October 25, 2003

Arctic Ice Cap Melting at Worrying Rate: NASA

Vital news from NASA delivered to you via Agence
France Press and the Information Rebellion, BUT not
from the Corporatist media...Remember, Nero fiddled
while Rome burns, well, Bush the Lesser (what
Arundhati Roi calls him) plays PNACkle while the
planet burns...

"It is happening now. We cannot afford to wait a long period of time for technological solutions," said David Rind of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. "Change is in the air -- literally," he told a press conference here Thursday.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1024-05.htm

Published on Friday, October 24, 2003 by the Agence
France Presse
Arctic Ice Cap Melting at Worrying Rate: NASA


WASHINGTON - The polar ice cap is melting at an
alarming rate due to global warming, according to NASA
scientists, with satellite images showing the ice cap
has been shrinking by 10 percent per decade over the
past quarter century.

"It is happening now. We cannot afford to wait a long
period of time for technological solutions," said
David Rind of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space
Studies in New York. "Change is in the air --
literally," he told a press conference here Thursday.


This undated NASA composite image shows a fully dark
(city lights) full disk image centered on the North
Pole. The image was made from a combination of AVHRR,
NDVI, Seawifs, MODIS, NCEP, DMSP and Sky2000 catalog
data. (AFP-NASA/File)

By means of a special satellite launched last year to
measure the thickness of the polar ice cap, NASA has
confirmed that part of the Arctic Ocean that remains
frozen all year round shrank at a rate of 10 percent
per decade since 1980, NASA researcher Josefino Comiso
said.

"The extent of Arctic sea ice that remains frozen all
year reached record lows in 2002 and 2003," he added.

The polar ice cap expands in winter and contracts in
spring and summer. The part of the ice cap that never
melts, even in the warmest summers, is called the
"perennial sea ice."

The oceans and land masses surrounding the Arctic
Ocean have warmed one degree Celsius (two degrees
Fahrenheit) during the past decade, scientists said.

Researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration are worried because global warming
speeds up as the ice cap melts, forming a vicious
cycle.

"Snow and sea-ice are highly reflective because they
are white," Comiso said.

"Most of the sun's energy is simply reflected back to
space. With retraction of the ice cover, that means
that less of surface is covered by this highly
reflective snow and sea ice, and so more energy has
been absorbed and the climate warms."

The warming trend has brought spectacular
consequences. US and Canadian scientists reported in
September that the largest ice shelf in the Arctic off
Canada's coast has broken up due to climate change and
could endanger shipping and drilling platforms in the
Beaufort Sea.

The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf had been in place on the north
coast of Ellesmere Island in Canada's Nunavut
territory for at least 3,000 years.

"Small changes in ice could mean big impacts on the
water cycle and ultimately the global climate," warned
NASA.

The changes could alter ocean currents, the
distribution of fish populations and precipitation
averages over a wide area.

"One activity in the north is hunting of marine
animals using sea-ice as a platform. When sea-ice
retreats, it affects the communities up there," said
University of Washington oceanographer Michael
Seteele.

"The Arctic is changing rapidly. We should be
concerned in the sense we need to simply recognize the
change is here, is occurring and we may have to adapt
to it," University of Colorado researcher Mark Serreze
told reporters.

"Why the increase in global temperature?" he asked.

"Part of this is probably simply due to natural
variability in the climate system," he added. "But the
general consensus of the climate community is that
part these changes are due to human impact."

Copyright 2003 AFP

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Posted by richard at October 25, 2003 11:18 PM