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City-Sized Ice Shelf Breaks Free Of Antarctica

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,11 days | from the larry-ellison's-latest-island-fortress dept.

Earth 249

LeadSongDog writes "Germany's TerraSAR-X satellite is showing that the Antarctic's Pine Island ice shelf has calved a 'berg of 720 square kilometres, 'the size of Hamburg.' Angelika Humbert says 'The Western Antarctic land ice is on land which is deeper than sea level. Its "bed" tends towards the land. The danger therefore exists that these large ice masses will become unstable and will start to slide.' The article extrapolates that 'If the entire West Antarctic ice shield were to flow into the Ocean, this would lead to a global rise in sea level of around 3.3 meters.' Goodbye Florida.

cancel ×

249 comments

FINALLY! (5, Funny)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241093)

I knew those 569 acres of land on the Arizona/California border would gain some value. Just didn't think it would happen so soon. Anyone want to buy my new ocean-front property?

Re:FINALLY! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241397)

I grew up in the Imperial valley, which is the region you are discussing. No, I do not want to buy that property, because it'll still be infested with meth and spics. And spics on meth.

I pity the poor fool who dares buy your property, the day he moves in the spics will strip his car clean and tag "SUR XIII" all over his house. Not to mention that all the neighbors will be blasting Mariachi music and vuvuzela noise until 2am every day, because why work when taxpayers give you free money?
 
  -- Ethanol-fueled

Re:FINALLY! (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241597)

Wait, the drunk guy doesn't like the meth guys?

Re:FINALLY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241665)

Nope I'm holding out for the land I own at 100' above sea level in Florida to become ocean front.

Re:FINALLY! (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241747)

Seriously?

Floodmap [floodmap.net] According to this projection a 3.5 meter rise wouldn't flood much of CA.

Re:FINALLY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241863)

Seriously?

Floodmap [floodmap.net] According to this projection a 3.5 meter rise wouldn't flood much of CA.

Sure - if you leave out the Bay and Los Angeles Areas. Nobody living there, no sir.

Re:FINALLY! (1)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,11 days | (#44242119)

Eventually.

Dooomed (4, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241095)

Dooomed we are all doooom.
Dooooooomed!

Re:Dooomed (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241303)

Who's this "we" you're referring to? I live in NJ and I welcome the ocean washing over some of the toxic waste we call "home". If we can just get a soap factory to store all its suds near our cost we can finally stop being the armpit of America.

Re:Dooomed (1)

polar red (215081) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241487)

That toxic waste is not gone if the sea washes over it. it merely disperses in the food chain.

Re:Dooomed (4, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241353)

Puny humans do not yet know the meaning of the word "doomed".

In Soviet Russia... (2)

BreakBad (2955249) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241435)

the land ice's land water is deeper than....wait...above or not as deep....fuck.

Re:Dooomed (2)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241531)

Dooooooomed!

Yes, in general, however those living in coastal regions will dooooom first. The rest of us will need to acclimate to some intense heat and drought before the welcome relief of doooom sets in.

let us celebrate instead (4, Funny)

1800maxim (702377) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241663)

The oppressive regime of Antarctica has long been opressing its constituents.

The world celebrates the ice shelf's newly found freedom, and hopes this will pave the way to democracy in the entire region. When asked about what the ice shelf plans to do with its newly found freedom, it humbly replied "just going to drift a few kms that way, hopefully leading the way for many others to follow."

When asked for comment, the visibly agitated Penguin Brotherhood declined to comment beyond blaming the west-sponsored Carbon Revolution.

Re:Dooomed (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241705)

We are? I better tape this flashlight to my gun, then.

Re:Dooomed (1)

Jawnn (445279) | 1 year,11 days | (#44242083)

Dooomed we are all doooom. Dooooooomed!

Well..., yes. None of us gets out alive, but if your intent is to sarcastically suggest that this event is not another in a line of well documented indicators of climate change, nice try.

what? (1)

JustNiz (692889) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241115)

>> The Western Antarctic land ice is on land which is deeper than sea level.

Umm.. isn't it impossible to have land that isn't deeper than sea level?

