In the last ten years, the climate change conversation has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind. It dominates news media and especially cycles through during hurricane season in the Western Hemisphere. This is especially more dominant in the last five years has weather patterns have become more concerning.
Hurricanes have grown stronger, become more destructive. Heat waves are hotter and wind chill during the winter season is setting records annually.
But should we be worried? Is it all a hoax or is a sign of a devastating trend?
While the Hawaiian volcanoes are churning out lava and extending the mileage of the island, mammoth size ice craters are separating from the Antarctic and Arctic plates every year. Scientists are nervously calculating how much the sea level rise annually. They are constantly expressed that 10 to 50 years from now, whole cities all across the world will be negatively affected.
However, at the end of the day facts matter more than guesses.
If you have listened, even intermittently, over the last few years to the climate change argument, you might be asking yourself, should we start worrying about the recent sea level rise in the Antarctic?
Understanding Climate and the Escalating Changes
In order to conclude on the subject matter, we must first be aware of how climate works. It is also imperative to comprehend why even the smallest shift in temperature can cause a climatic ripple throughout the world. And we must most certainly know how people are affecting climate.
Having an insight into these three basic areas usually helps experts predict the short terms weather patterns and long-term climate changes.
Our climate and type of weather are determined eventually by the energy from the Sun, impacting the Earth. The environment in every country, hemisphere or tropical zone is predetermined by how this energy is reallocated by the atmosphere and oceans.
How the oceans and atmosphere operate is dictated by the elementary rules of physics. The behavior is incredibly multifaceted for the reason that numerous unusual processes and scales - from atomic to universal - has an impact. This intricacy is why that understanding, replicating and forecasting the weather is such a huge challenge.
According to the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, “Climate varies on many timescales. For example, a wet month may be followed by a dry month, and a mild winter may be followed by a very cold one. There are also variations on longer time scales of decades, centuries and beyond. We know from geological records that on time scales of hundreds of thousands of years, the climate has swung between glacial ("ice-age") periods interspersed with milder ("inter-glacial") periods.”
We are familiar with why the numerous discrepancies in climate happen predictably because of processes in the atmosphere. These react to the changes in the ocean, and possibly from further interactions in the “Earth system. One of the best-known natural climate variations is the fluctuation of the tropical Pacific Ocean between warm "El Niño" events and cool "La Niña" events. These events have profound impacts on floods and droughts around the world. Another example is the cooling of Earth's climate that follows major volcanic eruptions.”
In English, El Niño translates to ‘The Little Boy’. It is not a new phenomenon, simply because it was brought to our attention more persuasively over recent years.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration posted that “El Niño was originally recognized by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1600s, with the appearance of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The name was chosen based on the time of year (around December) during which these warm waters events tended to occur. The term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.”
Usually, El Niño occurs around North America throughout the approaching winter season.
Signs comprise of warmer-than-average temperatures above western and central Canada. It is also felt over the northern and western States of this country also. “Wetter-than-average conditions are likely over portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast and Florida, while drier-than-average conditions can be expected in the Ohio Valley and the Pacific Northwest.”
The occurrence of El Niño is able to sway marine fisheries, ocean conditions, and weather patterns considerably all over the globe for a long time.
In English, La Niña translates to ‘The Little Girl’. It is the opposite of El Niño or simply "a cold event." This signifies long time spans where we experience below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific.
“Global climate La Niña impacts tend to be opposite those of El Niño impacts. In the tropics, ocean temperature variations in La Niña also tend to be opposite those of El Niño. During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest.”
What About The Recent Sea Level Rise In Antarctic
Chris Mooney of the Washington Post reported that the ice sheet in Antarctica is thawing at quickly and at an escalating velocity. Presently, the continent is losing over 200 billion tons of ice, which pours into the ocean per annum. Overall, this means that our sea level rise half a millimeter for that same period.
What Does Statistics Say
“Antarctica, the planet’s largest ice sheet, lost 219 billion tons of ice annually from 2012 through 2017 – approximately triple the 73 billion tons melt rate of a decade ago, the scientists concluded. From 1992 through 1997, Antarctica lost 49 billion tons of ice annually.”
Beata Csatho, a glaciologist, is a specialist on sea level rise and ice sheets. She added that over the last ten years, those numbers have shown a steeper quickening.
If we examine all the statistics from 1992 until now, we will find that there has been a sea level rise of 8 milliliters, due to three trillion tons of ice caps being dumped into the ocean. More than a third of which has happened over the past five years.
What Does NASA Say
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is also watching this phenomenon very closely. More so from a better view than any of us will ever have, from up there in space.
In conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA), they funded a foremost and fresh global weather review.
The new Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE) shows the most rigorous assessment of Antarctica’s ice mass balance, in modern times. This study incorporates more professionals and improvements to NASA’s observing capabilities. It also allowed an enhanced capacity to evaluate any uncertainties.
The findings are truly substantial and well supported. It took the combined resources of over “24 satellite surveys of Antarctica and involving 80 scientists from 42 international organizations.”
At the end of the day, they all agree, “Antarctica’s potential contribution to global sea level rise from its land-held ice is almost 7.5 times greater than all other sources of land-held ice in the world combined. The continent stores enough frozen water to raise global sea levels by 190 feet (58 meters), if it were to melt entirely. Knowing how much ice it’s losing is key to understanding the impacts of climate change now and its pace in the future.”
Are the Experts Worried?
Another glaciologist, Christine Dow of the University of Waterloo expressed her concerns in the Tampa Bay Times.
She said, "The increasing mass loss that they’re finding is really worrying, particularly looking at the West Antarctic, the area that’s changing most rapidly and it’s the area that we’re most worried about because it’s below sea level."
Antarctic expert Isabella Velicogna from the University of California also chimed in on the issue. “I don’t know if it’s going to keep exactly tripling, but I think it has a lot of potential to keep significantly increasing,” stated Velicogna.
But she was among the scientists who released a contentious study in 2016, with James Hansen a NASA scientist.
According to The Mercury News, that study disclosed “the Earth could see sea level rise above 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) within 50 years if polar ice sheet loss doubles every 10 years. A tripling every decade were it to continue, would reach that volume of sea level rise even sooner.”
Is There Any Hope That the Sea Level Rise Will Peter Out?
It comes right back to what we said about climate and the escalating changes. People affect climate. Our everyday activities affect the climate. Over the years, our continuous industrial activities have jeopardized the world’s atmosphere.
Now we must ban together to mitigate these effects.
While some countries have instituted changes, others are not as vigilant. Across the board, it will take a huge collaborative effort by all the countries across the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aggressively.
If not, then as the scientists predict, we could see the Earth’s “sea level rise above 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) within 50 years if polar ice sheet loss doubles every 10 years. A tripling every decade were it to continue, would reach that volume of sea level rise even sooner.”