Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on January 23, 2008
You know, Al Gore just might be on to something. A recent study reveals that “the rate of annual ice loss in the Antarctic has increased by almost 80 billion tons in a decade…and that rate of loss has sped up by 140 percent since 1996”. The Times reports that these findings challenge previous research that suggested overall ice quantities would increase due to greater snowfall.
West Antarctica was hit hardest, with an estimated 132 billion tons disappearing in 2006, pushing annual ice loss up 49 billion per year. The Antarctic Peninsula’s rate of ice loss was even faster – rising from 25 billion to 60 billion – despite lower overall quantities. East Antarctica was least affected.
Professor Jonathan Bamber from the University of Bristol, part of the international team of scientists studying changes in ice cover, says “This is another observation that confirms the trend in what’s happening around the world. We’ve seen the same thing in mountain glaciers, in Greenland, Patagonia and the same thing in Alaska.”
Worrying stuff. When pressed about the role global warming had to play in these trends, the Professor was ambivalent. Although the conceded changes in ice are due to warmer water temperatures, he states that “there are changes taking place now that are a result of what happened to the climate 12,000 years ago”.
Does this mean we’re off the hook? Absolutely not. Ice loss in Antarctica “has the potential to be biggest cause of rising sea levels in coming decades”. So, unless you want to live in Venice (Italy, not California), listen to Al. He’s definitely on to something.