Re:what? (4, Informative)

Entropius (188861) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241135)

I think the point is that the boundary between the ice and the rock is below sea level.

Re:what? (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241165)

My Minecraft home floats above the ocean. Does that count?

Re:what? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241193)

Check the Dead Sea [wikipedia.org] in the Middle East, 423 meters below sea level,

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241201)

Umm.. isn't it impossible to have land that isn't deeper than sea level?

That's entirely possible. In fact, most of the land on Earth is no deeper than sea level.

Re:what? (5, Informative)

Microlith (54737) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241203)

Wait what?

Umm.. isn't it impossible to have land that isn't deeper than sea level?

By definition, that is land. My guess is that you meant to ask if it is impossible to have land below sea level, and the answer is no. Much of New Orleans and Death Valley in the US are below sea level, they just happen to be surrounded by natural (and some artificial) barriers that keep the water out.

My understanding of the point is that the ice in question is standing on solid land below the ocean's surface, which means that its volume is not currently reflected by the height of the oceans today. In addition, the land is sloped towards the rest of the ocean so, should the ice in question calve off it will enter the ocean rather than simply cracking but staying put.

Re:what? (4, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241347)

Wait what?

Umm.. isn't it impossible to have land that isn't deeper than sea level?

By definition, that is land. My guess is that you meant to ask if it is impossible to have land below sea level, and the answer is no. Much of New Orleans and Death Valley in the US are below sea level, they just happen to be surrounded by natural (and some artificial) barriers that keep the water out.

My understanding of the point is that the ice in question is standing on solid land below the ocean's surface, which means that its volume is not currently reflected by the height of the oceans today. In addition, the land is sloped towards the rest of the ocean so, should the ice in question calve off it will enter the ocean rather than simply cracking but staying put.

An added issue, which has been seen in the past couple of decades in Greenland, is that if the ice calves and slides into the ocean, not only will mass previously perched on land enter the ocean, but the mass removed from the antarctic plate will cause the plate to rise significantly... causing less volume for the ocean in that area, and REALLY messing with plate tectonics.

Some people think there's a correlation between the rising landmass in Greenland and some of the recent quakes in the Pacific.

Re:what? (1)

polar red (215081) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241527)

I also wonder if a big piece (like say a few cubic km) of ice slides in the water at few km/h. a really big tsunami ?

Re:what? (4, Informative)

H0p313ss (811249) | 1 year,11 days | (#44242125)

I also wonder if a big piece (like say a few cubic km) of ice slides in the water at few km/h. a really big tsunami ?

Yes, if that were to happen the result would be quite dramatic. But the chunk we're talking about is the leading tongue of an ice shelf that is already floating at sea level and the crack that caused this calving has been tracked since 2011 so it's not exactly a dramatic change as the media would like you to believe.

Re:what? (1)

Ioldanach (88584) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241905)

My understanding of the point is that the ice in question is standing on solid land below the ocean's surface, which means that its volume is not currently reflected by the height of the oceans today.

But, if it all melted, that portion of the ice which is below sea level would not contribute to an increase in sea level, because the land it was on would then be inundated with water.

Re:what? (1)

Baby Duck (176251) | 1 year,11 days | (#44242051)

The summary says: Its "bed" tends towards the land.

Yet you say: the land is sloped towards the rest of the ocean

Aren't those contradictory inclines? If it tends toward the land, then wouldn't gravity more likely make it collapse toward the center of the land mass and not towards the ocean?

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241235)

Uhmm, Death Valley?

Re:what? (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241261)

That seems fairly straightforward I would assume that means that were the ice is sitting the the ground that ground is below sea level. What I wonder is what this means:

Its "bed" tends towards the land. The danger therefore exists that these large ice masses will become unstable and will start to slide.

Specifically the bed tends towards the land part as that is terminology I am not familiar with.

Re:what? (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241361)

Based on the context (the 'danger' part) I think it means that it's resting on the ground with is sloping away from shore. So that if it slips it will slip into the ocean causing sea level rise since there more ice above water than would be if it was floating.

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241341)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Valley

Re:what? (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241363)

>> The Western Antarctic land ice is on land which is deeper than sea level.

