The Ice Is Falling!!—SO?

I picked this article from Fox News, but it could have been from any major media outlet as they all get the same feeds. I first looked at this last night and wanted to comment on it but it was getting late, so I waited until today. ICECAP has it covered though. Read the first article, (bold is mine) and then read what ICECAP had to say.

Satellite images reveal that a large chunk of the Wilkins ice shelf fell into the ocean sometime around the end of February, suggesting that climate change could be causing it to disintegrate faster than scientists had predicted.The 160-square-mile piece, about seven times the size of Manhattan, had been attached to Antarctica for hundreds, or maybe even 1,500 years.Scientists fear that the entire Wilkins shelf, more than 6,000 square miles, could be next.British Antarctic Survey researcher David Vaughan blamed global warming for the smaller piece’s disintegration.

Satellite images of the initial breakaway on Feb. 28 were noticed within hours, and scientists 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 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 this is the end of the Antarctic summer and colder weather is setting in, 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. Source


Let’s see what ICECAP has to say about the same events. Pick which one You would believe.


Icecap Note: Let’s put this in perspective. The account may be misinterpreted by some as the ice cap or a significant (vast) portion is collapsing. In reality it and all the former shelves that collapsed are small and most near the Antarctic peninsula which sticks well out from Antarctica into the currents and winds of the South Atlantic and lies in a tectonically active region with surface and subsurface active volcanic activity. The vast continent has actually cooled since 1979.

See full image here

The full Wilkins 6,000 square mile ice shelf is just 0.39% of the current ice sheet (just 0.1% of the extent last September). Only a small portion of it between 1/10th-1/20th of Wilkins has separated so far, like an icicle falling off a snow and ice covered house. And this winter is coming on quickly. In fact the ice is returning so fast, it is running an amazing 60% ahead (4.0 vs 2.5 million square km extent) of last year when it set a new record. The ice extent is already approaching the second highest level for extent since the measurements began by satellite in 1979 and just a few days into the Southern Hemisphere winter and 6 months ahead of the peak. Wilkins like all the others that temporarily broke up will refreeze soon. We are very likely going to exceed last year’s record. Yet the world is left with the false impression Antarctica’s ice sheet is also starting to disappear.

See full image here Source: The Cryosphere Today

One Icecap reader points also to a paper (Glasser et al, 2008) identifying some of the other natural processes that can lead to these ice sheet breaks, in this case Larsen B. See pdf of this story for posting here.


Well, what do you think? Given the facts shown here, who do you believe?



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