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Sea levels are dropping, earthquakes and volcanoes are waking up, and even the earth's axis is moving—all because of melting ice.
You've no doubt by now been inundated with the threat of global sea level rise. At the current estimated rate of one-tenth of an inch each year, sea level rise could cause large swaths of cities like New York, Galveston and Norfolk to disappear underwater in the next 20 years. But a new study out in the Journal of Geophysical Research shows that in places like Juneau, Alaska, the opposite is happening: sea levels are dropping about half an inch every year.
How could this be? The answer lies in a phenomenon of melting glaciers and seesawing weight across the earth called “glacial isostatic adjustment.” You may not know it, but the Last Ice Age is still quietly transforming the Earth’s surface and affecting everything from the length of our days to the topography of our countries.
During the glacier heyday 19,000 years ago, known as the Last Glacial Maximum, the Earth groaned under the weight of heavy ice sheets thousands of feet thick, with names that defy pronunciation: the Laurentide Ice Sheet, the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet, and many more. These enormous hunks of frozen water pressed down on the Earth’s surface, displacing crustal rock and causing malleable mantle substance underneath to deform and flow out, changing the Earth’s shape—the same way your bottom makes a depression on a couch if you sit on it long enough. Some estimates suggest that an ice sheet about half a mile thick could cause a depression 900 feet deep—about the of an 83-story building.
At the same time, places that were once forebulges are now sinking, since they are no longer being pushed up by nearby ice sheets. For example, as Scotland rebounds, England sinks approximately seven-tenths of an inch into the North Sea each year. Similarly, as Canada rebounds about four inches each decade, the eastern coast of the U.S. sinks at a rate of approximately three-tenths of an inch each year—more than half the rate of current global sea level rise. A study published in 2015 predicted that Washington, D.C. would drop by six or more inches in the next century due to forebulge collapse, which might put the nation’s monuments and military installations at risk.
If sea level is rising, how did Earth gain 58,000 km2 of net land surface area, including 13,565 km2 of net coastal land surface area? I’m sure that there is an obvious logical answer. The Cretaceous sea level was about 50 m higher than today and land comprised only 23-26% of Earth’s surface area (vs 29% today).
From the NASA/GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER and the “how long until global warming is blamed” department. A 60-year pattern in the stratosphere changes up This disruption to the wind pattern – called the “quasi-biennial oscillation” – did not have any immediate impact on weather or climate as we experience it on Earth’s surface. But it does raise interesting questions for the NASA scientists who observed it: If a pattern holds for six decades and then suddenly changes, what caused that to happen? Will it happen again? What effects might it have? “The quasi-biennial oscillation is the stratosphere’s Old Faithful,” said Paul Newman, Chief Scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author on a new paper about the event published online in Geophysical Research Letters. “If Old Faithful stopped for a day, you’d begin to wonder about what was happening under the ground.” Winds in the tropical stratosphere, an atmospheric layer that extends from about 10 to 30 miles above Earth’s surface, circulate the planet in alternating easterly and westerly directions over roughly a two-year period. Westerly winds develop at the top of the stratosphere, and gradually descend to the bottom, about 10 miles above the surface while at the same time being replaced by a layer of easterly winds above them. In turn, the easterlies descend and are replaced by westerlies. This pattern repeats every 28 months. In the 1960s scientists coined it the “quasi-biennial oscillation.” The record of these measurements, made by weather balloons released in the tropics at various points around the globe, dates to 1953. The pattern never changed – until late 2015. As the year came to a close, winds from the west neared the end of their typical descent. The regular pattern held that weaker easterly winds would soon replace them. But then the westerlies appeared to move upwards and block the downward movement of the easterlies. This new pattern held for nearly half a year, and by July 2016 the old regime seemed to resume. “It’s really interesting when nature throws us a curveball,” Newman said.
So am I. I am not oil. So are plants. Plants are not oil. Yet.
Oil is made of hydrocarbons.
Seems to be a non-sequitor. Never mind that NASA did not confirm oil on other planets.
The fact that CH4 is present in such quantities indicates life is not required for production of all hydrocarbons. This indictates life may not be required for heavier hydrocarbons, which at liquid methane temperatures would be solids.
I thought the topic was isostatic rebound.
That is the topic.