Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Huge chunk breaks off Arctic's largest ice shelf

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A couple of months ago, I posted on the discovery by Canadian researchers of major new cracks, or fractures, in the Arctic's Ward Hunt Ice Shelf.

Well, if that was the bad news, here's the worse news:

A four-square-kilometre chunk has broken off Ward Hunt Ice Shelf -- the largest remaining ice shelf in the Arctic -- threatening the future of the giant frozen mass that northern explorers have used for years as the starting point for their treks.

Scientists say the break, the largest on record since 2005, is the latest indication that climate change is forcing the drastic reshaping of the Arctic coastline, where 9,000 square kilometres of ice have been whittled down to less than 1,000 over the past century, and are only showing signs of decreasing further.

Basically, the Arctic is disappearing as a result of global warming.

Allow me to repeat myself: When sea ice melts, the seas rise, and, as I put it last October, there are potentially dramatic changes to the earth's hydrologic cycle, including to the so-called Ocean Conveyor, which regulates the Gulf Stream, the flow of warm water up into the North Atlantic. If the Conveyor slows down significantly as a result of more and more fresh water coming down from the north (melted sea ice), temperatures would cool significantly in Europe and elsewhere in the region, and, more dramatically, much of the Northern Hemisphere could be plunged back into another ice age. (Researchers have already discovered remarkable changes in oceanic salinity levels.)

Allow me to repeat myself again: We're fucked.

Unless there is a concerted global effort to address the climate crisis in a serious and sustained way. I'm hardly filled with confidence.

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Previous posts on global warming and the Arctic:

-- On climate change, they know the truth in Tuktoyaktuk (6/05)

-- Meet the polar bear, a victim of climate change (7/05)

-- The climate crisis in Canada's Arctic (12/06)

-- Canadian researchers discover more evidence of global warming in Arctic (5/08)

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5 Comments:

  • I don't see much reason for confidence either. If it's true that only about 3% of world CO2 emissions result from human activity, the trend might continue even if we all suddenly disappeared.

    We might be entering a period of lower solar emissions though, but it's still too early to tell.

    I have a boat, but I'm not taking any animals, thank you.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 11:06 AM  

  • Big deal -- and shit fell out of my ass today.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:05 PM  

  • Wow, what an intelligent comment, Anon. Thanks so much for taking the time.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 2:55 AM  

  • De nada. Happened again this morning as well. Felt just like a chunk of ice breaking off in the Arctic -- all natural!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:27 AM  

  • Yeah, all natural. Helped along by suicidal/genocidal humanity.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 4:05 PM  

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