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Summer in Antarctica

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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Comments (11)

Steve Crickmore:

Amazingly enough that is what all conservative blogs think? Did you know that in a recent survey of 60 of the top conservative blogs surveyed... Not one of the 60)conservative bloggers thought they 'that human beings made a significant contribution to an global warming' anthropogenic global warming while 95% of the liberal bloggers thought humans did. It was the most astonishing figure I have heard in the past year right up there, with Bush's 2%approval rating from blacks after Katrina and Olmert present two percent approval rating with Israelis. I will look for this survey tomorrow. I must go now. It is astonishing, considering all the cumulative enviromental evidence presented.

U.P. Man:

Those same conservative who don't believe in evolution because the chance of life coming from non-life are even smaller that the chances of human beings be here during a planetary warming cycle.

U.P. Man:

[duplicate post removed]

Steve Crickmore:

I have the survey now

'Right Wing News' emailed more than 240 right-of-center bloggers and asked them to answer 8 questions. The following 63 blogs responded,
Question 4) Do you think mankind is the primary cause of global warming?

Yes (0) -- 0%
No (59) -- 100%

What do they think is the primary cause.. sun spots?...I find this so incredible..And most scientists think the debate is over? We are just getting warmed up. Wait until polar caps completely melt, then what reasons will the conservative bloggers come up with, but the obvious one, that our atmosphere can not continue to support the greenhouse gasses that a growing 6 billion plus planet population, carbon based fossil fuel economy produces.

U.P. Man:

What pray tell then is causing the Martian temperature to rise?

Wasn't the Earth's temperature once a lot higher so that quite a bit of North America was tropical?

Well, if we plan on moving to Mars or jumping into a time-travel machine your two questions may have relevance. Neither applies here and now, however.

It's no longer a question of "if" global warming is a factor that must be dealt with (although the same naysayers are still around and are now just humming a different tune) -- the question is what can be done to curb the effects and reduce the impact? -- are those remedies cost-effective? etc.

Steve Crickmore:

U.P.Man, The greenhouse effect that traps heat has been pretty well documented. Surely you must realise that in cities the temperature of the surrounding air and water is considerably hotter than the surrounding countryside, and has been for some time. From a layman's understanding, I just see us generating and spreading those emissions incrementally around to a much wider area, so that this small incremental but consquential global warming effects the entire globe, including even Antartica.

U.P. Man:

Hey Steve,

There is more concrete in cities. Concrete is a decent heat sink. Maybe it's the concrete absorbing the heat and more slowly releasing it keeping the cities warmer.

Also, more glass in the cities, more sunlight is reflect into the above concrete and surrounding buildings.

Let's prevent global warming get rid of concrete and glass.

My hypothesis is supported better by the facts than yours is.

U.P. Man:


If man is causing the rise in temp. here on Earth what is causing it on Mars?

Maybe the Sun is putting out more energy? Or are you saying the Sun puts out a constant amount of energy? Never varying and never has and never will?

If the Earth has warmed in the past, doesn't that show that we could be in a warming cycle now?

So, neither time machine or spacecraft are required for my statement to be relevant.

UP: "If man is causing the rise in temp. here on Earth what is causing it on Mars?"

There can be naturally occurring warming cycles that affect both earth and mars - that does not mean there aren't additional man-made factors affecting the problem here on earth, and luckily for us - we are in the position to mitigate those additional man-made factors if we choose.

U.P. Man:

What is the percentage change on Mars compared to the percentage change on Earth?

What percentage of the warming that is going on now, is man made? Or caused by man?


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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