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A glacier area the size of the entire South is melting away — and it could swallow your house

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The news on climate change is rarely good. While governments worldwide struggle to curb the combustion of fossil fuels, the climate keeps warming, and the biggest gamechangers — ice sheets and glaciers — are disappearing more rapidly than we thought.

A new study by scientists from the United States, Britain, France and Australia has found the world’s largest thinning ice sheet, the Totten Glacier in East Antarctica, is now melting from below. To put it in perspective, the Totten Glacier’s catchment area (the ice it holds in) is larger than the entire southeastern United States (at 538,000 square kilometers). If it were to melt, scientists say, the global sea level could rise eleven feet — or more than three meters worldwide.

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Let me repeat: the global sea level could rise eleven feet just because of this one glacier. (Equally terrifying is melting on the West Antarctica ice sheet, which, melted, would also raise the sea level a similar level.)

Eleven feet is a scary figure, and it could take hundreds of years. But it could also take less. The problem, the study’s authors say, is that part of the glacier is holding back a larger catchment of ice.

The floating ice shelf of the Totten glacier is a smaller size, some 90 miles by 22 miles. At the moment, it’s losing seventy gigatons of water per year, “equivalent to 100 times the volume of Sydney’s harbor every year,” according the Australian Antarctic Division.

And that’s “a conservative lower limit,” lead study author Jamin Greenbaum of University of Texas at Austin writes, as cited by The Washington Post.

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The Post drew up a handy graphic to show the size of the glacier’s catchment area. Here’s a thumbnail (a larger version is available at the Post.)

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“Since the ice shelf acts to slow glacier flow, ice shelf thinning by increased melting could lead to rapid acceleration of the Totten Glacier, similar to what was observed in the wake of the disintegration of the Larsen A and B ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula (Australian Antarctic Magazine 14: 22-23, 2008),” the Australian Antarctic division notes.

In 2014, Climate Central produced a interactive website allowing viewers to see what a sea level rise would look like, and how many people in the United States it might affect.

“More than half of the area of 40 large cities (population over 50,000) is less than 10 feet above the high tide line, from Virginia Beach and Miami (the largest affected), down to Hoboken, N.J. (smallest),” they wrote. “Twenty-seven of the cities are in Florida, where one-third of all current housing sits below the critical line — including 85 percent in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Each of these counties is more threatened than any whole state outside of Florida – and each sits on bedrock filled with holes, rendering defense by seawalls or levees almost impossible.”

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Ready to see what this kind of sea level rise could look like?

Here’s New York and New Jersey at a ten foot sea level rise, as plotted by Climate Central.

Climate Central

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The South.

Climate Central

And South Florida.

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Climate Central

And what happens if both the Totten Glacier melts along with the West Antarctic ice sheet?

Here’s a map from NASA.

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And one for Florida, specifically, from the University of Arizona.

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To chart how a sea level rise might affect your neighborhood, check out the sea level rise map website by Climate Central.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Elementary school cheer squad parents raffling off an AM-15 automatic weapon as a fundraiser

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Just weeks after a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio killed nine people, only 200 miles away in Richmond, the cheer squad is selling raffle tickets to sell a semi-automatic gun.

Fox19 reported Wednesday that the Junior Lions Cheer Team have infuriated Heather Chilton, who's 7-year-old daughter is on the squad for the first time.

"This is absurd, you're having elementary kids sell your AR-15. Why?" Chilton said. "I highly doubt that something would happen with the gun, but say it did. Say one of the kids in the high school got a hold of it — got the AR-15 or AM-15 and shot up a school with it, and I'm the one that sold the raffle ticket to his dad?"

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Gov. Jay Inslee withdraws from presidential election

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that he was officially leaving the presidential race Thursday.

He said that he got into the race with the intention of trying to raise the important issue of climate change and demand the issue be part of the conversation in the debates.

The Democratic Party has refused to have a debate that focuses exclusively on climate change, despite the numerous plans, ideas and approaches from the 20-plus candidates running for president.

He said that he isn't currently endorsing other candidates for 2020, but he hopes that his "atlas" for a climate plan will be adopted by other candidates.

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Scorching WaPo editorial tells Trump to own his bad economy and stop blaming the fed

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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

In a scathing piece from the Washington Post editorial board, the team at one of the nation's top papers told President Donald Trump to stop trying to pretend it's the Federal Reserve's fault for a slumping economy.

Trump has tried to claim that the economy isn't just fine, but outstanding and excelling expectations. Yet, in the same breath, Trump claims that that the Federal Reserve is responsible for all of the problems he says don't exist. It's enough for The Post editorial board to note the economic message is "remarkably dissonant."

Trump decided to that the Fed must lower interest rates and engage in “quantitative easing” to lower bonds. It's part of a tactic the Fed uses during tough times, which Trump says don't exist. Even during the worst financial crisis in a generation, in 2008, "quantitative easing" was controversial. Then there is the matter of a payroll tax cut, something Trump said he was looking at before saying he wasn't looking at it. But if there's no crisis, then why is it necessary.

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