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Science

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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  • Discoverer? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Skidge (316075) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:26AM (#17630004) Homepage
    Can you really "discover" an island these days? I'm sure some arctic researchers in a lab somewhere saw these on recent satellite photos. Even more so, I bet the appearance of these islands was predictable, given melt rates and knowledge of what was under the ice.
  • Start donating (Score:4, Interesting)

    by raju1kabir (251972) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:31AM (#17630120) Homepage
    When can we expect the announcement about Pirate Bay trying to buy one of the new islands?
  • Google Maps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xzzy (111297) <sether @ t r u 7 h . o rg> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:37AM (#17630218) Homepage
    Took a few minutes (the map in the article isn't really all that good), but I dug up a photo of the island in google maps:

    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&z=10&ll=71.476542, -21.726837&spn=0.209418,1.203003&t=k&om=1 [google.com]

    Still shows it as connected.. but only barely.
  • Fossils? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KidSock (150684) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:42AM (#17630336)
    Not to detract from the issue but is this not a good opportunity to go fossil hunting? Covered in ice there might be more than just fossilized bone as well (but we'd better be quick about it because once exposed to air there really won't be anything but bone).
  • Re:Discoverer? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OctoberSky (888619) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:44AM (#17630364)
    Why not? If C. Columbus can sail into the wrong port, land on a continent that has people and societites and history and "discover" it, then why can't these guys discover an island that no one knew existed in the first place?
  • Is it obvious yet? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@@@ideasmatter...org> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:45AM (#17630374) Journal
    "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.

    Seeing as how this is the 10,000th time this sort of thing has happened, can we at least all agree that:

    • global warming is real, and its consequences are mounting, but
    • climate models are teh suck

    Seriously. Every year there's a new twist that the models missed by a mile. Most recently, it was the 2006 quiet hurricane season. Anyone who claims to predict planetary weather by studying past correllations and making guesses at future causations, is doing the academic equivalent of hunting for venture capital.

    But, nevertheless, the planet is getting steadily warmer.

  • by ProfessionalCookie (673314) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:48AM (#17630444) Journal
    Ok, I'm ready let go of my karma...

    1. Yeah that would be stupid. See #4
    2. Funding. This is true of many fields. It's typically viewed as harder to get funding if your results are inconclusive or show nothing. Just read any old science journal, how often do you find articles stating that experiments were done and nothing was found. Plus, in science it's fun to believe what is popular. $Popular != $Correct
    3. Way to attack the source and not the science. I suppose next you'll say there is no science behind those sources- at least none non you want to consider.
    4. Does anyone actually say that? If they do you're right that's pretty dumb. Then again keep in mind that 'could' and 'does' are not lexically equivalent (neither are 'can never happen' and 'isn't happening right now').

    In all fairness those aren't very convincing replies.

    Oh- and for all you GW (and I don't mean Bush) scaremongers who continue to have haydays with warmer than usually temps make a note of this last weeks weather across the US.

  • by SaDan (81097) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:58AM (#17630626) Homepage
    Exactly. I'm all for research into global climate, but it's very clear that the models we currently have are not up to the task of telling us if we have cause to be alarmed yet.

    The planet has been warmer than it currently is plenty of times before. We've also had glaciers down to the Ohio River (in the USA) before too. Obviously there's a cycle, and it's possible humans have added (or even subtracted) from various aspects of the cycle.

    I conserve where I can, and encourage others to do the same. However, I'm not a fan of the whole "global warming" agenda. My personal thoughts are that we are witnessing the transition from one phase of our climate to another, and entirely too many people are jumping to conclusions about what is the real cause. It's all politics, FUD, and money at the moment.
  • Re:Eh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by umStefa (583709) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:10PM (#17630866) Homepage
    We expect the temperatures to go up due to solar cycles, but they don't come close to explaining the aberrant rate of increase unless there have been developments I haven't heard about.

    Actually as far as I know none of the data on historic global warming is able give details accurate 50 or 100 year periods. We know that the earth's temperature cycles between Warm and Cold, but we don't know for sure what causes it. This leaves the scientific community unsure as to the role of natural processes and the activities of man in global warming. It is because the scientists of the world cannot completely agree (they do however agree that the planet is heating up) on the cause of global warming that politicians can sell various "solutions".

    Of course in terms of additional land becoming available in the arctic this is all eventually irrelevant, because the end result of global warming is the next ice age.
  • Re:Don't Panic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by plopez (54068) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:12PM (#17630924) Journal
    There may be other ramifications. I can't find the ref, but one possible side effect could be the ocena floor and the island of greeland rising and putting less pressure and distortion on the surrounding sea floor. sort of like putting pressure on the outside of a dodge ball, if the presure is reduced, it could cause the sea floor to *drop*.

    The sam, on an even more massive scale, could be true of Antartica. A huge mass of ice suddenly is no longer pressing down on the continent, distorting the earth's crust. The surrounding sea floor could drop.

