The Byrd Polar and Climate Research Institute at The Ohio State University recently hosted a webinar by Dr Richard Alley entitled Falling Dominoes? Ice, Climate, Sea Level, and Our Future. The Byrd Institute has kindly made a recording of this webinar available to the public. Dr Alley is the author of two books: Earth: The Operator’s Manual and The Two-Mile Time Machine and an authority on, among other things, the Arctic and Greenland ice sheets and the effect of global warming. In his lecture, Dr Alley makes his deep knowledge accessible to all of us. By the way, we here in Ohio claim Dr Alley as a true Buckeye, as he received his BS and MS degrees at OSU. After earning his PhD at the University of Wisconsin, he joined the faculty at Pennsylvania State University, where he is now Professor of Geosciences.
Sea level is rising because of human-caused warming, impacting coastal communities. Shrinkage of the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland is contributing, and could accelerate in the future. History and physics show that warming melts ice, and that too much warming triggers rapid iceberg calving. Visitors to Glacier Bay in Alaska now sail more than 60 miles into a fjord that held ice up to a mile thick when George Vancouver visited in 1794, and many other fjords have rapidly “unzipped” into their mountains or ice sheet. If a similar retreat is triggered in any of the major Antarctic basins holding far more ice, more than 10 feet of additional sea-level rise could occur in the following century or less. Exciting scientific advances will be needed to reduce the remaining large uncertainties.
Again, our deepest thanks to the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Institute for sharing this webinar with us.