The Climate Emergency Thwaites for No One

[The massive ice shelf FOX calls the “Doomsday glacier” is floating on warm water]

Unusually warm water beneath its grounding zone (grounding line) is accelerating the melting of a key Antarctic glacier (74,000 sq. mi). New research on the Thwaites Glacier (lately dubbed the Doomsday Glacier by no less than FOX News) on the West Antarctica Ice Sheet shows the water underneath the floating ice shelf to be about closer to 36F.  The glacier is melting from below.

The Thwaites mass is an Ice Shelf, a hybrid formation that rests on bedrock on one end while floating on the other. The grounding line of these ice shelves – where the glacier meets land – anchors the ice, and also serves to hold back the much larger mass of land ice behind it. The existence of warm waters beneath the grounding line is more bad news for the stability of the Antarctic continent and the growing threat of rising sea levels.

The recent measurements were taken by a team from  the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, which drilled a bore hole half a mile through the ice at the grounding line and lowered instruments into the water.  The news follows last year’s discovery of a mammoth cavity beneath the glacier.

“The fact that such warm water was just now recorded by our team along a section of Thwaites grounding zone, where we have known the glacier is melting, suggests that it may be undergoing an unstoppable retreat that has huge implications for global sea level rise,” said David Holland, director of NYU’s Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and NYU Abu Dhabi’s Center for Global Sea Level Change in the official news release.

The Thwaites is about the size of Florida. If all of its ice flows into the ocean, it will raise sea levels an additional 2 feet on its own.

January 2020 Climate Crisis Update


One year after extreme weather induced a mining waste dam collapse (271 dead) catastrophe, record rains have wrought flooding and landslides in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Dozens are dead and missing and thousands have been evacuated as rains continue for the third day.

New records were set for most rainfall in a 24 hour period.

Several men clear debris following a landslide (picture-alliance/AP Photo/Futura Press/A. Mota)


The wildfires that have consumed Australia’s southeast, including areas around it’s major population centers, have gotten plenty of media coverage. That is due in large part to the good visuals that accompany this type of story. An area about the size of Virginian has been burned. Millions of animals and birds have died. The economic toll had not even begun to be calculated when the area was hit with a massive dust storm followed by an apocalyptic hail storm.

2019 was the hottest, driest year on record in Australia, which is saying something. Summer is only half over. With no moisture in the air, the intensity of these fires is hard to describe.


Beginning New Year’s Day, Jakarta has been inundated by catastrophic storms that brought intense rainfall and lethal flooding to the city of 30 million, with 15 or 20 inches coming in 24 hours. Even in a megalopolis prone to flooding, this storm is in a class of its own. Millions have been evacuated. The situation of course, is exacerbated by stupid human tricks, because massive quantities of groundwater have been sucked out from beneath the city. As is often the case, there is both too much water and not enough to drink.

Monsoons are normal in this region, but the new weather patterns bring much greater quantities of rain over the course of fewer, less predictable storms.


Norway broke it’s all time national high temperature record for any January, reaching 66.2F (or 19C as they say in Norway) two weeks ago.  The far northern country broke several records last summer as well.

Record highs were also reported in Boston and New York, running 35 degrees higher than normal.


Coastal towns were lashed by 60-foot waves, and villages farther inland were buried under mountains of snow. Dozens of people died and bridges collapsed as  sea surges reached as far as two miles inland.


The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019. Although 2019 was only the “second warmest” on record for atmospheric temperatures, the oceans are heating up faster than ever. Oceans absorb and store 90% of solar heat energy. Hotter seas cause more severe storms and further contribute to rising seas through thermal expansion and kill marine life.

Climate Emergency 2019 Review

climate emergency 2019 review shows events and conditions from 2019

For the most part, people who accept climate change (and even those who understand that it is caused by humans remain unaware of the fact that this is a climate emergency that has been under-stated rather than over-stated. Seen globally however, the realities may be more persuasive. This is a small sampling of global events and conditions from the past year.

ARCTIC AMPLIFICATION: The Arctic region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. The global consequences in terms of disruption to wind and weather patterns are hard to overstate.

ALBEDO FEEDBACK CYCLE: Self-perpetuating feedback cycle, as sea ice melts, more solar radiation heats the open water, ice melts faster.

PERMAFROST FEEDBACK CYCLE: Permafrost is thawing, releasing CH4 and CO2 into the atmosphere, causing more warming, causing more permafrost melt. The quantity of  CH4 trapped in permafrost is unknown.

