Thursday, February 16, 2006

Adopt a Glacier: Global Warming Increases Melting in Greenland’s Glaciers

With so many human, made threats in the world today, few people are focusing on the potentially greater threat of global warming. But in today’s annual meeting of the American Associate for the Advancement of Science, scientist warned (again) that there are consequences for inaction, and that these consequences may be realized earlier than anyone thought.

The huge southern Greenland glaciers are melting at a rate far quicker then previously thought. Over the past five years, the amount of fresh water dumped into the Atlantic Ocean from these melting glaciers, indicating that current projections for rising sea level have been underestimated drastically. And with current surface air temperatures rising, it appears the only hope for maintaining the icebergs is increased snowfall in Greenland.
"The behavior of the glaciers that dump ice into the sea is the most important aspect of understanding how an ice sheet will evolve in a changing climate," Eric Rignot, of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, told The Associated Press. "It takes a long time to build and melt an ice sheet, but glaciers can react quickly to temperature changes."

Think that the effects on your life will be minor? Guess again? Up-to-date predictions indicate that the increase in sea levels could have “runaway effects” by the time today’s toddlers reach middle age. This could greatly increase the damage seen in major storms, and will effect “conveyor belt” currents, which are responsible for keeping the Northeastern United States and Northwestern Europe, especially Britain, warm despite their northern latitudes. Freshwater from the glaciers slow the currents.

A few weeks ago scientists determined that “conveyor belt” currents had slowed by 30 percent in recent years, an alarming statistic. And the slowing of the currents have also sped the melting of the glacier tongues, which push down into the sea. The melting of these tongues allows glacier melting to further increase, and allows the melted ice to flow easier into the sea. The melting of these tongues has been witnessed for the past few years in Southern Greenland, and now the glacier tongues in Northern icebergs are beginning to melt as well.

Scientists worry about the recurring nature of history, how history does repeat itself, and believe that this may trigger at some point a new ice age. So perhaps we all need to go to Greenland, take pitchers of newly melted water from the icebergs, and pour it back on the icebergs to help restore the icebergs and to remove some of the fresh water from the jet stream. Otherwise, the many man-made dangers in the world today may become nothing more than an afterthought to the natural disasters that await us.

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Posted by Scottage at 5:15 PM / | |