Umm.. isn't it impossible to have land that isn't deeper than sea level?

If it's possible anywhere on Earth, it's surely possible on a continent that can have a "western" part despite covering all geographic longitudes.

Re:what? (1)

booch (4157) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241473)

Yeah, obviously they should have said the "northern" part of Antarctica.

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241985)

The article talks about West Antarctica, not western Antarctica. It's just a name that was given to an area of land. It's also called Western Antarctica and Lesser Antarctica.

Re:what? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241489)

"Below sea level" and "above sea level" are useful concepts. Don't quibble about how rock deep below Mount Everest is somehow "below sea level."

Re:what? (1)

Iniamyen (2440798) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241713)

The land that's under the water is not considered land, when taken in the context of the "land/sea" categorization of Earth's surface. Nice try though.

Re:what? (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241737)

Umm.. isn't it impossible to have land that isn't deeper than sea level?

Lets cancel out some negatives here: Is it possible to have land that isn't deeper than sea level? Is it possible to have land that is higher than sea level? Why yes, that's entirely possible!

Goodbye Florida... (1)

NitzJaaron (733621) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241125)

...hello beach front property in Alabama!

Re:Goodbye Florida... (1)

SailorNash (441951) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241327)

I actually live on the waterfront here in Alabama. More like "goodbye" for me.

Re:Goodbye Florida... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241851)

I wouldn't worry. You're already in Alabama, so it can't get much worse.

Re:Goodbye Florida... (1)

postbigbang (761081) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241343)

You mean: Tennessee.

Re:Goodbye Florida... (4, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241595)

...hello beach front property in Alabama!

Ever hear about Mobile, Alabama?

Hint: Alabama already has a Gulf Coast....

Re:Goodbye Florida... (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241807)

Mobile Alabama is already adjacent to the sea. To flood the Florida panhandle, and thus expand Alabama's beach front to the east, you'd need between 30 and 40 meters of sea level rise. You'd need 60 meters to get rid of the florida peninsula entirely source. [firetree.net]

Floridian (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241145)

I live 40m above sea level. Bite my sweaty, chapped ###.

Re:Floridian (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241589)

well, that's temporary. AGW at full swing means at least 70m of sea level rise.

Good bye Disney World (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241153)

Good old Walt might finally get his due... I can't wait.

Re:Good bye Disney World (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241311)

Unlikely since Orlando (where I live) is 100 feet above sea level. We (and Disney) will still be 90 feet above the ocean. Now folks who live on the coast might have some trouble...

Re:Good bye Disney World (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241345)

Being that Lake Buena Vista, Florida is 95 feet (~29m) above sea level, it might need a lot more ice to melt to be under water.

Re:Good bye Disney World (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241843)

*sigh* Fine. Spoil my hopes and dreams with facts.

The poet Smash Mouth said it best (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241161)

Judging by the hole in the satellite picture
The ice we skate is getting pretty thin
The water's getting warm so you might as well swim
My world's on fire how about yours
That's the way I like it and I never get bored

Re:The poet Smash Mouth said it best (0)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241219)

*Realization Smash Mouth was actually a band of prophets*

Mind == blown.

Re:The poet Smash Mouth said it best (2, Funny)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241723)

Judging by the hole in the satellite picture
The ice we skate is getting pretty thin
The water's getting warm so you might as well swim
My world's on fire how about yours
That's the way I like it and I never get bored

Burma Shave

How's that? (4, Funny)

tchdab1 (164848) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241185)

Could somebody translate that into Chicago-units? Here in the US we're having trouble visualizing this.

Re:How's that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241305)

Good thing it wasn't a KiloHamburg (kh) sized iceberg that broke off.

Re:How's that? (4, Funny)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241523)

My guess is it is probably equal to about 1 Chicago proper but with fewer random shooting.

Zecharia Sitchin - 12th Planet? (1)

HycoWhit (833923) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241189)

Now isn't this how Sitchin theorized the Great Flood occurred? Well I guess in his books it was the pull of visiting planet that caused the ice sheet to slide into the Atlantic--but same result...

