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NASA Study Shows Antarctic Ice Sheet Shrinking

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the that's-polar-bear-country dept.

407

deman1985 writes "A recently released NASA study has shown that the Antarctic ice shelf is shrinking at an alarming rate of 36 cubic miles per year. The study, run from April 2002 to August 2005, indicates that the melting accounted for 1.2 millimeters of global sea level rise for the period. From the article: 'That is about how much water the United States consumes in three months and represents a change of about 0.4 millimeter (0.01575 inch) per year to global sea level rise, the study concluded. The study claims the majority of the melting to have occurred in the West Antarctic ice sheet."

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Don't believe it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14847951)

If you believe in global warming the terrorists win

Re:Don't believe it (1)

VxMorpheusxV (817585) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848120)

How was this commnent modded insightful?

Re:Don't believe it (1)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848289)

Someone at the Cato Institute must have received mod points today.

Which way is west? (5, Insightful)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848187)

What I don't get is how you can even identify a West Antarctic ice sheet? Isn't Antarctica roughly a circle centered on the pole? So, isn't every ice sheet the West one?

Re:Which way is west? (2, Informative)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848206)

It's the part of Antarctica west of the Transantarctic Mountains. West means closer towards Hawai`i, whereas east would mean closer to Australia.

Re:Which way is west? (1)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848243)

I thought west meant counterclockwise.

0.4mm a year.... (3, Funny)

BenJeremy (181303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14847957)

Or a meter every 2500 years?

Wow.... better shore up the levees, Waterworld is coming soon!

Re:0.4mm a year.... (4, Insightful)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14847973)

That would be 0.4mm a year on top of the other sources of rising sea water.

And assuming a constant, non-accelerating rate unlike what is currently being observed in greenland.

But good job trying to minimaze the problems we face today.

Re:0.4mm a year.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848087)

Go right-wing mods, GO!

Re:0.4mm a year.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848204)

That post was minimazing!

Re:0.4mm a year.... (2, Insightful)

Voltageaav (798022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14847993)

If it continues getting warmer, that's IF, then the ice will begin to melt at a higher rate and we could all be swimming in a hundred years. I don't think it'll happen, but it's not quite as simple as you make it sound. Climate does change, it has been for millions of years. It's not the hottest it's ever been on Earth, it very well may get hotter, but it's not going to be the end of the world.

Stop Whining (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848049)

It is going to continue getting hotter. Everything making it hotter is continuing to operate, nothing is stopping. The last 5 years are among the hottest in human history. The ice is melting faster than before, faster than predicted. The melt accelerates further melting. When the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and Greenland have melted, the seas will be 35' higher, which will be the end of the world for the majority of humans, who live near the coasts or will be invaded by the displaced people fleeing the rising seas.

You're insisting on denial of the catastrophe because you made up your mind before the situation was so obviously bad. You were wrong then, you're wrong now. The least you could do is drop the denial, because that's the main obstacle to people working together to lower the risk that the end of the world is coming.

Regardless of whether you want to admit that humans caused the warming, the fact is that our actions could slow or halt it before it destroys us.

Stop Having Babies (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848118)

We need this ice to melt so we can have more water for the 6.5 billion people on the planet.

All kidding aside, so what. The Earth evolves with us or without us. If we kill ourselves then we probably deserve it. The Earth won't care in the least bit. There will be a balance somewhere as the law of nature dictates it as much as the law of nature dictates that an apple will fall from a tree if it's stem breaks.

I care more about economic stability (not that I don't care about this but any change is beyond me) because our society, community, and personal comfort demands it.
The world has always been screwed up for a snapshot of any generation. Anybody thinking that they shouldn't continue to have children because of the screwed up world is more concerned with influences outside of their circle of control and probably shouldn't have kids anyway because of the indoctrination that Earth is a bad place to live (but usually those kids are better adjusted because they know they have screwed up parents).

If you want to see some cool North American Paleogeographic maps, check out this link, it might put some things into perspective:
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~rcb7/nam.html [nau.edu]

Re:Stop Having Babies (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848185)

What about those of us who don't want kids cause we don't want to spend all our money, time and energy on some whining little brats who will take it all for granted? Should we have kids, our should we spend our lives happy and fulfilled?

Re:Stop Having Babies (0, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848193)

Your deranged rant about having babies isn't that interesting. But your basic point about your insignificance is.

Please post your bank acc't# and PIN. Then kill yourself. I'll gladly breathe the oxygen you're not using, and appreciate the tiny little bit of quiet you leave behind.

