"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tiny Green Intellects. It Begins - Antarctica is Melting.

The Tiny Green Bubble has come up with the astounding news that the Antarctic peninsula is warming at the rate of 11 Degrees C annually!  It will obviously be boiling in ten years! A typical alarmist rant about the "melting Antarctica"  concentrates on the relatively tiny peninsula which is out of step with the Antarctic continent as a whole.

In the Antarctic Peninsula, winter temperatures have increased by eleven degrees on average annually. Ninety percent of the 244 glaciers along the western part of the Peninsula have retreated since 1940. Ice shelves (the large slaps of ice that flow off the land) have been disintegrating, the most significant of which occurred in 2002 when an ice shelf that was once the size of Connecticut shattered in just a matter of days.

And what will be the effects as Antarctica continues to melt away? Obviously, ice-dependent organisms will begin to disappear. That may seem insignificant, but those organisms, mostly plankton, are the most important link in the Antarctic food chain, and as the food dies off so will the predators (seabirds and marine mammals) above it on the food chain. That includes the Adelie penguins, so enjoy your showing of Happy Feet this holiday season. The Adelie penguin population in the northwestern Antarctic Peninsula has shrunk by seventy-five percent and more, in some places. Many researchers expect the breed to be completely extinct in the wild within one lifetime.
 For their next Tiny Green Thought Bubble they should probably look at Jeff Id's depiction of Antarctic temperature changes with time where the greatest warming gradient is only .35 Deg C per Decade and the rest of the continent has negligible warming or cooling. 


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