Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sailing through a Meltwater Pulse

It's January, and the Greenland ice sheet is melting. There was recently a winter hurricane in the North Atlantic, and another in the Pacific. On New Year's day there was a thaw at the North Pole. Greenand is melting; when it melts, the ocean level will go up 20 feet (6m). This will be enough to flood all the coastal cities—permanently. So far, predictions as to how fast this melting will occur have proven to be worthless, with the actual melting rate outpacing them by a huge margin. And although many people still believe that the effect will be gradual—less than an inch a year—another view on the matter is that at some point there will be an avalanche-like collapse of the Greenalnd ice sheet, which will generate a meltwater pulse, sending ocean levels up many feet in a single step.

And there are all those who, whenever I publish something that mentions climate change, crawl out of the woodwork and gnash their exoskeletal mandibles at me, to the effect that climate=weather, and it's all a conspiracy theory. They are idiots and deserve a boathook in the eye. Sailing on... [UPdate: if you think that calling idiots idiots and saying that they deserve a boathook in the eye would dissuade them from posting comments for me to delete, you'd be wrong. That's not how idiots' minds (don't) work. Mention catastrophic climate change, and idiots come running.]

For the sake of this discussion, I will assume a meltwater pulse of 10 feet (3m). What will it mean for those of us who live on the water and sail along the coastline? And, more specifically, what will be the impacts for the sailboat design I have been working on for about a year now—QUIDNON, the houseboat that sails?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It probably means that if it happens, I will be able to sail right up to my house, which will be cool. The immediate problem, though, is where will I work? That's going to be underwater.

Maybe this would be a good year to retire.