Re:Stop Whining (0)

Voltageaav (798022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848136)

If the population keeps growing, we're going to be in a flood of people anyways, at least untill we outbreed our means to produce food and the vast majority starve. The last 5 yaers are the hottest in recorded history. I'm sorry, but how far back do our climate records go? Not that far in the grand scheme of things. We can get guesses from geology, and what do you know, the Earth has been going from sweltering jungle to frozen wasteland for millenia. Sure, I'm betting a lot of people will have to move or drown. Michigan used to be a sea. There have been fossils from ocean animals found in the Rocky Mountains. Change is the natural way of things. I think it's pretty presumptious of us to think we're causing it. Volcanoes put out far more greenhouse gasses than anything humans do. It's not the only problem we have either. I don't think it's the worst one we have by a long shot. New fuel sources, population control, etc.... The fact that life is still around proves that climate change is survivable and we're more ready for it than anything we know of in the past.

Re:Stop Whining (1, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848202)

Our climate records go back hundreds of thousands of years, in icecores and other samples.

So you're talking out of your ass. You're quoting Greenhouse denial nonsense. Personally I'm just a little annoyed that the adults are saving your worthless ass while we cope with the climate catastrophe underway. But if I can get you to stop braying like a FoxNews mule, it will at least make our jobs just a little easier.

Re:Greenhouse gasses (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848208)

GHG's are a red herring anyway. If you look at the geological charts comparing them with global temperatures, there is no correlation at all. Solar activity is a much more likely candidate. Of course, as a Canadian from Edmonton, I find concern over global warming to be funny anyway. Here it is March already and it hasn't hit -40 once!

Re:Stop Whining (0)

ScottyH (791307) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848209)

I just read that ice globally is increasing at a rate of 19.8 gigatons. I'm not so convinced this is the problem everyone is making it out to be.

I once heard someone say, "global warming is at best a theory, and at worst pure fiction". There is more at work here than you know. The climate is extremely complex, and very few experts are saying things in such black and white terms.

Re:Stop Whining (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848264)

You just read that ice is increasing. Where? I once heard that I shouldn't believe everything I hear or read. I looked into it, and it has turned out to be true.

There's lots of people going around lying about the Greenhouse we're making. Many are just paid to lie by fuel corporations with a vested interest in denying their pollution's real consequences. Many more lie just because they started out being wrong, and have gotten in too deep to stop now.

Most climate experts agree that the climate is becoming more chaotic, with pollution making it worse.

So let's see your ice increase numbers. Maybe it's not too late for you to stop helping us along our way to self-destruction.

Re:Stop Whining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848266)

When the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and Greenland have melted, the seas will be 35' higher, which will be the end of the world for the majority of humans, who live near the coasts or will be invaded by the displaced people fleeing the rising seas.

What sensationalist dribble. End of the world? Jesus... people move. WWWWOOOOOOO.

Re:0.4mm a year.... (1)

muellerr1 (868578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848019)

The problem as I understand it is not so much that some ice is melting, but that the volume of melting ice is such that it makes huge shelves of Antarctic ice unstable; when one of these breaks off, it floats off to warmer climates, where it melts considerably faster. Not that I'm building an Ark or anything, but the problem really is pretty serious for anybody living on a coast. Which is where people tend to live.

Re:0.4mm a year.... (3, Informative)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848045)

Or a meter every 2500 years? Wow.... better shore up the levees, Waterworld is coming soon!

0.4mm per year just from the Antarctic ice sheet, and 2500 years for a meter presuming a constant rate. On the other hand there are other factors at play such as the Greenland glaciers, which are accelerating their slide into the sea [realclimate.org] , which means it might be worth considering the possibility of acceleration of the loss of Antarctic ice. There's also thermal expansion as another factor causing sea levels to rise.

It's also worth noting that, in the grand scheme of things, 0.4mm per year is quite a lot: sea level change over the last 3000 years averages to about 0.1mm to 0.2mm per year.

Is this a clear indication of catastrophic distaster? Far from it. Nor is it the least bit implicit of any sort of bizarre Waterworld scenario. However, even a 1 meter change in sea will have signficant impact given the large numbers of cities very close to sea level - even a small rise makes them far more susceptible to flooding from, say, storm swell or similar. In practice even a small change is going to displace an awful lot of people, costing an awful lot of money, and having a significant economic impact. It may not be a disaster of biblical proportions, but it is most definitely something to be concerned about and to keep an eye on.

Jedidiah.

Re:0.4mm a year.... (1)

malilo (799198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848126)

Except that it's well known that different coastal areas are affected differently by rising water levels -- 0.4 mm average worldwide does NOT mean the florida keys won't be underwater in 100 years even if the rate doesn't increase. I guess you don't live on the coast...

Deep mathematics (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14847968)

1.2 mm / (August 2005 - April 2002) = about 0.4 millimeter per year, the study concluded.

This is a deep conclusion.

That's okay (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14847971)

West Antarctica was pretty dull anyway. At least East Antarctica is safe.

Why do you think (-1, Troll)

Dominic Burns (673810) | more than 8 years ago | (#14847977)

the rest of the world gives a single solitary fuck what the US consumption of anything is in the the first place, you pointless individual?

