According to a new study that was recently published by NASA, Antarctica is actually gaining more ice than it has lost. NASA made the announcement after their satellites examined the heights of the region’s ice sheet, and the findings are contradicting the claim (with more than decades of research behind it) that Antarctica has been losing ice and that this loss is and has contributed to a rising global sea level.
The paper is titled “Mass gains of the Antarctic ice sheet exceed losses,” and was published in the Journal of Glaciology last Friday. (source)
The authors of the study, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of Maryland and Sigma Space Corporation, analyzed satellite data showing that Antarctica has actually gained 112 billion tons of ice annually from 1992 to 2001 and it’s been increasing ever since.
Again, these findings are completely contradicting previous research that’s been conducted by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which suggests that Antarctica’s ice sheets are melting and causing the sea level rise, thus contributing to global climate change.
According to Jay Zwally, lead author of the paper and NASA glaciologist:
“The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away…But this is also bad news…if the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for.” (source)
Many scientists (not all) believe that certain parts of Antarctica, like the peninsula and parts of Western Antarctica are losing ice, and that the rate of ice lost is increasing. On the eastern part of the continent, however, there have been ice gains, and that includes part of the interior as well. Scientists are now pointing to the fact that these gains are far greater than the losses we’ve been seeing in the rest of the region. As a result, the net gain would, again, mean that Antarctica is actually not contributing to see level rise, which begs the question in the quote above, where else could it be coming from? This means that scientists are underestimating the impact from other sources of sea level rise, like the heating of the oceans or the melting that’s occurring in Greenland perhaps?
With that being said, Zwally also mentioned that:
“If the losses of the Antarctic Peninsula and parts of West Antarctica continue to increase at the same rate they’ve been increasing for the last two decades, the losses will catch up with the long-term gain in East Antarctica in 20 or 30 years—I don’t think there will be enough snowfall increase to offset these losses.” (source)
The paper did mention some limitations, for example, the difficulties associated with measuring the height of ice in Antarctica, new technology is needed to perform the task better. According to RT news, the US space agency is currently developing a new satellite that’s more capable of accurately measuring long-term changes in ice in Antarctica.
It’s also interesting to note that Arctic ice extent (we are constantly hearing about the melting of ice in the Arctic) makes up only 10 percent of the world’s total ice extent. When it comes to the ice extent of Antarctica (ice examined in this study), this makes up for 90 percent of the world’s ice extent. Three years ago, Data from the university of Illinois Polar Research Group showed that Antarctic sea ice extent reached an all time high. It was the second largest extent logged at any time dating back to 1979, when record keeping first began. (source)(source)(source)
Possible explanations for the rise in ice extent include what’s known as the Polar Vortex. A study published in the Journal of Climate by Jinlun Zhang, a University of Washington scientist reports that:
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“The polar vortex that swirls around the South Pole is not just stronger than it was when satellite records began in the 1970s, it has more convergence, meaning it shoves the sea ice together to cause ridging. Stronger winds also drive ice faster, which leads to still more deformation and ridging. This creates thicker, longer-lasting ice, while exposing surrounding water and thin ice to the blistering cold winds that cause more ice growth.” (source)
Other explanations include that the recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer may be slowing and delaying Antarctic warming and ice melt. Studies out of NASA have suggested that the oceans are warming and that this is melting the ice from underneath, therefore we can’t see it yet. Several possible explanations have been hypothesized but no one has really figured out why this is happening.
Other Factors To Consider About Climate Change
Climate change is indeed happening, and in my opinion there is absolutely no doubt about that. Sure, human impact has destroyed our environment at a rapid pace, and our actions have no doubt influenced our ecosystem, atmosphere and beyond in harmful ways that we are probably not even aware of yet. Given that, it’s important to remember that we know very little about Earth’s climate. We have to look beyond human impact and factor in natural cycles, and other factors when we are pondering the catalysts for climate change. With that being said, the time for us to move on from our archaic ways of generating energy for example are long overdue. These, and several other factors, are indeed contributing to the destruction of our planet.
One of these factors is the sun:
“The fluctuations in the solar cycle impacts earth’s global temperature, which becomes slightly hotter during solar maximums and cooler during solar minimums” – Thomas Woods, University of Colorado in Boulder (source)
Scientists have learned that about 1,361 watts per square meter of solar energy reaches Earth’s outermost atmosphere during the sun’s quietest periods. But when the sun is active, 1.3 watts per square meter more energy reaches Earth. This measurement is extremely important to climate models that are trying to access Earth based forces on climate change.
