View Full Version : Discussion: Antarctica Is Getting Ready to ...

2004-Oct-07, 06:00 PM
SUMMARY: With all this talk of global warming, it may come as a surprise that Antarctica has actually been mostly getting colder over the last 30 years. But new research from NASA indicates that this trend is about to reverse, and the continent will warm over the next 50 years. Researchers found, ironically, that low ozone levels actually made the continent colder, but with restrictions on ozone-destroying chemicals around the planet, this cooling effect is going to go away as the ozone layer returns. If temperatures rise too high, the continent's ice sheets will melt and slide into the ocean, raising water levels around the world.

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

2004-Oct-07, 09:43 PM
I believe that when the problem of Ozone Layer depletion was first brought up, and it was proposed that we tiny humans had something to do with it, there were many that didn't believe it.

And then when it was accepted, there were many(the same ones?) who said that humanity couldn't pull itself together and agree to do something to fix it.

Now, I think that the "informed" among us can agree that there really was a problem, and that we were capable of fixing it. Amaaaazing isn't it? We little humans can affect things on a planetary scale.

So, what do I think about this story?

I think it's time to get crackin' on the CO2 problem, and turn a deaf ear to those who would say that it isn't a problem , or, that "humanity couldn't pull itself together and agree to do something to fix it".

The Solutions are out There... B)

James Friesen
2004-Oct-08, 12:33 AM
Actually, I think this story goes to show that we need to understand the complexities of our ecosystem more before going off half-cocked and making major changes in our emissions that, in turn, might cause other problems.

Here these researchers are saying that Antarctica is going to heat up BECAUSE we are altering our emissions to lessen ozone destroying gas emissions. Our ecosystem seems to adapt very well to what we throw at it. Maybe we should let nature take its course until we are more confident about what we know.

In fact, I think I will go buy a tank of R12 on the black market and open it up, just to do my part in saving Antarctica.

2004-Oct-08, 03:43 AM
Hi James, Please bear in mind that no one bothered to study the "complexities of our ecosystem" before initiating the Industrial Revolution, or building fossil fuel driven power plants, or putting 2 cars in every garage. I don't think the word "ecosystem" was even invented till later in the 20th century, when the negative effects on the environment were first being noticed.

Here these researchers are saying that Antarctica is going to heat up BECAUSE we are altering our emissions to lessen ozone destroying gas emissions.

What you are suggesting is absolutely not what the researchers are saying about Antarctica. The Ozone Hole was allowing heat to escape more rapidly into space, and therefore was temporarily ISOLATING the Antarctic region from the trend of Global warming, which is understood by the majority of scientists to be caused by the increase in greenhouse gasses, CO2 being one of them.

Now that one problem, the Ozone Layer, is being addressed, we can focus on the remaining problem, global warming, then we shouldn't have to worry about the ice caps melting.

Humans are very capable of dealing with several things at once, and this shouldn't be too difficult a challange for us. Throwing up our hands and not doing anything would not automatically accomplish positive, beneficial results.

Our ecosystem seems to adapt very well to what we throw at it.

Do you honestly believe that? :o Ever hear of Lake Erie, so polluted that it actually caught fire from the oil and chemical slicks, no one could swim in it, the fish died. Is that your idea of "adaptation". When we stopped polluting Lake Erie, it got better. It only got better when "we" changed our bad behavior.

I also seem to remember the bird life after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, they didn't adapt very well at all to what we threw at them, they just got coated with goop, couldn't fly or eat or breathe. They died.

No, I've seen enough to be very confident about what I know. And I think we can certainly be more responsible caretakers of our planet instead of just sitting back, doing nothing and taking bets on how much damage the planet can take before we choke on our own wastes.

2004-Oct-08, 05:10 AM
Hi everybody!

It's my first post on this forum and my individual view.

