Video: Watch Our Planet's Ice Disappear Video: Watch Our Planet's Ice Disappear
The Planet

Video: Watch Our Planet's Ice Disappear

by Ben Jervey

March 12, 2011

You'll see the slow retreat of the glaciers over thousands of years until the present day, when (at about 1:35 in the video), the Arctic ice cap disappears in a flash. Then there's a longer term retreat of the ice shelves on Greenland and Antarctica for the next thousand years.

Here's how Adrian Meyer and Karl Rege describe it:

It shows the earth starting at the last glacial maximum 21,000 years ago and ends 1,000 years in the future. End summer sea ice is shown. The yellow line shows the actual shoreline. The future projection is based on the assumption of complete cessation of carbon dioxide emissions in 2100 (IPCC A2). Because world population is rather uncertain we froze to its current value.

A few things that make this video even scarier:

First, they assume a world with zero carbon emissions by 2100, which, though entirely necessary, is the farthest possible cry from the path we're on.

More importantly, recent studies released by NASA this week show that the vast ice shelves of Greenland and Antarctica are melting faster than any previous estimations. So the end of the video could be fast forwarded a bit.

According to Eric Rignot of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

That ice sheets will dominate future sea level rise is not surprising—they hold a lot more ice mass than mountain glaciers. What is surprising is this increased contribution by the ice sheets is already happening. If present trends continue, sea level is likely to be significantly higher than levels projected by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007.

Perhaps a new version of this video is necessary, with updated melt projections and perhaps the reshaping of coastlines from sea level rise.

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
Some recent articles by Ben Jervey:
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Video: Watch Our Planet's Ice Disappear