- Parts of the west Antarctic ice sheet
are getting thicker rather than thinner according to a study that casts
doubt on one of the greatest fears surrounding global warming.
- Previous studies have suggested that
the western ice sheet is unstable and could melt disastrously in a warmer
world, causing sea levels to rise by as much as five metres.
- However, an investigation by scientists
who studied the shrinkage and expansion of ice using satellite radars has
found that rather than losing about 21 billion tons of ice a year, west
Antarctica is accumulating nearly 27 billion tons.
- Ian Joughin, from Nasa's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, and Slawek Tulaczyk, of the University of California Santa
Cruz, believe their study is more accurate and extensive than previous
work and could indicate a reversal of a 10,000-year trend in glacier shrinkage
which began after the last Ice Age. "The ice sheet has been retreating
for the last few thousand years, but we think the end of this retreat has
come," said Dr Joughin. "But I hesitate to say that we can stop
worrying about it."
- This latest study covers a limited area
of land and the scientists point out that ice sheets in other regions,
such as the Pine Island Glacier and the Thwaites Glacier, are thinning.
- Most scientists agree that the west Antarctic
ice sheet is potentially unstable and even a small amount of melting caused
by global warming could release vast amounts of ice into the sea.
- But it has proved difficult to monitor
what is happening within the Antarctic ice system and a warmer world might
cause more snowfall, resulting in more ice on glaciers. Dr Duncan Whingam,
a glaciologist at University College London, said: "It's harder than
ever to predict how this area of Antarctica is going to evolve."
- Gordon Tibbles
- Hi Jeff,
- This is in reply to the article posted on your site,
Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Getting Thicker, Not Thinner.
- Earth is being torn between two opposing conditions:
deepening cold at one pole, and an increasing meltdown at the opposite
- The sun is becoming increasingly volatile, seemingly
to move away from its somewhat predictable ten year sun-spot and geomagnetic
cycle. This current cycle was declared by NASA/JPL to have peaked during
the latter part of 2001. But to all appearances, there has been no real
drop-off. Instead, there has been an apparent increase in activity during
the past couple of months. We have seen during January 2002 one of the
largest CMEs ever recorded, along with an extremely powerful earthward
- What effect will this have on Earth? As we know, other
suns are much more active across their surfaces than is our sun, certainly
a more active sun would have strong affects on our ozone layer. Depending
upon the ferocity of solar activity, life would be threatened, perhaps
causing whole cultures to cease their ways of life. Desertification would
increase exponentially with the increasing solar output. And we have no
idea the speed with which a sun may change from relatively benign to violently
reactive. As most of our observations of other stars have not shown these
changes. In fact, as our sun seems to be the exception rather than the
rule, there is no way of knowing how changes of this magnitude occur.
- The Arctic has lost about 40% of its ice cover in recent
years. If it continues to defrost at its current rate, within 50 years
not only will a way of life will have disappeared for the Inuit, but geological
changes will occur across most of North America. This will range from
weather patterns, to higher coastal water levels and resulting loss of
- But what of the increasing ice depth at Antarctica?
Certainly the strain of the increasing weight at one end of the globe,
with the decreasing weight opposite, could at the very least destabilize
Earth's orbit, perhaps causing it to wobble, causing massive pressure along
fault lines around the globe.
- References: While the rest of the world has generally
been warming up, much of Antarctica has been cooling for the last 35 years,
scientists report. http://www.usatoday.com/news/healthscience/science/cold-science/2002-01-13-anta
- NAIROBI (Reuters) -- U.N. scientists said Wednesday that
global warming is melting the Arctic's permafrost, causing it to release
greenhouse gases that could in turn raise temperatures even higher. http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/planetearth/arctic_soilmelt_010207_wg.htm
- Gordon Tibbles Editor - Anomalog.com