Jonathan Gregory, a climatologist at the University of Reading, UK, says global warming could start runaway melting on Greenland within 50 years, and it will "probably be irreversible this side of a new ice age". The only good news is that it a total meltdown is likely to take at least 1000 years.
We desperately need rejuvenation therapies that will allow us to live long enough to witness the complete melting of Greenland.
A meltdown of the massive ice sheet, which is more than 1.8 miles thick, would raise sea levels by an average seven yards, threatening countries such as Bangladesh, islands in the Pacific, and parts of Florida.
Further complicating the models are the contradictory effects a warmer climate may have on polar ice sheets. As temperatures rise, evaporation from the surrounding oceans will increase, sending more moisture inland. This will increase snowfall over high-elevation accumulation zones. On the other hand, the simultaneous increase in summer rains could accelerate the melting. So the net effect of increased precipitation is hard to predict.
One final uncertainty is the fate of the Gulf Stream, which delivers warm tropical water to the North Atlantic and keeps Europe much warmer than it would otherwise be. Some scientists believe that the Gulf Stream is weakening in response to the massive influx of fresh water from shrinking glaciers. If it became weak enough, they say, Greenland would chill down again and its ice sheet might stabilize.
In a nutshell we don't really know what is going to happen. But even if the prediction of melting is correct that does not mean humans in the future will not find a way to prevent the melting. It is inevitable (failing the destruction of the human race) that climate engineering techniques capable of preventing huge ice masses from melting will be developed because the amount of scientific knowledge and technological capability will be so great in the future that even willful climate modification will become possible. One approach might be to find ways to increase the reflectivity or albedo of the seas around Greenland so that they absorb less sunlight and therefore become cooler. Another approach would be to develop devices that float on the surface and use wave energy to squirt water into the air. This would increase evaporation and hence could increase precipitation and ice build-up if used selectively during winters and upwind of Greenland.
Some people are clearly not worried about the prospect of flooding coastal cities decades hence. Not the least bit bothered by the idea that he was decreasing the albedo of an iceberg and causing it to melt more rapidly Danish artist Marco Evaristti went searching for the ideal iceberg off the Western Greenland and painted it red.
Facing temperatures of minus 23 degrees C (minus 9 degrees F), it took about two hours for the 40-year-old artist to paint the exposed tip of the iceberg, which was about 900 square meters (1,080 square yards) in size.
He had a team of 20 people to help him and obviously at least 21 people are not afraid to accelerate the melting of a massive chunk of ice. See his red iceberg and an even nicer high resolution red iceberg picture on Evaristti's website.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2004 April 08 12:42 AM Climate Trends|