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August 6th, 2009

New Study on Antarctic Warming

An article reprinted last week in the San Francisco Chronicle (originally from TheDailyGreen) suggests that the question among Antarctic climatologists is no longer ‘Is Antarctica melting?” but rather
“How FAST is Antarctica melting?”

blue ice

A recent study prepared by the US Geologic Survey (USGS) and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) shows that Antarctica’s glaciers and ice sheets are retreating and melting more rapidly than previously anticipated, and the Wordie Ice Shelf has disappeared altogether. As darker sea water replaces floating ice and ice shelves, the water absorbs energy that the ice had reflected and speeds the cycle of warming.

The report’s conclusion – that sea-level rise estimates based on a total collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet are less dramatic than previously suggested – does little to temper the suggestion that our planet is experiencing profound effects from global warming much more rapidly than scientists had anticipated. The article ends with a call to action and plea for long-term vision in building our future, “The cost of doing nothing to address global warming is likely to be much larger than the cost of doing something. If we act now, it may or may not take some steam out of the economy, but it will produce clean energy jobs and a more sustainable economy in the long run.”