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Archive for Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Large chunk of Antarctic ice shelf collapses

March 26, 2008

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A chunk of Antarctic ice about seven times the size of Manhattan suddenly collapsed, putting an even greater portion of glacial ice at risk, scientists said Tuesday.

Satellite images show the runaway disintegration of a 160-square-mile chunk in western Antarctica, which started Feb. 28. It was the edge of the Wilkins ice shelf and has been there for hundreds, maybe 1,500 years.

This is the result of global warming, said British Antarctic Survey scientist David Vaughan.

Because scientists noticed satellite images within hours, they diverted satellite cameras and even flew an airplane over the ongoing collapse for rare pictures and video.

"It's an event we don't get to see very often," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. "The cracks fill with water and slice off and topple... That gets to be a runaway situation."

While icebergs naturally break away from the mainland, collapses like this are unusual but are happening more frequently in recent decades, Vaughan said. The collapse is similar to what happens to hardened glass when it is smashed with a hammer, he said.

The rest of the Wilkins ice shelf, which is about the size of Connecticut, is holding on by a narrow beam of thin ice. Scientists worry that it too may collapse. Larger, more dramatic ice collapses occurred in 2002 and 1995.

Vaughan had predicted the Wilkins shelf would collapse about 15 years from now. The part that recently gave way makes up about 4 percent of the overall shelf, but it's an important part that can trigger further collapse.

There's still a chance the rest of the ice shelf will survive until next year because the Antarctic winter is coming on, Vaughan said.

Scientists said they are not concerned about a rise in sea level from the latest event, but say it's a sign of worsening global warming. Such occurrences are "more indicative of a tipping point or trigger in the climate system," said Sarah Das, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

"These are things that are not re-forming," Das said. "So once they're gone, they're gone."

Climate in Antarctica is complicated and more isolated from the rest of the world.

Much of the continent is not warming and some parts are even cooling, Vaughan said. However, the western peninsula, which includes the Wilkins ice shelf, juts out into the ocean and is warming. This is the part of the continent where scientists are most concern about ice-melt triggering sea level rise.

Comments

aginglady 6 years, 9 months ago

Bring your shakers and limes folks, it's party time.

Oracle_of_Rhode 6 years, 9 months ago

Coming soon: Beach front lots in De Soto, Kan.

gr 6 years, 9 months ago

"collapses like this are unusual but are happening more frequently in recent decades,"

Suppose there was heavier snowfall, would this also happen then?

"is holding on by a narrow beam of thin ice. Scientists worry that it too may collapse."

Does anyone suggest we try to prop it up? Not much different than attempting to change a 0.01% portion of gas to affect the world's temperature.

"The collapse is similar to what happens to hardened glass when it is smashed with a hammer, he said."

Hmmm, "hardened glass". You mean like cold? http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=5ceaedb7-802a-23ad-4bfe-9e32747616f9 "Figures show that there is nearly a third more ice in Antarctica than is usual for the time of year."

How much is a third more? http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9136 "At present, the coverage of ice surrounding Antarctica is almost exactly two million square miles above where it is historically supposed to be at this time of year. It's farther above normal than it has ever been for any month in climatologic records. Around now, because it's summer down there and the ice is headed towards its annual low point, there should be about seven million square miles of it. That means, as data in University of Illinois' web publication Cryosphere Today shows, that there is nearly 30% more ice down in Antarctica than usual for this time of the year."

"Much of the continent is not warming and some parts are even cooling, Vaughan said." Ahhh. At least he admits it.

From the above link: (There is a small area of significant warming in the peninsula that points towards South America, but this is less than 2% of Antarctica's total land mass.)

"Midway through the Post's page-long article comes a statement that "these new findings come as the Arctic is losing ice at a dramatic rate." Wouldn't that have been an appropriate place to note that, despite a small recent loss of ice from the Antarctic landmass, the ice field surrounding Antarctica is now larger than ever measured?"

ndmoderate 6 years, 9 months ago

Move along, folks! Nothing to see here!

ndmoderate 6 years, 9 months ago

Global climate change is a myth!

(end sarcasm)

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." H. L. Mencken

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." Blaise Pascal

There is an alternative to sheep-like behavior.

Thomas Henry Huxley said:

"The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin. "

There are many holes in global warming models. Big enough to drive a truck through. It is a computer model, folks. It has vastly exceeded anything close to science. It is religion. Complete with guilt, redemption, prophets, profits, sin, narratives, parables, prophecies, infidels, apostates, hypocrites, sacrifice, ritual. It is contradictory and slippery (climate change?, global warming?, anthropogenic global warming?). Ultimately, it is a transfer of wealth from Big-Oil to Big Al and his friends. Meanwhile, you environmentalists will continue to hammer the poor by engaging in false science and false economics. Poor people will really hurt when gasoline is 6, 7, 8, 9 dollars per gallon. I know, we'll shift to liters. It feels a lot better to pay $2 per liter, doesn't it?

