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Glacier Bay National Park. Two and a half centuries ago, the entire area was covered by thick sheets of ice.
High snowfall and cold weather to blame.

A bitterly cold Alaskan summer has had surprising results. For the first time in the area's recorded history, area glaciers have begun to expand, rather than shrink. Summer temperatures, which were some 3 degrees below average, allowed record levels of winter snow to remain much longer, leading to the increase in glacial mass.

"In mid-June, I was surprised to see snow still at sea level in Prince William Sound", said glaciologist Bruce Molnia. "In general, the weather this summer was the worst I have seen in at least 20 years".

"On the Juneau Icefield, there was still 20 feet of new snow on the surface [in] late July. At Bering Glacier, a landslide I am studying [did] not become snow free until early August."

Molnia, who works for the US Geological Survey, said it's been a "long time" since area glaciers have seen a positive mass balance -- an increase in the total amount of ice they contain.

Since 1946, the USGS has maintained a research project measuring the state of Alaskan glaciers. This year saw records broken for most snow buildup. It was also the first time since any records began being that the glaciers did not shrink during the summer months.

Those records date from the mid 1700s, when the region was first visited by Russian explorers.  Molnia estimates that Alaskan glaciers have lost about 15% of their total area since that time -- an area the size of Connecticut.

One of the largest areas of shrinkage has been at the national park of Glacier Bay. When Alexei Ilich Chirikof first arrived in 1741, the bay didn't exist at all -- only a solid wall of ice. From that time until the early 1900s, the ice retreated some 50 miles, to form the bay and surrounding area.

Accordingly to Molnia, a difference of just 3 or 4 degrees is enough to shift the mass balance of glaciers from rapid shrinkage to rapid growth. From the 1600s to the 1900s, that’s just the amount of warming that was seen, as the planet exited the Little Ice Age.

Molnia says one cold summer doesn't mean the start of a new climatic trend. At least years like this, however, might mark the beginning of another Little Ice Age.

As DailyTech reported earlier, Arctic sea ice this year has also increased substantially from its low in 2007.



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RE: I knew!!
By InvertMe on 10/16/2008 11:24:08 AM , Rating: 2
To be accurate Jason pushes greener technology mostly. Not so much global warming gloom and doom. There is nothing wrong with doing things better. Why people resist change is beyond me.


RE: I knew!!
By porkpie on 10/16/2008 11:38:02 AM , Rating: 5
The problem is "green" tech isn't a better way of doing things. If it was, you wouldn't need government laws to push people to use it.

Maybe wind, solar, ethanol, and other things will one day be better than other sources, but until that happens, the crap needs to stay in the lab and mature, and not have tens of billions of tax dollars spent to subsidize it.


RE: I knew!!
By InvertMe on 10/16/2008 12:42:18 PM , Rating: 2
I completely aggree with you. There is a lot of room for improvment on "green" technologies.


RE: I knew!!
By Justin Case on 10/17/2008 1:29:00 PM , Rating: 2
Regulating the stock market, mortgages and loans is also a bad way of doing things. If it was, you wouldn't need government laws to push banks to do it. Let the banks do as they please, and the market will self-regulate.

Oh, wait.

Guess what, most industry (like most banks, etc.) these days cares only about short-term profits, frequently at the cost of the whole sector's long-term survivability (auto industry anyone?). In this case the "sector" happens to be the only planet we live on.

Believing the industry will "self-regulate" is like believing that you don't need police or jails or laws against murder and theft because "people will self-regulate". Must be nice over there in la-la land, but try visiting the real world some time.

Governments and laws exist for a reason. Just because you happened to support an incompetent government that did more to screw us up in eight years than all our (real and made-up) enemies combined, don't pretend now that the problem is with the concept of regulation. On the contrary, the problem is with the morons who think regulation is unnecessary (and the morons who put them there and continued to support them as the hole got deeper, because they'd rather screw everyone else than lose face by admitting they were wrong).


RE: I knew!!
By Hieyeck on 10/16/2008 11:46:27 AM , Rating: 5
Yes... to a point. There's practical green, and there's tree-hugger green. Practical green would be nuclear power and hydrogen cars. Tree-hugger green is solar panels with toxic chemicals used in its manufacturing and prohibitively expensive (or a long profit turnover) wind turbines. To the tree-huggers, it's only the end-result that matters, process be damned.

People forget it's his type that practically stalled nuclear development in the 70s. If they didn't, we might just be all: 1. on cleaner nuclear power - the theories to recycle and reduce nuclear waste existed decades ago, but thanks to the nuclear stall, they sat dormant until recently; 2. not dependent on foreign oil.

