Hugh Bollinger
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An ice chunk that dwarfs the Big Apple

Dear deniers of climate change: Anybody know what a gigaton is? Especially when used in this sentence, about the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and colleagues found that the two sheets lost a combined average of 36.3 gigatonnes more than they did the previous year.
Giga- means billion. So the ice sheets lost 36 billion tons MORE ice than they did the previous years.  That seems like a lot. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="432" caption="Helicopter takes off from the Greenland ice sheet"][/caption]     It's hard to wrestle with large numbers. So I did some math to help myself visualize this. Picture the Empire State Building, hulking over the New York City skyline. Well, melting INCREASED this year, but not by the mass of the Empire State Building. It increased by the mass of 100,000 Empire State Buildings. That's still hard to picture. One hundred thousand Empire State Buildings. So let's do some more math. Keep the Empire State Building in mind. Let's say New York City, all of it, all five boroughs, were leveled. And replicas of the Empire State Building were built on every square acre of the city, including roads, bridges and parks. Think of that mass. One hundred and two stories tall over the entire city. Think of how big and thick that would be. That's roughly 36 gigatons. That's the size of the chunk of ice that we're talking about. And, remember, that's not how much melting is happening. That's how much melting has increased. The numbers are hard to fathom. This researcher thinks the water melting from just Canada's ice sheets could fill Lake Erie. Eventually, it's going to get harder and harder to come up with visualizations. And we'll just have to give a report on the news: the seas rose an inch this year. The seas are expected to rise two inches next year. And the climate deniers still don't think it will make any difference. - RC (My math: the Empire State Building weighs 365,000 tons, with is 1/100,000 of 36.3 gigatons. The footprint of the Empire State Building is about two acres. New York City's total area is about 200,000 acres. Therefore, you could fit about 100,000 Empire State Buildings into New York City. Or, the equivalent of how much MORE the ice is melting.)
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