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SOURCE: The Huffington Post

DATE: August 4, 2015

AUTHOR: Jason E. Box, Professor in Glaciology, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland


Despite decades of progress by many clever scientists engaged with climate modeling, climate models used to inform policymakers don’t yet encode key pieces of physics that have ice melting so fast. They don’t incorporate thermal collapse — ice softening due to increasing meltwater infiltration.

Climate models also don’t yet incorporate increasing forced ocean convection at the ocean fronts of glaciers that forces a heat exchange between warming water and ice at the grounding lines.

Climate models don’t yet include ice algae growth that darkens the bare ice surface.

Climate models don’t yet prescribe background dark bare ice from outcropping dust on Greenland from the dusty last ice age.

Climate models don’t include increasing wildfire delivering more light-trapping dark particles to bright snow covered areas, yielding earlier melt onset and more intense summer melting.

As a result of some of these factors and probably some as yet unknown others, climate models have under-predicted the loss rate of snow on land by a factor of four and the loss of sea ice by a factor of two.

So, alas, when it comes to ice, how fast it can go and how fast the sea will rise, if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on it going faster than forecast.