Also, if you're a US citizen and you're reading this, you should be fucking ashamed of yourself...oh, wait, you're no more in control of your politcal system than I am of mine here in the UK, you bastion of democracy, you.

Forget I said anything...or they'll be coming for you next.

Re:Why do you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848037)

Go choke on a crumpet you bastard

Shink... Grow... Shrink... Grow...Shink... Grow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14847978)

Shrink Grow Shink... Grow... Shrink... Grow... Shrink Grow Shrink Grow Shrink Shrink Grow Shrink Grow Shrink Grow Shrink Grow Shrink Grow Shrink Shink... Grow... Shrink... Grow...Grow Shrink Shrink Grow Shrink Grow Shrink Grow Shrink Shink... Grow... Shrink... Grow...Grow Shrink Grow Shrink Grow Shrink Shrink Grow Shrink Grow Shrink Grow

and that's just 10000 years

Beachfront Property!!!! (2, Funny)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14847979)

YES! Finally I'll be able to buy some property in Arizona desert and make millions redeveloping it after the ocean rolls in...

Any day now....

2500 years? a Meter?

Hmmm... Anyone want to by a condo with ocean view in Arizona... Not quite finished...

Anyone?

PFFFT!

PS.. Remember MARS icecaps are melting also... Thats probibly my fault too...

Why can't people understand CYCLES? and "GET OVER IT"...

Re:Beachfront Property!!!! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848113)

"Why can't people understand CYCLES? and 'GET OVER IT'..."

Because there is no conclusive evidence that this is only part of a cylce.

As an evironmental scientist, my "gut" feeling is that this IS a part of cycle but being exacerbated by human factors. Look at the ice core and other geologic indicators: none of the planetary heating/cooling cycles ever recorded occcured with anything approaching this intensity. They were gradual, over thousands of years. We've seen millenia worth of warming in the last ~120 yrs.

Regression analyses of almost any factors you care to name show a near-perfect correlation with the humanity's industrial emissions. Cooked up examples in introductory statistics textbooks aren't any better.

Blindly chalking everything up to cycles is dangerous - what if that's incorrect? What do we lose by reducing hazardous emissions and pursuing alternative energies? Nothing, that's what. We potentially save the planet and reduce the corrupting inlfuences of the petrochemical industry. And if it ultimately has no effect on the environment, that's a price I'm willing to pay. What you suggest is a gamble that humanity cannot afford to make.

Re:Beachfront Property!!!! (3, Insightful)

barefootgenius (926803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848238)

Why you should worry about cycles. This is quoted from the Ocean and Climate Change Institutes' article on "The Day After Tomorrow".


"It is worth keeping in mind that an "abrupt" climate change, which may take place over a decade, is abrupt from a geologic perspective, in which many phenomena take place on the time scales of hundreds of thousands to millions of years."


To put it mildly, if you looked up and saw a car might hit you at 1MPH then you might be a little worried but not really all that concerned. If instead you looked up and found a car might hit you at 100MPH then you would shit yourself. Yes, we don't have the data, capability or knowledge to model climate actions and consequences accurately. This is because in most cases we don't know what the hell we are doing. We do have survival instincts however, and one of these should currently be telling you that its all well and fine to stand on the road, but it might be safer to walk on the grass. Cycles are a reality and love them all you want but being carefull the other side of the cycle doesn't have a big "End of life as you want it" sign is a damn good idea.

On the other side of things, a good two or three meter rise would put one of my homes in a really nice position (taking erosion into account). The downside is that it would be the only home I had left.

but what are we going to do ? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14847983)


NOTHING !

those human constructs called numbers and green bits of paper (cash) are far more important than our home planet
screw your kids and screw their kids i want that 50" TV and Hummer NOW !!

Re:but what are we going to do ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848034)

Yeeeeeehaaa!! I'ma gonna buys me one'em Toyeter Hi'Brows!! Than'a gonna buy me one'e them Apple thingamagigs an' stuff it up my Betsy brown' asshole!! HAWWWEEE!! I'ma going brokeback!!!

just to remind that (1)

Pavel Stratil (950257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14847986)

... the arctic ice sheet has to be taken in account too..

Re:just to remind that (2, Interesting)

Andyvan (824761) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848003)

I'm assuming you're trying to be funny. The ice in the arctic is already floating in water, hence no sea level rise when it melts. This is why the melting of ice on land (Greenland, Antarctica) is significant.

-- Andyvan

Re:just to remind that (0)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848013)

Good point, but to be strictly accurate because of the properties of ICE vs Liquid Water the melting of the Artic ice sheet actually lowers water world wide..

Re:just to remind that (4, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848044)

because of the properties of ICE vs Liquid Water the melting of the Artic ice sheet actually lowers water world wide.

It's moments like these I wish Archimedes was alive and reading Slashdot.

Re:just to remind that (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848102)

Nah, he'd just be modded down as a troll for posting in Greek.

