Archive for Saturday, February 18, 2006

KU scientist sounds alarm on melting glaciers

February 18, 2006


Prof. Dr. Pannirselvam Kanagaratnam Ph.D., a Kansas University research assistant professor with KU's Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, who is featured in today's issue of Science Magazine, explained that the Greenland ice sheet is melting at a much faster rate than what researchers had initially estimated.

Prof. Dr. Pannirselvam Kanagaratnam Ph.D., a Kansas University research assistant professor with KU's Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, who is featured in today's issue of Science Magazine, explained that the Greenland ice sheet is melting at a much faster rate than what researchers had initially estimated.

New findings by researchers at Kansas University and NASA should keep people up at night worried about the state of the planet, Vicki Arroyo said.

"This doesn't bode well for the future looking anything like what is recognizable to us now," said Arroyo, director of policy analysis with the independent nonprofit Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Arlington, Va.

The Greenland ice sheets are dropping ice into the ocean at more than double the rate of a decade ago, according to the research of Pannir Kanagaratnam, of KU's Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, and Eric Rignot, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Their findings are covered in the current issue of the journal Science.

"This is very interesting, very important work," said Richard Alley, a professor in the geosciences department at Pennsylvania State University.

Researchers have long studied what is going on with the glaciers of Greenland, a mass that can be envisioned as a big ice cube.

"If you melt Greenland, it would raise sea level 23 feet," Alley said. "If humans are going to make wise decisions, we need to know whether it's going to happen or not."

To paint a picture of how much of Greenland's glacial ice has dripped into the ocean, Kanagaratnam said the volume of the dumping in 1996 was roughly equal to 90 times the water consumed by the city of Los Angeles. In 2005, the dissipation was equal to 225 times the water consumed by Los Angeles.

The dissipation of the glacier ice into the ocean contributes to the rise in sea levels. In 1996, the increase in sea level from Greenland's ice sheets was about 0.2 millimeters.

"It could be more than that now," Kanagaratnam said.

Rignot and Kanagaratnam used radar and satellites to conduct the research. Kanagaratnam said he wasn't yet sure whether the dramatic dissipation of the glaciers into the ocean is a short- or long-term occurrence.

"If it continues at the rate that it is now, it is definitely a cause for alarm," he said.

Kanagaratnam said scientists didn't know where the point of no return would be.

There is a strong correlation between carbon dioxide emissions, rising temperatures and glacier melting, he said.

"We should do what we can to reduce emissions," Kanagaratnam said.

For Arroyo, the research findings should spur action.

The Pew Center has called for a program to cap emissions and curb the release of greenhouse gases, increase efficiency in buildings and electricity generation and increase participation by the United States in international negotiations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Arroyo said stalling the issue would only allow it to grow and make it more difficult to tackle in the future.

"The sooner we start, the better we can craft policy to enable people to make changes over time," she said.


blessed3x 11 years, 9 months ago

Childish. Stop wasting bandwidth and everyone's time. Rise above it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

"Greenland ice cap breaking up at twice the rate it was five years ago, says scientist Bush tried to gag"

mcoan 11 years, 9 months ago

Repeat after me, "Global Warming has not been proved."

How much more evidence will be required to convince our current administration? How selfish to think that we can trash the planet and leave nothing for our grandchildren but a hot, barren, flooded landscape.

Oh, that's right...the Rapture is right around the corner, so you don't have to protect anything for the future. What was I thinking?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

OK, PorkRibs, if you're so concerned about the "science" of global warming, why do the overwhelming majority of scientists who study this phenomenon believe that it is real and that it is due at least in part to human action producing greenhouse gases? And why do almost all of the handful of "skeptical scientists" get their funding from the fossil fuel industries?

