4 February 2020   1 comment

Scientists have bored a hole 2000 feet deep into the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica. The effort was an attempt to measure the water temperature at the grounding level which holds the glacier in place. The scientists found that the water temperature at that point was above freezing, indicating that the glacier may not be fully grounded in bedrock. If that temperature is distributed along the entire bedrock, then it is possible that the glacier may slip into the warmer ocean water, accelerating the melting process caused by solar radiation at the surface level. CBS News notes the significance of that possibility:

“The collapse of the 74,000-square-mile Thwaites — which some scientists see as the most vulnerable and significant glacier in the world when it comes to sea-level-rise — could release a mass of water roughly the size of Florida or Great Britain. Its melting would raise global sea levels by more than three feet, enough to potentially overwhelm vulnerable populations, the researchers said….

“According to the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, the amount of ice flowing out of the Thwaites and nearby glaciers has nearly doubled over the last 30 years. Melting ice from the Thwaites into the Amundsen Sea already accounts for approximately 4% of current global sea-level rise — a number that would significantly increase when the glacier crumbles.”

There is a sustained effort to find out what is affecting the Thwaites Glacier given its significance for possible sea levels in the future. We are grateful that these efforts are being supported and sustained despite the the lack of official actions on climate change.

Turkey and Syria have exchanged fire along their border near the town of Idlib. The tension between the two states has been building ever since the US made the decision to remove its troops and to abandon its Kurdish allies in the northeast section of Syria. The fighting puts Russia, Syria’s main supporter, in a difficult position.

“Russian warplanes have been supporting a recent Syrian military offensive in the border region, where opposition forces cling to a few final handholds after years of bloody civil war. Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has backed Assad’s push to quash those remaining forces in Idlib — much to the consternation of Turkey, which has troops stationed there as part of a 2018 de-escalation agreement with Russia meant to prevent accidental confrontations.

“‘Our brave soldiers are conducting security and humanitarian missions inside Syria in line with our agreements with Russia,’ Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s communications director, tweeted in a thread posted Monday. ‘If Russia is unable to control the Assad regime from targeting us, we will not hesitate to take actions against any threat, just as we did today in Idlib.'”

The fighting has broken out despite a truce brokered by Russia and Turkey last month. The fighting has created a large displacement of civilians fleeing the violence, but the contest between Syria and Turkey is over control over the northwest part of Syria. The Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, explains the tension between Russia and Turkey:

“At any rate, developments in Syria are evolving in a way that further increases the economic, military and political pressure on Turkey. It is confronted with new waves of refugees and risks becoming a safe haven for fleeing anti-regime forces which might harbor fundamentalist terrorists among them. But more importantly, Turkish soldiers are surrounded by hostile forces, as two of its dozen of observation posts in Syria are already in regions captured by regime soldiers during the offensive they started in the summer.

“Ever since August, regime forces have increased their territorial gains around Idlib and these gains have no doubt taken place with the coordination and full-fledged military assistance of Russia.

“The blame of the loss of life of Turkish soldiers therefore cannot be put solely on regime forces. Moscow is also to blame.

“If Turkish soldiers are killed as a result of a policy that is being pursued by one of Turkey’s partners, that partner cannot be defined as a strategic one.”

The fighting also raises serious questions for the US, although very few media outlets in the US are paying attention. Turkey is a member of NATO and members are obliged to come to the defense of each other. If Turkey makes a territorial claim to the northwest part of Syria, then the US must defend that claim against attack. I seriously doubt that the US would take such actions in the current climate, but the obligations of the NATO Treaty would be sorely tested.

Posted February 4, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

One response to “4 February 2020

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  1. Glad we sold the farm!

    Sent from my iPhone



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