Antarctica has been under heavy cloud cover, so NASA's Worldview coastline images are rare. Kris Van Steenbergen is relentlessly researching climate impacts in the Southern Ocean and West Antarctica. He may sound familiar as he broke the news of a massive iceberg wedged on a sea mountain in front of the Thwaites Glacier for 20 years finally lifted off due to warming ocean currents. I created several diaries sharing many of his tweets and researched what could go wrong in the highly vulnerable Amundsen Sea Bay as best I could.
Iceberg B22a freed itself and tore away in December of 2022 from the Thwaites Glacier's front, leaving the floating tongue (ice stream) vulnerable to wave activity, year-round Pine Island sea ice laden cyclonic gyre, year-round melting and cheeseification of the glacier underbelly, and further fragmentation from relentless storms.
No news source reported the finding, and I still haven't seen any since, as far as I know. Six months later, in April, NASA reported the news of Iceberg B22A drifting away but did not discuss what the consequences of its absence may be.
Thwaites has only been studied since 2017 and is one of the most formidable places on earth. This is why I often refer to a rhetorical question of mine: Where is the Media? How can we demand action if this news is ignored, buried, or banned? That deglaciation event was a big fucking deal, to borrow from President Biden's glee on the Affordable Care Act passage.
With its plug still intact but threatened by warm water upwelling, the Ice Tongue prevents the majority of West Antarctica land and undersea ice from collapse and seabed displacement, respectively. The changes are profound and terrifying. The land-fast ice is gone in front of PIG and Thwaites before the melt season begins. This is not going to end well.
Update from Kris Van Steenbergen (yeah, he saw my diary, how cool is that): Replying to @icy_pete What I meant is that there's no land-fast buttressing sea ice left in September. The eastern flank lost pinning point 5 a few days ago.Also the icebergs that were blocking the western flank are gone (B22a, B45, B28, B29, ...).
You can see the damage by clicking on the NASA worldview links in Kris's tweets. I looked at the Amundsen Sea Embayment yesterday, and there was a ton of open water where the sea ice barrier once was. I can't prove it, as I still have not figured out how to save and post a Worldview image that does not turn into a thumbnail. But creating a movie on Worldview over the past couple of weeks clearly shows the breakup and loss of the sea ice barrier.
Pinning point five is no longer there according to Nasa's worldview. The loss of the sea ice barrier will affect both Pine Island Glacier and the eastern flank of the Thwaites Ice shelf. Will it lead to the breakup of the tongue anytime soon? Possibly.
The entire glacial area Kris refers to is the Amundsen Sea Embayment in the western Antarctic, which would raise sea levels by 10 feet if the Thwaites ice platform and plug were to collapse. It would take the rest of West Antarctica (Thwaites alone holds two feet of SLR) with it, but I have not seen any evidence from those studying this fuckery that the Thwaites collapse will happen this year. But, the remaining pinning points that stabilize the glacial tongue can all be lost in November and December of 2023, according to Kris Van Steenbergen.
Sea level rise would happen quickly not from the floating shelf itself but from the weight loss of the glacier pressing down on the sea bed, which keeps it below sea level. It is the rebound of the ocean bed, which would displace the water and flood coastlines. Richard Alley shared a 1970s grainy video that can act as a comparison to what a W Antarctic collapse would look like. It's long but fascinating and will be seared into your brain forever.
And then there are these tweets; you may want to grab a drink first.
What is the plan to deal with our internal climate refugees? Well, there isn't one. We are on our own while flying blind, and those who understand the fuckery at Thwaites on this site can begin to come to terms with grief, anger, guilt, and terror. Increased climate action might be motivated by this looming threat as personal decisions to migrate poleward and away from the coasts.
To get an idea of what the tipping point at the base of the massive Greenland melting ice stream torrents would look like at the bedrock, let's take a look at a much smaller-scale version of the Alp's largest glacier in Switzerland named Aletch Glacier.
This video illustrates how the tide impacts the rugged coast of Eastern Greenland marine-terminating glaciers, which are no longer grounded due to the Atlantification of the Arctic Ocean. Wow!
Here are a few links and two videos that detail the tipping point of Greenland.
Dr. Jason Box is an American glaciologist who left the States for Denmark decades ago. He has been a professor of Glaciology with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland and spends a lot of field time on the ice cap itself.
Here, he is in excruciated detail on why Greenland is in critical danger; again, the ice sheet has receded 27 years in a row.
Dr. Eric Rignot is the principal scientist for the Radar Science and Engineering Section at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). His research focus is Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. He also called the tipping point years ago for both West Antarctica and Greenland.
As noted above, the world average of 1.5 temperature rise has already happened this past summer, including June, July, August, September, and likely October. So, we are in serious climate trouble as nine of sixteen active climate tipping points “could“ simultaneously happen all at once.
Both videos will likely not get many looks as this diary is chock full of inconvenient facts and visuals proving that human fingerprints are all over the catastrophic climate impacts. If you want to understand why Greenland has tipped, you should watch them both. But in a nutshell, more ice is melting than being replaced by snowfall.
I will add that earthlings should demand action on rewilding and green energy and throwing climate criminals in prison for the rest of their evil lives. Perhaps it might just save some of what is left if we do.
The struggle continues.
For further reading:
An unprecedented and extraordinary marine heatwave in West Antarctica has glaciologists spooked.
Genomic evidence tied to W Antarctic collapse via subglacial river from the Weddell to the Ross seas
The Thwaites glaciers cork is being yanked out of the Byrd Subglacial Basin.
The news from Thwaites is getting grim; the open ocean is battering the ice shelves.
The ice above the subglacial channel between PIG's tongue and Thwaites's tongue collapsing.
The Thwaites' tongue goes when Iceberg B45 goes A/K/A, pinning point 9.
Somewhere on Thwaites Glacier is a fissure so deep that it threatens the world's coastlines.
The lowest sea ice on record powers ocean gyres as a heat source that is poised to take out W Antarctica
Iceberg B22 moves toward the open ocean, a verified source of volcanic activity upstream of P.I.G.
Ice is cracking further up from Thwaites, an unexpected source of heat damage from Pine Island.
Update on Thwaites Glacier: Iceberg B22a implodes.
The fingernails clinging onto Thwaites Glacier appear to be peeling off