Readers can discover what perennial Iron Man contest winner GorTechie thinks about Steven Chus fear of a worldwide melting of ice in a global warming scenario. Therein, GorT references the Archimedes principle to question whether melting ice would raise the water level or leave it as is.
GorT is of course correct that free-floating ocean ice cannot raise sea levels. However, before anyone else objects, let the Czar remind GorT that a stunning amount of ice is landlocked at Greenland and Antarctica. Should that ice melt, the calculations are that oceans would rise by something like 20 feet (the exact numbers are hazy because for a variety of reasons, no one is sure of the volumetric capacity of the ice in those regions).
The point is that landlocked ice has nowhere to go when it melts but up (by evaporation or sublimation), down (supersaturating the soil), or out (by flow). In all three situations, water will eventually go out to the oceans and wind up raising the water level. In the experiment below, Greenland would be a large snowball packed on top of a spoon which is itself laid across the rim of the glass.
So, detractors: before you jump on GorT, hold on a second. Some folks calculate that an average rise of four degrees Celsius will melt the landlocked ice. Technically, it is more accurate to say that a worldwide rise of four degrees will begin to melt the ice. As the doomsayers keep reminding us, there is a breath-taking amount of ice in Greenland and Antarctica. Indeed: so much so that melting this ice completely would take hundreds of years, if not thousands, at this rate of temperature increase.
People tend to associate events with what they know. And the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice packs isnt like watching a March snowfall in your backyard melt under a nice weekend warming spell. You are dealing with ice that has been packed deep for hundreds of thousands of yearsand has experienced even faster warming trends in the past. We know this because the ice did not come close to melting completely then!
Okay, so it will take a massive amount of time. But is Chu right? Do we need to melt all the ice to have catastrophe? What about if we melted only some of it?
The Czar would like Dr. Chu to list which island states will be completely submerged and when. There are only a couple of Pacific islands (to the Czars knowledge) who average elevation is only a few dozen feet above sea level. It is quite feasible to model this based on known topography: if you raise the water levels by two meters, do any islands disappear? What about a three? What about at ten? Which vanish? See the picture to the right? This shows a major flood, in which a large volume of water encroached in a short time. The topography shows that even this poor town was not wiped off the face of the earth despite freak conditions.
This is what makes GorT dead-on correct: Chu is fear mongering, pure and simple. By standing on an island nation and boldly stating that island nations will be wiped off the earth, he is dramatizing the effect to no good purpose: is it Trinidads fault? Is their carbon footprint dooming them to a life amphibious? No, so why say it like that? It would take centuries, and all coastal regions would get wetter, but not go under the waves even with a total melting of the land ice and sea ice.
The Czar will remind everyone of a little secret. We are woefully ignorant of what is happening. Our meteorological and climatological models are orders of magnitude better than they used to be even twenty years ago when the Czar learned his dry adiabatic lapse rate calculations and actually slung a psychrometer. But our reach exceeds our grasp with these sorts of dire predictions. Data are not information.
The Czar instead subscribes to the thinking outlined in this well-done, well-balanced, and fairly readible lay approach to the scientific problem: there is presently a rise in average temperatures, but overall we are in a cooling trend. And the results can go in several different directions, most of which begin to balance out andlike many normal processesnormalize by seeking a lower energy state. Net result: slight changes overall, but overall we will not see Cuba or Jamaica or New Zealand joining Atlantis anytime soon.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.