The Present Threat to Coastal Cities From Antarctic and Greenland Melt

Seas around the world are rising now at a rate of about 3.3 millimeters per year. This rate of rise is faster than at any time in the last 2,800 years. It’s accelerating. And already the impacts are being felt in the world’s most vulnerable coastal regions.

(Rates of global sea level rise continue to quicken. This has resulted in worsening tidal flooding for coastal cities like Miami, Charleston, New Orleans and Virginia Beach. Image source: Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise, and Superstorms.)

Sea Level Rise and Worsening Extreme Rainfall are Already Causing Serious Problems

Last week, New Orleans saw pumps fail as a heavy thunderstorm inundated the city. This caused both serious concern and consternation among residents. Begging the question — if New Orleans pumps can’t handle the nascient variety of more powerful thunderstorms in the age of human-caused climate change, then what happens when a hurricane barrels in? The pumps, designed to handle 1.5 inch per hour rainfall amounts in the first hour and 1 inch per hour rainfall amounts thereafter were greatly over-matched when sections of the city received more than 2 inches of rainfall per hour over multiple hours.

Higher rates of precipitation from thunderstorms are becoming a more common event the world over as the hydrological cycle is amped up by the more than 1 degree Celsius of temperature increase that has already occurred since 1880. And when these heavy rainfall amounts hit coastal cities that are already facing rising seas, then pumps and drainage systems can be stressed well beyond their original design limits. The result, inevitably, is more flooding.

(Dr Eric Rignot, one of the world’s foremost glacial scientists, discusses the potential for multimeter sea level rise due to presently projected levels of warming in the range of 1.5 to 2 C by mid to late Century.)

New Orleans itself is already below sea level. And the land there is steadily subsiding into the Gulf of Mexico. Add sea level rise and worsening storms on top of that trend and the crisis New Orleans faces is greatly amplified.

All up and down the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts, climate change driven sea level rise and a weakening Gulf Stream are combining with other natural factors that can seriously amplify an ever-worsening trend toward more tidal flooding. It’s a situation that will continue to worsen as global rates of sea level rise keep ramping higher. And how fast seas rise will depend both on the amount of carbon that human beings ultimately dump into the Earth’s atmosphere and on how rapidly various glacial systems around the world respond to that insult (see discussion by Dr. Eric Rignot above).

Presently High and Rising Atmospheric Carbon Levels Imply Ultimately Catastrophic Sea Level Rise — How Soon? How Fast? Can We Mitigate Swiftly Enough to Prevent the Worst?

Presently, atmospheric carbon forcing is in the range of 490 parts per million CO2 equivalent. This heat forcing, using paleoclimate proxies from 5 to 30 million years ago, implies approximately 2 degrees Celsius of warming this Century and about 4 degrees Celsisus of warming long term. It also implies an ultimate sea level rise of between 60 and 180 feet over the long term. In other words, if atmospheric carbon levels are similar to those seen during the Miocene, then temperatures are also ultimately headed for those ranges. Soon to be followed by a similar range of sea level rise. In the nearer term, 1.5 to 2 C warming from the 2030s to late Century is enough to result in 20 to 30 feet of sea level rise.

Of course, various climate change mitigation actions could ultimately reduce that larger heat forcing and final related loss of glacial ice. But with carbon still accumulating in the atmosphere and with Trump and other politicians around the world seeking to slow or sabotage a transition away from fossil fuels, then it goes to follow that enacting such an aggressive mitigation will be very difficult to manage without an overwhelming resistance to such harmful policy stances.

(Antarctic ice loss through 2016. Video source: NASA.)

That said, warming and related sea level rise will tend to take some time to elapse. And the real question on many scientists’ minds is — how fast? Presently, we do see serious signs of glacial destabilization in both Greenland and West Antartica. These two very large piles of ice alone could contribute 34 feet of sea level rise if both were to melt entirely.

Meanwhile, East Antarctica has also recently shown some signs of movement toward glacial destabilization. Especially in the region of the Totten Glacier and the Cook Ice Shelf. But rates of progress toward glacial destabilization in these zones has, thus far, been slower than that seen in Greenland and West Antarctica. Present mass loss hot spots are in the area of the Thwaites Glacier of West Antarctica and around the western and southern margins of Greenland.

(Greenland ice loss through 2016. Video source: NASA.)

With global temperatures now exceeding 1 C and with these temperatures likely to exceed 1.5 C within the next two decades, it is certain that broader heat-based stresses to these various glacial systems will increase. And we are likely to see coincident melt rate acceleration as more glaciers become less stable. The result is that coastal flooding conditions will tend to follow a worsening trend — with the most vulnerable regions like the U.S. Gulf and East Coasts feeling the impact first. Unfortunately, there is risk that this trend will include the sudden acceleration of various glaciers into the ocean, which will coincide with rapid increases in global rates of sea level rise. In other words, the trend for sea level rise is less likely to be smooth and more likely to include a number of melt pulse spikes.

Such an overall trend including outlier risks paints a relatively rough picture for coastal city planners in the 1-3 decade timeframe. But on the multi-decade horizon there is a rising risk that sudden glacial destabilization — first in Greenland and West Antarctica and later in East Antarctica will put an increasing number of coastal cities permanently under water.

Rapid Mitigation Required to Reduce Risks

The only way to lower this risk is to rapidly reduce to zero the amount of carbon hitting the atmosphere from human sources while ultimately learning how to pull carbon out of the atmosphere. The present most rapid pathway for carbon emissions reductions involves an urgent build-out of renewable and non-carbon based energy systems to replace all fossil fuels with a focus on wind, solar, and electrical vehicle economies of scale and production chains. Added to various drives for sustainable cities and increasing efficiency, such a push could achieve an 80 percent or greater reduction in carbon emissions on the 2-3 decade timescale with net negative carbon emissions by mid Century. For cities on the coast, choosing whether or not to support such a set of actions is ultimately an existential one.