I am afraid we can be accused of having done enough to lower our credibility. We say there has been warming. We don't mention that there has been cooling over certain parts as seen in satellite data. Then we feel warming may start over Antarctica so we start saying actually so far there was cooling but now there will be warming. An average man reads into it what you didn't expect: Buy the non-CFC fridge from my company! While all the above statements are true; they are like selective leaks and damage our credibility.

No one raised alarm when Joe Farman and the other BA Survay scientists reported Qzone Hole over Antarctica in 70's. Things were pretty quiet tll someone found a substitute for CFC and then started an aggressive selling campaign for the new products.

We must understand that right to good living is everybody's aspiration and we can't tell developing nations not to use CFC (it has ben done) and to spend their scarce resources on buying the substitute technology at exhorbitant price. Organisations like UN may consider subsididing the technology for these nations.

However, this is not the science part; it was industry/ politics.

The reversal in opinions have been common in this field, even if genuine, as this science is still far from perfect. That precisely is the strength of science but disturbing to the common man. We expected warming from Pinatubo eruption (lessons from world war) but difference in nature of the aerosols made it coolimg! We said globe was warming then satellite survey said otherwise. Now the Antarctica-surprise. May be the media should state the riders while reporting. Otherwise, the fear is, people will stop believing and the old wolf story may be repeated. This is different from the issues of changing ages of the Universe or earth as they are merely matters of details.The matter of warming is tricky while we are in the mid of a cooling cycle- astonomically. In any case, the warming leads to higher evaporation and higher snowing so higher snow cover which may mean higher reflection of soilar energy and hence further cooling. While ultimately mixing of warmer water wil undo this but on a mortal's time scale, our predictions mean nothing or simple wrong to them.

Sorry if it sounds synical but that's how many prople may be thinking and we have to be careful that reports are accurate and without selective deletions.

mark mclellan
2004-Oct-08, 11:21 AM

Please dont forget that our planets most knowledgeable of minds are only just begining to understand that our planet goes through cycles of its own, totally independant to what damage we may be creating.

Recent research in the Amazon canapies seems to indicate that from time to time forrests release huge amounts of polution into the atmosphere from "mass decaying". Huge amounts of slow releasing :D :rolleyes: :) methane found on the sea and ocean floors indicate a sort of (if i remember correctly) 20,000 year cycle of such plant life decaying.

We tiny humans have only playing our part in this for about 300 years.

We need to fully understand the planets life rythems before we claim to be able to fix global warming/cooling.

I do totally agree with you that we need to reverse our "poisining trends" as well.

2004-Oct-08, 03:50 PM
During the Pliocene epoch, which preceded the Ice Age (Pleistocene epoch), sea level was higher and the climate was warmer than it is today. No matter what we do, the Earth will continue to recover from the Ice Age, having a warmer climate and a higher sea level.

2004-Oct-08, 04:33 PM
The thought that trembles in my mind is that this headline will be seized by the naysayers, of proof positive that there is doubt we're responsible for warming or so many of the other negative environmental impacts by civilization. As a community of scientists or enthusiasts, it is important to be ready to combat spin since politics has become quite prevalent in the scientific world.

2004-Oct-11, 06:35 AM
I think we ought to recognize our state of vast ignorance about the possible behaviors of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS). After all, during a period of supposed COOLING a huge piece of the attending ice shelf system - one approximately the size of Rhode Island - disappeared, and only took - at most - a month do do so. (Satellite photos a month apart: thr first shows the shelf, in the second its GONE.)

This should be a rush project. The reason is is that the WORST CASE result of our ignorance is a civilization killer: a rise in the sea level in excess of 300 ft.

The math is simple: The AIS is approximately 6,000,000 square miles in area, and about 2 miles in average thickness. (These are the Above Water figures.) This amounts to some 12,000,000 cubic miles of ice.

The Earth has about 197.5 million square miles of surface area. To make the arithmetic easy, call it 200,000,000 square miles.

Thus, 12,000,000 cu mi divided by 2d00,000,000 sq mi leaves 0.06 miles. 0.06 miles ultiplied by 5280 ft per mi gives us something on the order of 320 ft.