Archimedes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848203)

He would probably just say something (in broken Greek accented English) like "Go Have Screw For Yourself" [wikipedia.org]

Re:just to remind that (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848100)

Good point, but to be strictly accurate because of the properties of ICE vs Liquid Water the melting of the Artic ice sheet actually lowers water world wide..

No. The melting of floating ice has no net effect on water level.

-jcr

Re:just to remind that (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848161)

"The melting of floating ice has no net effect on water level."

That's right, so we don't have to worry about ice in the Arctic Ocean. Which just leaves the ice covering most of Greenland, Baffin and Ellesmere Islands, the coastal glaciers in North America and elsewhere. And Antarctica. But aside from that, we're fine.

[Sarcasm aimed at GP, not parent. I think.]

Re:just to remind that (1)

ScottyH (791307) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848249)

Well, wouldn't it have at least a little bit?

From my science knowledge (high school), shoudn't the liquid state of water take up more space than the solid state?

Re:just to remind that (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848258)

Well, wouldn't it have at least a little bit?

No.

From my science knowledge (high school), shoudn't the liquid state of water take up more space than the solid state?

If that were the case, ice wouldn't float. Water is unusual in that it expands when it freezes. Most other chemicals contract.

-jcr

Re:just to remind that (1)

ScottyH (791307) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848276)

Oh, cool. :)

Re:just to remind that (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848282)

Because the ice in the arctic is float it already displaces the same amount of water was it would if it were in liquid form. I.E. Because in both states the water has the same mass, the volume displaced by the ice caps is equivilent to the volume which would be displaced by liquid despite the difference in total volume.

Though I guess it would cause a slight short-term decline in the sea levels due to its cooling effect.

Re:just to remind that (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848223)

This is not what the parent was trying to get at, but the melting of the ice sheets will cause the water level to drop in far northernly and southernly regions because of the gravitational pull caused by the ice masses themselves.

See here: http://www.newsandevents.utoronto.ca/bin2/020328c. asp [utoronto.ca]

Re:just to remind that (4, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848247)

because of the properties of ICE vs Liquid Water the melting of the Artic ice sheet actually lowers water world wide..

Errr... WHAT?

Time to do the math again, I guess. Every now and then this bit of ugly science rears its ugly head.

Useful numbers:
Density of Seawater: 1025kg/m^3 [hypertextbook.com] .
Density of Freshwater: 1000kg/m^3 [hypertextbook.com] (rounded up from 999.98 at freezing point)
Density of Ice: 916kg/m^3 [same source].

Things to know:
The vast majority of icebergs are not frozen seawater, they break off from land glaciers and float out to sea.
Buoyancy tells us that X will float in Y if X displaces a volume of Y where the mass of the displaced volume equals the mass of X.
Hollowed out shapes can contain more volume than a solid block of mass (this is why metal boats float).

So, lets say we have a solid, convex iceberg floating in an ocean ever so slightly above freezing, consisting of exactly 1025kg of ice right about to melt. To float, this iceberg must displace 1025kg of saltwater, which by sheer coincidence is exactly one cubic meter. Thus, when this iceberg broke off the glacier and fell into the water, the sea level increased by the height of one cubic meter spread out really thin across the entire surface. If you lifted the iceberg out without letting it melt, that one cubic meter would come back and fill the hole where it was.

Naturally, the sea being ever so slightly above freezing and the ice being ever so slightly below, the ice absorbs heat from the ocean and melts. Thanks to wonderful conservation of mass, we know we now have 1025kg of fresh water at ever so slightly above freezing, with a density of 1000kg/m^3. Thus, we have 1.025 cubic meters of fresh water to fill that 1 cubic meter hole where the iceberg used to be.

So because the iceberg fell into the ocean and melted, the sea level is now 1.025 cubic meters (spread out real thin over the entire ocean) higher than it used to be. Even if the ice started in the ocean (as in the Arctic), it's still 0.025 cubic meters high! It gets worse if the ice is sitting on the bottom of the ocean (then there is more ice than displaced water)! Even if you assume that the seawater is less dense in the Arctic (a fallacy, as the freezing action actually increases the saline content of the water around the ice), as long as the density of the seawater is greater than the density of the water you get from melting the ice (almost always freshwater), you will get an increase in sea level from melting the ice.

Incidentially, arctic ice is not all frozen seawater, much of it is from precipitation falling on top of the frozen seawater, so you can't even claim that the water in the ice came directly from the ocean in the first place (not that that claim would really help any, because that water has been locked up for thousands and thousands of years, returning it to water would definitely raise the ocean level beyond anything in written history). Plus, once the water is liquid and continues to heat, it will continue to expand: at 30C freshwater is only 995.65kg/m^3.