    Net effect? Unknown.
  • Re:Islands (Score:1, Interesting)

    by fluffy99 (870997) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:13PM (#17630940)
    I wholeheartedly agree with you. 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. 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. IF they were correct after all, the ozone hole would not be getting smaller. 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.
  • Lack of information (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ziggy_co (1051982) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:19PM (#17631042)
    We still lack a great deal of information that would allow us the ability to make sound decisions concerning global warming. There is strong indications that human actions are taking a toll on the climate, but to what extent is still up for discussion. While rising ocean water is a massive problem for coastal territories, dumping a tremendous amount of fresh water the ocean will change the salinity and with it the density of water potentially altering currents. This could be catastrophic because ocean currents are the worlds most efficient means of transferring energy from the equator to the poles. Interruption in this could change weather patterns around the world if altered considerably. Can't wait to see how this works out in a decade of two.
  • by LotsOfPhil (982823) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:31PM (#17631264)
    Speaking of "An Inconvenient Truth," this reminded me of all the before and after pictures of glaciers and such. Here are a few: melt [nsidc.org]
  • Re:Islands (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:51PM (#17631636) Journal
    >I don't get why the "man has no effect" crowd are so vehemently against taking any action.

    Easy: because they figure they stand to lose more than they gain by taking action: they either think it'll cost a lot (which it might) or that they won't be particularly affected by the result of no action.

    I live in Colorado. I don't give two hoots about houses being designed for earthquake surviveability or tidal wave warning systems. Why should I pay for research into these areas? I'm in good health: why should I pay for surgery for someone who can't afford medical care? I'm young: why do I care about age discrimination? Same mindset.
  • solution? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by c6gunner (950153) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:56PM (#17631726)
    It seems that the two biggest gloom-and-doom scenarios these days (aside from global warming itself) is that the ice will melt causing the oceans to rise, and that we're going to run out of fresh water.

    Anyone else seeing a way to kill two birds with one stone here?

    Why not start creating man-made lakes, and towing icebergs into 'em? Yes it's a lot of work, but if we're going to need the water anyway, and we don't want to lose too much of our shoreline...well, why the hell not? It'd be extremely easy to do in north america, and much of northern europe and asia. And if we're feeling really charitable, we could start towing the southern ice-caps up to africa and the middle-east. They could certainly use some fresh-water.
  • Re:Islands (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kabocox (199019) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:59PM (#17631776)
    What we argue (not deny) is how much influence mankind has had, and we call bullshit on people who think the climate would, right now, be different if only Bush had signed the Kyoto Accords.

    So here's a question: if we stopped emitting burning fossil fuels entirely, right now, would the earth start cooling?


    Nope. You need to define your "we" better though. Is we the US or the entire human population? If it is the entire human population, there is no telling what effects stopping or removing massive human influence would have on our environment. If it was just the US population? Pretty much the same thing. The only way to "fix" this issue is for someone to build some nuclear plant and use the energy from that to mine carbon out of the atmosphere and make oil out of it. The more that I think about it the more that the whole hydrogen fuel economy that Wired and others have been feeding us lately misses the point. Oil works fine. All we need though is to figure out how to remove the massive quantities of carbon in the air and use that to make oil, diamonds, or any thing made out of carbon. We need to research into that sort of thing rather than thinking just reducing or stopping our carbon emmisions. Why stop them? We need someone our there that will mine that carbon and sell it to complete the cycle.
  • Re:Nonsense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by marx (113442) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:17PM (#17632076)
    The warming is actually only amplified in the north pole, not the south (as can be seen on the maps you link to). The reason is that some of the sea is uncovered during the summer in the north pole, while it isn't in the south pole, since there's land there.
  • by HoneyBeeSpace (724189) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:46PM (#17632600) Homepage
    Disclaimer of course... I work as a programmer in the field. Not a scientist, and not an expert on hurricanes, but here is my take on the article.

    It never mentions 'climate change' or 'global warming'. It simply says that hurricanes are "...strongly related to a climate pattern known as the multi-decadal signal". This is neither weather prediction nor making estimates of the effects of climate change. We know that when the Pacific is in an El Nino or La Nina phase and also depending on Atlantic currents that certain global patterns are more likely. Is it a local effect within 10 days to 2 weeks? No, then it isn't a weather forecast. It also has very little to do with GCMs, as you don't need a predictive model to tell you this, we can look at historical trends of hurricanes correlated to ENSO events.

    Now, will a global change in climate have an effect on the El Nino / La Nina cycles? Will it change them? Will it change what happens when they occur? Will it affect Atlantic currents day-to-day or these year-long trends that come and go? Will it change the wind patterns? That is an entirely different question and not discussed by me nor in that article.

    Note that the article does support my original statement that warmer ocean temperatures are positively correlated to increased hurricane strength, and also that

    Hope this helps.
  • Re:The end is nigh (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:04PM (#17632902)
    Now, if only there was away to make sure that only the idiots perish.
    It's called "natural selection" because it's built in to nature. Give it time, it'll work.
  • Re:Islands (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AArmadillo (660847) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:17PM (#17633182)
    Why?