Fragmenting Prospects For Avoiding 2 C Warming

NASA Antarctic Ice Loss

Scientists Just Uncovered Another Troubling Fact About Antarctica’s Melting Ice

It Wasn’t Even a Hurricane, But Heavy Rains Flooded New Orleans as Pumps Faltered

Why Seas are Rising Faster in Miami

Miocene Relative Sea Level

Temperature on Planet Earth

Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise, and Superstorms

Leave a comment


  1. wili

     /  August 18, 2017

    Another great post. Thanks.
    Meanwhile, the heat just keeps coming:

    “Taipei is in the middle of its longest, strongest heat wave”

    “In Taipei, it’s never been so hot for so long.

    By 1:45 p.m. on Friday, the mercury in Taipei had climbed to 37.7 C, marking the 14th day in a row of temperatures above 36 C.

    As far as the 120-year-old weather records go, this is the longest streak in Taipei’s history.

    Banqiao in New Taipei had reached 35.9 C by 11:37 a.m., while Chiayi and Hengchun in Southern Taiwan also had highs above 35 C.

    Central Weather Bureau data show that 2017 could go down as the hottest year in Taiwan’s history.

    Halfway into 2017, Taiwan has already had 16 days of temperatures above 37 C — that’s the second-most number of days ever…”

    • Ouch. And… thanks for this, Wili.

    • PlazaRed

       /  August 18, 2017

      Thanks for the information on Taipei.
      Cordoba in Spain according to tonight’s Spanish news has just had 42 days in succession with the daily temperature over 40/C, tomorrow is forecast to be 42/C and so it goes on.

      Very interesting blog post.

      • We really appear to have hit a global step change on temperatures. Here we are at ENSO neutral and the lower and mid latitudes are getting slammed by heat and precipitation extremes.

  2. wili

     /  August 18, 2017

    Most missed it because of the inane racist remarks that got all the headlines, but before he reverted to defending nazis and white nationalists, Trump had been announcing that we was rolling back Obama’s programs for carefully scrutinizing any infrastructure planned near coasts to consider likely impacts from sea level rise.

    So not only are we likely getting higher and faster rates of slr than was previously supposed, the Trump administration is doing all it can to be darn sure we are completely ill prepared for it and that we will waste ever more resources building and re- (and re-re-…) building roads, houses and other infrastructure in places where we can be quite sure they will not survive inundations.

  3. Bill H

     /  August 18, 2017

    Robert, you’re turbo charged! I was about to post this, originally posted about 5 threads back, in your previous thread, so, off the latest topic.

    It was related to a post about Germany transitioning from coal for domestic heating to natural gas. You expressed concern about this. However, Germany is at the forefront of synthetic, as opposed to natural, gas, produced from hydrogen;

    “Actually, hydrogen can be produced more cheaply by electrolysis …. if you run your electrolysers when electricity is very cheap, i.e. when there’s lots of wind and sun. There’s a lot of interest in this in Germany now that there is so much renewable generation: prices sometimes even going negative. See: This cheap hydrogen can then be used as an energy store. If you don’t like the idea of storing hydrogen then the Sabatier process will convert it to more readily storable fuels like methanol by reaction with CO2.
    Germany, which has led the world in renewables in the past is now leading the way with this technology, which is needed for full decarbonisation through renewables.”

    • Thanks, Bill. Nice to see that. I would love to see electrolysis based fuels of this kind (from solar and wind or other renewable) replace the other thermal sourced components (coal, and mined gas). It’s nice to see that electrolysis based hydrogen and methanol are progressing. I’ll have to update my research on it. If so, good job Germany. And here’s fingers crossed for them transitioning away from lignite burning soon.

      • Bill H

         /  August 18, 2017

        The carboncommentary blog is very good on this theme. It has a more recent post about a particular company that’s putting electrolysers, Sabatier reactors and CO2 capture, into apartment blocks to do exactly this sort of thing:

        • OK Bill. Some concerns pop up for me on a first brush.

          “Exytron, of Rostock, Germany, has gone one vital stage further. It recirculates the CO2 from methane combustion in a closed loop. If this technology proves to be robust and becomes inexpensive, it solves many of the world’s remaining energy storage problems while offering zero emissions heat and power.”

          Key being IF.

          My experience is that pretty much every live carbon capture system has been more expensive than the initial system. With renewables + storage now dropping below the cost of fossil fuels, the question for me is how does an experimental technology which has, in the past, proven to be very high cost generally make it in time to make a difference? I can see the appeal for Germany and other northern states which have a lower solar efficiency, though. So I guess I’m a little more hopeful in this regard. That said, we are at the point of rapid deployment for wind/solar + evs/battery storage. So I worry that investing too much attention/hope in this unproven technology might end up being a diversion. In other words, I need more proof to be optimistic regarding the concept.

          I’d be more optimistic if the plans include a fully renewable loop without fossil fuels. Fossil fuels in the loop results in numerous opportunities for companies to hide emissions or just dump them into the atmosphere if the economies aren’t working out. Better to remove the base carbon emitting systems entirely.

          Methanol as a storage mechanism for hydrogen from electrolysis does appear to be interesting as ICEs can be fitted to burn methanol and power plants can do the same. It looks like methanol use in a fuel cell might also be a positive application. However, we don’t presently have a methanol vehicle chain to use the methanol. Fuel cells are still a ways off economically except in a couple of applications. Nor do we have generators fitted for this use. Methanol also has toxicity issues, which aren’t taken into account in this analysis. Conversely, we’re presently producing 1 million electrical vehicles per year and the related energy storage tech is rapidly ramping.

          The final piece of this puzzle is that all the technologies involved in the present renewable energy revolution show positive learning curves. Meaning that the more your produce, the lower the price gets. All are technologically based and can follow increased efficiency curves as new technology applications become available. This has enabled solar price reductions from 73 dollars per watt in the 70s to 33 cents per watt today. EV battery prices have fallen from 500 dollars per Kw in 2010 to 130 dollars per Kw in the best packs today. Meanwhile, energy density for batteries is rising due to both positive research and development feedback loops and economies of scale.

          We can’t apply the same to a simple fuel source reliant on existing or old tech. Further, the fact that multiple attempts to use methanol as a base fuel since the 70s has failed does present some cause for concern. However, IF the tech can be applied to a closed loop renewable based system, then I think we might have an opportunity for a follow on and mating with the growing renewable energy chain.

