- Politics and Social Issues
Global Warming 10--The Warming of Greenland
THE WARMING OF GREENLAND IS ACCELERATING RAPIDLY
As Greenland warms, sea levels rise and islands emerge. As glaciers melt, new islands appear and charts must be brought up to date.
"The abrupt acceleration of melting in Greenland has taken climate scientists by surprise. Tidewater glaciers, which discharge ice into the oceans as they break up in the process called calving, have doubled and tripled in speed all over Greenland. Ice shelves are breaking up, and summertime 'blacial earthquakes' have been detected within the ice sheet.
"'The general thinking until very recently was that ice sheets don't react very quickly to climate,' said Martin Truffer, a glaciologist at the University of Alaska at Fiarbanks. 'But that thinking is changing right now, because we're seeing things that people have thought are impossible.'...
"There is no consensus on how much Greenland's ice will melt in the near future, Dr. Alley said, and no computer model that can accurately predict the future of the ice sheet [exists]. Yet given the acceleration of tidewater-glacier melting, a sea-level rise of a foot or two in the coming decades is entirely possible, he said. That bodes ill for island nations and those who live near the coast.
"'Even a foot rise is a pretty horrible scenario,' said Stephen P. Leahterman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal research at Florida International University in Miami..."
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/16/science/earth/16gree.html <The Warming of Greenland>
COMMENT: My global warming skeptic friends point out that extreme climate fluctuations occurred many times, long before recent concerns over greenhouse gases were raised. And they offer a second argument that whatever we do in the U.S. won't solve the problem because of growing pollution in China and India. My answer to them is
"It's true that fluctuations due to factors other than greenhouse gases have occurred in the past and may well recurr in the future. And there's little to be done about that. However, the science is clear that anthropogenic (man-made) greenhouse gases accumulating due to the industrial revolution are causing global temperatures to increase dangerously. The scientific evidence on this is beyond dispute. Moreover, the science on what can be done to slow or reverse the trend is fairly clear also. Common sense tells us that such measures are overdue. The problem is not mainly a scientific one, but rather one of public education and the political and diplomatic effort required to achieve the worldwide cooperation required to deal with the issue. The United States, is the biggest contributor to warming and should be leading the way on the adoption of measures to curb carbon emissions."