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Global Warming Exposes New Islands in the Arctic 645

Posted by Zonk
from the go-north-young-man dept.
circletimessquare writes "The New York Times has a sobering article about the rapidly accelerating pace of glacial melting across the arctic, focusing on the discovery of new islands and the fact that this is occurring far faster than climate scientist's models predict. What were called Nunataks or 'lonely mountains' in Inuit, trapped in the ice, only a few years ago, are now in the open ocean by kilometers. Off of Greenland, what was known previously as peninsulas have been revealed to be islands as the ice retreats. Dennis Schmitt, a modern day explorer and discoverer of one of these new islands and fluent in Inuit, has named it Uunartoq Qeqertoq: the warming island."
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Global Warming Exposes New Islands in the Arctic

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:37PM (#17630228)
    "2.Please explain your assertion that climatologists have a vested interest in anthropogenic global warming being true."

    Scientists need to do research. The funding for all research is limited, so more serious issues tend to receive a larger portion of funding. The more serious the climatologists make their issues seem, the more funding they receive.

    And since it's how they get paid and make their living, they have a vested interest.

    Your failure to understand this makes YOU stupid.
  • Re:Eh. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:56PM (#17630598) Homepage

    Either way, I think we need to start putting less thought into "how are we going to slow down our greenhouse gas emissions" and more thought into "what steps are we going to need to take to deal with the inevitable consequences of the current warming trend."

    Why would we do that? A report by the UK government said that preventing extreme climate change is much cheaper than dealing with its consequences (see e.g. a BBC news article [bbc.co.uk]).

  • by Xyleth (612523) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:00PM (#17630662) Homepage
    Actually, as far as I understand the science, what happened the last few days in the US is entierly expected as a consequence of Global Warming. YOu don't just get warmer weather, you get more extreme weather as the extra energy in the system pushes things further from it's balance point. Global Warming is a misnomer as its far too simple and encourages thinking along the lines of 'its cold here so Global Warming can't possibly be happening'. Global Climate Change is a better term.
  • by HoneyBeeSpace (724189) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:16PM (#17630990) Homepage
    Actually climate models are *not* 'teh suck'. They have problems just like any other piece of incredibly complex software, but they allow us to learn about things that we otherwise could not study. As for hurricanes, that comment shows a general lack of understanding of climate, weather, and climate models. There is scientific consensus that there is no (know yet) link between climate change and hurricane FREQUENCY. Due to the scientific method being what it is, this may change. That does not mean we are now wrong or teh suck, merely that the scientific method works. There is a known link between hurricane STRENGTH and LONGEVITY and ocean temperatures.

    The climate model I work with (EdGCM [columbia.edu]) doesn't have a dynamic ocean, but that is because it needs to be simple enough so you can download it and run it on your laptop. It does have a 9 layer atmosphere and is in general agreement with the ensemble runs of most of the other GCMs out there.

    The EdGCM [columbia.edu] project has wrapped a NASA global climate model (GCM) in a GUI (OS X and Win). You can add CO2 or turn the sun down by a few percent all with a checkbox and a slider. Supercomputers and advanced FORTRAN programmers are no longer necessary to run your own GCM.

    Disclaimer: I'm the project developer.
  • by berj (754323) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:23PM (#17631114)
    A minor nit.. but it bears pointing out:

    Inuit is the general term for the people (it literally means "The people")
    Inuk is the singular
    Inuktitut is a general term for the languages of said people (for the Inuit living in northern Canada.. apparently in Greenland it's a different one)

    It's a little more complicated than I'm making it out to be.. but it's certainly not correct to say that "such and such is a word in Inuit"
  • Re:Islands (Score:3, Informative)

    by ScottSCY (798415) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:24PM (#17631142)
    As I just read The Weather Makers from Tim Flannery (very good book btw), I can answer this. No, the earth would not start cooling if we cut fossil fuels. The reason for this is CO2 stay in the atmosphere for upwards of 50 years. So, we really need to start cutting drastically now to avoid huge problems by 2050; there is really nothing we can do to change the course of the next 25 years or so as I understand it. It's pretty much a given that we'll see an increase of 2 to 5 degrees.
  • Nonsense (Score:4, Informative)

    by OriginalArlen (726444) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:25PM (#17631164)
    Amplification of warming at the poles is predicted by all current GCMs (global climate models.) This is not a surprise to anyone who's been following the science.