          In other words, we have the ‘miracle’ we are looking for now. The issue is that we need to deploy it. Adding something like this to the ‘miracle’ could be helpful if you can get the economics right. But adding it to existing fossil fuel infrastructure might create gaps/issues given past behavior of that industry and due to the fact that simply mining and drilling for the stuff generates the kind of old carbon emissions we need to do away with ASAP.

        • Bill h

           /  August 19, 2017

          Robert, there are no fossil fuels involved. Hydrogen from electrolysis is reacted with CO2 to make the methanol, which being a liquid is far easier to store than hydrogen. Capturing CO2 from the combustion products is far more economical than trying to capture from the air owing to the far higher concentration of CO2 in the former case.

          Forgive me, but I find your two comments re power to gas puzzling: the first very positive, the second rather negative.

        • Hello, Bill. Just want to say that being overly positive or negative was not my intention. Working to get a handle on this is all, so my apologies as well.

          Perhaps I’m misinterpreting this graphic a bit:

          GUD power plant

          There’s a combined cycle gas plant in the loop in this diagram. It also includes SNG (synthesized natural gas) in the loop. But an LNG tank is also included. Is the plan to use this plant only as part of a fully closed loop system? Or is it to implement traditional fuels along with synthetic natural gas as part of a hybrid system? If the former, then please disregard my criticism and concerns in that regard.

        • And for reference:

          “Renewable electrical energy can also be used to create SNG (methane) via for example electrolysis of water or via a PEM fuel cell in reverse to create hydrogen which is then reacted with CO2 from for example CSS/U Utilisation in the Sabatier reaction.

          CO2 + 4H2 → CH4 + 2H2O”

          OK. This is becoming more and more interesting to me.

          Do you have figures on costs and scale? Is there a definitive statement that traditional LNG is not included in the loop? Is Germany actively pursuing this on anything beyond a pilot level?

        • Bill h

           /  August 19, 2017

          Robert, I now understand your confusion. I didn’t pay much attention to that second graphic, that indicates A source of nat. gas. The first graphic is more relevant to the particular application described. Also, I forgot that this application was producing methane not methanol, presumably because the apartments already had gas fired heating. Methanol gets a mention later on as a possible alternative, and is a lot easier to store, as well as being, I would guess, more readily synthesised in a Sabatier reactor.

        • Yep. I got the first closed loop system graphic down pat. But I was confused a little by the ‘near zero carbon emissions’ statement which would imply some carbon combustion somewhere (or that the system wouldn’t always run given electricity costs). Then I saw the second diagram after reading the article (which included LNG) and was a bit more confused.

          On a second read, I’m interested in hearing more about costs, applications, and economies of scale. The article notes that costs are relatively high at this time, but that falling electricity costs due to renewable adoption would tend to drive lower related storage and conversion costs in this vein.

          I’m also a little wary of it being lumped into larger ‘methanol economy’ statements that include syngas from coal, however (which is a very high carbon emitter). It’s worth noting that China and India are both looking to use syngas from coal through various processes with is a high carbon emitter. If the syngas comes from renewables and biofuels instead, that would be better.

          These kinds of nuances, for me, make it even more important that we have some kind of global carbon tax to drive the truly zero carbon sources without risk of conflation. At this point, we are kinda behind the political 8 ball in that regard.

          Again, I hope that me hitting the various less clear points hasn’t put you off. I’m just trying to develop a few rigorous analytical points here. There is very little in the way of news in this space. So obviously this particular technique is under the radar a bit right now. And I’ve grown very wary of so-called ‘gray spaces.’

        • Bill h

           /  August 19, 2017

          Robert, you mentioned the high cost of electricity compared with fossil fuels as a barrier to adoption of power-to-gas, and indeed this is the case. What these various schemes are seeking to do is to take advantage of those periods when electricity is very cheap, i.e. when it’s very sunny or windy- periods that are becoming more and more common in Germany, and which are making it increasingly difficult for fossil generators to stay in the market. Hydrogen can be generated at these times at a competitive cost by electrolysis, boosting the price of electricity, and allowing fossil generators to remain in operation until such a time as low carbon generation, plus storage suffice for all our needs, which, even with batteries,pumped storage and other non-fossil storage techniques are still some way off. As we move toward this highly desirable outcome gas power stations will burn an increasing amount of synthetic gas, thus getting steadily greener.

        • Yes. And I think there will be kind of a race to access this low cost interval in various forms. I also agree that there’s an opportunity here for electrolysis based production of various liquid or gas fuels. But, increasingly, there’s a valid semi-competition coming from the megatrend that is an electrical battery production boom. In many applications, batteries will be less expensive and more efficient than electrolysis to gas/fuel for new build. The electrolysis may have some advantages in that some traditional infrastructure can be converted at lower cost. In addition, if fuel cells can make the leap, then the electrolysis based systems will have a bit more of an edge. Finally, I can definitely see applications for such systems in producing renewable jet fuel and rocket fuel.

          With regards to the communications issue I mentioned above — I would not at all be surprised if fossil fuel special interests attempted to conflate a pure renewable closed loop methanol production system with other forms of methanol based on mined fossil fuels. This represents another challenge politically, in the media and economically that we will also have to overcome in order for this to become fully successful as part of carbon emissions elimination.

  4. coloradobob

     /  August 18, 2017

    This is the top of Greenland , notice the nasty layer over the Arctic Ocean

    09:15 UTC

    greenland smoke

    Four days ago

    20:54 UTC
    Fires and smoke across northern Canada

    Canadian wildfires

  5. Another Arctic ice melt factor not accounted for is the Northern extreme forest fires currently burning and producing copious amounts of soot, described as so thick “it would turn day into night,” headed for both the Arctic and Greenland. As this soot settles it paints the already yearly accumulated blackened ice ever darker.

    One other factor not accounted for is that the Greenland ice loss lowers the not insignificant gravitation attraction of the ice mass turning to water. Thus lowering the sea level around Greenland and additional raising elsewhere around the North Atlantic. Much like the sea level rise encountered by a low pressure system.