Since I whipped out the math anyway, 1025kg of ice is 1025kg*(1m^3/916kg)=1.119 m^3. Since it's solid and convex we know that there must be 0.119 m^3 of ice above sea level. This shows that roughly 10% of the 1.119 m^3 of ice is above sea level, thereby supporting the old adage that 9/10 of the iceberg is below the waterline.

Disaster! (3, Funny)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14847988)

So when do the volcanoes under the ice erupt and slough the whole icecap off into the sea so that the Martians can revolt?

Effect of Antarctic melting exaggerated (-1)

BenJeremy (181303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14847994)

AS I understand it, if all the ice melted from Antarctica, the net result would be the continent rising. Also, at this "alarming" rate (well, as alarming as Chicken Little's bump on the noggin from an acorn), the rise in sea level is still rather negligible.

Areas endangered by high sea levels are usually those already sinking under their own weight (NOLA, Venice, to name a couple). More water means more water vapor, which means less heating from the sun. The Earth's environment is a buffer, where one effect is often offset by a resulting opposite effect.

Re:Effect of Antarctic melting exaggerated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848012)

Actually more water vapour means more global warming which means more water vapour which means more global warming which means more water vapour. There's more involved than you can find out by Googling for 10 minutes.

Re:Effect of Antarctic melting exaggerated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848033)

solar radiation is depleted and scattered by atmosphere

Re:Effect of Antarctic melting exaggerated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848094)

nasal cavity is probed by extended phalanges

Re:Effect of Antarctic melting exaggerated (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848030)

I always thought water was a greenhouse gas and more water vapour in the air would mean increased greehouse effect which would mean globally warmer temperatures which would mean air capable of holding more vapour... do you have any sources on your statement? I'm not disputing what you said, it's just that i keep hearing arguments in both directions and would like to figure out who's pulling my leg :)

Also, when you say water vapour, I assume you don't mean clouds, which are not vapour.

Re:Effect of Antarctic melting exaggerated (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848218)

Water vapor is a very powerful greenhouse gas and definitely increase temperatures. Clouds can work both ways, cirrus clouds generally warm the planet, while low-level clouds cool the planet.

Re:Effect of Antarctic melting exaggerated (2, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848046)

>More water means more water vapor, which means less heating from the sun.

H2O is a greenhouse gas. It does reduce heating from the sun if it forms into daytime clouds. The same clouds also hold heat in at night. Then just to complicate things further, the more ice melts, the less reflection there is from the polar regions, and solar heating goes up.

Re:Effect of Antarctic melting exaggerated (1)

Saeger (456549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848142)

And to complicate things even further: the more we clean up our emissions -- without a commensurate reduction in greenhouse gases -- from our cars, "clean coal", etc, the less particulate matter there is to reflect back some of the Sun's rays that make it into the oven.

Global dimming [wikipedia.org] used to dampen the warming. Silver lining: less asthma and acid rain while on summer vacation in Siberia. :)

Re:Effect of Antarctic melting exaggerated (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848169)

And one more effect: greater heat in low lattitudes brings more water into the atmosphere, which can increase precipitation in higher lattitudes, where it can add to glaciers, etc.

The whole thing's a chaotic system.

-jcr

Re:Effect of Antarctic melting exaggerated (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848157)

AS I understand it, if all the ice melted from Antarctica, the net result would be the continent rising.

The continent would rise, probably by dozens of feet, but not quickly (think tens of thousands of years at least). The sea level would also rise. There are, however, ways to remedy that if we choose to do so. Flooding the Sahara, for instance, could drop the world's sea level by as much as 20 feet, depending on just how much seawater you want to allow to flow across Libya.

More water means more water vapor, which means less heating from the sun.

No. It depends very much on the state of the water in the atmosphere. High clouds increase the albedo of the earth, and reflect sunlight. The same clouds can also reduce heat loss at night. Clouds though, are not water vapor, they are made up of small droplets or crystals of water in the liquid state or solid states. Water vapor is far and away the most significant greenhouse gas; without it, we'd all freeze to death.

The greenhouse gas that gets the most attention in the press is carbon dioxide, which makes up about 25% of the greenhouse effect, while water is responsible for around 70%. We may be able to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, I'm not aware of any proposals to control the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Shrink-wrapping the oceans is probably well beyond our means for the forseeable future.

-jcr

OH NOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14847995)

OH NOS

Climate change is the apocalypse! Get scared!
Spend money on useless "climate friendly" products and programs!

Hey people wake up, climate change is NORMAL. Did you know that ice pretty much covered the planet? Where is it now? Looks like "global warming" saved our asses a long time ago.
Did you know that the desert regions of today used to be farmed and livable? This was BEFORE the industrial revolution. Did you think that the rulers of the time put out restrictions on cooking and metalworking fires to cut down on greenhouse gases?

It's unreal how stupid sheeple are.

