Op-Ed: Siberian melt double global warming rate, worse to come

Posted Aug 4, 2019 by Paul Wallis
After all these years of drivel, millions of square miles of Siberia are turning into a bog. Warming is at twice the 2C “meltdown” rate at an average of 4C. Winter snow is adding water to the region with spring melts.
Persistent heat records have rattled the fragile Arctic for each of the past five years  a record-l...
Persistent heat records have rattled the fragile Arctic for each of the past five years, a record-long warming streak
The New York Times has a new in depth report on the Siberian meltdown that makes for pretty grim reading. The Siberians are watching their houses and towns fall apart. Starving polar bears have been seen around the towns scavenging. That sorry collection of tales, however, is just the beginning of the issues.
Melt and mathematics
The Siberian melt has another, deadly, significance. This is on-land melt, not sea ice melt. The dynamics are much more complex and harder to calculate. Melt causes more melt. As the melt expands, the amount of collateral melt increases exponentially. If so, the estimate of sea levels may be well short of the fact.
An area the size of Siberia may contain trillions of litres of water, which, of course, will run off sooner or later into the sea. That means the overall melt could have been severely underestimated. The water in the permafrost has been frozen for millions of years. It’d be roughly the equivalent of a small ocean like the Black Sea, Baltic, or perhaps as big as the Mediterranean. It’d be extremely hard to estimate. Not all water will be released immediately, of course, so the ongoing effect could add to sea level rises on a routine basis.
Add to this the other effect of land melt runoff – Increased sedimentation entering the sea. That adds size to the physical bodies of water containing these sediments. Sediments settling to the bottom, of course, add some “lift” to sea floors. Again, it’s very hard to calculate.
The news to come
Global warming has been a huge learning curve for science. The dynamics were known in theory, and the theories turned out to be well short of the sheer scale of change.
Search “global warming” on Google News, and you’ll see a stream of information. The most damning thing you’ll see is the citation of “man-made” global warming, which simply shows as usual that some moron somewhere is still in denial. Put it this way – If millions of square miles of Siberia can turn into a soup before your eyes, and you still think there’s no problem, you’re an idiot.
(Search “sea level rises” and you’ll see a pretty similar range of issues.)
Yet, that’s still the level of debate on a crisis nobody’s really doing anything much about. Alaska, the other land of much permafrost, has been deteriorating for quite a while, in full view, without any comment at all by United States authorities. The Russian Federation, similarly, isn’t doing much about Siberia. In both cases, governments can say the problem they still won’t admit exists is too big a problem to manage.
The news to come will be much less endearing. The interminable lies will be replaced with real time headlines like:
Manhattan flood barriers won’t stop flooding, say experts
Miami evacuated as low-lying areas flood in king tides
New Orleans, city under the sea
Jakarta’s last visible buildings sink
Major rice growing areas under threat as sea moves in
Shanghai water table rises, threatening mega city
“Sydney fjord” gets bigger, hitting infrastructure
Tokyo harbour hit by sea level rise
Antwerp underwater
North Korea Inchon harbour seasonal super-tides destroy coast
Bangladesh losing massive amounts of land as sea comes to stay
…And so on. Trillions of dollars of losses and human grief, in progress. This is an emerging extremely dangerous situation, and the response is to keep pushing all the wrong buttons.
Think of it this way, if you will:
The little kids of today will have to try to manage this mess in a world which will be nothing like the world any adult of today has ever known.
Nice going, fools.