass variable – representing the weight of the water that has been added to the oceans.

As described in the feature article below, the melting rate of a glacier is determined by its speed as it is creeping/sliding down the continental slope into the ocean. This in turn is determined by a complex set of interacting factors, e.g., temperature, angle of slope, width and roughness of the bed, how much meltwater is in the bed to lubricate/float the ice, where and how the ice may crack and crumble, how many bends there are in the valley, ocean conditions at the foot, whether and to what extent warm and salty (salt lowers the melting temperature of ice) ocean water penetrates into the glacier bed under its foot, thickness and extent of the floating ice shelf at the glacier’s foot and so on. Simply stated, melt rates are inherently unpredictable. However, one thing we can be sure of is that the melt rate will speed up as ambient temperatures increase the rate of ice melting, and rain replaces snow as the main form of precipitation.

The geological record provides good evidence that episodes of abrupt ice melting can cause raise sea-levels a lot faster than they are now, perhaps even showing large changes in rate over a few decades.

See Wikipedia: Meltwater pulse 1A: Meltwater pulse 1A (MWP1a) is the name used by Quaternary geologists, paleoclimatologists, and oceanographers for a period of rapid post-glacial sea level rise, between 13,500 and 14,700 years ago, during which global sea level rose between 16 meters (52 ft) and 25 meters (82 ft) in about 400–500 years, giving mean rates of roughly 40–60 mm (0.13–0.20 ft)/yr…. This rate of sea level rise was much larger than the rate of current sea level rise, which has been estimated to be in the region of 2–3 mm (0.0066–0.0098 ft)/yr.

There may well be enough ice in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet — especially if combined with an equally rapid melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet to support an equivalent amount of melting to the Meltwater Pulse 1A. It is notable that the land surface underlying very large areas of both West Antarctica and Greenland are below sea level – giving ample opportunities for warm ocean water to help speed the melting and collapse of the ice sheets.

Glacier front meets the sea

Why Melting Ice in Antarctica is Making Waves: Scientists recently discovered that the Thwaites Ice Shelf, a floating ice shelf that supports the Florida-sized Thwaites Glacier, could collapse in as little as five years because of global warming.

Climate Reality Project, 28/01/2022

This past December, the massive Thwaites Glacier in Western Antarctica made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Specifically, because new research revealed that the ice shelf preventing it from sliding into the ocean and drastically raising sea levels could collapse well within the next decade.

This Florida-sized glacier had already worried experts for years, going as far as to regularly be called the “Doomsday Glacier”. And yet, this update from the scientific community was still groundbreaking. 

It’s news that the world — particularly low-lying island and coastal communities — should understand and act on. So, what exactly is Thwaites Glacier, what does the latest research about it say, and what consequences could come from its decline?


Thwaites Glacier is a massive body of dense ice located in Western Antarctica. Measuring about 80 miles (120 km) across, it’s the widest glacier on Earth.

Decline of West Antarctic Glaciers Appears Irreversible

Thwaites Glacier in Western Antarctica. Credit: NASA

The glacier has an ice shelf — a permanent piece of floating ice connected to it — that branches out into the Amundsen Sea. Now, understanding what exactly an ice shelf does is crucial.

Read the complete article….

As long as the world continues to warm and large amounts of snow and ice remain lying on the land, sea levels will continue to rise. The risk of an abrupt sea-level rise is real. The human and economic costs of such an event would be catastrophic if it happens. It therefore makes very good sense that mitigation works should begin soon with planning in place at federal, state and local levels to accelerate the work if we have any clear early warning signs that abrupt melting is actually beginning.

It is also clear that our present LNP COALition governments deeply deny the risks Australia faces from global warming and the climate emergency, and should be replaced with rational people who put action on the climate emergency at the top of their to do lists if they should be elected to Parliament.

The puppets show and tell
Captain Humbug (A.K.A. Scotty from Marketing) showing the parliamentary puppet troop what it is all about behind his then PM, “Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared, it won’t hurt you. It’s coal.” With these words Australia’s Treasurer Scott Morrison taunted the Opposition, attempting to ridicule its commitment to renewable energy.” – Picture from The Conversation (15-02-2017). See also Katherine Murphy in The Guardian on 09/02/2017 for the live video — “Scott Morrison brings coal to question time: what fresh idiocy is this? What a bunch of clowns, hamming it up – while out in the real world an ominous and oppressive heat just won’t let up.”

Also, from the official transcript dated 20/12/2019 from the PM’s own office, Scotty made it abundantly clear to John Stanley on 2GB Radio that HE doesn’t fight fires… “But I know Australians understand… that, you know, I don’t hold a hose, mate, and I don’t sit in a control room. That’s the brave people who do that are doing that job. But I know that Australians would want me back at this time out of these fatalities. So I’ll happily come back [from his secret holiday in Hawaii] and do that.”

Sixteen year-old Greta tells us and everyone at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos how we and our governments should actually respond to the climate emergency:

Listen to Greta’s speech live. Except for her reliance on the IPCC’s overoptimistic emissions budget, everything she says is spot on that even she, as a child, can understand.