    - It devotes resources to fighting a strawman. Many of the "man has no effect" crowd still believe that global warming is happening, and even possibly could be due to CO2 emissions. However, the only evidence of such is correlative, the same kind of evidence used to show that carry/conceal laws reduce violence or the rise of secularism leads to moral decay like school shootings. If global warming is really caused by increased solar output or the natural flow of climate change, resources need to be dedicated to mitigating these risks instead of an all-out war against a strawman.
    - It assumes that alternative energy sources are environmentally better. Nuclear is great, but still carries the risk of meltdown (almost nil with modern reactor technologies), the problem of waste, and the security risk of the reactor or its materials being used by enemies in an attack. Hydro is clean, but absolutely rapes the upstream and particularly downstream river ecosystems where it is placed. Wind is clean but unreliable, and also has a yet poorly understood effect on the planet's natural energy transfer.
    - It assumes that the as of yet poorly understood effects of global warming are worth drastic costs or lifestyle changes. Even rabid environmentalists are loathe to change their lifestyle in anything but a token fashion to reduce energy usage.

    I am all for reducing our impact on the environment. I drove a grand total of 400 miles last year (yes, that's 4 and two 0's, or less than two tanks of gas). My electric bill is under $60/mo even in the dead of winter when I use heat. I am all for investing sensibly in alternative energy sources and environmental research. What I am not for is putting all of the eggs in one basket for a sensationalized, polarized, poorly understood response to something we have not even confirmed is the enemy.
  • Re:Islands (Score:3, Interesting)

    by inca34 (954872) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:32PM (#17634702) Journal
    Yes but adapting now is better for many reasons. For instance, zero waste manufacturing is more profitable than its peers that rely on dumping. For example, look at Honda and Toyota. At Honda R&D in the states they have rice fields. Why? So they can ship something back to Japan in all those shipping containers that brought cars over to the U.S. and recover money doing it. Toyota has streamlined and nearly perfected the Just In Time Manufacturing/Lean Manufacturing processes. Look at where they are now. No rational person could possibly bet against Toyota or Honda right now.

    Wouldn't it suck to learn years later that we could have prevented the destruction of our home planet if only we had tried? It's not hard... we just have to try. And instead of having the bean counters decide everything, why not have a few engineers look at the waste problem. Yeah, I know, I'd rather watch American Idol and eat bonbons until I explode, too. It's a shame really. The neo-cons are really destroying everything that has made America great. Maybe the Information Age(tm) will come to the rescue, though I'm not holding my breath.
  • by pkbarbiedoll (851110) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @04:13PM (#17635598)

    I can't say I am suprised that it was modded down so. People insecure in their beliefs often have knee-jerk reactions to things they find threatening. For whatever it's worth (and it's not worth much) I am a Christian myself. I believe in evolution and big bang, no problems reconciling that with my understanding of God. But some of my fellow believers need a MAJOR attitude adjustment and reality check when it comes to current events.

    In any case, Thanks for responding. :o)

  • Re:solution? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OriginalArlen (726444) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @04:15PM (#17635650)
    OK, do the math on how many icebergs you'd need to tow to shore and then carry overland to the site of the new lake to lower the global sea level 1cm. For extra points, discuss the implications for the local ecosystems where you dump this ice, and calculate the amount of energy required to do the moving.

    Now consider that if Greenland lets go, we're looking at 6m-7m sealevel rise, so multiply your figures by 600 and 700.

  • by j-pimp (177072) <zippy1981NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @05:35PM (#17637138) Homepage Journal

    Do you use incandescent light bulbs? Then YOU are part of the problem.

    Some people aver very photosensetive. Thankfully I am not.

    Do you leave your PC on 24/7? Then YOU are part of the problem. Do you leave your laser printer on all day? Then YOU are part of the problem (laser printers suck more juice than all other computer components combined; they're mini space heaters).

    I access my PC 24/7. Don't laser printers go to sleep?

    Do you Drive an SUV? Then YOU are even more of the problem and a sociopath as well. Do you race to the next red light instead of taking your foot off the gas? Not only are you part of the problem, then you are an idiot to boot.

    SUV drivers might be sociopaths, but eventually gas will get so expensive that there ways will change.

    I don't race to the red light but I defend all those that do, especially taxi drivers in Manhattan (New York City). If you are making a right on a corner, race to the red light. There are parking lots on the side streets and someone pulling out might get ahead of you. If your behaviour gets too aggressive, a pedestrian will kick your fenders. Eventually you will almost hit someone in combat boots and a trench coat. That person will hopefully have the good sense to drop kick the hood. You will then re-evaluate your driving methods.

    The true sociopaths are the double parkers and those that park in bus lanes. That is truly antisocial behaviour. If I were Mayor of a town I would make those people all spend a night in jail. Repeat offenders would eventually spend a year in jail.

  • by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:02PM (#17637630)
    Not really. The best indicator for global warming are the glaciers and snow caps on mountains. The snows on the Kilimanjaro are gone, glaciers in the US, the Alps, Africa, the Himalaya, are all decaying rapidly. Most of these have been there for 11,000 years or more.

    Glaciers are ice, the ice is melting almost everywhere, must be the temperature. Ice was 11,000 years old. Must be the hottest we've encountered in 11,000 years. See, no models needed. It's not that difficult.

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