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Archive for Monday, April 6, 2009

Blubbery ‘researchers’ lend fin to climate science

employees of the Norwegian Polar Institute capture an elephant seal on Bouvet Island, in the South Atlantic Ocean, throwing a hood over the seal’s head, as they prepare to attach instrumentation to the seal.

employees of the Norwegian Polar Institute capture an elephant seal on Bouvet Island, in the South Atlantic Ocean, throwing a hood over the seal’s head, as they prepare to attach instrumentation to the seal.

April 6, 2009

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— Into the Antarctic enigma, the puzzle of a place with too few researchers chasing too many climate mysteries, slowly waddles the elephant seal.

The fat-snouted pinniped, two ugly tons of blubber and roar, is plunging to its usual frigid depths these days in the service of climate science, and of scientists’ budgets.

“It would take years and millions and millions of dollars for a research ship to do what they’re doing,” Norwegian scientist Kim Holmen said of the instrument-equipped seals, whose long-distance swims and 1,000-foot dinnertime dives for squid are giving investigators valuable data about a key piece of southern ocean.

Climatologists and others say the icy continent has been monitored too thinly for too long in a warming world. Weather stations, glacier movement detectors and research treks over the ice are too few and far between.

“We’re monitoring routinely a small portion of the continent. I’d say 1 percent,” said David Holland, an Antarctic expert at New York University.

The reason to worry is clear: If all the land ice here melted, it would raise ocean levels 187 feet worldwide.

That theoretical possibility would take many centuries, but “Antarctica is huge, so even a small change would make a big difference,” said Jan Gunnar Winther, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute which operates this research station in East Antarctica.

Even a 1 percent loss of Antarctic ice would raise sea levels 2 feet, a slow-motion disaster for global coastlines.

“Antarctica is changing rapidly in unpredicted ways,” Holmen, the Norwegian institute’s research director, told environment ministers and other international officials visiting this outpost in East Antarctica’s icebound mountains in February.

He said the shelf collapses in the west may eventually be replicated here in the east. Computer models show that warming waters would weaken the 7,000-square-mile Fimbul ice shelf, which reaches 60 miles to sea from the coastline north of here, fed by one of Antarctica’s largest ice streams, the Jutulstraumen glacier.

It’s a neighborhood the huge bull elephant seals know well, since they migrate over a 1,000-mile stretch of ocean between uninhabited Bouvet Island and the Fimbul shelf.

Comments

gr 5 years ago

"Does that mean the experts know nothing? Not at all."

bozo.......

How about 1%?

Did you read the article?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"bozo, the point I'm making is the experts DON'T know."

Is there a deficit in our knowledge about Antarctica and the workings of the climate, in general? Yes. Does that mean the experts know nothing? Not at all. What we we DO know says that doing nothing is likely a very maladaptive approach.

"Would you gamble the futures of your grandkids on total ignorance?"

No, I would rather not follow your lead in that regard.

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gr 5 years ago

bozo, the point I'm making is the experts DON'T know. Would you gamble the futures of your grandkids on total ignorance?

Comprende?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Gee, gr, who should we listen to on this-- the experts, who readily admit they don't have nearly as much information about the area as they'd like, or you, who knows absolutely nothing, but are willing to gamble the survival of future generations on nothing but your complete and total ignorance?

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gr 5 years ago

"Weather stations, glacier movement detectors and research treks over the ice are too few and far between."

You mean...... Don't tell me that we are gathering enough data to make a proper decision.

“We’re monitoring routinely a small portion of the continent. I’d say 1 percent,” said David Holland, an Antarctic expert at New York University.

Yep, monitoring 1% of the continent over even a less percentage of Earth's history to cause our kids, grandkids and great grandkids to suffer all kinds of economic hardship.

"The reason to worry is clear: If all the land ice here melted, it would raise ocean levels 187 feet worldwide."

And if ....... Why even bother speculating absurd imaginary things. I'm not going to stoop that low.

"Computer models show that warming waters would weaken the 7,000-square-mile Fimbul ice shelf"

First, "computer models". Second, do computer models show warming waters? Third, what do computer models show cooling waters would do?

Not much science here but fantasy fluff. What will they do when they get more measurements and it doesn't tell them what they want?

I know - ask for another grant!

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