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Science on Tap: Après Nous, Le Déluge? A View From the Antarctic Doomsday Glacier

The Antarctic ice sheet formed 34 million years ago when carbon dioxide concentration in Earth's atmosphere dropped below 600 ppm. During ice age cycles of the last million years, carbon dioxide concentrations ranged from as low as 170 ppm during cold glacials to 300 ppm during warm interglacials. At the end of the last glacial period (15,000 years ago), atmospheric carbon dioxide increased by ca. 100 ppm, and the Antarctic ice sheet lost enough ice to contribute ca. 70 feet (20 m) to global sea-level rise. During the last two hundred years, the burning of fossil fuels increased carbon dioxide concentration by an additional 140 ppm (to ca. 420 ppm). The Antarctic glaciological community is in the process of evaluating how much and how fast will the Antarctic ice sheet shrink in response to the anticipated climate warming driven by human emissions of carbon dioxide. Much of this research effort has focused on Thwaites Glacier, the so-called 'doomsday glacier' that is retreating and thinning rapidly and may trigger as much as 10 feet (3 m) of global sea-level rise. The UCSC glaciology research group is leading one of the extensive research projects to understand the current behavior and project the future evolution of Thwaites Glacier.Speaker: Slawek Tulaczyk, UC Santa Cruz

Wednesday, 10/27/21

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