Re:OH NOS (1)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848224)

Climate change may be normal, but what happens when it changes outside the barriers in which we can survive? When it's a balmy 70-80 degrees in winter, and a scorching 150+ in summer? What about if it gets worse? Oh, that's right, we won't have to deal with it, because we'll be dead, and our children will be living.

I know I, for one, don't want to see humanity end, though the world would probably be better off if we just obliterated ourselves and are fucked-in-the-head egocentrical ways. How much effort does it take to really minimize our impact on the world?

Re:OH NOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848287)

When it's a balmy 70-80 degrees in winter, and a scorching 150+ in summer?
Do your family members normally live to the ripe ol' age of 800,000? Please, use some common sense.

A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying... (0)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848021)

..."LA-LA-LA-LA-LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

Seriously though, those in power really don't give a shit. I could sugar-coat it, but that's the reality of the situation.

Just take what happened in New Orleans as an example. Was this a wake-up call about the potential devastation that climate change could cause? No, it was practically shrugged off as a "shit happens", and no real discussion as to the hows, the whys and the what could bes of global climate change ever entered the mainstream.

I feel for the people of New Orleans, I really do, and I don't disagree that their suffering and loss was newsworthy but you don't help avoid such disasters happening again by ignoring the wider issue.

Bottom line: there's a good chance that we're going to be part of a generation that will have some real apologising to do to generations to come because we were so nonchalant about our environment.

I can't be the only one who can see himself telling a grandchild that we pissed away the planet because we were too busy having a good time to care about anything else.

Cue the people living with their heads in the sand with their "Chicken Little" accusations...

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (1)

deKernel (65640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848055)

We all feel sorry for the people in New Orleans, but you really need to ask why it happened. What in the heck happened to the hundreds of millions over the last twenty year? Why one not a single penny actually spent on the levies?

The breakdown was not from the federal government. The local government for the last twenty years is the actual cause of the problem because I am pretty sure that hurricanes have been around for a few years.

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848105)

>> The local government for the last twenty years is the actual cause of the problem

You're missing the BIGGER PICTURE here. Weather is becoming more extreme as a direct result of global warming, which in turn is happening becuse of man-made pollution.

Why is this so hard for Americans to grasp or accept? Its not doubted by any other nations in the world.

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (1)

superflyguy (910550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848140)

Because we're from america. Do you need any more reason for our inability to comprehend things that the rest of the world accepts?

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (2, Insightful)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848083)

Just take what happened in New Orleans as an example. Was this a wake-up call about the potential devastation that climate change could cause?

No, it was a wakeup call to the people of New Orleans. The US government cut funding to the levies which when breached caused the flooding. Human error was to blame. Get your facts straight.

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848149)

And what about the causes of the increased hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico? Or did you forget about those facts?

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (0)

Voltageaav (798022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848233)

The US government wasn't responsible for it, it was local and state government that was in charge of it. I don't see anywhere in the constituion "protect states from their own stupidity". While FEMA may not have ran perfectly, they were there to clean up. They had nothing to do with prevention.

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848093)

...And that generation can appologize to the generation that follows and that generation..... hmmm any good ideas of what we might have done? My grandmother worked building aircraft in WWI, putting cloth on the wings, my uncle worked for Aerojet building Saturn 1B's and the second stage of the Saturn V... yeah each generation makes mistakes, but the biggest mistake is assuming that they did nothing to better the world. Problem with liberal progressives is they assume everything we touch turns to shit and that we should feel guilty about the shit and we need to apologize for the shit. Liberals are supposed to be progressive as in forward looking as in pushing the boundaries, seeking a better world. Alas they seem to have lost sight of that goal and now just want to sit around mope and complain about everything. It now sucks to be a liberal progressive.

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (2, Insightful)

Saven Marek (739395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848098)

Well actually you'll find the people in power do give a shit. Our country knows what is happening, and knows that we are going through a period of climate change and global warming and it will bring about changes like sea level rises and maybe higher rates of hurricanes if you believe in that kind of thing.

What is dangerous is jumping to the conclusion of why it is changing. If we were to "accept" the opinions of a few climatologists that human nature is what is causing the climate change, then the changes in behaviour we would have to make to try not to warm the atmosphere would be very damaging to the economy.

But why it is dangerous is that we DO NOT KNOW WHY THIS IS HAPPENING. So sticking our head in the sand and saying "It's all human fault!" and ruining our economy while china forges ahead with their industry will mean in 100 years when this natural warming cycle is over and the earth starts cooling again, china will be a world power and the US will be like mexico with nothing to show for the past few hundred years.

Just remember until we know what is causing global warming getting in a panic about who is doing what to stop it is just like being insane.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848144)

I don't know if shouting MOD PARENT UP ever works, but the parent has one of the smartest comments I've read on slashdot this year. Why go putting all the effort into something that MIGHT have a beneficial effect when we KNOW it'll also have a massive negative effect. It just doesn't make sense rationally, economically or feasibly.