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 9 months ago

Ah, devobrun chimes in again with his "insider" attacks on science.

What devo fails to mention are the facts that support human-induced global warming.

The greenhouse effect is real and demonstrated.

CO2 is a demonstrated greenhouse gas.

CO2 levels in the atmosphere have increased markedly due to fossil fuel burning.

Devo should read Voltaire's Candide. Everything is getting better in every way.

It shouldn't surprise me, as devo aparently refutes the facts of stars that are billions of light years away and the fossil record, which is millions of years old. After all, were you there when that star exploded 7.5 billion years ago? No, so you can't prove it happened or existed. Candide.

Once you've dismissed these facts, human-caused climate change is easy.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 9 months ago

"The climate model is based on a one-hundred plus year old formula which, for the purpose of simplicity, assumed that the atmosphere extends infinitely into space."

What are talking about? What "talking points" website did you pull this from? This is not true. Modern models are based upon known rates of energetic flow into and out of the earth's atmosphere, ocean currents, and energy flow within the atmosphere and surface of the planet.

This reminds me of the argument that evolution can't be true because it violates the second law of thermodynamics. Nonsense.

Read some science, bonehead, before embarrassing yourself like this.

mick 6 years, 9 months ago

What about the Piri Riis map that surfaced in the 16th century? It accurately shows Antarctica void of its ice. It is evidence that Antarctica has been clear of ice in human history but evidence that doesn't fit in with the current academic fads is ignored.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 9 months ago

Like I said, a talking points site.

You know, I hear the Pythagorean theorem is almost 4000 years old.

As you would know if you actually bothered to read real, peer-reviewed science, equations change with time and certainly the inputs and weights governing equations change with time.

You really know nothing about this, do you?

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 9 months ago

"What about the Piri Riis map that surfaced in the 16th century? It accurately shows Antarctica void of its ice. It is evidence that Antarctica has been clear of ice in human history but evidence that doesn't fit in with the current academic fads is ignored."

Ah, now we're talkin'. Bring on the nut-jobs.

You know, I saw a 16th century map with California about 200 miles from Massachusetts.

Obviously, there is a conspiracy to hide the fact that the midwest was created in a massive volcanic eruption, separating California and Massachusetts, some 30 years ago...

GretchenJP 6 years, 9 months ago

I see your falling ice chunk and raise you a glacier!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 9 months ago

Are you serious? How many people in the 16th century explored Antarctica? Did you know a map from the 15th century shows the Atlantic Ocean dropping off the edge of the world? Wow, suddenly the earth became round. It's a miracle.

acoupstick 6 years, 9 months ago

One "scientific" study posted on an obscure Hungarian website does not an argument make. What is your agenda?

devobrun 6 years, 9 months ago

nightmare has never understood the difference between evidence and facts. He uses the two words interchangeably. Or more probably, he turns evidence that he believes in to the word fact. This is dangerously dogmatic of you sir.

He has never understood that ad hominem is not a scientific or even logical argument tactic. It diminishes the discussion. Attacking the other person as "bonehead" is as unsatisfactory an argument as, "thousands of scientists believe in AGW". Either argument appeals to the legitimacy of the arguer. Fine in a court of law, not in science.

OK, nightmare read this: http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html

There are many sites that offer alternatives to Big Al. This one is fairly simple, but cogent. If you want a deeper, more mathematical alternative (Stefan-Boltzmann law), try this: http://junkscience.com/Greenhouse/index.html

Of course CO2 is a greenhouse gas, nightmare. The science, however, doesn't support the claim that increased CO2 by man's emission is of any major consequence. The climate models use the increased CO2 in the atmosphere to increase the H2O in the atmosphere. It is a computer model, nightmare. They can do it by saying that H2O increases because CO2 increases. Measurements have not supported this claim. Here is another link to try that shows that the "science" is nebulous: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=142

If this were science, I wouldn't attack the motives of the investigators. It isn't science, so I attack the Al Gores of the world because I think they have a motive that is nefarious. You believe in the "facts". Well, there you go. I can't argue with a true believer, whether he be an Environmentalist or a Christian. Wake up to your zeal, nightmare.

aginglady 6 years, 9 months ago

I talked today to a scientist friend who led a 12 yr expedition in the Antartic. His first words to me were, "Oh S#1t. Then more info. He also said he doesn't think the bigger shelf will last as long as they said in the article.

A note about mapping expeditions of old. Remember, due to errors by the mapping parties, Lake Wobegon doesn't exist on any map, but the people living there know it's there. They say they can drive just a little ways out of town,in any direction, and they are in Minnesota.

RedwoodCoast 6 years, 9 months ago

Well, Devo, if you are a Newtonian who believes that the Earth and universe are akin to a clock that was created by a maker, then maybe you have faith in the maker for keeping the clock running smoothly regardless of what we do. I'm sorry, but it has always seemed to me that you have the most difficult time reconciling science with your faith.