Re:Zecharia Sitchin - 12th Planet? (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241317)

It was used to better effect in Robinson's mars trilogy.

The size of Hamburg? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241245)

Darn metric system! How many Libraries of Congress is that equivalent to?

Re:The size of Hamburg? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241639)

2.136 million olympic swimming pools

New Unit! (2, Funny)

WillgasM (1646719) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241287)

I propose we swiftly adopt the "Hamburg" as a new unit of measurement.

Re:New Unit! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241393)

Of course subdivided in smaller units, Hamburgers, of about 1/1.500.000 that size.

Re:New Unit! (1)

Jeng (926980) | 1 year,11 days | (#44242139)

Looks like it may take approximately four Hamburg's to equal one Rhode Island.

It's a new vacation resort! (1)

ulatekh (775985) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241377)

The Swedish people that make the ice hotel [icehotel.com] can turn this into a vacation resort!

Sea Level Map (3, Insightful)

WillgasM (1646719) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241401)

A 3m rise in sea level is significant, but will hardly wipe out Florida or California. Check your map [geology.com] before you start building that new condo.

Re:Sea Level Map (1)

AdamThor (995520) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241783)

Awesome link on that map.

Bummer for China! Yancheng more specifically. Also around Guangzhou. How would the resulting chaos echo politically?

Also hard-hit... Southern tip of Vietnam, north end of the Caspian Sea, Netherlands of course. And islands.

Hybrid to the rescue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241441)

Quick! Everyone! Go buy a hybrid car! THEY WILL SAVE US ALL!

Apathy to the rescue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241575)

Quick! Don't change a thing! Since no one thing will save us all, don't do anything!!!

We don't need to worry. (0)

Entropius (188861) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241467)

Either Jesus will come back and end everything before climate change makes a difference, or God will never let us hose His perfect creation.

The trouble is, there are folks in Congress who believe this and set policy based on it...

I had a math professor like that (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241471)

When he said "the size of Hamburg" he might've meant "the size of hamburger" for example.

Maybe that's what happened here?

Bloop? (1)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241479)

Was there a bloop [wikipedia.org] or a train [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Bloop? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241749)

Bloops and trains are specific forms of the standard bleeps, sweeps, and creeps.

Sigh... Again? (3, Informative)

scsirob (246572) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241517)

Every year we get at least one or two pieces of ice breaking from the main shield. Happens at both poles. It's normal.

And every year the article ends with some kind of fatalistic "IF blah blah blah we are DOOOMED!"
Puhlease... We have worse things to worry about than fantasy threats.

Re:Sigh... Again? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241875)

Every year we get at least one or two pieces of ice breaking from the main shield. Happens at both poles. It's normal.

True. What's not normal is the amount of ice breaking away. Pine Island and Thwates glacier are speeding up. They're calving more ice into the ocean than before. Sure they calved before, but not as much or as often.

Oh well (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241529)

Nothing of value would be lost if Florida suddenly was underwater permanetly. Other then a bunch of old folks who were probably near death anyway, brain dead party people aka animals, and just a bunch of ignorant and stupid people that make the rednecks in the southern usa look like einstein's in comparison.

Re:Oh well (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241671)

Let me guess, Democrat.

Re:Oh well (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241927)

Why are you making fun of NASA?

Still looking for the payout... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241547)

...on my lovely home at the base of the Farralon hills, my farmland on the banks of the Sacramento river in what you now call San Pablo Bay, and my Kangaroo hunting grounds that are all covered with fish. 15,000 years it's been. I'm beginning to think they won't pay.

Time to drain the oceans! (3)

RKThoadan (89437) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241567)

Thankfully the fine folks over at xkcd pointed the way to the solution yesterday: http://what-if.xkcd.com/53/ [xkcd.com]

All we need is a portal to... anywhere not in Earths gravitational influence I guess, and we'll be set!

Re:Time to drain the oceans! (2)

sanosuke001 (640243) | 1 year,11 days | (#44242103)

The regolith on the moon will accept portals; we can shoot it from the surface!

West ??? (2)

feufeu (1109929) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241569)

Where the hell is the *west* antarctic ??? Well, west of east antarctic obviously. Stil...