    More detail than you ever wanted: here [realclimate.org], here [realclimate.org], here [realclimate.org] and especially here [realclimate.org], from last week.

  • Re:Don't Panic (Score:2, Informative)

    by LxDengar (610889) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:28PM (#17631216)
    I hope you're kidding. You're assuming that the rate of loss is constant, which it is certainly not. Aside from warming factors in general, this warmth melted ice on the surface, forming pools. This water then trickled down through the ice, widening crevasses as it went, thus fracturing the shelf or alowing it to move, and shatter. Take a look at Larsen Shelf in the Antarctica. This is a shelf larger than Rhode Island. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/1022-06.ht m [commondreams.org] http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImage s/images.php3?img_id=4562 [nasa.gov] http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/planetearth/ ice_melt_010117.html [space.com]
  • Re:Eh. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sique (173459) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:31PM (#17631256) Homepage

    I don't think it's an either or situation, but if we're getting a spike that is outside the bounds of models based primarily on increased greenhouse gas composition in the atmosphere, which indisputably contribute to warming, then we might want to factor in increased solar activity into our models to more accurately predict the climate trends into the next century.
    The models about melting ice weren't taking in consideration the process of tidewater glaciers(*), and if they did, they didn't expect so many islands in place where they counted on peninsulas, thus increasing the area for tidewater glaciers.

    It's not the influence of greenhouse gases that was not correctly accounted for, it was a not completely understood process of the actual melting of the ice together with an incorrect mapping of the actual coastline, that caused the errors.

    (*) Tidewater glaciers, as explained in TFA, are glaciers, that reach into coastal waters, thus get rocked by the tides, and thus are "birthing" huge chunks of ice which then get loose and drift into the open (and warmer) ocean.

  • by syphax (189065) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:43PM (#17631478) Journal

    That article states, among other things, "More recently, a study and review of existing literature published in Nature in Sept. 2006 suggests that the evidence is solidly on the side of solar brightness having relatively little effect on global climate, and downplays the likelihood of significant shifts in solar output over long periods of time."
  • by Coryoth (254751) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:46PM (#17631548) Homepage Journal
    So Greenland used to be green. Then it froze. Now it's turning green again. It's almost like it's a natural cycle.

    Greenland used to be covered in ice with a few small areas in fjords that were habitable. What evidence we have of the Norse settlements (and there is a reasonable amount) shows that they were a farily marginal colony. For instance their cows were the smallest known, due to such a short period when they could be outside in pasture. There is evidence that while kept inside barns in the winter they had to be forcefed kelp to help fatten them up/keep them alive. Doesn't sound like a lush paradise.

    And on the other hand, its not as if today the Norse settlements are just starting to melt out from under the ice. The areas of Greenland that were settled by the Norse are and have been since they were rediscovered) quite green and habitable. Try looking at photos of the ruins: Hvalsey ruins [judithlindbergh.com], another shot of Hvalsey [demon.co.uk], ruins at Gardar [galen-frysinger.com], another shot of the Gardar ruins [stalvik.com], ruins at Brattahlid [ucsd.edu], a general shot [mortbay.com] (I can't identify the location), and to round things out, a couple shots of modern day Greenland [stalvik.com] in summer [arctic-adventure.dk]. Things have looked that way for a while - the ice was always inland from these fjords. It didn't take anything special for the Norse to be able to settle there - just a little determination to survive the winters.
  • Re:Discoverer? (Score:3, Informative)

    by theodicey (662941) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:49PM (#17631584)
    When they're covered by permanent icepack, they're invisible from space (at least with visible light wavelengths).

    There was an article a while back about explorers wading through slush to find the northernmost landmass in the world (an islet off the north coast of Greenland). He had to actually travel to the spot to be certain.

    However, the Navy probably has some seafloor maps that would tell you where to look...

  • Re:Islands (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pentagram (40862) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:29PM (#17632286) Homepage
    I can only assume this is a troll. Surely no one could possibly be this ignorant by accident. Still, debunking your comment might provide minor entertainment:

    The earth and sun have very long cycles that span eons and looking at a mere 100 years of semi-accurate data is very myopic.

    Try hundreds of thousands of years.

    I can go along with the current theories that we are having an influence on the climate but we certainly are not as significant as the political rallying groups would like you to believe.