SLOWING AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation): A significant tipping point, the global ocean circulation that drives the Gulf Stream has been slowing. The ocean current is a critical factor in regulating temperatures.

MASSIVE MARINE HEAT WAVE: The “Blob “ is back. This Pacific heat wave is the second worse ever. The worst was the Blob of 2014 – 2016, which lasted three years, causing serious disruption to marine ecosystems and marine life on the west coast, not to mention the largest toxic algae bloom in the history of the US West Coast. Marine heat waves are increasing in frequency, compromising underwater ecosystems which as kelp forests and coral reefs.

OCEANS [Global Warming is really Ocean Warming] The ocean absorbs 90% of the planet’s excess heat.

                LOSING O2 AT UNPRECEDENTED RATE: General oxygen levels continue to decline, while “dead zones” (where there is no oxygen) have quadrupled. intensive farming, experts have warned.

                INCREASING CO2/ ACIDIFICATION:  Change in water chemistry is a threat to a wide range of marine animals, including shellfish and stardish. A new report from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration summarizes the economic consequences.

                COASTAL INUNDATION: Major urban centers face rapid ocean rise, including Charlotte, NC, Miami, Norfolk, VA, Shanghai, China, Bangladesh, Alaska, Mumbai, Solomon and other Pacific Islands.

GLOBAL WILDFIRES/DEFORESTATION:  Supercharged Wildfires burn hotter and are harder to control. Amazon gets the coverage, but out of control wildfires burned in 2019 in Australia, Bolivia, Chile Indonesia, Cyprus, Siberia, Alaska, Southern Europe and California. Firenados are increasingly common. Global outbreaks of wildfires is stressing resources. Megatons of carbon are released into the atmosphere.  The Wildfire/Deforestation Feedback Cycle pours more carbon into the atmosphere and accelerates global warming.

ALL GLOBAL ICE SYSTEMS COLLAPSING \ sea ice \ land ice \ ice shelves \ alpine glaciers           

                GREENLAND ICE MELT ACCELERATES 7X: The worst case scenario now happening in real time/ Greenland land ice has 25 ft sea level rise.

                The island lost 197 tons of water in a day.


                ALPINE GLACIERS MELTING FASTER EVERYWHERE:  Last glaciers in Indonesia, Andes have 10 more years.  Third Pole glaciers supply water for billions of people in Asia.

Glacier funerals to place in Iceland, Switzerland. Glacier Lake Outbursts threatens dozens of mountain towns and villages in the Andes/Europe/Asia.

                ANTARCTIC SHELVES NO LONGER STABLE. The shelves that hold back land ice on Antarctica and Greenland are receding quickly. Coastal ice is melting from below.

                ARCTIC SEA ICE CONTINUES RAPID DECLINE: Now melting 6X faster, generating Feedback Cycle #1 (Albedo).


         42,487 daily high temperature records vs 25,027 low records.

         364 all-time high temperatures were set in 2019, versus just 70 all-time lows.

UNPRECEDENTED HURRICANE /CYCLONE BEHAVIOR:  Hurricanes and storms of all types are more intense, move more slowly, contain more moisture (causing more damage),  and intensify more rapidly. Damage over the past few years is unprecedented. For three hurricane seasons in a row, storms with record-breaking rainfall have caused catastrophic flooding in the southern United States:               

SPECIES MIGRATION/EXTINCTION: Rapid changes in ecosystems cause migration of a wide range of animals, birds and insects.

                FISH DISAPPEAR FROM ANGOLA COAST: O2 Depleted and water warming 3X the global rate, mega-trawlers.

                HUMAN MIGRATION: Central American, Alaska, Africa, Asia are dying as they attempt to reach safe havens.


DYING ECOSYSTEMS: Coral Reefs, Kelp forests, mangrove forests, ghost forests.

TOXIC ALGAE BLOOMS: A combination of agricultural pollution and warming seas is plaguing coast regions around the planet with nasty  consequences for water supplies, marine life and human health. Incidences are spreading globally.

SHARP INCREASE IN METHANE RELEASES. Atmospheric CH4 is highest in 800,000 years, generating more greenhouse gases via Permafrost Thaw Feedback Cycle #2.

Methane is leaking from gas wells in Texas and elsewhere, while new sources within the permafrost are spewing even more into the atmosphere.  Global methane concentrations increased 250 % since pre-industrial time.

US FARM CRISIS:  Record rainfall and flooding has gotten Midwestern farmers closer to recognizing the climate emergency. “We’re seeing things we’re not used to seeing.”