Nasa has released some imagery showing that large areas of snow in western Antarctica melted in January 2005 because of unusually warm temperatures. The areas of snowmelt are shown in yellow and red. The news release explains:
This was the first widespread Antarctic melting ever detected with NASA's QuikScat satellite and the most significant melt observed using satellites during the past three decades. Combined, the affected regions encompassed an area as big as California.
The observed melting occurred in multiple distinct regions, including far inland, at high latitudes and at high elevations, where melt had been considered unlikely. Evidence of melting was found up to 900 kilometers (560 miles) inland from the open ocean, farther than 85 degrees south (about 500 kilometers, or 310 miles, from the South Pole) and higher than 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) above sea level. Maximum air temperatures at the time of the melting were unusually high, reaching more than five degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) in one of the affected areas. They remained above melting for approximately a week.
41 degrees? In Antarctica? Astonishing.
"Antarctica has shown little to no warming in the recent past with the exception of the Antarctic Peninsula, but now large regions are showing the first signs of the impacts of warming as interpreted by this satellite analysis," said Steffen. "Increases in snowmelt, such as this in 2005, definitely could have an impact on larger-scale melting of Antarctica's ice sheets if they were severe or sustained over time."
In January of 2002, the northern section of the Larsen B ice shelf, a large floating ice mass on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula, shattered and separated from the continent. Glaciers are in retreat across Antarctica as they are elsewhere in the world including Greenland. In addition, the Arctic ice cap shows signs that it is beginning to fall apart. Some scientists have predicted it could completely disintegrate in as few as 25 years.
But, of course, this is all just a coincidence that has nothing whatsoever to do with the massive increase in the burning of fossil fuels over the last 30 years. Yeah...right.
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