Antarctic ice, sea-level, & rivers


The long-speculated collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet is underway, and also appears to be on an unstoppable trajectory. According to the recently-published research documenting this (Joughin et al., 2014; McMillan et al., 2014; Rignot et al., 2014) it will likely take a couple of centuries for the ice sheets to transfer their water to the sea (in the case of land ice). Among other things, this means that already rising sea levels will accelerate (see this NASA summary discussion on past meltwater pulses and their effects on sea level:



Earth surface systems are characterized by components that are adjusted, and those that aren't. By "adjusted," I mean that they have had time to respond to the most recent change or disturbance, and reach relaxation time equilibrium (Phillips, 2009), are considered to be characteristic of their environment. Non-adjusted components are inherited from past environmental conditions, or are inherently dynamically unstable, nonequilibrium phenomena that basically don't reach a stable condition. You could also add a third category--phenomena that are in the process of adjustment, but haven't have time to complete the process (this corresponds roughly to Renwick's (1992) triad of equilibrium, nonequilibrium, and disequilibrium geomorphic systems). 

The attached describes a simple method for measuring and quantifying the degree of adjustedness in environmental systems--at least the quantification is simple; determining what constitutes adjusted, adjusting, and non-adjusted could get hairy. This was the seed of what was to be a research proposal, but I doubt that I will ever have time to pursue it. Maybe you will!



Science fiction and popular science writer Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Riffing on that theme, I once gave a talk in which I proclaimed that "any sufficiently improbable event is distinguishable from the miraculous." Some definitions of "miracle" invoke the divine or supernatural, but I have in mind the definition (in this case from the Merriam-Webster dictionary) as: "an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment." The point of the argument is that, due to the inescapable, irreducible role of geographical and historical contingency in Earth surface systems, all such systems (landscapes, ecosystems, soils, etc.) are unique in some respects (a formal argument along these lines is presented in this article: Phillips, J.D.  2007.  The perfect landscape.  Geomorphology 84: 159-169.). Thus the probability of existence of any given state of any given system at a given point in time is infinitesimally low. This exceedingly low probability makes nearly any environment in some senses extremely outstanding and unusual, and thus a miracle.

Brad's Blurb

Dear Staff,

This week I would like to provide you an update of some of the new components of the UK benefit package that take effect on July 1, 2014.

Health care flexible spending accounts will feature a new $500 annual rollover.  Unlike the current FSA system that requires participants to “use or lose” all funds within a certain time frame, the new rollover allows you to carry over up to $500 in unclaimed funds from one plan year to the next. 

Other changes include: 

Five Things About Me

jay youngI was born in Danville, KY and lived there until 2003. I moved to Lexington in 2003 after graduating Centre College where I earned my BS in Biology. I then attended the College of Public Health (’06) here at UK to earn my Master’s of Public Health (MPH).  I began working at UK in 2005 for the College of Pharmacy and last year (2013) started working for the College of Arts & Sciences.  I have been married for almost 9 years to my wife Marianne and we live here in Lexington. We have a son, Thomas, who is 4 years old.  We also have a dog named Sophie, and two cats, Bell and Alley.

Brad's Blurb

Dear Staff,

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending the College of Arts and Sciences Staff Appreciation Day Luncheon on June 4, 2014, at Memorial Hall.  Several of the College’s outstanding staff will receive recognition for achievement and service.  More information on how to RSVP and the specific time of the event is forthcoming in the mid-May A&S newsletter. 

UK Appreciation Day (UKAD) is scheduled for Thursday, June 5, 2014, at the UK Student Center.  UKAD is a time to honor staff and faculty and celebrate community.  Each year there are numerous giveaways and plenty of food so I hope you can make it.  UKAD is sponsored by the Office of the President, coordinated by the Staff Senate, and brought to you by the Appreciation Day Commission.

Five Things About Me

libby weir UK has been a large part of my life, working here since 1978.  I can truly say that it is a great place to work.  I was most excited to join Arts and Sciences in the fall of 2013 and I absolutely love being part of this learning environment. 

1. What do you do in your spare time?
My spare time is mainly spent with my family doing fun things together with my mom, sister and two grandchildren.   On the internet, I like to play words with friends and love pinterest.  I like to shop for antiques or collectibles to decorate my home.


2. What is your favorite movie?
Toss up between Holiday House and Must Love Dogs.

Brad's Staff Blurb

Dear A&S Staff,

At the last College staff retreat we heard from Cheyenne Hohman on the results of the staff culture survey that many of you completed last fall.  The summary slides are posted on the A&S Culture Committee webpage for your reference at:   It is important as an organization to continue to discuss, evaluate, and seek ways to address and advance those staff culture areas that need improvement.  I would like to give you some feedback on a few of the actions that the College is pursuing toward this regard. 

Brad's Staff Blurb

Dear Friends,

I hope everyone has a good week.  I would like to begin by providing you with a few upcoming calendar events.   All staff are invited and encouraged to attend.

April 8 (Tuesday) - Kelvin O’Dell   (Brown Bag Lunch Series-Conflict Management/POT 945 @ 12:00 noon). 

 April 9 (Wednesday) - The fifth annual “UK Remembers” ceremony to honor students, staff, faculty and alumni who we have lost during the past year will take place from 12:15–12:45 p.m., in the Botanical Garden next to the UK Student Center.  In the event of rain the event will move to Center Theater inside the Student Center.  All UK students, staff and faculty as well as members of the community are welcome to attend.  UK President Eli Capilouto and representatives of the student body, faculty, staff and alumni will speak; Paws and Listen will perform; and the UK Air Force ROTC Color Guard will have a presentation of flags.

April 15 (Tuesday)  – James Thomas (Brown Bag Lunch Series-Higher Education 101/POT 945 @ 12:00 noon).


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