Massive bodies flying in and around our solar system also have an effect on the whether of all the planets in our solar system. It’s well documented that solar activity has a direct effect on weather here on Earth, and that comet activity has a direct effect on solar weather. (source)(source)(source)
Research results presented at the 2012 Fall American Geophysical Union illustrated that comets help highlight the intensely dynamic environment of the sun’s atmosphere. As a result they have a direct effect on the weather of all the planets in our solar system, and the Earth’s own magnetic field. (source)
Union Of Concerned Scientists outlines that over the time-scale of millions of years the change in solar intensity is a critical influence on climate, however:
“Changes in solar heating rate over the last century cannot account for the magnitude and distribution of the rise in global mean temperature during that time period and there is no convincing evidence for significant indirect influences on our climate due to twentieth century changes in solar output.” (source)
Who Is Suggesting That Humans Are Not Contributing To Climate Change?
The past few years have been quite controversial when it comes to the topic of climate change. Although it’s rare to find those who say climate change isn’t happening, it’s not rare to find credible scientists suggesting that the human impact on global climate change isn’t as big as it’s ‘marketed’ to be. The climate is changing, no doubt about that, but is human impact really the leading cause of global climate change? And with the study highlighted in this article, it just adds more confusion to the topic.
Hundreds of world renowned scientists believe there is some shady business going on. For example, Professor Lennart Bengtsson, a Swedish climatologist, former director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg and winner of the 51st IMO Prize of the World Meteorological Organization for his pioneering work in numerical weather prediction, and four of the world’s top climate scientists recently had their research rejected for suggesting that the climate might be less sensitive to greenhouse gases than had been claimed by the IPCC.
According to him:
“The problem we have now in the scientific community is that some scientists are mixing up their scientific role with that of climate activist. It is an indication of how science is gradually being influenced by political views. I am worried about the gradual influence of political views on science. Policy decisions need to be based on solid fact. The reality hasn’t been keeping up with the computer models.” (source)
There is also more interesting research like the fairly recent report by Principia Scientific International’s (PSI) Martin Mlynczak alongside NASA tracked infrared emissions from the Earth’s upper atmosphere during and following a solar storm last March. They found that the vast majority of energy released from the sun during this coronal mass ejection was reflected back up into space rather than deposited into Earth’s lower atmosphere. The result of this was an overall cooling effect because carbon dioxide and nitric oxide (greenhouse gases) were reflecting heat energy rather than absorbing it. This study suggests carbon dioxide is in fact cooling the atmosphere.(source)
There is also what’s known as the Vostok data, this refers to an ice core sample that was obtained by drilling down into the ice above Lake Vostok to a depth of 3623m. The graph built from the Vostok ice core data shows us the relationship between CO2 in the atmosphere and global temperature. The Vostok data showed that CO2 increases lag behind temperature increases by about 800 years. According to this study, CO2 may not the cause of our current increased temperatures.
All of the science on both sides has led to a ‘people bashing people’ campaign. One in which those who say the human impact on climate change is not as big as we thought are conspiracy theorists, and those who say human impact is the number one cause of climate change are also conspiracy theorists, one being false and used to promote a specific agenda.
International Business Times points out that the effects of climate change are irreversible. Sea levels have been rising at a greater rate year after year, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates they could rise by another meter or more by the end of this century. As National Geographicshowed us in 2013, sea levels would rise by 216 feet if all the land ice on the planet were to melt. This would dramatically reshape the continents and drown many of the world’s major cities.
Here is a video they published showing what the earth would look like if all the ice melted.
Personally, after looking at all of the data I’ve looked at, it’s clear to me that we are going through, and have been going through drastic climate change, and there is a lot of data that shows without a doubt that the climate change is real. As far as the level of impact humans have had on it, and whether greenhouse gases do contribute to climate change as much as the mainstream thinks they do, I’m still confused, and my next point just adds to my confusion.
I’d like to make it clear, again, that I am not denying climate change, and the way we are doing things here on our planet is clearly destroying our environment and our atmosphere, which does (I believe) have an effect on climate. How large that affect is, again, I’m not so sure, but as far as destroying our environment and polluting our world (which also contributes to climate change), it’s time to implement the solutions we’ve had for years and go above and beyond all the Red Tape that prevents us from implementing them.
Why Has Everybody Been Talking About Climate Change Without Mentioning This?
If all of this research has been evaluating human impact on global climate change, why is nobody creating awareness about factory farming? Did you know that in 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report stating that the livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined? Did you know that 51 percent (or more) of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture? (source) (source)(source)(source)
You can find out more about this from an article we titled “Disturbing Aerial Photos Show What Killing Billions of Animals For Meat Is Doing To The Environment.”
If you’re concerned about the climate, focusing on your eating habits is one of the biggest ways you can help.
Credit: Thanks to Deborah Zabarenko from Reuters for the picture.
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