    • Bill H

       /  August 18, 2017

      Leif, I think you’re talking about post-glacial isostatic rebound: the process by which the reduced pressure of the ice causes magma to flow into the crust/mantle directly beneath the ice pushing up the landmass,in this case Greenland, with corresponding sinking of other landmasses. There was a discussion on this blog recently relating to increased volcanic activity on Antarctica: positive feedback indeed (though possibly a bit of negative too from sulfate release by the volcanoes).

      • No Bill, although that also factors into sea level. This is purely a gravitational attraction and release. See GRACE data and google.
        I don’t think that this sight allows live links.

        • Bill H

           /  August 18, 2017

          Sorry, I see what you mean (I think!!). A large landmass such as Greenland has gravitational attraction, causing higher sea level adjacent to it. Loss of ice leads to reduced mass, reduced attraction, and thus a net flow of water away from the landmass. I had no idea this would be such a significant effect.

        • Two links per comment post. Just copy and paste.

          In any case — yes, the effects of sea level rise will not be evenly distributed due to gravitational influences. Some places will be hit harder by sea level rise than others as a result.

  6. coloradobob

     /  August 18, 2017

    Another sad tale –
    Steelhead struggling home in record low numbers

    Salmon and steelhead are in hot water — a problem scientists warn is going to get worse because of climate change.

    Steelhead returning this year to the Columbia and Snake rivers migrated out of the river during horrendous conditions in 2015, which included record low flows and high water temperatures.

    Those steelhead also were at sea during the so-called “blob” — a mass of warm water that began forming off the West Coast in 2013 and wreaked havoc in the ocean, including depressed food supplies for marine animals of all sorts.

    Now those steelhead are migrating back through reservoirs where water temperatures at some Columbia and Lower Snake River dams, thanks to a record Northwest heat wave, have been stuck this summer above 70 degrees for days on end — potentially lethal for salmon and steelhead.

  7. coloradobob

     /  August 18, 2017

    Greenland: Land of ice on fire

    Greenland, the vast Arctic island with the biggest permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica, is burning.
    Since late July, wildfires have raged across an ever-larger area of the landmass – and with greater intensity – than ever before observed.
    Experts say it is too early to draw firm conclusions linking the fire to climate change because no long-term data is available to put the blaze in context. However, unusually warm and dry conditions this year could have been a factor.
    “It’s unprecedented in the short 18-year observational record,” Jason Box, a climate scientist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, told DW. “We also know that temperatures in Greenland are probably higher [than they have been over] the last 800 years.”

  8. Keith Antonysen

     /  August 18, 2017

    Thanks, Robert.

    Kathryn Adamson writes about the major fire as well as other matters of concern in relation to Greenland:

  9. Andy_in_SD

     /  August 19, 2017

    This is not a storm surge, this is high tide (king tide) in Miami. Lets just say, underground parking is not what is used to be in Miami….

    • This kind of thing has never happened before in Miami. And it’s not just Miami. It’s all up and down the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts.

  10. Jimbot

     /  August 19, 2017

    Thank you for all your efforts, RS! You deserve some big hoorahs for all your great and honest reporting!

    And hoorahs for Professor Rignot. It seems to be the academics who are involved in field research who have acquired a sense of alarm and are willing to voice their opinions, in spite of whatever censure some of them seem to fall under.

    Possibly 2m by mid-century. Wow!, some honesty on SLR.

  11. markodochartaigh

     /  August 19, 2017

    On maps of global warming one consistent cooling area is southeast of Greenland where the cool freshwater runoff from the Greenland ice sheet feeds into the North Atlantic. Doesn’t this cool freshwater slow down the Gulf Stream, and won’t the slower Gulf Stream disproportionately affect the East Coast with sea level rise?

    • Bill H

       /  August 19, 2017

      Mark, it’s more specifically the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC): warm water from the Gulf of Mexico sinking beneath the cold polar water. As that cold water freshens it becomes less dense, so the hot water will no longer sink below it. This is likely to have a knock on effect on the Gulf stream, but the AMOC has global significance for the vertical mixing of oceanic waters. Robert has written on this. Another very good source is , showing the global influence of the AMOC as well as the “piling up” of warm water along the US East coast.

  12. John McCormick

     /  August 19, 2017

    The clock is ticking for Miami’s drinking water soon to be inundated by salt water infiltrating ground water within the swiss cheese foundation on which a trillion dollars of real estate reside.

  13. wili

     /  August 19, 2017

    “Canada’s forests are on fire, and the smoke is so thick it’s breaking records”

    “Forests in Canada are ablaze, with 2.2 million acres going up in flames so far this year in British Columbia alone. These fires, and others in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, have been belching smoke into the air, in some cases up to 8 miles high…”

  14. wili

     /  August 19, 2017

    More directly relevant to the main post:

    “Federal Flood Insurance Rebuilds Homes Over and Over, Trapping Residents in Flood-Prone Areas”

    “The National Flood Insurance Program was designed to help Americans recover from flood disasters, but it can also unintentionally trap homeowners who would prefer to move somewhere safer,” the NRDC said on its website. “Instead of moving out of harm’s way, many policyholders find themselves rebuilding their homes again and again.”

  15. Daniel Ferra

     /  August 19, 2017

    By Daniel Ferra

    Why are the Poles, Heating Up Twice as Fast as the Hemispheres.

    Causing the Arctic and Antarctica to be 20C. an Higher, Temps Way Warmer than Normal !

    The Jet Stream of Old is Gone !
    Once a Hexagonal Formation of Winter White Freezing Electrons, Atoms, and Molecules, Emanating from the Waxing and Waning Arctic,

    No Longer Keep the Northern Hemisphere in Ice and Snow,

    Greenland Does, All Because of Burning Fossil Fuels !

    What we have now, is a Broken Up Jet Stream,

    That has been Pierced, and Lobed,

    Because of Mantle Methane, Methane Hydrates, and Emitting over 40 Billion Toxic Tons of Carbon each year Globally.

    All this Hot Gas has Pierced the Jet Stream in to Lobes,

    The Hot Gas Fueled with the Insane Arctic, Greenland, and Antarctic Ice Melts.

