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Earth Science

Recent Warming of Antarctica "Unusual But Not Unprecedented" 163

First time accepted submitter tomhath writes with a link to the abstract (full article paywalled) in Nature of an "Ice core study that concludes that climate change and associated melting of ice in Antarctica is more the norm than the exception, including rapid warming cycles as we appear to be in today. Study concludes: 'Although warming of the northeastern Antarctic Peninsula began around 600 years ago, the high rate of warming over the past century is unusual (but not unprecedented) in the context of natural climate variability over the past two millennia. The connection shown here between past temperature and ice-shelf stability suggests that warming for several centuries rendered ice shelves on the northeastern Antarctic Peninsula vulnerable to collapse.'"
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Recent Warming of Antarctica "Unusual But Not Unprecedented"

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  • Re:not unprecedented (Score:5, Informative)

    by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @11:24AM (#41096151)

    To put it in perspective, the estimate is that it would cost between 1-2% of world GDP (roughly equal to cost of sewer systems) to stabilise CO2 levels. And that estimate doesn't take into account technological innovation that might be spurred by the process. As I understand it, the estimates of the costs related to reducing sulphur oxide (SO) and Nitrous Oxide (NOx) levels turned out to be vastly over estimated by the industries involved. Both of those substances are currently regulated in the U.S. using cap and trade systems.

  • by FhnuZoag ( 875558 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @11:49AM (#41096605)

    Also, I think reasonable explanations exist for the periods of fast warming they found in ~200 AD, and 1600AD - looking at the chart, they were generally preceeded by large downward spikes, and represented the temperature restoring to its previous level. My speculation is that these events correspond to the gigantic volcanic eruptions in Taupo at around 200AD, and maybe Huaynaputina at 1600AD. Large eruptions project large amounts of sulphates into the atmosphere, which has a strong, but temporary cooling effect. When these sulphates disappear from the atmosphere in a matter of decades, this would lead to dramatic warming, as the climate 'catches up'.

  • by divisionbyzero ( 300681 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @11:56AM (#41096713)

    I wasn't going to respond since I have mod points and figured I'd mod up a good response instead. Too bad it's all been cheerleading for believers and deniers. Anyhow, this result isn't evidence for or against climate change. It's another data point. The fact that people think it is evidence for one side or the other shows most people still don't understand climate change. I know statistics and thermodynamics are hard as are non-linear systems. Blah, blah, blah.

    Here's the deal. Global warming refers to *average* temperature increase. In order for the average temperature to increase we should expect a higher frequency of warmer events or events driven by increasing warmth. We're not in a pot on a stove over a fire that constantly increases in temperature (actually don't pick at that analogy too much because at a microscopic level it is somewhat similar). As global average temperature increases we should see more warm days but not necessarily the hottest days ever recorded. So, in this case, if we see more frequent unusual events like this one or not, then we might have some evidence one way or the other, but by itself it tells us nothing.

  • Re:Round 783 (Score:1, Informative)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday August 23, 2012 @12:08PM (#41096887) Homepage Journal

    WRONG. There was NEVER consensus as to the cooling. Not ever. In fact, it was never more then a tiny percent of climatologist.

  • by Maow ( 620678 ) on Thursday August 23, 2012 @12:22PM (#41097129) Journal

    The Year without a Summer [] (1816) had a global temperature drop of 0.4C to 0.7C.

    It was thought to be caused by a series of volcanic eruptions combined with an historic low in solar activity.

    The result was:

    major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere.[3][4]

    Historian John D. Post has called this "the last great subsistence crisis in the Western world".[5]

    The result was regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic,[clarification needed] and increased mortality.

    Famine was prevalent in north and southwest Ireland, following the failure of wheat, oats, and potato harvests. The crisis was severe in Germany, where food prices rose sharply. Due to the unknown cause of the problems, demonstrations in front of grain markets and bakeries, followed by riots, arson, and looting, took place in many European cities. It was the worst famine of the 19th century.[8][11]

    All that and more with a global variation of <1 degree Celsius.

    It really is in our interest to keep global temperature averages from fluctuating too far from what we're accustomed to if possible. The repercussions with such a dramatically larger population could be catastrophic.

  • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <`ten.tsacmoc' `ta' `yburxyno'> on Thursday August 23, 2012 @01:25PM (#41097999)

    Simply put what has been happening isn't cause for alarm, were simply not in a state of crisis that we've been led to believe. There was another study that came out a while ago showing that temperatures were even warmer in the Roman era.

    Before you get off thinking I'm some kind of Koch brothers shill you should know that I've been doing things like driving small cars with very good gas mileage for years before it was politically correct, have actually worked for a recycling company, drive a very low emission small vehicle now, compost, grow my own organic garden, take mass transit, use energy efficient appliances, have taught many people the finer arts of environmentalism and have been doing these kinds of things for the last few decades.

    If the alarmist behavior doesn't stop the whole environmentalist movement is going to be discredited (it's already happening with the youngest generation - their environmental uptake is markedly lower than people just a few years older than them). The environmental movement needs to get grounded back in reality and lay off the panic button when the case simply isn't there. Focus on what is there like shutting down dirty coal power plants and things that actually do matter.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson