Global Warming Still Shrinking Antarctica

17 06 2008

So everyone knows that Bush actively worked to remove all scientists who didn’t produce reports that agreed with his policies in the first years of his administration. This not only included environmentalists and climatologists, but also anyone else who’s data might conflict with the expansion of the oil industry. But don’t take my word for it… You can find supporting references here, and here, and here. Even other countries have noticed!

The first-ever open-water passage that formed in the arctic circle last summer that opened the Northwest Passage was certainly an eye-opener for many of the global warming nay-sayers (okay, that was way too many hyphens!). Now it would seem that everyone who can read should grow to accept this bleak outlook. You’ll, of course, find those who will argue against it, sometimes vehemently. Such is the nature of the scientific method. Without conflicting opinions, hypotheses, and theories science wouldn’t be able to grow.

But the truth is the vast majority of environmental scientists now agree that climate change is real and well under way. The evidence is all around us. There are minor indicators, like dragonflies being seen farther north than ever in history and the increase in the insect population; then there are major ones like this:

This is the Wilkins Ice Shelf. The ice you see breaking away represents about 160 sq. km [about 60 sq. mi.] of the shelf. Now we’ve seen far larger chunks breaking off in the past from this ice shelf. In fact, just this past February it lost almost three times this amount over the course of 24 hours. And we’ve seen seven other shelves disintegrate completely over the past 20 years. However this break up stands out.

Back in February when it was cold and icy for us here in the northern hemisphere it was late summer for the other half. But now it’s reversed and Antarctica is settling into its winter months. That means this shouldn’t be happening. In fact, this is the first ever documented winter break up. Ever.

See that narrow strip of ice still connecting those two ice-covered islands? It’s about 4 mi. across. It is the only thing separating all that ice behind it from the open sea. The leading scientists monitoring this area believe the rest of the strip will break away in the next few days. This will expose thousands of miles of ice shelf to potential further breakup.

Here’s the big picture… Our Earth is warmed by the sun. Sunlight warms things that are darkly colored and reflects off of things that are lightly colored. The ocean is quite dark and is warmed by the sun’s rays. The warming of the ocean drives much of our climate. Ice is white and very reflective, which actually serves to prevent its melting from sunlight. Global warming raises the ocean’s temperature, which then melts the ice shelves around Antarctica, which reduces the surface area of reflecting ice, which exposes more dark ocean water to the sun’s rays, which raises the ocean’s temperature even more, and the cycle continues. See why we care?

But aren’t those pictures cool??? Terrifyingly cool.

Source: ESA

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3 responses

18 06 2008
Nick Jones

Terrifyingly cool is exactly what that is. I also just wanted to put into perspective how big that ice chunk really is. Yes, its 160sq.km., but how big is that you ask? You could easily fit half of Little Rock in that area. Just think, a thousand years from now they’ll be purposefully dropping huge chunks of ice into the ocean because its too hot. That is of course until robot party week comes to be.

WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!
GOODNIGHT!

18 06 2008
Terry Johnson

You know, I’m thinking I should make a separate page devoted entirely to Futurama. I bet if I just compiled the references in the Comments I’ve received we could make a pretty sizable collection.

18 06 2008
Nick Jones

Probably. I know I’ve been doing my part.

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