Global Warming deniers lose one of their favorite arguments — and that’s actually bad news for us all

by Mike Gaworecki

January 23, 2009

Climate scientists have long reported that Antarctica is one of the few places on the planet where climate change is linked with cooler temperatures. Many global warming skeptics pointed to cooling temperatures in Antarctica to bolster their arguments that global warming is not happening. It’s now looking like these skeptics will no longer have Antarctica in their arsenal of arguments against global warming:

Antarctica study challenges warming skeptics

Challenging warming skeptics who note that parts of Antarctica have gotten colder, researchers on Wednesday reported that overall the continent has gotten warmer since the 1950s, and that even those colder spots would be warmer were it not for the ozone hole.

"Contrarians have sometime grabbed on to this idea that the entire continent of Antarctica is cooling, so how could we be talking about global warming," said study co-author Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. "Now we can say: No, it’s not true … It is not bucking the trend."

And as if to underline the fact that Antarctica is warming, news has come out that the Wilkins ice shelf is on the verge of completely collapsing:

Antarctic ice shelf at risk

The vast Wilkins ice shelf in Antarctica is on the brink of collapse, scientists have warned.

It is held in place by a 25-mile long strip of ice that has shrunk to about 500m wide at its narrowest point and could collapse at any time.

In total, about 15,500 sq miles of ice shelves have been lost, changing the maps of Antarctica in one of the most dramatic signs of climate change.

Glaciologist David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey said it is miraculous the shelf is still there.

The Wilkins once covered 6,178 sq miles but lost a third of its area and is now the size of Jamaica, but once the ice bridge collapses, sea currents are likely to sweep away much of what is left.

[…]

The change is widely blamed on heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels.

In total, about 15,500 sq miles of ice shelves have been lost, changing the maps of Antarctica in one of the most dramatic signs of climate change.

Ocean sediments indicate that some shelves had been in place for at least 10,000 years.

The Wilkins ice shelf is part of the Antarctic Peninsula in Western Antarctica, the part of the continent that has long been known to be warming. But it’s still a pretty drastic reminder of the ramifications of unchecked global warming, and how urgent it is that the US pass strong legislation to control global warming pollution. Antarctica may be a long way from us here in the United States, but the impacts of Antarctic melting affect us all.

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