    Has Roared its Global Warming Frontal Lobes with Record Setting Temperatures and Record Setting Snow, and Record Setting Rain.

    These Methane, and Carbon Molecules Have Roared Their Increased Water Vapor and Global Warming Gases, That will Set Record Heat, Record Snow, Until Greenland is 1/2 melted.

    Then Just Record Rain and Record Heat, Year After Fossil Fuel, Nuclear Radiated Year. (Fukushima) ( 450 Nuclear Reactors at Sea Level )

    Isostatic Rebounding of Greenlands Tectonic Plate, affecting (Gakkels Rift), causing Earthquakes in the Arctic, as well as Venting Mantle Methane.

    Arctic News Sept. 15 2013
    “ As more ice melts away on Greenland and more water runs off in the Ocean and Sea, There is less weight on Greenlands Crust, the Crust Bouncing back from the lighter weight.

    The Crust bouncing back during Large Melts an effect called Isostatic Rebounding.

    This Rebounding can not Only Trigger Earthquakes and Landslides, it can also Suck Up the Magma from the Mantle.

    It Also Sucks Up Magma From The Mantle.

    It also Sucks Up Mantle Methane !

    Triggering Volcanic Eruptions and Venting Mantle Methane”.

    Methane Hydrates in Siberia, Studied by Natalia Shakhov, Have Revealed a Steady and Alarming Readings in Methane Hydrate Emissions
    In 2006 3.8 Million Tons

    In 2013 17 Million Tons

    In 2015 New 200 Foot
    Wide Methane Blow Holes, called PINGOES, Over 20 and Increasing in Number ! and more found on the Canadian side of the Arctic !

    In 2017 Robert Schribbler reported a Spike on Feb. 20 Methane Readings At 3,000ppb.

    Methane 1870 722ppb

    2011 1800ppb

    2014 1850ppb

    Natalia Shakhov, estimated over 1,400 Billion Tons of Methane Hydrates in Siberian Permafrost and Arctic Sea Floor,

    She is Expecting a Geological Burp to Emit Over 50 Billon Tons of Methane Hydrate Some Time, That Will Increase Methane in Our Atmosphere and Stratosphere by a Factor of 12 Times !

    US Federal Reserve Fossil Fuel Extracting, and Fracking, Rolling Over life Saving Federal Regulation That Said We Our Suppose To Have Clean Air, Clean Water, And Clean Sustainable Eco-Systems.

    Fracking a Process of Extracting Oil and Methane ( Dirty Natural Gas),

    Injecting Cancer Causing Chemicals, Sand, and 3 – 6 Million Gallons of Drinkable Water per Well,

    At High Pressure, a Mile, to Two Miles Underground, contaminating all Soil and Water,

    That those Cancer Causing Chemicals Come in to Contact With.

    Over 10% of the United States Has Been Fracked !

    From the Coast of California, where Gov. Brown Continues to Turn, Ignoring and Allowing Fracked Water to be disposed in to Our Drinkable Water Tables.

    The Koch bros and their Paid For Legislative Policies continue To Poison Our Water, Poison Our Air, Poison Our Soil, And Poisoning All Of US.

    There Is No Atmospheric Budget For More Methane, Carbon, and Nuclear Radiation!

    Greenland has 20 feet of Sea Level Rise

    Antarctica has 200 feet of Sea Level Rise

    They are both Melting and Calving at 600 times Faster than Previously Thought, increasing expotentially.

    Question is,

    Which One Will Melt First ?

    And When ?

    When should you Move to above 3,000 feet, and Start Growing Your Own Food ?

    Maybe Never ?

    Maybe Tomorrow ?

    With 350 Nuclear Reactors at Sea Level, We have to have a Discussion and Plan to Decommission and Relocate to Above 3,000 Feet All Nuclear Elements.

    Who Pays ?

    The Richest in Land

    And The Richest in Money.

    Queen of England,


    US Federal Reserve.

    We Our Already Baked in to 10C. – ? Tempurature Rise, Even if We Stopped Emitting Carbon and Methane Right Now.

    There is a 10 year Lag time with Methane,

    And a 30 to 50 year Lag Time with Carbon,

    Until we Fill the Full Effects of the Warming (Heating) and Holding More Water Vapor in Their Molecules.

    Methane is 72 – 86 Times more Potent Than Carbon in Its First 10 years.

    Then Reduces Down to and Stays at Around 34 Times More Potent Than Carbon !

    For every 72 pounds of Carbon Being Emitted, Equals One Pound Of Methane.

    Methane + Carbon + Water Vapor is Abrupt Hot and Cold, Rain and Snow ( Until Greenland is Half Melted Away), Sea Level Rising way Faster Than they are Telling US

    We are Filling the Full Potency of Methane From 2007 Fracking Emissions, Methane Hydrates Emissions, and Mantle Methane Emissions Today.

    We are Filling The Full Potency of Carbon emitted From 1967 to 1987 ! Right Now.

    We Our Baked in To 10C. to ? Temp Rise Right Now ! Even if We Stopped emitting Today.

    Methane is the Not Clean Natural Gas, it is a Abrupt Global Warming Molecule That Holds Lots Of Water Vapor and Heat.

    Methane Holds Huge Amounts of Water Vapor and Heat, much more Than Carbon !

    The Fossil Fuel Co. Have Lied, Denied, and Purposely Distorted, to Bridge Their Continued Extracting of these Fossil Fuels, Destroying our Fragile Life Sustaining Eco-Systems and Animals (us) .

    Now is The time to change Federal and State energy and Water Policies !

    Published on Oct 11, 2014
    Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition?

    • mr elastomeric

       /  August 23, 2017

      excellent post! did you ever watch Global Dimming went to daily motion done by the bbc in 2005 A definite must watch for all the scribbler’s out there

  16. Toby Clark

     /  August 19, 2017

    see my ppt presentation “Flooding for MPs” – I’ll post you a copy ( if you want one

  17. Shawn Redmond

     /  August 19, 2017

    Yesterdays shot of the North pole shows most of the smoke from the Canadian fires has missed Greenland for now. It seems to be circling the pole. I’m left wondering if this is perhaps better that the soot has a chance to settle out over the ocean instead of Greenland?

