There is some very, very scary stuff going on with the environment right now. For those of you that have seen the movie An Inconvienent Truth, these stories are almost apocalyptic. For those of you that haven’t yet seen the flick, what are you waiting for?
An ancient ice shelf has cracked off northern Ellesmere Island, creating an enormous, 66- square-kilometre ice island and leaving a trail of icy blocks in its wake….
They say the ice shelf collapse is the biggest in Canada in 30 years and is indicative of the transformation underway on Ellesmere, Canada’s most northern landmass.
“If you were standing right on the edge of the shelf, there’d have been this huge 15-kilometre crack as far as you could see in both directions,” said Mr. Copland.
“And then the ice drifted off.” Within an hour, the giant ice island was a kilometre offshore. It travelled west about 50 kilometres over the next few weeks, and then moved east before freezing into the sea ice about 15 kilometres offshore.
The ice island is about 37 metres thick and measures roughly 15 kilometres by five kilometres. That’s the size of a small city, or larger than 11,000 football fields.
The island is now stuck in the winter ice, but the researchers believe it is just a matter of time before it is freed and floats away. They say the ice island could become a potential hazard to navigation and oil and gas extraction if it sails south towards the Beaufort Sea.
So, at the northern pole we have 5,000 year old glaciers splitting off and floating away – which incidentally means that when they hit warm enough water they exchange heat with it, melting the ice and cooling the water temperature.
At the southern pole we’re facing a different set of issues. Specifically an 11 million square mile, and growing, hole in the ozone layer.
Excerpts from: Antarctic Ozone Layer 90 to 99 Percent Gone, published: Dec 26, 2006
A STUDY released today shows just how dramatic the ozone loss in the Antarctic has been over the past 20 years compared to the same phenomenon in the Arctic.
The study found “massive” and “widespread” localised ozone depletion in the heart of Antartica’s ozone hole region, beginning in the late 1970s, but becoming more pronounced in the 1980s and `90s.
The US government scientists who conducted the study said that there was an almost complete absence of ozone in certain atmospheric air samples taken after 1980, compared to earlier decades.
In October, NASA scientists reported that this year’s hole is the biggest ever, stretching over nearly 11 million square miles.
In Antarctica, local ozone depletion at some altitudes frequently exceeded 90 per cent, and often reached up to 99 per cent during the Antarctic winter in the period after 1980 compared to earlier decades, the researchers said.
It is suspected that a variety of biological consequences such as increases in skin cancer, damage to plants, and reduction of plankton populations in the ocean’s photic zone may result from the increased UV exposure due to ozone depletion.
The moral to this story is best summed up by Stephen Hawking…
In an ABC News interview in August 2006, Hawking explained:
“The danger is that global warming may become self-sustaining, if it has not done so already. The melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps reduces the fraction of solar energy reflected back into space, and so increases the temperature further.
Climate change may kill off the Amazon and other rain forests, and so eliminate one of the main ways in which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. The rise in sea temperature may trigger the release of large quantities of methane, trapped as hydrates on the ocean floor.
Both these phenomena would increase the greenhouse effect, and so further global warming.
We have to reverse global warming urgently, if we still can.”
If you’re smarter and more scientifically informed than Hawking feel free to disagree…