Archive for the 'antarctic ice shef' Category

Aug 24 2009

THE ICE MELTS – HUMANS SQUABBLE

OK so maybe now you will believe us – us small folk you think are so cute. The ice is melting. What have we been telling you? The ice is melting.

Down here. Up there. In Montana. In Europe. In South America. In Asia.

Melting faster than you thought. Or wanted to admit.

Go to the BBC: see the pictures.

This is Antarctica, our home:

Calculations based on the rate of melting 15 years ago had suggested the glacier would last for 600 years. But the new data points to a lifespan for the vast ice stream of only another 100 years.

Professor Andrew Shepherd of Leeds University says this about the melting ice:

This is unprecedented in this area of Antarctica. We’ve known that it’s been out of balance for some time, but nothing in the natural world is lost at an accelerating exponential rate like this glacier.

Now similar things are happening up north in the Arctic.

Professor Jason Box of Ohio State University, has been studying the melting ice up north with Greenpeace. He has been surprised by the lack of significant ice they encountered in the Nares Strait between Greenland and Canada.

According to the BBC: “He has also set up time lapse cameras to monitor the massive Petermann glacier. Huge new cracks have been observed and it’s expected that a major part of it could break off imminently:

The science community has been surprised by how sensitive these large glaciers are to climate warming. First it was the glaciers in south Greenland and now as we move further north in Greenland we find retreat at major glaciers. It’s like removing a cork from a bottle.

So you are finally seeing the melting ice. But what exactly are some of you doing about it. Banding together to finally confront global warming? Taxing your use of carbon?

How about fighting each other to take advantage of the melting ice? Now that sounds like human beings

The more the ice melts the easier it is to send ships through the North. Russia, Canada, Denmark and the United States all have a strong interest in controlling the northern route. The Russians are having training exercises and firing missiles; the Canadian government is sending its politicians to show how much they care about the far north. Everybody is planting their flags on the ice.

Nobody is asking the polar bears.

Nobody is asking the penguins.



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Apr 08 2009

POLAR MELT TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

Forgive us for being out-of-touch for so long. We’ve just completed a 100-day workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation on Polar Melt Traumatic Stress Disorder PMTSD.

Thanks to Angela Schrimsky and Donald-Peter Fredricksen of the Avian Therapy Center for leading the group.


Unfortunately while we were talking, a large portion of the Wilkins Ice Shelf broke off from the Antarctic mainland confirming the most dire predictions about the climate crisis. We have though, thanks to our talented workshop leaders, learned some very interesting meditation techniques. Not to mention the chanting exercises: “Om melt melt melt; Om drip drip drip … ”


Now if only Angela and Donald-Peter could do something about our melting home.


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Larsen B Ice Shelf – Photo: Mariano Caravaca



It is not easy to watch the ice melt around you. It is not easy to see your home in danger. To know your fellow penguins may not survive.


The other day, the American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about ways to protect the polar regions:

Clinton said the recent collapse of an Antarctic ice bridge was a stark reminder that the poles are gravely threatened by climate change and human activity.
“With the collapse of an ice bridge that holds in place the Wilkins Ice Shelf, we are reminded that global warming has already had enormous effects on our planet and we have no time to lose in tackling this crisis,” she told the first-ever joint meeting of Antarctic Treaty parties and the Arctic Council at the State Department in Baltimore.
The bridge linking the Wilkins shelf to Antarctica’s Charcot and Latady Islands snapped on Saturday after two large chunks of it fell away last year. The shelf had been stable for most of the last century before it began retreating in the 1990s.



And we have recently received word for our friends up north that the arctic ice. As William Marsden reported for the Montreal Gazette::

In the summer of 2007, a large portion of Arctic Sea ice – about 40 per cent – simply vanished. That wasn’t supposed to happen. At least not yet. As recent as 2004, scientists had predicted it would take another 50 to 100 years for that much ice to melt. Yet here it was happening today.



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Measuring Arctic Ice – Photo: Martin Hartley, Reuters



Hopefully, Schrimsky and Fredricksen will be heading there to do a workshop.
Unfortunately the Arctic Nations are now arguing about who has control over the ice and melting ice and the resources that will soon be easily to get to as the ice recedes.