Of course, only 70% of the Earth's surface is currently under water: to get an upper bound, divide 320 by 0.7 getting something on the order of 460 ft.

To pick a number, average the two figures: (320 plus 450) divided by 2 gives us 390 ft - call it 400 just to get a bal-park number...

Look at a world topo map: just how much of the densely populated areas are lower than 400 ft in altitude? How much of the world's agricultural areas? How much of the world's industrial base? How much of the world's primary resource areas? For that matter, just how many countries are entirely lower than 400 ft?

Can you imagine all 6+ BILLION of us trying to scramble for the land about the new water line, dragging all our worldly goods?

Note that I don't say this is going to happen: I just say that if it DOES we are in very deep DooDoo - all of us. It behooves us to determine as rapidly as possible just what impact we Homo not-so-sapiens are having on the world's climate, with specific regard to the AIS, and just what is happening to the AIS. If it is going to slump into the World Ocean - the scenario I suggest is worst-case - then we had damn well better start moving to high ground NOW: tomorrow is much to late...

2004-Oct-11, 05:13 PM
The Pliocene sea level was some 35 to 40 meters higher than present sea level and the Pleistocene sea level was some 40 meters lower than present sea level. I think the rise in sea level will continue over many many generations and there is no need for panic. Each generation will adjust.

2004-Oct-12, 08:20 PM
Originally posted by JESMKS@Oct 11 2004, 05:13 PM
The Pliocene sea level was some 35 to 40 meters higher than present sea level and the Pleistocene sea level was some 40 meters lower than present sea level. I think the rise in sea level will continue over many many generations and there is no need for panic. Each generation will adjust.
Yes, and the Earth's plates were not in exactly the current configuration, and the fauna and flora were different (Smilodon roamed the Pacific coast, and there were mastodons and mamoths to be had for the killing - no need for supermarkets).

Neither did we have essentially ALL of human-kinds eggs pretty much concentrated below the 400 ft contour line. ALL of the coastal citys of the world are vulnerable: it is just that some are SEEN to be more vulnerable than others: Venice and New Orleans are both on the brink of following Atlantis into the drink: It doesn't take "30 to 40 meters" (= 100 to 130 ft) to render both of those cities things of the past. Boston is in trouble every time there is a storm surge combined with a high tide: the sewer system goes into reverse in large parts of the city.

Much of Los Angeles (does the term "Marina district" ring a bell???) is likewise at hazard: yes, there are hills, but the roads and utilities follow the contour of the land, not leap from hill-top to hill-top.

Much of Florida lies below 100 ft, not to say 400 ft.

Holland.... Ever heard of dikes and polders?

The "Gasoline Belt" of the Lower Mississippi River, where the bulk of the U.S. refining capability is located, is not that far above sea level. In fact, get the topo maps of the Missisippi River and see just how far upstream you have to go before you are above 100 ft and 400 ft altitude.

The Great Central Valley of California, where we grow much of our produce, is less than 100 ft above sea level.

And no, it won't be a matter of "generations" for the change to occur. Positive feedback reactions go to completion rather rapidly. Once the AIC starts slipping, it could be all over but the glug-glug-glug in a matter of weeks.

What seems to be the case is that the "off-shore" ice sheets - the ones grounded on the bottom - butress the "continental" ice and keep it from slipping into the ocean. As other ice capes, like the ones on/in Greenland and Alaska melt, they raise sea-level, which provides increased bouyancy to ice shelves surrounding the AIC. This, in turn, promotes the break-up of the shelves, releasing the restraining force on the ice cap, which allows the "ice rivers" to move more freely, entering the ocean faster, raising its level, floating off more ice shelf...

Do you get the picture.

I think we are in deep doo-doo.

