Panic time: a tiny 0.01% of Antarctica, resting on volcanoes, melts five times faster than nothing

Let this go down as a prime example of Big Meaningless Numbers used to scare you:

Antarctica’s ice melts five times faster than usual Ben Webster – The Times  (copied at The Australian)

Antarctica has lost an area of ice the size of Greater London since 2010 as warmer ocean water erodes its floating edge, a study has found. Overall about 1,463 sq km of Antarctica’s underwater ice melted between 2010 and 2016.

What does 1,463 fewer square kilometers of ice mean?

The findings suggest that melting glaciers on the continent could add significantly to long-term sea level rises, with severe implications for thousands of coastal towns and cities.

Your house might wash away. Or not. How close to zero can a number be and still be “a number”?

The total area of Antarctic sea ice averages about 11 million square kilometers. So that’s one part in 7,500 that melted or 0.013%. But volume is what matters and the percentage of volume that melted is even smaller. Let’s assume ice volume was lost to a depth of one kilometer (the depth of the “grounding line” where the ice-sheet meets the earth). The giant Antarctic Ice Sheet […]

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April 5, 2018 at 12:34AM

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