And for all the talk about making the shift to renewable resources and away from burning fossil fuels like oil and coal, Jad Mouawad of the New York Times reported on April 8, 2009:

The Obama administration wants to reduce oil consumption, increase renewable energy supplies and cut carbon dioxide emissions in the most ambitious transformation of energy policy in a generation.
But the world’s oil giants are not convinced that it will work. Even as Washington goes into a frenzy over energy, many of the oil companies are staying on the sidelines, balking at investing in new technologies favored by the president, or even straying from commitments they had already made.

Royal Dutch Shell said last month that it would freeze its research and investments in wind, solar and hydrogen power, and focus its alternative energy efforts on biofuels. The company had already sold much of its solar business and pulled out of a project last year to build the largest offshore wind farm, near London.
BP, a company that has spent nine years saying it was moving “beyond petroleum,” has been getting back to petroleum since 2007, paring back its renewable program. And American oil companies, which all along have been more skeptical of alternative energy than their European counterparts, are studiously ignoring the new messages coming from Washington.

Already one penguin species has been named by the US EPA as endangered and 5 other species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). According to the EPA:

The penguin species recommended for endangered status is the African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), of South Africa and Namibia … The five species recommended for threatened status are: the yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes), the white-flippered penguin (Eudyptula minor albosignata), the Fiordland crested penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), the erect-crested penguin (Eudyptes sclateri), all from New Zealand, as well as the Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) of Chile and Peru.

They have solicited more scientific information about the:

effects of climate change and changing ocean, land or sea ice conditions on the distribution and abundance of these penguin species and their principal prey species over the short and long term (especially information on known prey substitutions and their effects on the penguins …

If only they had attended our workshop!


What can we say except: “Om melt melt melt; Om drip drip drip … ”
All together now:
“Om melt melt melt; Om drip drip drip … ”



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Apr 02 2008

PENGUINS: WE ARE NEW ORLEANS

Our home is cracking apart around us.


Some of the Antarctic ice shelf just broke off. How big? For those of you Americans who have ventured to the city that calls itself the Greatest City in the world, it is 9x the size of Manhattan. And sticking with American examples, the Wilkins Ice Shelf itself is about the size of Connecticut.


According to CNN,“British scientist David Vaughan says it’s the result of global warming.”


The rest of the Connecticut-sized ice shelf is holding on by a narrow beam of thin ice and scientists worry that it too may collapse. Larger, more dramatic ice collapses occurred in 2002 and 1995.”


Glaciologist Ted Scambos at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, CO was studying satellite data. He let Professor David Vaughan and Andrew Fleming of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) know that the ice shelf was at risk. Luckily, a crew from BAS photographed the process from aboard a Twin Otter plane. Thanks to them you, too, can see what is happening:


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According to the Christian Science Monitor:

“the region has seen unprecedented rates of warming during the past 50 years. Two of the 10 shelves along the peninsula have vanished within the past 30 years. Another five have lost between 60 percent and 92 percent of their original extent. Of the 10, Wilkins is the southernmost shelf in the area to start buckling under global warming’s effects.


‘Wilkins is a stepping stone in a larger process,’ says Scambos. ‘It’s really a story of what’s yet to come if the mainland of Antarctica begins to warm.’”



That is what happening to the ice. And things aren’t so hot when it comes to food.


The UK Observer published this article by Juliette Jowitt:

“The Antarctic, one of the planet’s last unspoilt ecosystems, is under threat from mankind’s insatiable appetite for harvesting the seas.


The population of krill, a tiny crustacean, is in danger from the growing demand for health supplements and food for fish farms. Global warming has already been blamed for a dramatic fall in numbers because the ice that is home to the algae and plankton they feed on is melting. Now ‘suction’ harvesting which gathers up vast quantities has been introduced to meet the increased demand. It threatens not just krill, but the entire ecosystem that depends on them, say environmental campaigners.


Krill are also believed to be important in removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by eating carbon-rich food near the surface and excreting it when they sink to lower, colder water to escape predators.


‘Whales, penguins, seals, albatrosses and petrels – all those creatures we think are absolute icons of Antarctica – depend on krill,’ said Richard Page, a marine reserves expert with Greenpeace International.



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Photo: Corbis


We watched as New Orleans was swallowed by the sea. Penguins: we are New Orleans.





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