Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Breaking News: the West Antarctic Ice Sheet starts collapsing, says IPCC

Huge rift in the West Antarctic ice sheet as revealed by satellite photos: the whole ice sheet has started moving toward the sea.

A new report released today by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  (IPCC) discloses satellite data showing a huge rift in the West Antarctic ice sheet, indicating that the whole mass of ice has started moving toward the sea. Recent reports had already indicated that the deglaciation process was taking place faster than previously expected, but the new data indicate an unexpectedly rapid collapse. According to IPCC, at the measured speeds, the total collapse of the Western Ice Sheet will take place in less than a decade.

The collapse of the Western Ice Sheet is expected to cause a sea level rise of 4.8 m (16 ft). If the same phenomenon will affect all the Antarctic glaciers - as it appears to be the case from other data in the IPCC report - the final result will be to raise the sea level of 61 meters (200 feet). The report does not detail the possible effects on coastal cities and on populated areas at elevations lower than the expected sea rise.

Most comments on the IPCC report seem to agree on the fact that the satellite data indicate a very rapid melting of the Antarctic glacier, as admitted also in "skeptical" circles. Anthony Watts, famed for his "Watt's up with that?" blog reports that he feels "vindicated" by the new results, since they prove that the IPCC models for climate change were "wrong" having been unable to predict how fast the melting was to become. Viscount Cristopher Monckton has commented that this event "shows that global warming has nothing to do with the Antarctic collapse" because "the warming pause is still ongoing."

Many scientists also commented on the news about Antarctica. Michael Mann, of Penn State University, stated that "Those glaciers got quite a blow by the hockey stick!" Others declared that they felt comfortable in seeing that they would not be branded any more as "catastrophists" and "alarmists", but several also expressed concern that, now that global warming was demonstrated beyond all doubts, their research grants on the subject would be curtailed.

On  the political side, the right sees the flooding of the coastal cities as "nothing to fear". Righteous people, it is said, will surely be spared by the incoming waves, just as Moses and the chosen people were spared when they crossed the Red sea. The comments from the left are generally positive, as it is hoped that the flooding of the coastal regions will reduce pollution. It is also hoped that flooding will generate opportunities for more resilient communities and a zero-growth lifestyle based on local resources.

The general reaction of the industry to the news has been of cautious optimism. Spokesmen from the oil industry and the mineral industry have reported great interest in the mineral exploitation of the newly exposed lands of Antarctica, expected to contain oil, gas, coal, and other important minerals. The construction industry is also reporting interest in the new business opportunities involved: such as barriers against the sea rise and the relocations of whole cities inland. "Never before" one spokesman for the industry said, "prospects for the cement industry have been so bright."

Also in Washington D. C., the new IPCC report is seen with cautious optimism. The US President has spoken of a "new frontier" opening up with the deglaciation of Antarctica and with the new lands being freed for human settlement. He used the sentence "go south, young man!" to indicate the new direction for the growth of the economy.

More news on this subject: "The Great Greenland Melting: Threat or Opportunity?"

Note: I have been told that someone could take this post as if it were a serious report. So, let me state it explicitly, just in case: this is an April's fools post. It is true that the Antarctic glaciers are melting down, but not as fast as described here. 

Note also that, the image at the beginning is from the University of Michigan, it is about ice calving in Antarctica but, again, it does not indicate a super-fast melting


  1. Hahaha! You totally got me!

    April is the Japanese New Year, so... here's to a year where this doesn't happen!

  2. It took me a little while but I caught on to the April Fool's joke. It did occur to me though that when a large piece of a glacier that was previously on land slips into the sea, the sea level goes up very quickly, long before the giant iceberg (which once was a piece of a glacier) melts. This may not be obvious to some.

  3. I admit to being duped, too, and increasingly horrified. And the scariest thing is that this is probably exactly how such news *would* be greeted by the named authorities.... The effects of what we're calling man-made warming seem too big to be 'man-made' (the latter our popinjay hubris again). Isn't the Arctic-warming, at least, substantially internal to the earth? And the magnetic pole is galloping *somewhere*, (must look that up again), we don't have any idea what cause and effect that is/will be. Charles Hapgood's book, Path of the Pole, asks interesting questions. All we've been/are doing is histrionic, hypocritical hand-wringing about our own culpable role. Agreed: we shit in our own nest. But we're a part of this planetary eco-system, however we behave. The earth is changing, with or without us. That's all we know.

    1. Well, the collapse of the Antarctic ice sheets, if it were to occur so fast as I describe it in this little cli-fi piece, would be spectacular beyond imagination. But why do you say that the Arctic warming should be "internal to the earth"?

      Actually, there is an Italian professor (not me!!!) who says that the melting of the Arctic is due to volcanoes, but that's simply silly (see here:

    2. Hi every body.
      Any of you lived once in a snowy region ?
      Any of you used coal to heat the stove ?
      Lucky guy.

      Well, once upon a time, people cared about the worls as today, may be better they acted localy, on their own, farm, land, village etc. Now they have no farm, no land nothing but horrifying news ans subphonic sound to keep them in terror..

      If by som unlucky manoeuver, the coal you tranported to home for you stove, fet don on the snow,:
      one the density being greater the chunk of coal went directly to the mos solid surface,un der the snow.
      two, if you were rich enough, annd let the chunk of coal, at the coming of spring there were around each chunks of coal, a piece of land without snow , nor ice...

      I discovered some day that people called that ALBEDO.

      There were some very big vollcanic events in Iceland, and i have read tha snow was not so white...

      But there maybe another cause: HAARP, micro wave mirrored on the upper layers of atmopshere, just to make Arctic, a little warmer...

      Some bad people think, i do not beleive, them, that HAARP was the propeller of an electric spatial engine ;o)
      Just kidding..
      my alias orthodharma

  4. A bit ghastly as an April's fool joke, I have to admit.....

    1. good one ! :)
      jut making sure not to appear silly by requoting seriously on other places ;)

    2. Nice one Ugo!
      I am glad you noticed that pronouncements by English guys with Viscount' or 'Lord' in front of their name must be treated with uniform disbelief.
      Italian professors? Well... we must take care and be selective it seems.

  5. The reality of all this, post April Fools Day is here:



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014)