Monday, March 31, 2008

Antarctic ice shelf continues to break up


A large chunk of the Wilkins ice shelf has broken off showing the long lineal fractures and right angle corners of these huge blocks of ice. A scientist from the British Antarctic Survey predicted this break-up in 1993. In the following article is an awesome video of the ice shelf taken from an old Twin Otter Aircraft.

Whether caused by something called Global Warming or a natural warming cycle, this cannot be ignored. I believe that the primary cause of the current warming trends is the unprecedented harvesting of trees and plantlife by mankind on virtually every part of the planet. The cooling effects of the transpiration of water from trees when removed in large areas like Brazil has an effect on weather patterns, and at the same time decreases Mother Natures ability to replenish the very oxygen that is necessary for animal life. The Earth's resources, fossile fuels in particular, are like a natural battery, providing fire to run the technology we feel is necessary to enhance our existance, and we are using it up like there is no tomorrow.

This whole thing probably started when Zog Earlyman cooked up his first Mastadon steak and our technology hasn't really advanced much since those times. Mankind has learned how to burn the crap out of everything, but hasn't even came close to replicating the natural ability of plant life to utilise carbon dioxide in the production of oxygen.

End of rant...G:

British Antarctic Survey

25 Mar 2008

Glaciologist Ted Scambos from the University of Colorado alerted colleagues Professor David Vaughan and Andrew Fleming of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that the ice shelf looked at risk. After checking daily satellite pictures, BAS sent a Twin Otter aircraft on a reconnaissance mission to check out the extent of the breakout.

Professor Vaughan, who in 1993 predicted that the northern part of Wilkins Ice Shelf was likely to be lost within 30 years if climate warming on the Peninsula were to continue at the same rate, says,

"Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened. I didn't expect to see things happen this quickly. The ice shelf is hanging by a thread – we'll know in the next few days or weeks what its fate will be."

Jim Elliott was onboard the BAS Twin Otter to capture video of the breakout for Vaughan and colleagues. He says,

"I've never seen anything like this before – it was awesome. We flew along the main crack and observed the sheer scale of movement from the breakage. Big hefty chunks of ice, the size of small houses, look as though they've been thrown around like rubble – it's like an explosion."

The breakout is the latest drama in a region of Antarctica that has experienced unprecedented warming over the last 50 years. Several ice shelves have retreated in the past 30 years - six of them collapsing completely (Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller and the Jones Ice Shelf.)

Professor Vaughan continues,

"Climate warming in the Antarctic Peninsula has pushed the limit of viability for ice shelves further south – setting some of them that used to be stable on a course of retreat and eventual loss. The Wilkins breakout won't have any effect on sea-level because it is floating already, but it is another indication of the impact that climate change is having on the region."

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