Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The next time you see the Wilkins Ice Shelf...

It will probably be floating by in chunks the size of football fields attached to... fuck all. One of the largest ice shelves in Antarctica has lost a huge portion of its face as the ice surface of Antarctica retreats.
A vast iceberg has broken away from the Antarctic coast, threatening the collapse of a larger ice shelf that is now “hanging by a thread”.

Satellite images have revealed that about 160 square miles of the Wilkins Shelf have been lost since the end of February, suggesting that climate change could be causing it to disintegrate much more quickly than scientists had predicted. “The ice shelf is hanging by a thread,” said David Vaughan, of the British Antarctic Survey(BAS). “We’ll know in the next few days or weeks what its fate will be.”

Professor Vaughan was a member of a BAS team that predicted in 1993 that the Wilkins Shelf could collapse within 30 years, if the pace of global warming continued.

“Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened,” he said. “I didn’t expect to see things happen this quickly. We predicted it would happen, but it’s happened twice as fast as we predicted.”

Vaughan should not have said that. Now he'll be accused of not knowing the facts about global warming, which, to some people, isn't happening.
Professor Vaughan predicted in 1993 that the northern part of the Wilkins Ice Shelf would be lost within 30 years if climate warming continued. But he said it is happening more quickly than he expected.

He told BBC News: "What we're actually seeing is a chunk of the ice shelf drop off in a way that suggests it is not just a normal part of iceberg formation.

"This is not a sea level rise issue, but is yet another indication of climate change in the Antarctic Peninsula and how it is affecting the environment."

Scientists say the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts out into the Southern Ocean towards the tip of South America, has experienced unprecedented warming over the last 50 years.

Several ice shelves have retreated in the past 30 years - six of them collapsing completely.

Other researchers believe the Wilkins Ice Shelf may hang on a little longer, as Antarctica's summer melt season draws to a close.

Dr Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado said: "This unusual show is over for this season. But come January, we'll be watching to see if the Wilkins continues to fall apart."

The Wilkins Ice Shelf is now being held back by 6 kilometer strip of ice.

But all of this matters not one bit. Hell, it's snowing in Manitoba, there have been avalanches on the Coquihalla Highway and northern New York hasn't had a winter like this in years. Anyway, somewhere, someone has pictures of thermometers next to an air conditioner compressor.

This is intended to scare people who would otherwise only piss their pants over terrorists 10,000 miles away.

Here. Let's calm them.

It is just plain wrong to scare all the wingnuts like that.

There. That's better. That's what they all like to see.

Wait until a land-based sheet of ice collapses.

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