In other words, smell the smoke, see the reality, and fight the fire that is burning up our only planet so we can give our offspring a hopeful future. This is the only issue that matters. All Capt. Humbug and his troop of wooden-headed puppets are doing is rearranging the furniture in the burning house to be incinerated along with anything else we may care about. In Greta’s words, “even a small child can understand [this]”. People hope for their children’s futures. She doesn’t want your hope. She wants you to panic enough to wake up and fight the fire…. so she can have some hope for her future. Vote Climate One’s Traffic Light Voting System will help you use your vote wisely on behalf of our offsprings’ futures.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Another step down the road to Earth’s Hothouse Hell and extinction

Part 2 of David Spratt’s guide-book to events along the road to Hothouse Hell: collapse of the West-Antarctic Ice Sheet

This post continues David Spratt’s account of how we humans seem to be passing critical tipping points in the dynamics of Earth’s Climate System initiating the positive feedbacks of runaway global warming to Earth’s Hothouse Hell. Steffen et al. described the dynamics and existential consequences of this process in their 2018 Proceedings of the National Academies of Science paper, Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. The feature graphic above from that paper maps out alternative destinations we can reach from where we are now. There are two roads,

  • a wide easy one leading to the cliff of no return, where we can no longer stop Earth’s runaway warming to global average temperatures 10 – 15 °C hotter than present that will be lethal to most species of complex organisms, and
  • an already hard to reach path where we climb back up the hill through effective “stewardship” (Steffen et al’s word), and reverse the warming process to stabilize the climate system in a way that will give humans and what remains of a probably already tattered biosphere a long term future.

Thanks to the technologies we began developing in the Industrial Revolution we have fueled our endless competition with one-another to control our one world with the increasingly profligate burning of fossil carbon to increase greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Rising temperatures are then initiating a variety of other temperature-related positive-feedback processes emitting more greenhouse gases or having other effects to increase the rate of temperate rise that has started us down the road to Earth’s Hothouse Hell.

When the positive feedback reaches a point where it can sustain further temperature increases, it can be said that it has passed a tipping point, that may begin a rapid cascade of further tipping points as described in Lenton et al’s 2019 comment paper in Nature, Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against. There is no evidence that anything other than a rapidly mobilized war effort by humans will be able to stop the cascade passing the point of no return to runaway warming and global mass extinction. If we want to leave a future to our children and grandchildren, we had better pay heed to the warning signs that Spratt is pointing out, and start mobilizing and acting now.

Where Thwaits Glacier meets the Antarctic Ocean

20 January 2022

Have tipping points already been passed for critical climate systems? (2) West Antarctica and the “doomsday” glacier

by David Spratt in Climate Code Red

Second in a series.    Read  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5

The Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica has an eastern ice shelf 45 kilometres wide as it flows into the Amundsen Sea. On 13 December 2021, scientists announced that the ice shelf is likely to break apart in the next five years or so, resulting in a speeding up of the glacier’s flow and ice discharge, possibly heralding the collapse of the glacier itself, and triggering similar increases across the Amundsen Sea glaciers.

The researchers explain: “Over the last several years, satellite radar imagery shows many new fractures opening up… which like a growing crack in the windshield of a car [can] suddenly break apart into hundreds of panes of glass. We have mapped [the] pathway the fractures might take through the ice [and conclude] the final collapse of Thwaites Glacier’s last remaining ice shelf may be initiated … within as little as five years” (emphasis added).


The fracturing of the ice shelf means more warm water will penetrate under the ice sheet, helping to free the underbelly of the glacier from the grounding line rock underneath, and allowing water to flow into the deep basin under the glacier, causing the glacier’s collapse. This would raise sea levels by 65 centimetres, though the timing of such collapse — the “doomsday” scenario — is highly uncertain. Since neighbouring glaciers flow into the same basin, the demise of Thwaites could eventually lead to the loss of all of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), resulting in more than three metres of sea level rise, and putting at risk the lives and livelihoods of 250 million people.

Read the complete article…

There is no doubt that observable and understandable evidence from the real world that Spratt, I and others point out is telling us that we are on the road to Earth’s Hothouse Hell and the current climate emergency is already dire and getting worse. In the face of this truly existential crisis, Australia is governed by Captain Humbug’s LNP COALition. Based on watching and listening to them in action, they are a troop of wooden-headed puppets, charlatans, knaves and pathological liars.

Their COALition’s focus in Parliament seems to be protecting the special interests of their patrons in the greenhouse-gas emitting fossil fuel industries and related exploiters of Australia’s resources. Beginning with the holier than thou Abbott and currently led by Capt. Humbug (Scotty from marketing) and Blarney Bulldust (the man with the hat), as long as the COALition has been in government, their constant flow of humbug, legislative blocking, denial, disinformation, disruption, distraction etc., has effectively protected their patrons by stifling the mobilization of any real action on the climate emergency (e.g.., stopping GHG emissions cold).

Vote Climate One understands and accepts the real world evidence that humanity faces a genuinely existential crisis: we’ll soon become extinct if we do not stop and reverse global warming. Our group was formed with the single goal – to create some hope for the future by helping the Australian people remove Capt. Humbug and his nasty and evil troop from our Federal Parliament by replacing the puppets and knaves with honest parties and individuals who have convinced us that they can be trusted to place acting on climate change as their first order of business in Parliament.

Our Traffic Light Voting System explains how we can help you do this without telling you how to vote.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

We shouldn’t forget – Antarctic ice is also melting

Zach Labe is always a good source of graphics summarizing collections of data on our changing climate Here he shows the melting of sea ice around Antarctica. The horizontal line shows the average extent of sea ice over the era of satellite measurements (beginning in 1978). The red line shows how much smaller extent of sea ice this January so far.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.