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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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  • Islands (Score:2, Insightful)

    by certel (849946)
    It will be interesting to see what else is under the ice. The melting is definitely something we should be concerned about.
    • Eh. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
      Just start buying up inland real estate, 'cause beachfront's gonna be moving.

      It's interesting that the models are proving to be conservative...Makes the case that the current warming trend is more closely related to a solar upswing (than greenhouse gas buildup) more persuasive. 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 th
      • Re:Eh. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:40PM (#17630294)

        Makes the case that the current warming trend is more closely related to a solar upswing (than greenhouse gas buildup) more persuasive.

        What reputable scientist ever argued that it was one or the other? Every recent study I've seen not funded by oil companies includes solar cycles as one factor, but which is not sufficient to explain the trends on its own. 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.

        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."

        Accepting global warming as inevitable for a time is a thing of the past. We can't turn this around in a short time period. We need to be figuring out how to deal with warming, but we also need to be figuring out if there is anything we can do to deter it before we get drastic climate shifts or before we're committed to 1,000 years of climbing temperatures around the globe.

        And now the inevitable analogy. We don't look at an incident of shooting in the inner city and say, "well people have been shot now, lets not worry about catching the shooter and focus on treating the wounds." We need to work on both.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
          I shall reiterate: "more closely related"

          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.

          Participating in fricking global warming discussions is almost completely pointless...Whatever you say,
          • Re:Eh. (Score:5, Funny)

            by Gospodin (547743) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:05PM (#17630750)
            ...is...

            You freaking pinko commie oil-loving corporatist hippy! Take that back!

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Sique (173459)

            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 ex

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          And now the inevitable analogy. We don't look at an incident of shooting in the inner city and say, "well people have been shot now, lets not worry about catching the shooter and focus on treating the wounds." We need to work on both.
          To develop your analogy more, we need to work on both especially because the shooter is a known serial killer and we have 100% certainty that he's escalating and will kill more and more people unless stopped.
      • 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]).

        • Re:Eh. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yppupcinataS.> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:25PM (#17631172) Journal
          While we may (possibly) still have time to prevent extreme climate change, I think we're definitely going to have enough climate change to cause problems, and if we start addressing them now, that is a much better idea than waiting until we're in a state of emergency.

          I doubt we'll do it though. You can put me on the record for saying that we'll stop using fossil fuels only when a cheaper alternative is created and widely accepted, and that we won't do a damn thing to prepare for the side-effects of climate change until it's already a serious issue.
        • Clarify (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Khammurabi (962376) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:06PM (#17632958)
          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
          True, prevention is most likely cheaper. However, businesses stand to lose a ton of money following all the limits and restrictions, so they will lobby. While overall it would be cheaper to prevent the underlying causes, most big businesses stand to make more money letting it happen and have the average joes pick up the check. People may vote, but politicians listen to lobbyists more often.
    • Re:Islands (Score:5, Funny)

      by p0tat03 (985078) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:39PM (#17630266)

      It will be interesting to see what else is under the ice.

      The lost city of Ry'leh... Run everyone, C'thulhu is coming! AHHHHHHH!

    • by omeomi (675045)
      It will be interesting to see what else is under the ice. The melting is definitely something we should be concerned about

      Hopefully that icy place that superman goes too.
    • by IdleTime (561841)
      Well, we just declared independence from Greenland and the new country is called GWII (Global Warming Independent island) and I have installed myself as GWIIP!
  • Hans Jepsen is a cartographer at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, which produces topographical maps for mining and oil companies.

    Step 1: Oil companies produces global warming
    Step 2: Global warming reduces ice in arctic
    Step 3: Oil companies say "Cool, more room for oil"
    Step 4: ???
    Step 5: Profit

    • Re:The usual steps (Score:5, Insightful)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:47PM (#17630430) Homepage Journal
      Oil companies produces global warming


      Oh? Think so?

      I'll bet you have a car or maybe even an SUV. I'll bet it runs on gasoline, too. And I'll bet you drive it every day. I'll bet you have a home and I'll bet you have a furnace, too.

      You really do have a choice. You are at least, in part, responsible for global warming, like or not. It's not that d4 3v1l 01l c0mp4n13z are forcing you to use their products. You use their products because they are plentiful, available, and cheap. It's the fact that the oil companies have made it plentiful, available and cheap and that they have used their powerful PACs and lobby groups to make sure that oil remains the most used energy product that relieves you of at least some of the responsibility.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sebastopol (189276)
        You use their products because they are plentiful, available, and cheap. ...and because there are no alternatives, thanks to the companies.

        OilCo's do everything in their power to make life virtually unlivable without dependence on their products. The only people who truly are free are the hippies in Marin County who live off the grid in tee-pees. I could give up my life to live in a tee-pee, because everything up to this point has been my choice, but it has been a choice between shitting behind a bush and
  • Discoverer? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Skidge (316075) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:26PM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OctoberSky (888619)
      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?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by theodicey (662941)
      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...

  • Moo (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chacham (981) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:26PM (#17630006) Homepage Journal
    For all those interested, all the OceanLand Islands are property of me, and are being sold at $499,999,999.99 each.

    Not only am i chepaer than the competition, my islands are real. Please, check them out, you'll warm up to them faster than you'd think.
  • by Duncan3 (10537) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:28PM (#17630040) Homepage
    Why bother putting it on the map? Soon global warming will also put it under water too.

    Problem solved! Hurray!
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenland [wikipedia.org]

    The fjords of the southern part of the island were lush and had a warmer climate at that time, possibly due to what was called the Medieval Warm Period. These remote communities thrived and lived off farming, hunting and trading with the motherland, and when the Scandinavian monarchs converted their domains to Christianity, a bishop was installed in Greenland as well. The settlements seem to have coexisted relatively peacefully with the Inuit, who had migrated southward
  • Don't let those nay-sayer global warming types make this seem like a bad thing. I see a great location for Survivor - but with a twist!