Re:West ??? (2)

GonzoPhysicist (1231558) | 1 year,11 days | (#44242091)

My guess would be the part in the Western hemisphere.

Global Cooling (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241615)

Wahoo, the ocean temperatures will surely cool off ;) Ahhh balance...

Oh no! (2)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241707)

A tiny chunk of ice (relative to the size of the world) breaks off Antarctica and we're all doomed!

It's not as though tiny chunks of ice have been breaking off Antarctica ever since it first froze, or that most of Antarctica is cooling.

Re:Oh no! (1)

dywolf (2673597) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241781)

Your analysis and your data is incorrect.

Re:Oh no! (3, Insightful)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241877)

His analysis is spot on. The "article extrapolates" [to absurdity] isn't unusual when it comes to these things, because absurd extrapolation generates grant funding from government.

No such thing as 'man made global warming' (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241779)

which is they they renamed it 'climate change'.

Does this convince any of you cretins that there is no such thing as 'global warming' and that CO2 has nothing to do with it anyway?

http://joannenova.com.au/2013/07/macquarie-university-sabotages-exiles-blackbans-strands-and-abandons-murry-salby/

Re:No such thing as 'man made global warming' (2, Interesting)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241865)

At this point, telling everyone to use a bike to go to work and acting like some smug green idealist saying "I told you so" isn't going to fix anything so shut the hell up and learn to surf.

Re:No such thing as 'man made global warming' (2, Informative)

RenderSeven (938535) | 1 year,11 days | (#44242007)

FTFA (which you should have read before posting): Are ice breaks caused by climate change? Angelika Humbert does not so far see any direct connection: "The creation of cracks in the shelf ice and the development of new icebergs are natural processes", says the glaciologist. Not arguing one way or the other, but the FTFA says its not related.

Why would the sea level increase?? (1)

eminencja (1368047) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241847)

A piece of ice breaks off, it flows to a warmer area. 10% of the ice is above the water surface, 90% is below. It dissolves. This makes it's volume _smaller_ -- by the 10% that was above the water surface. So why say goodbye to Florida?

Re:Why would the sea level increase?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44242055)

They are talking about ice that's resting on solid ground, not floating in water. Melting of land ice means water that was stacked on top of land will flow into the ocean and raise the global water level.

Re:Why would the sea level increase?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44242065)

Antarctica is a continent. That ice is not floating on water but sitting on top of landmass. Therefore the amount of water to be displaced is quite large.

Re:Why would the sea level increase?? (2)

spitzak (4019) | 1 year,11 days | (#44242077)

This is probably a troll, but if you are genuinely being ignorant:

The water rises when the piece of ice breaks off and enters the ocean, not when it later melts.

Before it was sitting on land and displacing less than 90% of it's volume of water (it would be displacing 0% if the land was above the ocean surface, but it is non-zero in this case because the land is below the surface). When floating it is displacing 90% of it's volume. The difference means the extra displaced water has to go somewhere.

where is this sentiment going? (1)

nimbius (983462) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241909)

Goodbye Florida.

if you're trying to imply some sort of value by comparing an ice shelf to florida, you may be mistaken to find the ice shelf greatly outvalues florida in the opinion of quite a number of americans.

my family in colorado thanks AGW (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241931)

its been pretty dry there the last decade, except for this year
the lake is full and lots of water in the reservoir for drinking water from the spring snow melts

No such thing as a meter in Florida (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241983)

They don't measure things in meters in Florida. Therefore, they should be safe!

sucks for baseball (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,11 days | (#44241987)

lots of games being rained out this year
more water in the atmosphere will play havoc with their crazy 162 game schedule

Hamburg? WTF?! Conversion please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44241991)

How many Detroits is that equal to?

Re:Hamburg? WTF?! Conversion please... (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,11 days | (#44242025)

Negative six. Detroit has a pretty high negative value.

Here's my plan for Florida (3, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | 1 year,11 days | (#44242019)

1. Tell everyone in Florida that 3.3 meters of water is coming

2. Allow the person who understands what 3.3 meters of water means to move to wherever they want

3. Celebrate
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