New Research on Melting Ice Sheets


The current issue of Science Magazine is devoted to ice—or, more specifically, the accelerating rate at which the world’s ice sheets are melting. “Glacial earthquakes” have reportedly been rocking Greenland of late, as giant chunks of ice the size of Manhattan, lubricated by melting water, start stumbling into the ocean.

According to the findings in Science, the Earth’s temperature by 2100 will probably be at least 4 degrees warmer than it is now, if current warming rates continue. The Arctic Ocean will be warmer than it’s been in 130,000 years. Computer models indicate that warming could raise the average temperature in parts of Greenland to above freezing for multiple months, which could have a substantial impact on melting of the polar ice sheets, according to a paper by researchers led by Bette Otto-Bliesner of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. That melting could, in turn, raise the sea level by one to three feet over the next 100 to 150 years.

As Science puts it, “man is doing an experiment with the ice sheets, which is a scientifically interesting experiment, except it is going to have some serious consequences.” As a result, island nations could be submerged, cities flooded, and millions of coastal residents could be exposed to destructive storm surges. According to researcher Julian Dowdeswell of Cambridge University, “the changing mass of the great ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica represents the largest unknown in predictions of global sea level rise over the coming decades,” making scientists increasingly concerned that at the rate we’re going, global warming because of greenhouse emissions could raise sea levels to catastrophic proportions.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.