Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wilkins Ice Shelf: Old, Inaccurate News

In the event you didn’t HEAR the ASS-ociated Press when they published this SAME STORY a few weeks ago, here it is again—the Wilkins Ice Shelf fear piece. Make sure you digest this along with the “swine” flu fear mongering that’s rampant in the news right now. Speaking of the swine flu, I wonder when the first lunatic will come out and say that global warming is the cause. I’m sure we won’t have to wait for long.

This particular article, however, is chock full of little delights that are ripe for analysis and digestion. First, just as with the previous article, they fail to mention that the EASTERN ANTARCTIC’S ICE HAS GROWN, such that the total continental ice has increased, even with this western portion breaking up (this is what happens in the spring and summer anyway).

Next, they’re finally admitting HERE FOR THE FIRST TIME that this ice breaking and melting WILL NOT raise sea levels. Yay! Let’s hear it for small victories.

Last, they’re admitting that all this scrutiny of the ice has been made possible by these new satellite images—as he says ‘for the first time…we can see the demise of the ice shelf.’ What that tells me is that the previous billions of years in Earth’s history could have had this situation occur and we wouldn’t have known about it. So should we just accept, given this one time in the billions of years of Earth’s history in which we happen to be paying attention, that it is a first occurrence?!? Again, this question is elementary for any first-year statistics student in college. The answer is no, you should not accept such an assertion.

Antarctic Ice Shelf Beginning to Break Up

BERLIN — Massive ice chunks are crumbling away from a shelf in the western Antarctic Peninsula, researchers said Wednesday, warning that 1,300 square miles of ice — an area larger than Rhode Island — was in danger of breaking off in coming weeks.

The Wilkins Ice Shelf had been stable for most of the last century, but began retreating in the 1990s. Researchers believe it was held in place by an ice bridge linking Charcot Island to the Antarctic mainland.


"There is little doubt that these changes are the result of atmospheric warming," said David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey.

The falling away of Antarctic ice shelves does not, in itself, raise sea levels, since the ice was already floating in the sea.


Researchers said the quality and frequency of the ESA satellite images have allowed them to analyze the Wilkins shelf breakup far more effectively than any previous event.

"For the first time, I think, we can really begin to see the processes that have brought about the demise of the ice shelf," Vaughan said.

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