Wednesday, June 13, 2007

don't believe everything you hear about the polar ice caps

A great melt is on in Antarctica. Its northern peninsula -- a jut of land extending to about 1,200 kilometres from Chile -- has seen a drastic increase in temperature, a thinning of ice sheets and, most alarmingly, a collapse of ice shelves. The Larsen A ice shelf, 1,600 square kilometres in size, fell off in 1995. The Wilkins ice shelf, 1,100 square kilometres, fell off in 1998 and the Larsen B, 13,500 square kilometres, dropped off in 2002. Meanwhile, the northern Antarctic Peninsula's temperatures have soared by six degrees celsius in the last 50 years.

Antarctica represents the greatest threat to the globe from global warming, bar none. If Antarctica's ice melts, the world's oceans will rise, flooding low-lying lands where much of the world's population lives. Not only would their mass migration spawn hardships for the individual families retreating from the rising waters, the world would also be losing fertile deltas that feed tens of millions of people.

That's the big doomsday scenario, right? Global warming will cause the polar ice caps to melt, turning Taylorsville, Indiana into a coastal resort town. Life as we know it will cease to exist. Men, women, children, penguins and polar bears will all drown. The only way to stop the disaster from happening is to carpool, switch to ethanol, use light bulbs loaded with mercury, and to never, never use more than one sheet of toilet paper at any one time.

Well, that's the conventional wisdom, anyway. Would you like to see some unconventional facts?

1. Temperatures are actually falling at the South Pole, and have been for years.
2. The Antarctic ice sheet has been advancing and receding for years. Scientists have been studying the cycles of the ice sheet for decades.
3. The Antarctic ice sheet, since 1992, is actually growing at a rate of about 5mm per year, which actually lowers sea levels by about 8mm per year.

Go to the above link and read about the work of Dr. Duncan Wingham, Professor of Climate Physics at University College London and Director of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling. Dr. Wingham is Principal Scientist of the European Space Agency's CryoSat Satellite Mission, a $130-million project designed to map changes in the depth of ice using ultra-precise instrumentation.

Dr. Duncan's work refutes the mythical notions of the global warming zombies. Tell me again how science is unanimous and the debate is over?


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