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (2, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848170)

ruining our economy

*Where* does this idea come from? Seriously? The amount of sheer innovation that can be done, and money to be made, in the areas of green power, increasing efficiency of existing devices, etc, etc, is *massive*. This is, if anything, an *opportunity*, one that doomsayers like yourself really seem to be missing.

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848220)

It's just common sense. If one country is putting 100% of its energy into producing goods that can be sold, then it will be a stronger economy than a country that is putting 80% of its energy into producing goods that can be sold, and wasting 20% of its energy on making sure the other 80% of its energy is clean.

You might say green power is profitable, but nowhere near as profitable as the country that doesn't waste its time on such efforts and doesn't have to pay for such power.

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848125)

Sigh... yet another pointless cuss-filled standard-issue rant from a destitute potus pounder

'hurricane' katrina was a 'hurricane' that displaced a big group of folks who'd been living below sea level near the sea. Not the manifestation of global apocalyptic doom.

Re:A Whitehouse spokesperson was quoted as saying. (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848146)

Seriously though, those in power really don't give a shit.

Well, I have no power at all, and I don't give a shit either.

I hope this helps. :)

Alarming Rate (2, Insightful)

chadpnet (627771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848027)

How can the rate of an observation be "alarming" if it has only recorded 3 of 6,000,000,000 years of existense?

Re:Alarming Rate (1)

Monoliath (738369) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848128)

I totally agree with you. This only illustrates our ignorance and stupidity as a species, in thinking that we know so much about everything, when in fact we know almost nothing when it's put into perspective.

Arrogance will drive science and society into absolute madness.

Re:Alarming Rate (3, Insightful)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848172)

How can the rate of an observation be "alarming" if it has only recorded 3 of 6,000,000,000 years of existense?

As far as we are concerned all of earth's history is unimportant - what matters is how it compares to human history, because while sea levels might have been rising faster some time in the Jurassic it wasn't anything humans ever had to cope with. From the planet's point of view it might indeed be trivial, but from the point of view of humans in the here and now who have to adapt to the changes it may well be significant.

So, how does 0.4mm per year compare to human history? The last 3000 years have (according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ) seen sea levels rise at an average rate of 0.1mm to 0.2mm per year. More recent data shows a rate of around 1mm to 2mm per year since 1850, and 3mm per year using satellite altimetry since 1992. On that sort of scale 0.4mm per year does represent a significant amount. Given the previous lack of certainty as to whether the Antarctic was losing or gaining ice with worst case estimates of about 0.2mm per year worth of ice being lost it is indeed alarming.

Sure, it isn't the end of the world, but then nobody with any sense was worried about that. The concern is the vast economic impact that could result from the forced relocation or rebuilding efforts caused by greater risks of flooding for the many many urban areas close to sea level. It may not be an epic disaster, but it could well be very expensive, so it's worth knowing about it so we can be forewarned and take preventative action now.

Jedidiah.

Re:Alarming Rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848260)

human history



Charlotte, the Vermont Whale [uvm.edu]

Re:Alarming Rate (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848252)

How can the rate of an observation be "alarming" if it has only recorded 3 of 6,000,000,000 years of existense?

  1. The polar ice caps have not been there for billions of years.
  2. If there's ice there now, it's because it ACCUMULATED in the past, now it's retreating.
  3. Plaeoclimatologists have been digging up ice layers to study the aformentioned accumulations, which is a record of its very existance. Like rings in a tree, except vertical, and cold.

Re:Alarming Rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848269)

Would it be better to say for 156 weeks or maybe for the last 1095 days. Other granularities are available for your choosing. The question you should really ask is whether a significant statistical trend exists.

Re:Alarming Rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848279)

No shit. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that so-called environmental scientists are a breed of parrot, devoid of all capacity to independently observe and reason about the world around them. They have some nieces and nephews in the slashdot community as well, I can see. I'm quite certain that the information presented by the strongly opinionated posters on this topic have been largely informed by (1) other posters, (2) journalists, and (3) mommie.

36 cubic miles? So what? Are we supposed to expect that the ice sheets remain exactly constant every single year? We've become quite comfortable with large scale global temperature changes in other arenas - El Nino, for examle. So why are we so astonished when something relatively insignificant happens to an entire continent full of ice?

I wonder how many of these chicken little environmentalists would have no grant money to live on if they didn't have an environmental catastrophe to keep up with. I'm typically a pretty liberal guy, but this story is really starting to get on my nerves.

Easy (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848283)

It's not alarming that it's shrinking by that rate compared to any historical values we have.

It's alarming because "oh shit, that's a lot of ice making the sea levels rise."

OMG! Bunkers - now 30% off (4, Funny)

Saeger (456549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848068)

"Bunkers! Underground bunkers! Get yer *waterproof* bunkers right here! Ensure the survival of your genetic line for only $85,000*!

