Sunday, June 25, 2006

Greenland's day after tomorrow

If Greenland's galciers melted all at once, sea level would rise 21 feet. That won't happen, but the glaciers are melting faster than climate models predicted.

Computer simulations always start out with large assumptions -- like treating a glacier as a homogeneous block of ice. If the data doesn't fit the model's predictions, scientists study what's really happening and refine the models. It sounds like glaciers have complex internal structures that can cause non-linear responses to external warming.

It will be interesting to see what the next generation of models look like. We cannot assume they will show things getting warmer everywhere. Even if all of Greenland's glaciers don't melt, a large melt will introduce a new and large chaotic element to global climate change. Currents shift, precipitation varies, contintents rise ...

We'll have to wait for the simulations. Ohh, and a carbon tax might be a good idea too ....

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