Friday, February 5, 2010

Don't confuse weather - climate

.....Studies from both hemispheres indicate that 95 percent of the world’s alpine glaciers are retreating. Glacier National Park in Montana is down to 26 named glaciers from 150 in 1850. If this trend continues, the park is expected to be ice-free by 2030. Glaciers in the Himalayas are shrinking so rapidly that the summer flow of the major rivers (Indus, Ganges, Mekong, Yellow, Yangtze) they feed may eventually be seriously affected.

Permafrost regions are thawing in high northern latitudes, causing buildings to sink, roads to crumble, and a variety of other troubles for human infrastructure. The great ice sheets are retreating. The Greenland ice sheet melting began to accelerate in the 1990s. Now the margin of the entire ice mass is melting even in its northernmost reaches. The West Antarctic ice sheet has begun extensive melting, mostly since 2000, and the rate of melting has increased since then.

Sea level is rising, and the rate of rise has accelerated over the last century. A tide gauge on a concrete, open-ocean pier in Duck, N.C., indicates the sea level is now rising at a 1 1/2-foot-per-century rate. In the Pacific, atoll nations such as Tuvalu already are being abandoned because of the rising sea. Soon the Maldives must follow.

The summer sea-ice cover of the Arctic Ocean is shrinking and thinning, and may disappear altogether.

So, one can argue for hours regarding whether this year was warmer or colder than last. It really doesn’t matter. We should be reading the planet, not thermometers. The Earth is clearly warming and sea level is clearly rising....

The complete article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution is here.

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