    Plop down some contestants on some glacial ice in Greenland. If their piece of ice does not melt, they win! If on the other hand the island appears, those contestants have to swim to the nearest coast, ala polar bears!
  • Great. Now we not only have to deal with global warming, but also the release of the shoggoths from their icy tombs [wikipedia.org]. Cthulu runs the oil companies, I say!
  • Start donating (Score:4, Interesting)

    by raju1kabir (251972) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:31PM (#17630120) Homepage
    When can we expect the announcement about Pirate Bay trying to buy one of the new islands?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    those who fear it lack the sense of adventure which led man out of the dark ages.
    The past has seen tropical rainforests in Canada and glaciers in the southern USA.
    IMO the whole global warming brewhaha is centered in power and control. It's nothing
    more than another means to wealth and prestige for those who's only life skill is
    massaging the emotions of the ignorant.

    I for one welcome mass extinctions and greater stress on human life!
  • Don't Panic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ibirman (176167) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:36PM (#17630204) Homepage
    According to the article, Greenland has 630,000 cubic miles of ice. If all of it melted it will raise ocean levels by 23 feet, but the article also says we are losing only 80 cubic miles per year. At that rate it will take over 300 years to raise sea levels by a foot. This is reason for concern, but don't buy that inland beachfront yet!
    • Re:Don't Panic (Score:4, Interesting)

      by plopez (54068) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:12PM (#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:Don't Panic (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hamburger lady (218108) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:20PM (#17632130)
      thing is, as ice melts the earth's albedo drops. that means more energy from the sun is absorbed, causing the rate of ice melt to go up higher and higher.
  • Google Maps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xzzy (111297) <sether.tru7h@org> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:37PM (#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.
  • Are we breaking even? [slashdot.org]
  • Fossils? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KidSock (150684) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:42PM (#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).
  • SHOTGUN! (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarthVain (724186) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:42PM (#17630340)
    Canada calls Shotgun! Those islands are now the soverign soil of Canada! Hurray!
  • By the time global warming gets really bad, I'll be kicking back in my condo on the moon [slashdot.org].
  • Is it obvious yet? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasmatt e r .org> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:45PM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SaDan (81097)
      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,
    • 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.
  • I recognize that global warming may be a serious threat, and this may be a good sign that there is a problem, but it's just hard to feel that a sentence like "something is occurring faster than models predict" is a tragedy for anybody other than the modelers.

  • The end is nigh (Score:2, Insightful)

    I saw some ass hate on Fox New the other day saying that global warming was good for the economy. Knowing that there are many in this country (including our own freaking president) who feel similarly, I can't help but think it might be too late. I honestly don't think the human animal can over come its greed and hunger for power. It might be time to accept the great purge is coming. Now, if only there was away to make sure that only the idiots perish.
  • I know that that meteors are supposedly easy to spot on ice fields...
    I know the extra water will be bad for the coastal cities and such, but I tend to be a half full kind of guy and am interested about what things might be discovered.
  • by RyoShin (610051) <[tukaro] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:00PM (#17630670) Homepage Journal
    Since this will devolve into a debate about global warming in general, I'd like to jump the gun a bit.

    I'm not entirely certain if global warming is entirely the cause of humans. The limited research and reading I've done makes me learn towards the side that says it is, but my degree-in-earning is Computer Science, not Environmental Science, so I won't rule without doing far more research.

    However, I think there are two facts that can't be denied by anyone:
    1) The Earth is, in general, becoming warmer.
    2) Polution and trash from humans is affecting the environment in some negative manner.

    I know of no person who will deny that CFCs [epa.gov] (Chlorofluorocarbons- say that three times fast) affected the ozone layer (oddly, I haven't heard much about that in the Global Warming blurbs I see on Slashdot daily), though I'm sure a few exist, mainly in the industry that made their money off such things. No one thinks smog is a good thing.

    So, whether we like it or not, humans are contributing in some form to the degredation of the environment, which can include global warming- I'll let the scientists hash out just how much. So, with that in mind, something should be done. Perhaps not the far-reaching suggestions some of the more "hardcore" environmentalists suggest, but a gradual process to decrease trash and pollutants would be useful.

    As the saying goes, "A pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Or something like that.
  • Lack of information (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ziggy_co (1051982) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:19PM (#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.
  • Woohoo! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Xaroth (67516) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:19PM (#17631046) Homepage
    Uunartoq Qeqertoq - Finally! Something to do with all those Q's and U's in Scrabble!
  • 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"
  • 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.

  • by samj (115984) <samj@samj.net> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:56PM (#17631704) Homepage
    1. Grab an iced drink and hang on to it.
    2. Observe the temperature stay relatively constant so long as there's ice, and that ice melts quicker as there is less of it.
    3. When the ice is gone observe that your refreshing drink is now warm as piss and you have to go find another new one.

    This is a very serious issue that needs to be responded to immediately, and given its size it is unfortunately the responsibility of the US to lead the way on this one (though they have done a woefully inadequate job so far).

    More generally people need to get better at risk management and focus on things that will certainly affect them (global warming, privacy, etc.), even if less interesting than the more sensational yet relatively insignificant 'global issues' (terrorism, nuclear energy, etc.).

  • solution? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by c6gunner (950153) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:56PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OriginalArlen (726444)
      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 airship (242862) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:07PM (#17632970) Homepage
    I wish you doom-saying liberals would stop saying that the ice is melting. Quit relying on your own senses and recognize that it's all about perception. Choose to perceive that the ice isn't melting and the problem will go away.

    And we were welcomed as liberators in Iraq, too. Really, we were.

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