It's not funny at all when a few powerful corporations want to destroy the inhabitibility of the planet just to keep us addicted to their monopoly on an increasingly dangerous energy source.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

Kyoto was never meant to be anything but a starting point that might buy us enough time to make meaningful reductions in the production of greenhouse gases. BushCo would prefer instead to rearrange their very priveleged deck chairs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

You don't care about no stinking proof, Porky-- you've got ideology.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

Given that 99% of scientists with expertise in this area believe that global warming is a reality, finding the proof you say you want isn't really that hard. But you know what they say about horses and water, which apparently pertains to pigs and science, as well.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

Hey, Porky, guess who produces science?

I know that's a hard one, so here's a hint-- Scientists do!

So if 99% of them think global warming is real, guess what the science says?

Sorry, no more hints, and you might have to loosen that grip on your ideology if you really want the answer.

Jamesaust 11 years, 9 months ago

I note, not without some degree of humor, the Bush Administration's attempt to censor NASA's Dr. James Hansen on the subject of global warming via a 24 year old political appointee (I'd say Bush crony but I don't think you can be a crony at any less than a quarter century old). To his credit, the youngster was a Journalism major, which no doubt qualifies him to second-guess the scientific judgment of the nation's leading climate researcher. (No comment on the controversy whether the 24 y/o actually has his degree or not.)

In contrast, satirizing faux Islamic terrorists is per the Bush Administration "unacceptable."

Apparently the only press censorship Bush/Cheney believes in is total silence, and the only press relationship is one of propaganda (tax-payer funded propaganda, of course).

Bronco7fan 11 years, 9 months ago

i would love to see Pork and Bozo face to face at some coffee shop. would make for an interesting afternoon.

glockenspiel 11 years, 9 months ago

Problem with all these studies is that the recordings needed to conduct the study have all been taken in the last 100 years. We know that in the past the world has gone through warming and cooling. A sampling over a 100 year period is not an accurate sampling to PROVE anything.

There is a finite supply of fossil fuels on this planet and the problem will eventually fix itself. In the mean time we should exercise "practical" conservation and continue to monitor. There is no evidence that we are in immediate threat of an environmental catastrophe.

As for all of you that think that the scientists that are skeptical of global warming are all funded by the oil industry: don't forget that almost all of these scientists that study global warming don't have a job anymore if global warming doesn't exist.

moron 11 years, 9 months ago

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yourworstnightmare 11 years, 9 months ago

The science denial is in full force today.

I recommend reading "The Republican War on Science". It gives a very nice description of the political techniques used by corporations and the right to discredit and deny science.

The "data quality act" is one example. This takes advantage of the the fact that science can never prove something absolutely and sets an unreasonably high bar for "scientific proof" for federal action.

"Junk science" is a term beloved by the science deniers.

Folks, the facts are thusly: 1) More CO2 is accumulating in the atmosphere now than at most other times in Earth's history.

2) It is a fact that much of the current CO2 accumulation is due to human activity.

3) It is a proven fact that CO2 is a "greenhouse" gas and that the green house effect is real.

4) It is a fact that the planet's temperature is rising.

5) It is a fact that the polar ice caps are melting.

Only a true science denier could fail to connect the dots. It is true that climate flucuations have occured throughout the 4.5 billion years of Earth's history, but only the ignorant fail to see the current connections.

The weight of evidence indicates human-caused global warming is real. A standard of proof higher than this is impossible with climate science.

Those who immediately deny these connections and probabilities deny science and the scientific process.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 9 months ago


Thanks for your reasoned response. "This is another lie" is always a good retort to scientific facts.

For documented, peer-reviewed research, read any climatology journal or Nature and Science magazine. Sorry I can't give you the factoid reference. You might need to do some reading yourself on the matter (horror of horrors). The evidence is overwhelming.

P.S. You are an incredible idiot.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 9 months ago

"I can't believe you could actually come out and state that this is a fact. This is not a fact!!!! How can you claim that it is? The better question is WHY would you? How do you prove this 'fact'?"

This is a fact. The reason I say it is a fact is that thousands of scientists taking core samples, rock and sedimentary samples, and ocean samples have determined CO2 levels throughout the 4.5 billion years of Earth's history.

My God you are an idiot, Porky.

glockenspiel 11 years, 9 months ago

P.S. You are an incredible idiot. My God you are an idiot, Porky.