    • The high amplitude Jet Stream wave that produced the initial heatwave has injected the soot material directly over the polar zone. It basically followed the ridge pattern northward into the high Arctic. Eventually, it’ll probably circulate down to Greenland. But the particle density would be lower by that time.

      Overall, a single event is not likely to make much of a difference for Greenland. It’s the fact that these kinds of events are happening more and more often and that overall black and brown carbon particulate fallout is increasing and reducing ice sheet albedo.

      • Erik Frederiksen

         /  August 19, 2017

        Problems for the Greenland Ice Sheet include black carbon from fires darkening the ice, increased microbial activity darkening the ice, impurities exposed from surface melt darkening the ice sheet, a reduction of mass which stabilized the ice sheet, a reduction in altitude of the surface lowering it to warmer air.

        Oh, and warmer ocean waters chewing away at buttressing ice shelves from below and warmer air temps increasing surface melt.

        • bostonblorp

           /  August 20, 2017

          Increased microbial activity is a key point that, while difficult to calculate, could have a multiplier effect on loss of albedo in comparison to soot deposition alone. Ice by itself is a nutritionally void medium but a nice shot of carbon and other materials will surely gin up some biological activity. I use ash in my garden to nice effect.

  18. climatehawk1

     /  August 19, 2017

    Tweet scheduled.

  19. Shawn Redmond

     /  August 19, 2017

    A little ice melts here, it gets a little drier over there, it gets a bit wetter across this way, everything is connected. I think we here at RS’s blog understand that intuitively. The changes that are happening don’t happen in isolation. The responses after the fact, however, happen in very isolated ways. It is always interesting to read about the knee-jerk responses,( or lack thereof ), long after the disaster is forgotten by the 24 hour news cycle.
    In some places, more than 2 feet of rain fell over three days, overtopping rivers and canals. The flooding killed 13 and affected hundreds of thousands, causing major damage to tens of thousands of homes. Research has shown it was one of the worst storms yet to have been clearly linked to climate change. The estimated $10.3 billion in damage ranked it as one of the worst floods in American history, but the national reaction has been muted in the year since. (Northern Louisiana was hit by flooding that caused $2.3 billion in damage earlier in 2016.)
    The storm in August had no name and it affected a neglected corner of the country. At the same time, the Olympic Games and a divisive national election reduced news coverage, leaving national reports on the flooding scarce. A New Orleans Times-Picayune movie critic wrote a week into the disaster that “locals have every reason to worry that recovery funds will be just as scarce.”

  20. Shawn Redmond

     /  August 19, 2017

    I’m unsure how accurate Nullschool is for CO2 concentrations but I was scrolling around the globe and what caught my eye was that the whole continent of Antarctica is 410/411 ppm. As a matter of a fact the entire southern hemisphere below 30 degrees south is 408+/- ppm. Do these readings seem high, anyone?,-98.53,400/loc=103.979,-89.793

    • So it’s SH winter. And with less trees respiring in higher latitudes to draw down CO2, there’s going to tend to be an accumulation above the Equatorial zone. Not as generally pronounced as in the Northern Hemisphere during winter, though.

  21. …in first sentence.

  22. Andy_in_SD

     /  August 19, 2017

    American Climate Refugees
    Newtok Alaska marks relocation progress with celebration at new village site.

  23. Here is the abstract of a 2015 sea level study by a group of big-name scientists:
    It includes a really neat graphic of relationships between today and times past.

  24. Erik Frederiksen

     /  August 19, 2017

    From a slide in a presentation by Eric Rignot

    “Future sea level rise from warming of the polar ice sheets

    Sea level rise by 2100 >1m very likely
    SLR commitment with 1.5-2 °C warming: 6-9m
    Time scale of major shift: ~100-200 years, not 1,000 years
    ASE 1m SLR (leading to West Antarctic Ice Sheet irreversible retreat (3.3m SLR)
    2 out of 3 marine-based sectors retreating in Greenland (3m SLR)
    East Antarctica losing mass at increasing rates (Totten 4m SLR)
    These changes are worrisome
    The pace of change is fast, i.e. decades”

  25. Erik Frederiksen

     /  August 19, 2017

    I had an email exchange last year with the glaciologists Richard Alley and Eric Rignot, and Hansen.

    It was regarding Thwaites Glacier, the weak underbelly of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) where the cork for 3.3m of sea level rise worth of ice is resting on a stabilizing sill (and according to Alley, where debris evidence indicates in the past a section of the ice sheet has jumped and moved quickly after losing its grip on land).

    I’d asked them about the Scripps Oceanographic Institute professor Jeremey Jackson’s statement at the US Naval War College in 2015 that in a few decades the WAIS could “break” and deliver 10 feet of sea level rise “in a few years.”

    Alley’s response: “I ąm cautiously optimistic that it would be decades, not years, but there are some large unknowns.”

    Hansen’s response: “The details remain unclear, but whether multimeter sea level rise occurs over a few decades or a few years probably doesn’t matter too much — it means loss of coastal cities in either case — it is hard to imagine construction of barriers to keep out rising sea level in most places.”

    And Rignot: “It would take a century to break up Thwaites completely. Its basin and surrounding basins contain 3 feet of global sea level change but its collapse would entrain the collapse of the remainder of west antarctica which contains 10 feet of sea level change. That whole process would take of the order of 1-2 centuries, not decades, not years. 10 feet of sea level change in a few years is impossible.”

    Given the uncertainty among experts as to the time scales involved for future sea level rise rates, we need to be a lot more careful than we’ve been.

  26. Erik Frederiksen

     /  August 19, 2017

    “the trend for sea level rise is less likely to be smooth and more likely to include a number of melt pulse spikes.”

    Think of ice sheet retreat as a retreating army, moving quickly from hilltop to hill top then pausing.

    One of the corks holding back the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is sitting on a ledge waiting to race to the next major one.

    It’s been observed at Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland that marine terminating ice cliffs over 100m in height collapse. The Thwaites Glacier in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet can expose ice cliffs higher than El Capitan (1000m) to warming oceans and entrain the retreat of the entire ice sheet.

