German “Bild” Tabloid: Pine Island Ice Berg “Difficult To Estimate Risk For Global Sea Level Rise”

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Source: NASA

One big headline that Germany’s online tabloid Bild carries today is about the breaking off the Antarctic Pine Island ice chunk, which is the size of Berlin…880 sq km!

Bild calls it a “Monster Ice Berg!” and of course we are to believe that it is yet the latest sign of the coming climate apocalypse that we will all suffer unless we all run and hide under our beds and beg for mercy. According to Bild, the giant ice berg is about 60m high.

Simple mathematics tells us the volume is about 53 cubic km.

Bild mentions, quoting scientists, that such glacier calving of this magnitude is normal, and occur about every 10 years or so. But normalcy is not the message that Bild wants the reader to get, and so warns that the “monster iceberg” could pose a threat to shipping, and to animal life! Bild also says that scientists are deeply worried and writes:

The Pine Island glacier is huge and unstable, and thus it is difficult to judge the risk for global sea level rise.”

Such stupidity – of course aimed at quite uninformed, clueless readers, to say it diplomatically. How much global sea level rise should we expect? From various sources we can read that a large part is already underwater. But let’s assume that none of it is under water just for the calculation.

Sea level rise estimation:
Area of oceans: 362 million sq km
Volume of Pine Island chunk: 53 cu km
Sea level rise: 53 km3 divided by 362,000,000 km2 = 0.000000145 km = 0.000145 m = 0.145 mm = 145 microns

Given that much of it is already submerged in sea water, we can safely assume that sea level rise will be less then a tenth of a millimeter.

Quick – head for the hills!

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14 responses to “German “Bild” Tabloid: Pine Island Ice Berg “Difficult To Estimate Risk For Global Sea Level Rise””

  1. Ulrich Elkmann

    A threat to shipping? What shipping? Captain Nemo’s Nautilus becoming trapped under the ice?
    http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Fichier:Vingtmillelieue00vern_orig_0380_1.jpg
    Nantucket whalers heading for the South Shetland Islands in the Antarctic summer? Cruise ships with clueless tourists who shell out 1000s of dollars for the “last chance to see penguins” between lectures on AGW? Ice breakers supplying McMurdo Sound station (& thus the whole human infrstructure on the continent)? (Hint: this service is on hold since the Oden will be needed in the Baltic Sea in winter http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6045/927.short)

  2. DirkH

    Bild only mentions the “rising” sea levels in the last sentence.
    “Und damit ein schwer einschätzbares Risiko beim weltweiten Ansteigen der Meeresspiegel.”

    “And so it is a difficult to estimate risk [in conjunction with] the world-wide rise of the sea levels.”

    They don’t mention that Envisat has measured a steep drop of sea levels.

  3. rc

    It seems you’ve divided the volume by the area? Using the volume the rise is smaller still.

    One quick reference from wikipedia:
    “The area of the World Ocean is 361 million square kilometres (139 million square miles). Its volume is approximately 1.3 billion cubic kilometres (310 million cu mi).”

  4. mankoff

    * Your volume estimation is wrong. 60 m high is the part above water. About 9x that is underwater.

    * Since the iceberg is already in the water, melting has almost zero effect on sea level. There are some minor issues with density between the salty water and the fresh snow, so it isn’t quite a zero sum the way a pure ice-cube is in pure water.

    * My German is rusty, but trusting your quote, the quote refers to the Pine Island Glacier (PIG), NOT the recent new iceberg. In this case, the quote is correct. PIG is huge. It is unstable. We do not know how much more ice PIG will push into the water in the future. Currently it contributes more to sea level rise than any other glacier in Antarctica. It may maintain the current flux of ice into the sea, it may slow down, or it may continue the existing trend to accelerate and each year dump more ice into the sea than the previous year.

    Also, @Ulrich, the Oden is not opening McMurdo but a Russian ice breaker has been contracted so McMurdo will get ships this year.

    @Dirk, I didn’t know about envisat and sea level. Interesting. Thanks for the info.