"Measurements have not supported this claim." Is that not evidence that you are weilding as a fact in nightmare's face? Since evidence is not fact, then why should I believe this assertion more than I should believe the assertions you're arguing against?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

"I assume, Mr. Scientist, you know the difference between an argument and a premise?"

And all you've proven (once again) is that you know how to throw sh*t against the wall to see if it sticks.

acoupstick 6 years, 9 months ago

The beauty of science is that the true facts will be revealed over time. When Wegener first proposed continental drift in 1912, people thought he was nuts. His proposal has obviously withstood the tests of time and inquiry. If climate change turns out not to be true or catastrophic, fantastic! I will be the first to annoint your minority contrarian scienctists as the next Galileo/Newton/Darwin/Wegener. But what if they are wrong? Will we not lament time lost due to bickering over semantics (proposals vs. arguments)? My motivation is the preservation of my quality of life for me and my children, and my children's children. My motivation is the preservation of precious ecosystems like coral reefs that have evolved according to natural climate shifts over hundreds of millions of year. My motivation is polar bears because they are cute. My motivation is countries like Bangladesh in which the poor will bear the brunt of climate caused catastrophes. I can appreciate your iconoclasm and your drive to "subvert the dominant paradigm", but I think you started from a political stance and worked backwards to the science. And that is intellectually dishonest.

kansas778 6 years, 9 months ago

acoupstick (Anonymous) says:

"My motivation is the preservation of my quality of life for me and my children, and my children's children."


That quality of life is currently relying on the burning of fossil fuels, and that cannot rapidly change without serious detriments to the quality of life of your children and your children's children.

gr 6 years, 9 months ago

"Ah, devobrun chimes in again with his "insider" attacks on science."

Actually, it sounded more like he was using science against alarmist religion.

"The greenhouse effect is real and demonstrated." Maybe. Relevance to us causing or able to change it?

"CO2 is a demonstrated greenhouse gas." So is water. What's your point?

"CO2 levels in the atmosphere have increased markedly due to fossil fuel burning." Two boys peeing in the ocean contributes twice as much as one boy peeing in the ocean. No supporting facts there that there's significant contribution nor that the ocean will overflow.

No science in those statements supporting we are causing global warming either. That is what devobrun is trying to say. As he later spells out to you. You are believing a mythical religion.

==========

"It shouldn't surprise me, as devo aparently refutes the facts of stars that are billions of light years away and the fossil record, which is millions of years old."

Another one of your blind religions. I don't suppose you see a problem with your statement that "devo aparently refutes the facts.... the fossil record, which is millions of years old." Refutes the facts of the fossil record, "which is"? Besides the obvious fallacy in that statement of fact without proof, there are no facts saying how old the fossil record is. There ARE facts showing proportion of isotopes. Do you understand the difference?

acoupstick 6 years, 9 months ago

"That quality of life is currently relying on the burning of fossil fuels, and that cannot rapidly change without serious detriments to the quality of life of your children and your children's children."

Agreed, although I was thinking along the basic life quality issues like clean water, clean air, and basic understanding and enjoyment of the natural world. Without a doubt those issues will suffer along with my consumer lifestyle. Loss of lifestyle is much easier to accommodate than loss of the other things that we take for granted.

estespark 6 years, 9 months ago

"The rest of the Wilkins ice shelf, which is about the size of Connecticut, is holding on by a narrow beam of thin ice."

I never pay attention unless the ice shelf is the size of Ohio. Then we've got problems.

gr 6 years, 9 months ago

Great links, posessionannex! I especially found http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23411799-7583,00.html to be interesting. Global warming has stopped a decade ago. And the IPCC admits it!

But, as I've said all along, the alarmists are prepared for it. They have switched to "climate change" rather than global warming. This way, they can saw we are causing global cooling and everything just goes on the same. I would think the general public would stop listening to such "childish nonsense it was all along".

I certainly hope people will remember that they said coal plants cause global warming so when they start tauting global cooling, they will throw it right back in their faces that coal plants will help prevent global cooling and save the earth. They will say, 'but we were wrong, coal plants cause global cooling'. Well, that's the beauty of alarmists - they are always wrong.

gr 6 years, 9 months ago

Al Whores - those whoring science.

acoupstick 6 years, 9 months ago

"dissent is the purest form of devotion to the earth, and science"

Agreed. Dissent does not come without a price, though. If the relationship between elevated CO2 levels from burning fossil fuels and global climate change is causation instead of correlation, what is the price of dissent? It could be steep, indeed. If our society is able to wean itself from fossil fuels and create a sustainable industry around carbon sequestration and alternative fuel technologies, are we not ahead in the long run regardless? Unfortunately Al Gore's involvement in this issue has politicized and polarized it. Do you dissent for the sake of dissent, because you hate AG and liberal dogma, because you wish to subert scientific consensus, or for some other reason? Let's be honest, even if you believe GW or GCC is a myth, your premises are no more easily proven than that which you argue against. Again, if there turns out to be causation, what is the price of your dissent. You are rolling the dice and stakes are high.

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