    When Thwaites Glacier comes off its stabilizing sill and opens a large calving front (120km wide), perhaps in a few decades if we don’t change our ways (1), the ocean can follow that front all the way to the Transantarctic Mountains, dumping most of the ice sheet in the ocean in multi-decadal time scales or less according to the renowned glaciologist Richard Alley. (2)

    1. When I asked Richard Alley, almost certainly the most respected glaciologist in the United States, whether he would be surprised to see Thwaites [Glacier, West Antarctica] collapse in his lifetime, he drew a breath. Alley is 58. ‘‘Up until very recently, I would have said, ‘Yes, I’d be surprised,’ ’’ he told me. ‘‘Right now, I’m not sure. I’m still cautiously optimistic that in my life, Thwaites has got enough stability on the ridge where it now sits that I will die before it does. But I’m not confident about that for my kids. And if someday I have grandkids, I’m not at all confident for them.’’

    2. At Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica, “once you get off of the stabilizing sill, whenever that is in West Antarctica, the time scale of getting rid of the West Antarctic [3.3m GMSLR, 4m in the Northern Hemisphere], it’s not centuries, it’s multi-decadal. This is not maybe the best case, it’s not the worst case.”

    • So I wonder, based on Rignot’s recent communications which appear to be more dire in tone, if Rignot is more in line with Alley and Hansen than in the past. It just seems to me that his level of concern here has increased.

      • Erik Frederiksen

         /  August 21, 2017

        Watching him during a couple of presentations on YouTube one can see the seriousness in his face, and perhaps even worry.

        • mr elastomeric

           /  August 23, 2017

          Erik if these glaciers as high as El Capitan start crashing into the ocean would they not huge tsunami waves.

        • Depending on how it happens, it could. Big pieces dropping off or large, slow break-offs aren’t as much of a risk as a very large slide that rapidly displaces many cubic kilometers of water. A very large glacier outburst flood could do it as well. We’re just not at the level of forcing yet. I think I’d really get concerned if we started to see very large and more permanent glacier lakes starting to form behind an ice or sediment dam.

  27. Allan Barr

     /  August 20, 2017

    The discovery of that 2.7 million year old ice core with its less than 300 ppm CO2 suggests current thoughts about just how high temps will go may need to be significantly adjusted upwards Robert. Climate inertia has hidden a lot of our sins but the price to be paid will manifest sooner rather than later.

  28. Keith Antonysen

     /  August 20, 2017

    My apologies if this has recently been referenced; but, with rising sea levels and the possibility, of storms nuclear power plants pose a threat:

  29. Shawn Redmond

     /  August 20, 2017

    Getting a jump on the melt maybe? In places of concern. Five day total precipitation from Climate Reanalyzer.

  30. wili

     /  August 20, 2017

    “In 2016 modern renewables provided 1.6% of global energy consumption: REN21 2017 Report

    7.9% of global electricity consumption.”

    We’re a long, long way from where we need to be, and a very long way from where most people think we are.

    One reason that robert and I part ways a bit when it comes to cold assessments of what could possibly keep us below (the already way too high) 2 degree C mark. I tend to agree with Kevin Anderson and some others that some kind of global economic contraction would be necessary at this point. Ideally, it would be managed nationally and globally in such a way as not to hurt the poor too much and not to squelch the development of alternatives. But I just don’t see how the basic maths can get us ‘there’ on time from where we are.

    • wili

       /  August 20, 2017

      Further: “the transition to renewable energy is not happening fast enough to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement…

      …investment in the sector has dropped, with funding for new renewable energy installations down 23 percent compared to 2015”

      “In developing and emerging markets, renewable energy investment – primarily in wind and solar – fell 30 percent to $116.6 billion (103 billion euros) in 2016. In developed countries, investment dropped by 14 percent to $125 billion”

      • wili

         /  August 20, 2017

        For a more positive take, I guess…

        “2017 Wind Installations Following GWEC Forecast of ~10% per year capacity growth through 2022

        800GW installed global capacity by 2022, just under 60GW installed in 2017. Forecast is for a flat 2018, rising to 75GW increase in 2021.”–a-mid-year-update-from-gwec.html

        • wili

           /  August 20, 2017

          And…the ever loquacious Smil, who I often disagree with, but not so much here, weights in:

          The Long Slow Rise of Solar and Wind: Vaclav Smil


          “The most important way to speed up the gradual transition to renewables is to lower overall energy use. The faster demand rises, the harder it is to supply a large fraction of it.

          Recent studies have shown that there are no insurmountable technical problems to reducing energy use by a third, both in the affluent world and in rapidly modernizing countries, notably through efficiency gains. As we reduce demand, we can retire the old fossil sources.”

          If not managed, of course, efficiency can backfire…Devons Paradox and all that. And I doubt we can do enough with efficiency alone. But it should be remembered just how much we waste on so many levels, particularly in the US. Waste, and spend on stupid things.

        • We did amazing stuff during WW2 with production of planes, ships, trucks, tanks. I really think we could do the same now with solar panels and wind turbines, given the right set of political circumstances. But hey, we’re still screwing around with racism, an absurd and baseless ideology that should have been tossed into history’s trash bin decades ago.

        • wili

           /  August 21, 2017

          Good points, ch1. The other thing that most people did, and mostly willingly, during WWII was make some ‘sacrifices,’ dietary and otherwise. And, as I recall, most of the health indicators improved in the general population.

          Even though the risks are even greater now, apparently even discussing making anyone ever making any sacrifices for the common good (even sacrifices that actually benefit the one giving up thing) is off the table in most forums.

    • All old arguments that the fossil fuel companies will continue to keep making until they keep being proven false…

      In any case, Wili, the total portion of renewables in electricity vs fossil fuels is much higher — 25 percent vs the 7.9 percent you quoted:


      It’s just that wind and solar have most recently grown to much larger percentages of the whole. In an earlier post, you falsely noted that wind and solar amounted to 0.2 percent of the global electricity supply. A figure from the mid 2000s that has recently dramatically expanded. I’m glad to see you actually using current numbers. But the cherry picking and mis-characterizing is not appreciated.