    1. DirkH

      Looks like even Jason-2 has measured it. Looks a little more adjusted, though.
      See
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/ocean/

    2. Ulrich Elkmann

      Thanks – I had managed to completely forget about the Vladimir Ignatyuk.
      http://autonomousmind.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/reality-of-sea-ice-is-starting-to-bite/

  5. DirkH

    This is totally unrelated but just too sweet:
    “In 2006, Cuba was the only nation in the world which met the WWF’s definition of sustainable development; having an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita and a Human Development Index of over 0.8 for 2007.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba
    Remember that it is the WWF that has infiltrated the IPCC on a large scale…
    If one can talk of infiltration; UN, IPCC and WWF are too intertwined to really be considered separately…

  6. John F. Hultquist

    When you get the numbers and the units correct in this hypothetical example – return to the text:

    “. . . a large part is already underwater. But let’s assume that none of it is under water just for the calculation.”

    You imply that part of floating ice – namely that part not underwater will contribute to sea level rise while underwater ice will not. The process is more complex than this. Here is a report on the issue:

    http://news.discovery.com/earth/floating-ice-contributes-to-rising-sea-levels.html

    When the ice and the water have the same composition, as with an in-home demonstration using only your tap water, floating ice has no effect when it melts. But glacial ice is not made of salt water – in which it floats. The difference is theoretically interesting but as your calculations show there is no need to worry.

    Only if a major part of all land ice were to melt would there be a problem. This isn’t going to happen within the span of generations to numerous to consider or count, if ever. It is interesting to see how easily tabloid authors and fellow travelers buy into the apocalypse-soon story.

    1. Mankoff

      For the mathematical details of changes in sea level due to floating ice see:

      @article{Jenkins:2007Melting,
      Author = {Adrian Jenkins and David M. Holland},
      Journal = {Geophysical Research Letters},
      Number = {16},
      Pages = {16609},
      Title = {{Melting of floating ice and sea level rise}},
      Volume = {34},
      Year = {2007}}

  7. Edward.

    Sea level rise?

    Give me strength!

  8. Ulrich Elkmann

    RE: Jenkins and Holland (2007):
    http://efdl.cims.nyu.edu/publications/refereed/grl_melt_floating_ice_07.pdf
    From the paper:
    “In this paper we discuss and quantify one contribution to sea level change that is traditionally ignored. Its magnitude is indeed small and the critical reader might dismiss it as a curiosity. However, it would be impossible to close the ocean volume budget at the level of the current errors in observed sea level rise without consideration of this contribution. While uncertainties in other contributions remain as high as they currently are such an accurate closure of the budget is unachievable.” [*]
    […]
    “As every schoolchild learns at an early stage of their science curriculum, a floating body displaces its own weight in water. This deceptively simple yet immensely powerful principle was first articulated by the Greek mathematician and philosopher Archimedes (287–212 BC), who, according to popular legend, leaped from his bath and ran naked through the streets of Syracuse shouting ‘‘Eureka!’’ (‘‘I have found it!’’) upon its realisation.” [**]
    […]
    “[4] In fact melting causes a change in the ocean density, and hence its volume, while leaving the total mass unaltered (Figure 1). Consider a mass of floating ice simply converted to freshwater without any mixing with the surrounding ocean. The freshwater displaces the same mass of seawater as the ice did, but since its density is lower than that of the ocean it still has a freeboard, which will now be seen by an observer as a rise in the mean sea level. Subsequent mixing of the seawater and freshwater will have only a small impact, which we will ignore for the moment, on their total volume, since the density of seawater is a nearly linear function of its salinity, and that function is approximately
    independent of temperature. Following complete mixing there will be a net freshening of the ocean and thus a steric sea level rise is associated with the conversion of floating ice to meltwater.” [***]

    I take this to mean:
    * We cannot even begin to guess the width of the error bars.
    ** “As every schoolchild learns” = must be wrong.
    *** From here on it sounds like utter tosh.

  9. DirkH

    Natural gas pipeline Nord Stream across the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany goes online on Tuesday.
    http://www.welt.de/print/wams/wirtschaft/article13700778/Ostsee-Pipeline-Anschluss-am-Bodden.html

  10. Ian Mott

    In any event, the volume of ice reduces by 10% on melting. So 0.145mm becomes 0.130mm but only if all of the ice was above sea level. And if calving takes place every decade then the impact is less than 0.013mm per annum.

    However, as annual snow fall is circa 200mm then decadal snow accumulation is 2 metres (3.33% of 60m), further reducing annual impact to 0.0125mm of SL rise.

    In any event, analysis of individual glacial calving is fatuous. Antarctica must discharge over 1000km3 each year simply to remain in equilibrium with annual snow fall.

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