The most common response of liberals when backed into a corner.

FastEddie 11 years, 9 months ago

The fact is that the earth is a very chaotic system that is full of feedback mechanisms that make it extremely difficult to precict exactly what will happen in the future. Nobody knows what will happen in the future.

Scientists make predictions based on observations. These observations go beyond simple correlations. They have found that %CO2 has been increasing since the industrial revolution (just as porky stated) and the %increase over the last 100 years follows the % increase in industry. Scientists call strong correlations like this evidence. Also, the average temperature of the earth has increased by about 1/2 degree Celsius over the last century (just as porky stated). This may not sound like much, but in geologic history it is actually pretty fast. This is why scientists are alarmed.

Scientists may not know exactly what will happen in the future, but they utilize some of the worlds most powerful computers to run programs that attempt to simulate climatic changes. Because of the chaotic nature of the earth, these programs may not be exactly right. However, the best in the business with no other agenda than the health of the earth and its people, predict that the earth will continue warming in the next century. In fact, the computer programs predict that the temperature will continue to increase anywhere from 1-3 degrees Celsius within the next century (much faster than the last century).

People are naturaly afraid of change because it could be for the worse. Right now Americans have it pretty good--we are sitting in the bread basket of the world. I really don't know how it could get any better for us. It appears that we only have one way to go from here which creates a lot of fear (which the media loves to play on). Nobody knows for sure what will happen to this bread basket with an increase in temperature or if we can really control it.

However, the scientific community does believe that temperatures will continue to rise. Because of this, I would recommend buying farmland in central Florida so that your great grandchildren can enjoy a beach get-away. On the other hand, it seems that many in this great land of ours care more about the right now than about the future fate of others. As my Texas brother-in-law (with an M.S. in sociology)says,"You know, when it comes right down to it, I just care about me and my own."

Liberty 11 years, 9 months ago

Captain! She can't take much more of this! Earth weakening! Oh, what ever should we do? Captain: Put the earth in a totalitarian grip under the United Nations global government. Say that CO2 is the reason and we need to control all people that breathe and all animals. Then we can put everyone in fear to give up all their rights to global government control...

By the way, termites are by far, the number one producers of CO2 in the world. (Not the automobile)

For the real reason that global warming is all of a sudden an issue and heating up now, go to the web site:

beatrice 11 years, 9 months ago

Whoever is right on this subject, I sure hope the scientists who are warning us of global warming don't get the chance to say, "See, I told you so."

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 9 months ago

Be honest with at least yourself, porky.

You can choose not to believe what scientists say and you are free to reject science. I have no problem with this.

Just don't try to call climate science "junk" science, especially when you obviously know so little about it and are unwilling to learn.

Your ignorance and stupidity are apalling. My God you are stupid. How do you dress yourself in the morning?

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 9 months ago

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yourworstnightmare 11 years, 9 months ago

The tactics being used now to discredit climate science are the same that tobacco companies used 15 years ago to discredit science linking smoking and second-hand smoke to disease. There is no proof. Show me the proof. You can't prove it. You lie. etc.

The tobacco industry loved the term "junk science" and used denial, distortion and lies to cover the facts that linked smoking to disease.

The weight of evidence eventually became too large to be covered by their manure, and now we see commercials by tobacco ccompanies in which they counsel that smoking causes disease. Junk science indeed.

Maybe it will take a leaked memo or a lawsuit to expose the politics behind science denial, but eventually the overwhelming evidence behind human-induced global climate change will be too great to be covered with lies, distortions, and denial, just as happened with tobacco.

P.S. porker, your ignorance and idiocy are beginning to make my head hurt.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 9 months ago

So porker, you now dispute that the age of the Earth is 4.5 billion years? You don't understand how past CO2 levels can be gauged through core samples? It is obvious that you do not understand science and that you don't know what you are talking about. Your denial of these two points demonstrates your ignorance about science.

Please porky, you can have your opinions, but don't try to argue as if you understood science. You don't.

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