      And note that total energy in renewables vs fossil fuels is not 1.6 percent, it’s nearly 20 percent (in 2015). It’s just that wind + solar + biofuels amounted to 2.4 percent of total energy consumption vs a larger proportion of total renewables in 2015 (not 2016) vs a larger portion of fossil fuels:

      total energy

      The rapid rate of renewable energy growth vs the larger proportion of global fossil fuel use provide us with a clear opportunity for carbon emissions reduction by adding in new renewables at faster and faster rates. In order for carbon emissions to start falling now, we just need to achieve a renewable energy build rate of 250 to 350 GW per year. We are very close to that rate now globally. And it’s worth noting that the large add to wind and solar alone in 2016 and 2017 will have pushed their total energy shares closer to 2 percent and their total electricity shares closer to 8 percent.

      In addition, the losses to fossil fuel energy will ultimately undermine their political influence in various key regions as the number of renewable energy stakeholders grow. So as this build rate is achieved, the political power of fossil fuels is undermined — which will tend to remove barriers for strengthening various treaties like Paris.

      As for that approx 2 percent wind and solar and that approx 20 percent renewables vs fossil fuels in total energy during 2016 …

      A good portion of that is due to the fact that the ICE is 1/3 as efficient a motor as an electrical engine. So, overall, we have a huge amount of wasted efficiency going into transportation if we are running it on ICEs. Transferring ICEs en-masse to EVs will result in a massive net reduction in global energy consumption even as transportation energy is shifted to the far more renewable (already) grid. This results in compounding returns for renewable energy and carbon emissions reduction. In addition, a rapid EV build out overwhelms the final barrier for an intermittent energy supply — widely available and inexpensive energy storage. At 130 dollars per kilowatt-hour (less for Tesla) batteries are now at an inflection point similar to where solar was about 3-5 years ago. New energy storage is now starting to become cheaper than new coal and gas plants when mated with wind and solar. So the major economies of scale that are enabling the world to build 80+ GW of solar each year and a similar range of wind are about to get another big boost due entirely to the size of the massive EV production chain.

      Of course, we have those like Kevin Anderson and Wili here, who attack both Paris and the major renewable energy build out on the basis that radical degrowth (without a rapid counter trend growth in renewable energy systems) is needed now. But degrowth in energy consumption without renewable alternatives that are capable of filling in the economic activity gap more efficiently would crush the very economic engines that are now capable of performing a complete transformation of the energy system in ever-shrinking time horizons. To be clear, radical de-growth philosophy is little more than an argument for enforced economic austerity at a scale that we have never before seen in the 20th or 21st centuries. And politically, this philosophy would fail as soon as it got out of the gate. A fact that even proponents, if they think for just one second, would realize.

      Overall, increases in societal efficiency (as a pure metric) are certainly desirable and attainable — but only on longer time scales unless your ultimate aim is to destroy economies wholesale rather than to transform them. And from the perspective of climate change, there is no way to deal with the problem effectively without a massive renewable energy build out now. For degrowth alone does not remove the very sources of carbon emission — fossil fuels — that are causing the problem.

      At a certain point, Wili, the attacks on renewable energy become disengenuous and you start to ask the very valid question — why?

  31. eleggua

     /  August 21, 2017

    ‘The Trump administration just disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change’
    August 20, 2017

    • eleggua

       /  August 21, 2017

      “The charter for the 15-person Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment — which includes academics as well as local officials and corporate representatives — expires Sunday. On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting administrator, Ben Friedman, informed the committee’s chair that the agency would not renew the panel.

      The National Climate Assessment is supposed to be issued every four years but has come out only three times since passage of the 1990 law calling for such analysis. The next one, due for release in 2018, already has become a contentious issue for the Trump administration.”

    • About the 1,000th bad thing that Trump has done that would not have happened if Hillary were elected…

  32. Henri

     /  August 21, 2017

    The fish wars are coming. I bet whoever will win, the fish will lose.

  33. Andy_in_SD

     /  August 21, 2017

    US government disbands climate-science advisory committee

    Panel sought to help businesses and state and local governments prepare for the effects of global warming.

  34. Andy_in_SD

     /  August 21, 2017

    As India’s Climate Changes, Farmers In The North Experiment With New Crops

    In the upper reaches of the northern state of Uttarakhand, small villages are rain- and snow-fed. As snowfall has declined, farmers are starting to plant crops in winter, when fields would usually lie fallow.

  35. PlazaRed

     /  August 21, 2017

    Thanks for all the blogs and information about what is happening and probably going to happens to the world in the immediate or perceivable future.
    I have to go to Vancouver BC. this weekend to fix some Victorian machinery, so I’ll be on the front line for reporting from there during the next few weeks; as to what is happening there in BC with the fires and anything else that is not hidden, (or not hidden very well!) For as much as I can gather for the blog sites posted info, etc.

    If I am in luck, plus a window seat and there are no clouds, I could maybe get a few or a lot of photos of Greenland, Baffin island and northern Canada down over the northern territories to the west coast, smoke and chaos etc. “As long as I am not ordered, as usual, to put down the blinds on the plane!” Its Air France! Always difficult to argue with, I prefer KLM, but Que Sera, Sera?

    As of tonight here in Spain we are continuing to suffer heat which is set to diminish a bit over the next few days but not a lot and no rain in sight for the south of the country.
    Massive droughts on the way if we don’t get a lot of rain soon!

    I noticed on WU that the northern hemisphere is a lot warmer than is good for it and this may be a for warning of things to come for sure? The chart in fact looks “insane!”
    Click on the temp anomalies picture below the main image!

  36. Robert, my comment has been in moderation limbo for two weeks. Are you ever going to approve it?

  1. The Present Threat to Coastal Cities From Antarctic and Greenland Melt | GarryRogers Nature Conservation
  2. Collapse Daily | Loki's Revenge
  3. South Miami’s Solar Mandate Sets Example for Other Coastal Cities Facing Existential Threat From Sea Level Rise | robertscribbler
  4. South Miami’s Solar Mandate Sets Example for Other Coastal Cities Facing Existential Threat From Sea Level Rise | RClimate
  5. Threat to coastal cities from Antarctic and Greenland melting | The Big Raise

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