Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Vanishing Ice Caps

From a South African news source (via ThinkProgress) is news that the Artic ice is disappearing faster than anyone imagined. The photo to the left shows the effect of 24 years of global warming. The report that shocks scientists is that the ice pack has shrunken nearly in half in just the last three years. The waters from Sweden (the land at the top of the photo) to the North Pole is now ice free.

I know what my right-wing friends (acquaintances ... annoying neighbors) will say. They will say that global warming will be the greatest thing to happen to the Earth since pre-packaged spinach. Here is a Cato Institute love fest for heat.

What's the downside? This is a slide from a University of Florida "Biology for Engineers" lecture. If all the polar ice melts, Florida and Louisiana will disappear. The Mississippi River will flood to and consume Memphis. Eleven of the country's 25 largest cities will be inundated, including Washington D.C. Maybe this will catch the President's eye, a quarter of Texas will be underwater. To balance Cato, here is a National Resources Defense Council article.


Anonymous said...

The problem with the lecture, as cited, is that there would be NO affect on sea level if the Arctic ice cap melted. (No, I am not a wing nut, denying reality. Physics rules here, not beliefs.)

The reason there would be no direct affect on sea level is because the arctic ice cap is generally FLOATING.

Something floats when the mass of water it displaces equals the mass of the object. So, a ton of ice would displace a ton of water as it floated. Melt the ice and you have a ton of water filling the displaced volume where the ice was = no change in the total volume of water, no rise in sea level.

In short, and to repeat, floating ice, if it melts, will not raise sea level.

BUT, the same heat that is causing the Arctic ice cap to melt, is also melting the ice on Greenland.

THAT ice on land is NOT floating. As the Greenland ice melts, as it will, then sea level will rise. And, we don't even want to think about massive melting in Antarctica.

Oh, and the affects of all that cold water from Greenland on the north Atlantic ocean circulation? Think major weather pattern changes.

I have to think that the University of Florida lecture cited was incorrectly or incompletely quoted somewhere along the way.

KnightErrant said...

You're correct. However, I did subtly change course in the third paragraph and referred to all polar ice when discussing the UF lecture. So, at least as far as my references go, I got things right.

Ya gotta watch my changes in focus; I tend to be abrupt at times.

Anonymous said...

Yup. I missed the "all" in "all polar ice."