June 3, 2009

Slip and slide ?

For those that have traveled much in North America what I am about to describe will have more meaning than those who have not, but I hope all can appreciate the scope of what I am trying to convey.

Imagine all of the United States including Alaska and throw in all the United states territorial waters. Add to his about half of Canada, let's say everything from Winnipeg westward. I doubt that is exactly half but this is just for visualization purposes.

Now imagine all that area pretty much covered in ice. I am not talking about skim ice on a puddle here, I'm talking serious deep glacier type ice. The kind of ice that if you live in Denver a mile high you are still buried almost a mile deep under ice. From San Diego to Portland Maine, from Miami to Anchorage, pretty much just ice. Oh it may not all be as deep as in Denver, but you would still be snow boarding in Malibu not surfing.

That is what Antarctica is, 14,000,000 sq kilometers of mostly ice. The thought of it melting ought to put the fear of Gore in you for sure. But think for a moment how likely is that to actually happen? Let me point out some reality of that actually happening.

I read a fascinating article from the BBC called
Origin of Antarctic ice revealed . A very interesting article about the scientific expedition which is taking radar images of the land under the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Reading it however I was once again reminded how absolutely disingenuous the entire alarmist version of global warming is. It makes me even wonder how not only people like Al Gore but more importantly so called scientist who promote the alarmist view can live with themselves. How a person knowing the actual dynamics of Antarctica could prostitute themselves to promote the fear mongering of sea level catastrophes caused by this remotest of possibilities in the name of science is beyond belief but not beneath contempt.

I will excerpt some passages from the article to make my point, but as I do remember the size and scope of what we are talking about here. To give you another mental picture I will excerpt a portion of the article, remembering that these scientific explorers are making there was across a vast white waste land of snow and ice:

Their radar revealed a landscape that, 14 million years ago, looked similar to the European Alps.
That is what they see through the ice below them, you could replace the Alps with the Rockies, that gives you an idea of the depth of the ice. Another mental picture here:

Dr Siegert said the research team was "very lucky" to see such a clear image of the underlying landscape. They discovered a whole valley system - with mountains at the edge of the survey region and the valley in the middle.

To put this in a bit more perspective, they are in tracked vehicles making their way across the vast white continent not unlike taking a trip from New Orleans to Seattle, the scenery somewhat less picturesque of course and fewer McDonald's. What they are recording would be similar to the area you could map on such a trip in North America, a very small fragment of the immense continent.

Now let's get to the gist of it:

By looking at ancient climate patterns, scientists have previously estimated that the East Antarctic ice sheet formed around 14 million years ago, burying and preserving the Gamburtsev mountain landscape under ice that is now up to 3km thick.

"You need a mean annual temperature of about 3C for the glaciers to form the way they did," Dr Siegert told BBC News.

"The mean annual temperature in this region now is -60 C. So we believe that these mountains are relics of [glacial erosion] in Antarctica before the ice sheet was in place."

Perhaps you get an idea of the insincerity of the alarmist view of melting ice sheets and rising sea levels when the current temperatures are over 60 degrees colder than what was necessary to start the ice growth. What is Antarctica as a whole like, annual temperature wise? There has been much debate about this lately whether temperatures are rising or not, but the fact is that if the ice is not going to melt, it really does not matter now does it? I'll just take an official map from NSIDC to give you an idea of what Antarctica annual temperatures are like, warming or not.

Look at those average annual mean temperatures, keeping in mind the preceding statement from Dr. Siegert "You need a mean annual temperature of about 3C for the glaciers to form the way they did"

How much would temperatures have to rise to even begin to have an affect on Antarctica? How can ice melt in an environment where the mean annual temperatures are far below the freezing point of water? It is absurd to even suggest that temperature increases of a couple of degrees centigrade are going to have any appreciable affect in such an environment. Of course the scientist have to point out the possible threat we face, well sort of:

He added that the findings provided an insight into the stability of the ice.

"It is a critical part of our Earth's system," said Dr Ferraccioli. "If the whole ice sheet collapsed, sea levels would rise by 60m."

There is that now popular scientific term "if". What he says about the stability of the ice sheets is interesting, since one of the alarmist positions is that the ice sheet could somehow slide into the sea or as he says collapse. The idea that such a vast ice sheet which is embedded into continental scale Alp like mountain ranges and valleys is somehow going to slide into the ocean is ludicrous. Imagine our make believe ice sheet over North America stretching across the terrain of the Rockies to the Appalachians suddenly sliding into the Gulf of Mexico, ridiculous. After 14 million years of ice formation we suddenly have continental slip and slide-right. Even if temperatures increased remarkably more than the most dire predictions of the science fiction fantasy world of the computer modellers, the vast majority of Antarctica would remain a frozen continent. The idea of a collapsing ice sheet in such an environment is not only beyond belief, it is irresponsible to even raise it as a possibility less alone promote it and use it a a tool to foster an agenda of fear.

"There's been a lot of climate change over the last 14 million years," Dr Siegert said. "And what we can say about this place in the middle of the Antarctic is that nothing has changed."

But, he warned, if levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide continued to rise, in around 1,000 years they will approach the same levels that existed "before there was persistent ice sheet in Antarctica".

"This puts the ice sheet into the context of global climate and what conditions are needed to grow an ice sheet," explained Dr Siegert. "The worrying thing is that we seem to be going back to carbon dioxide concentrations consistent with there being a lot less ice around."

So over the past 14 million years (since ice first began forming in Antarctica) we have experienced many climate changes, I would say that is an understatement. However during all these many climate changes the ice just kept on growing until we invented the internal combustion engine-remarkable. But if we don't do something soon or in around a 1000 years, we will have as much CO2 in the atmosphere as we did when there was no ice in Antarctica.

The little hitch in the get along though is that something amazing happens when a continent is at the bottom of the Earth, it goes a long time without much sun. This little detail insures a very cold environment, CO2 or no CO2.

Of course this line "The worrying thing is that we seem to be going back to carbon dioxide concentrations consistent with there being a lot less ice around." is only relevant if that nasty CO2 stuff raises the temperatures far beyond anything predicted so that a frozen continent is no longer frozen, with or without sun half the year. In which case we are all toast long before that anyway.

And they wonder why the more people know, the less people believe in this nonsense.


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