Eric Rignot on West Antarctica Warming

December 24, 2012

Above, more of my interview with JPL’s Eric Rignot at AGU. Dr. Rignot, one of the most respected experts on Antarctic ice metrics, discusses ice balance and the impact of IMBIE – the recently published  Ice Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise which brought together divergent data sets on ice sheet dynamics.

Timely due to  this weekend’s announcement of recent observations of temperature increase over the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.


OSLO, Dec 23 (Reuters) – West Antarctica is warming almost twice as fast as previously believed, adding to worries of a thaw that would add to sea level rise from San Francisco to Shanghai, a study showed on Sunday.

Annual average temperatures at the Byrd research station in West Antarctica had risen 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3F) since the 1950s, one of the fastest gains on the planet and three times the global average in a changing climate, it said.

The unexpectedly big increase adds to fears the ice sheet is vulnerable to thawing. West Antarctica holds enough ice to raise world sea levels by at least 3.3 metres (11 feet) if it ever all melted, a process that would take centuries.

“The western part of the ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought,” Ohio State University said in a statement of the study led by its geography professor David Bromwich.

The warming “raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise,” it said. Higher summer temperatures raised risks of a surface melt of ice and snow even though most of Antarctica is in a year-round deep freeze.

18 Responses to “Eric Rignot on West Antarctica Warming”

  1. rayduray Says:

    There’s a 2008 film about the scientific exploration of Antarctica by Werner Herzog, “Encounters at the End of the World”. I found it both a marvelously quirky entertainment as well as being profoundly moving. YMMV.

  2. […] di Eric Steig, autore di uno dei “previous reports” confermati, e di Eric Rignot, […]

  3. Wow. It’s Christmas eve and you’re working at these posts. I gotta hand it to you Peter; and say thanks for what you’re doing at Climate Crock. I lift a Guiness in your honor and wish you a happy Yuletide. Now, relax!

  4. MorinMoss Says:

    Merry Christmas, greenman!!

    I’d like to point you to a video that Tamino just posted of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse D-RI (imagine if he become president!! 🙂 ) delivering a blunt tongue-lashing to Congress and freely using that one little word that makes TonyBoy Watts’ hearing-aid asplode!!

    Apart from Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Alan Grayson, I didn’t think the Dems still had people of such spine.

    It’s sure to make McConnell crawl back in his shell or Boehner cry in his eggnog; if you skip ahead to about 7:35, it’s clear the Senator has spent some time over at SkepticalScience as he uses their “up the down escalator” images.

    • prokaryotes Says:

      John Kerry: “We no longer have the luxury of engaging in a debate that does not lead to action. We must put an end—an immediate end—to any discussion other than the one that will lead us forward. We simply have no choice but to face the facts, regardless of how unsettling they are. This is not just an ‘environmental’ issue; it is a moral issue and a matter of life and death.”

      • MorinMoss Says:

        I cheerfully stand corrected. I know that the post of Sec. of State is prestigious but I’d rather see Kerry in the Senate, perhaps replacing Reid.

  5. prokaryotes Says:

    At min 5:25 he mentions that Antarctica is not warming as fast the rest of the planet, yet the new study concludes.


    So it seems he was not aware of the new study at AGU and we should ask him again? Although it would be interesting to ask him about the relation of snow fall patterns and the connection of more moist air, due to water vapor increase.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      interview was before publication of that piece, but probably fair to say in this context that he was speaking more of Antarctica as a whole, including East, which is by far larger, much less well studied, and clearly will take longer to catch up.
      More rapid warming in West Antarctica, especially the peninsula, has been shown in previous papers, I believe.

  6. rayduray Says:

    Merry Christmas Peter and All,

    Here’s a wee bit of fun remembering what it was like when we were all children and the world was magic….

    And also a reminder that we live in place that’s even magical for us adults:

  7. […] 2012/12/24: PSinclair: Eric Rignot on West Antarctica Warming […]

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