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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rapid Climate Change

More and more evidence is amounting that global warming can create rapid climate change, a sudden lurch in the global climate that will cause extreme weather events which in turn can create environmental feedback loops which will only exacerbate the problem. We have to accept that radical changes to our emissions are the only way to really combat the problem, not nice words and empty sentiments.

Massive ice shelf 'may collapse without warning'
The Ross Ice Shelf, a massive piece of ice the size of France, could break off without warning causing a dramatic rise in sea levels, warn New Zealand scientists working in Antarctica.

A New Zealand-led ice drilling team has recovered three million years of climate history from samples which gives clues as to what may happen in the future.

Initial analysis of sea-floor cores near Scott Base suggest the Ross Ice Shelf had collapsed in the past and had probably done so suddenly.

The team's co-chief scientist, Tim Naish, told The Press newspaper the sediment record was important because it provided crucial evidence about how the Ross Ice Shelf would react to climate change, with potential to dramatically increase sea levels.

"If the past is any indication of the future, then the ice shelf will collapse," he said.

"If the ice shelf goes, then what about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet? What we've learnt from the Antarctic Peninsula is when once buttressing ice sheets go, the glaciers feeding them move faster and that's the thing that isn't so cheery."

Antarctica stores 90 per cent of the world's water, with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet holding an estimated 30 million cubic kilometres.

In January, British Antarctic Survey researchers predicted that its collapse would make sea levels rise by at least 5m, with other estimates predicting a rise of up to 17m.


At 29/11/06 9:23 pm, Anonymous josh said...

FTA: "Initial analysis of sea-floor cores near Scott Base suggest the Ross Ice Shelf had collapsed in the past and had probably done so suddenly"

how? when? who was to blame the last time it fell off? will it be that bad if it happens again? This article does not back up your conjecture that "radical changes to our emissions are the only way to really combat the problem"

At 30/11/06 1:49 am, Anonymous mike laws said...

Must have been all those emissions from the cars those Neanderthals drove Josh. And their factories.

At 30/11/06 9:43 am, Anonymous alice mackay said...

Oh my God! I can't believe there was an news story every night last week that talked about the fluffy lovely ice bergs down south - but not one of those story's focused on the fact that a chunk of ice the size of France is going to break off anytime soon!

At 30/11/06 10:40 am, Blogger bomber said...

Hey Josh – the reasons for rapid climate change events in the past are varied, some have to do with the normal heating and cooling of the Earth, some are from solar activity, some are from volcanic activity. Environmental tipping points, like frozen methane bubbling up from the ocean floor because the oceans warmed, have occurred naturally in the past because of these slow increases in heat over thousands and thousands of years, so we know what happens when these events occur, and the suddenness of the climate changes. What we see now though are unprecedented increases in heat over an incredibly short period of time which are human activity based – the real threat to us as a species is only now starting to dawn on researchers as they start finding proof that these events have occurred in our past naturally induced by heat that we see now in our environment. The difference is that these naturally occurring rapid climate events take thousands of years to build, we are doing it in hundreds of years.


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