Amenties include:
  • A pot to piss in!
  • A pot to cook with (same pot)
  • NASA certified air/water recycling system
  • 30yr supply of 30yr shelf-life freeze-dried dogfood!
  • Wikipedia SQLdump (laptop and electricity sold separately)
  • The collected works of Rush Limbaugh on tape!
  • 8 Boredom-brand cyanide pills

*Refurbished Y2K model# 1D10T"

.4 mm a year???? (1)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848070)

PANIC! PANIC!

I say nuke the poles, lets get this done now, not 2500 years in the future!

1.2 millimeters (1)

ltwally (313043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848104)

1.2 millimeters?! Time to head for high ground!

Flood of earth science (1)

augustz (18082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848119)

For those of you following NASA, there has been a flood of earth science recently.

It's interesting stuff, hopefully more data will continue to help refine and quanitify our understanding of how the earth works.

And guide developers to their next beachfront property :) No joke, but some property like sea terminals are going to get more valuable if things warm up.

Is this over the volcano? (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848129)

Is the ice melt over This volcano [msn.com] ?

Caiuse Parts of Antartica have neen colder than normal in the past half decade.

The Fox Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848143)

Thats just like an opinion man.

Stop the hand wringing already (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848150)

Stop worring, http://www.junkscience.com/ [junkscience.com] will shed some light on that nasty old boogyman, global warming. What ever happened to the good old days of Geeks doing research instead of believing stupid stories like they were good little MSCEs?

failziors?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848178)

with the laundry fear the rea4er it just 0wnz.', BSD's codebase NetBSD posts on To use the GNAA corporations includes where you

Well there's a simple counter-measure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848181)

Obviously to counteract the growing threat this poses to our coastal cities we must drink more water and take longer showers...

Wow! That's a lot of water! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848188)

36 cubic miles of water...per year? Hmm, let's see...
  • 36 cu. Miles = 39,640,217,100,000 gallons (give or take a fluid dram or so).
  • 39,640,217,100,000 divided by 300,000,000 U.S. citizens = 132,134 gallons per citizen.
  • 132,134 gallons divided by 3 months (90 days) = 1,468 gallons per citizen per day (according to NASA).
I guess NASA assumes every man, woman, and child owns an automobile (and washes it every day) and takes a shower every two hours non-stop.

But in all fairness, I did neglect to include a gallon or so for human consumption. You know how popular bottled water is these days.

But... (0, Flamebait)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848196)

I will probably be marked flamebait but this is a serious question.

Hasn't the Earth been warming up since the last iceage?

and

Hasn't the polar ice caps been receeding since the last ice age?

Have we not observed things in nature usually cycled. Why couldn't the global temperature be any different?

10 Iceage
20 global warming
30 life becomes almost extinct
40 global warming continues
50 spontaneous fires produce enough smoke to block the sun
60 lack of sunlight causes global cooling
70 goto 10

run

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848255)

Hasn't the Earth been warming up since the last iceage?

and

Hasn't the polar ice caps been receeding since the last ice age?

Not fast enough, it has been cold here in Canada for the last couple of weeks. To hell with global warming, let it happen. There are plenty of lakes in the north with not a soul on it and the property is something an honest working mortal can afford. Problem is it is frozen for 9 months a year. Good fishing too.

Re:But... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848270)

Hasn't the Earth been warming up since the last iceage?

and

Hasn't the polar ice caps been receeding since the last ice age?


No.

and

No.

There's been cycles, there were freak occurences, such as the Year Without Summer in the 19th century (volcanic ash), but there has not been a steady warm up. That's a lie told to help ignore evidence such as this, in order to maintain the status quo, so that the currently rich will keep getting steadily richer. Don't believe it; don't spread it.

Drink more water (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14848217)

After meeting the united nations has issued a resolution that will force everyone to drink more water. Tony Blair in a press conferance earlier today stated: "... only 16.5 gallons of water a day is all we each need to chip in to keep the ocean levels from rising..." The scientific community has aplauded this idea and water distribution stations are planning to be setup around the world within the next few months.

Earth will have to get used to this anyway (1)

mark_osmd (812581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848235)

Having a large continent at a pole is unusual anyway, Antartica used to be near the equator but was moved by plate motion to it's current location close enough to the south pole to have permanent ice 100 odd million yrs ago to present. Before that the south pole was open ocean just like the Arctic ocean is now and more of this water was in the ocean instead of glacial ice.

climate change denial (1)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14848239)

Stories like this always bring out a host of 'climate change denial' comments.

Let's say I could prove to you that *if* climate change is real (as is thought by many scientists), it would have real consequences to you personally. That you and your children would be malnourished, be drafted to fight resource wars, you'd be struck down with new diseases never before experienced in your area, societies and governments would collapse - would you still be so bloody nonchalant?

What I'm trying to say is that I reckon that climate change deniers do so with the implicit assumption that it won't affect them.
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