    How about the scientists?

    IF they were correct after all, the ozone hole would not be getting smaller.

    The situation with the hole in the ozone layer is improving because we took note of what the scientists were saying and reduced our release of CFCs. And this does of course have absolutely nothing to do with climate change.

    Anyone who thinks the Kyoto accords were only about reducing greenhouse emissions needs to really look into the politics behind it. Most of the nations that signed it didn't have significant emissions to begin with.

    Every nation of note except the USA and Australia signed and ratified it.
  • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking@ ... m minus caffeine> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:43PM (#17632546) Homepage Journal
    As a member of the "Man has [little] effect" crowd, I'd rather see everyone focus on issues that we actually have, rather than fabricating new ones.

    So, why do you think that Bill O'Reilly [foxnews.com], GW Bush [timesonline.co.uk], and (gasp, finally!) ExxonMobil [climatesciencewatch.org] disagree with you? Is it just because they're a bunch of envirowackos trying to destroy the economy?

  • Actually... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mengel (13619) <mengel AT users DOT sourceforge DOT net> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:43PM (#17633684) Homepage Journal
    The major global-warming related scientific [livescience.com] predictions [mit.edu] that I saw said that tropical storms/hurricaines/typhoons/etc. would be more extreme, not more frequent.

    And if you look worldwide, rather than at just the Atlantic, they were, this last season.

    The Atlantic didn't have many hurricanes, which is usual in an El Nino year. [uiuc.edu]

  • Re:Islands (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @04:27PM (#17634584)
    How about this for casting aside "geo-political crap":

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/570 2/1686 [sciencemag.org]

    That's 928 peer-reviewed papers, zero dissent - and the agreement of every major scientific body in the country.

    The fact is, there is ZERO debate in the scientific community. In other words, questioning the reality of global warming is political crap. Supporting it is not. There are always people on both sides of an issue who are unreasonable, but this one is shockingly one-sided.

    So who should we believe, the thousands of scientists who all agree, or the 50% or so of politicians and bullshit artists who say there is a doubt? Just because a politician can make an intuitive argument doesn't mean there is any truth to it - just that maybe he was on the debate team.

    Seriously, of course most of the general public will never be able to tell the difference, because we aren't all climatologists... but do we really believe POLITICIANS more than SCIENTISTS, even when thousands of scientists all agree???
  • Re:Islands (Score:5, Informative)

    by David_Shultz (750615) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @05:01PM (#17635362)
    See after denying global warming exists (because heathen liberals lie about everything) they will finally acquiesce and proudly proclaim that it won't matter anyway. Jesus is coming, repent! The End Is Nigh, save yourselves! Look at the melting icecaps we used to think were a figment of your imaginations, now they are melting and it's because endtimes prophecy is being fulfilled.

    Why was this comment modded flamebait? I thought it was an insightful and important post. Half the American population (45%) believes jesus is coming within their lifetimes. Furthermore, they believe A)this will be the best thing that could happen to them, and B) many of them believe, because it says so in the bible, that the end will eb accompanied by a warming of the earth. Given this, why should we expect them to care a whit about global warming? global warming is gods will, and furthermore it is a signal of the final (glorious) chapter in a prophecy laid down by god.

    I think it is easy for slashdot users to look at a post such as the one quoted above and declare "thats flamebait -it was only intended to annoy people", because most of them are incapable of understanding where the christian nuts in the US are coming from -their views are so ridiculous that it is hard to fathom that they actualy believe what they say they do -but they do! And furthermore, so does George Bush, who sees himself as a warrior for God, appointed by divine prophecy.

    Wake up and smell the coffee slashdot users. Christian beliefs are a big problem. How can you expect someone to do anything about the end of the world when, not only do they not care, they think it would be a good thing, and a fulfillment of their prophecy. This is a self-fullfilling prophecy of the worst kind imaginable.
  • Re:Islands (Score:4, Informative)

    by nathanh (1214) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:03PM (#17639350) Homepage
    By the way, how far did those nations that you mention miss their goals by? Did any of them make progress toward reducing emissions (the real goal of the accords)?

    Don't worry, he was lying. About half of industrialized nations reached and even exceeded their goals. More than one third have gone significantly beyond their requirements for emission reductions. David Suzuki has a nice writeup [davidsuzuki.org] on his website.

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