2004-Oct-13, 03:36 AM
I think the melting of the Antartic and Greenland ice masses will continue no matter what we do. The melting of the Artic and other floating ice will have no impact on our sea level. The melting of sea ice will however reduce the amount of solar reflection and increase the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth. Unless we have another period of worldwide volcanism that would create another Ice Age, the Earth will continue to recover from the last Ice Age (maybe it's starting here in Washington with Mt St Helens).
Plate tectonics have had little impact on the shape of our continents since the end of the Pleistocene Epoch. The land area of the continents have had a significant reduction in size however because of a rising sea level.
The volume of ice on the Earth is related to the difference between the amount of annual ice accumulation and the amount of annual melting. When melting exceeds the amount of accumulation, the ice volume decreases. When the volume of annual ice accumulation exceeds the volume of annual melting, the ice mass increases in volume. I don't believe that we can have a significant impact on the amount of melting as solar reflection decreases every year because of the shrinking size of of our snow packs. Maybe we should attempt to increase the amount of snow accumulation to reduce the difference between accumulation and melting. This might be accomplished by increasing particulate emissions in the higher latitudes to induce cloud seeding. Cloud seeding increases precipitation, which would increase the volume of snow accumulation. This would increase solar reflection and reduce the difference between the volume of ice accumulation and the volume of ice melting and slow the rise of sea level

James Friesen
2004-Oct-13, 03:47 AM
Look, whatever happens will just happen. We should continue to observe and learn. We should even tinker around when and if it is feasible, but all life forms, including humans, learn the hard way. People need disaster staring them in the face, if not already running them down, before they give a heck. Why else would so many people live in Florida and California and on the banks of rivers prone to overflow. People don't think much about the future and deep down inside, I think most people deliberatley court disaster. Even if they don't realize it, people tend to live on the edge and seek out change and excitement. There are also many who desire security, but I think the former far out number the latter.

As for the Earth's ecosystem, it has rebounded from incredible disasters in the past and it will again, and so will humans. Even if we do touch off an event that destroys 98% fo the species, there won't be anybody left to care, just micro-organisms. Then life will just start over with a clean slate, and before you know it the world will be teeming with macroscopic life again. It will be a happy place, without any smoke stacks, and all the little critters will frolic in the sun without a care in the world.

Personally, I think mankind will learn to control his environment and survive to spread out into space, barring any cataclysmic space events. It may get a bit cramped and stifling in here before that happens, but it will happen. If we can leave behind us a green Earth, that would be nice, but if, in the process of our growth, we suck dry the egg of our birth, so be it. We are, after all, a part of nature and, therefore, quite natural in our own behavior.

2004-Oct-13, 05:35 PM
The Great Central Valley of California, where we grow much of our produce, is less than 100 ft above sea level.

That seems surprisingly low; how can I verify the elevation? Where didyou find it? Is the valley "basinlike" such that the flow of seawater into it would be blocked by the natural terrain? If not, How long would a 200 foot high dam have to be?

It will be a happy place, without any smoke stacks, and all the little critters will frolic in the sun without a care in the world.

Except as now--avoiding being eaten by each other and again being put at the mercy of the species that wins the race back to technology developement.

2004-Oct-13, 11:37 PM
The Central Valley of California is a Northwest-Southeast trending valley that lies between the Coast Range and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It's width is about 50 miles and it's length is about 250 miles. It drains into a tributary of San Francisco Bay at it's northern end. It's elevation ranges from sea level at it's northern end to 507 feet at Bakersfield, CA near its southern end. The town of Fresno, which is about midway in the valley has an elevation of 336 feet. Only the northern 20% of the valley would be flooded with a sea level rise of 100 Feet

Algenon the mouse
2004-Oct-14, 12:10 AM
Hello everyone! Been gone for awhile....

Here is the link where we have been talking about this topic in another thread:
http://www.universetoday.com/forum/index.p...topic=4398&st=0 (http://www.universetoday.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=4398&st=0)

I think the main thing we need to realize is that even though the earth might have experienced massive extinctions in the past, they were not tiggered by any one species. Since we have already made a difference by cutting down on the amount of CFC in the air, isn't it time to use our brains for a bigger and better solution? Lets not leave this for the next generation.

2004-Oct-14, 04:57 AM
When the American Geophysical Union changed the name of the Focus group from Global Climate Change to Global Environmental Change, it was because the cycles are not just about warming or climate, but environmental changes. Thos changes may be in the form of warming in some areas: micro or mega climate changes on various scales, but always environmental change. To argue global warming issues is passe and counterproductive. What we are trying to understand is how the various cycles influence the environment.

While my immediate interests are the climate and geology of my vineyards, I have been called upon to consider cosmic rays, geoneutrinos, carbonatites, my specialized studies in carbon-based chemical reactions, and a myriad of other facets that make up the earth system. I read about 5 articles a day now and add about that many a month to the synthesized base that the focus group uses to communicate with each other. My research partner is looking at the role of the individual elements in the system, and a research doctor from the School of Medicine had added input into diseases arising from, not global warming, but global environmental change. That added some 600 papers to the works, ranging from archaea/bacteria, to evolution, to the tree of life, to the obvious-- man and his relationship to those microbiota. Others in the group are looking at other aspects of the solar system for external drives to the earth cycles. In the past 5 years, i have utilized every aspect of every discipline and subdiscipline i have every studied, geology and geophysics at Stanford, botany at Cal , and cosmology/nucleosynthesis at Caltech, and all the research that followed.

Scientists and those who claim a respect for the process need to understand the efforts that are being undertaken to put the cycles together into an integrated system, and at least be current with with their comments or respectful of those who are trying to do something. I have things to share with the forum, and I sure as hell don't need to posture with people who think they have some sort of special insight into one thing or another. The idea should is to share and grow. I have never seen not knowing something as a fault. Some of you are hell bent to demonstrate or even prove that you can do what no other has yet done. That may happen, but it hasn't yet, so stop acting like you are God's gifts to science. The fact is, none of us knows very much about anything.

2004-Oct-14, 07:16 PM
Wow abys, what set you off? Well spoken, and very true none-the less :)

As for the additional of melted ice water to the oceans, fact is that no one can be certain what will result. There are studies suggesting the occean currents may be affected, with the first obvious result being a much colder Europe. There are suggestions that this may cascade leading to a situation where an ice age is trggered (Yes, The Day After Tomorrow is based on this concept--loosely).

Whether or not the Earth's warming is man-made or natural, or a combination of both, the fact is we are going to have to live with the results. I think that the research being done by abyssalrover and others like him is critically important--both to us humans and all of the other critters we share this planet with. We need to have an understanding of what is happening in order to have an understanding of what we might be able to do.

2004-Nov-30, 09:47 AM
Originally posted by Tom2Mars@Oct 7 2004, 10:43 PM
I think it's time to get crackin' on the CO2 problem, and turn a deaf ear to those who would say that it isn't a problem , or, that "humanity couldn't pull itself together and agree to do something to fix it".

I always thought that it indicated the ultimate in conceit when people start talking like mankind can effect anything on a global/lanetary scale. This is especially true when they start makeing statements like"I don't care what anyone else thinks, I'm going to turn a deaf-ear and do something about it".

Often, those folks are dead wrong. Hopefully, they are ineffectual. Unfortunately, wrt global warming and the rising tides; they will gain a substantial amount of followers that will waste resources by playing the role of King Canute. This was the same King that died, by drowning, in a futile attempt to command the tide to stop.

The earth will warm and the ice will melt. The seas will rise between 10-30 meters. We are only estimated to be 2/3 through the current interglacial (one of 17) and all the interglacials were warmest during the last 1/3 of their cycle. Exect this to happen sometime during the next 2-5 thousand years. There is NOTHING our civilization can do to alter this! The only thing that we can do is to adapt.

We will adapt but, not all of us will make it. You are only encouraging those who will fail.

Lord, give me the strength to change the things that I can change
give me the courage to accept the things that I cannot change
and grant me the wisdom to know the difference.