PS. Some Mickist FUD you might've missed:
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=12276
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=12218
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=12027


RE: I knew!!
By Hieyeck on 10/16/2008 11:47:38 AM , Rating: 2
Forgot to mention - using biofuels while kids are starving in Africa. Yea, really green stuff there.


RE: I knew!!
By FITCamaro on 10/16/2008 12:57:08 PM , Rating: 2
More dead people increases their food supply.

Yeah that was terrible...maybe I should see that shrink...


RE: I knew!!
By BikeDude on 10/16/2008 4:39:29 PM , Rating: 2
I read a small news blurb today, which said that food prices are quite high, but there "is enough food".

So...

1. Is it better to produce too much food, so we can keep prices down and throw away the stuff we don't eat?

2. Lower prices for food means farmers get less paid. The ones that are hurt the most by this is third world farmers who cannot afford the luxury of using oil-based fertilizers.

3. Food prices was recently on a historic low. Feel free to compare prices now with the prices 30 years ago. Still much lower.

4. Most ethanol is produced in Brazil. I doubt growing cheap food in South America will help the Africans much.

5. ...but the cheaper oil prices as a result of more people using bio-fuels will help everyone!

6. In the end, the ugly question "just how large a population can our planet sustain?" rears it head, followed by "is it better to have 100 million starve to death now, compared with billions some years from now when the real food shortage will hit us?"

7. If Americans are really concerned about the food prices, they should start eating less. There really is no need for anyone to weigh more than 100kg.

--
Rune


RE: I knew!!
By FITCamaro on 10/16/2008 8:56:53 PM , Rating: 2
Brazil produces a lot of ethanol this is true. However, because the government taxes the imported ethanol so much and subsidizes the American made ethanol so much, the American made stuff is "cheaper" to buy.


RE: I knew!!
By Ringold on 10/16/2008 9:05:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
1. Is it better to produce too much food, so we can keep prices down and throw away the stuff we don't eat?


Lower prices doesn't necessarily mean food gets tossed in the ocean.

quote:
2. Lower prices for food means farmers get less paid. The ones that are hurt the most by this is third world farmers who cannot afford the luxury of using oil-based fertilizers.


I'll also tackle 3, regarding historic low prices. Prices were low for a reason. Prices surged for a reason. The reasons are the same. Governments, in America, Europe as well as developing countries, have erected trade barriers and put in place large subsidies that distort global markets and protect their farmers. This has meant that farmers who should've gone on to other things have stuck around pumping out too much food, depressing prices. Then we, the US, comes along and suddenly over the space of a few years divert about 1/3 of our domestic maize crop to ethanol, and put in place mandates for even more ethanol. Economists warned at the very start of the ethanol craze it'd drive up prices, asking how ethical that would be.. but when the farm lobby and liberals get together, the resulting force is unstoppable.

Prices did need to be a bit higher, but before prices came back down it was way too high.

quote:
4. Most ethanol is produced in Brazil. I doubt growing cheap food in South America will help the Africans much.


We have an import tariff on Brazilian ethanol, and thus almost none is imported.

quote:
5. ...but the cheaper oil prices as a result of more people using bio-fuels will help everyone!


Not if, as has been the case up till now, biofuels wreak havoc in other markets just to have a tiny impact on oil prices. Oil is coming down because of a global recession, not ethanol. Also, you appear concerned about Africa and poor countries, but that happens to be where a lot of oil is. Lower oil prices mean less revenue their governments have to invest in human capital and infrastructure. Double edged sword!

quote:
just how large a population can our planet sustain?"


As long as we aren't burning food for fuel, Brazil alone has vast tracts of land that could be brought under cultivation, and if everybody had the same productivity as American farmers.. we're no where near the limit we could sustain over time. The above question only rears its head with the same idiots that thought in the 70s that by 2000 the world would have already collapsed in to mass famine.


RE: I knew!!
By Justin Case on 10/17/2008 8:27:49 PM , Rating: 2
Famine in Africa has nothing to do with the amount of food being produced globally, just as poverty in the streets of Calcutta has nothing to do with the amount of money circulating globally.

Besides, no idea what "green" (meaning ecological, I assume) has to do with famine. You're talking about producing food in one part of the world vs. the lack of food in a completely different place. How it that a "green" issue? It seems you're just picking nonsensical arguments to support your prejudiced and flawed understanding of what ecology is.


RE: I knew!!
By Justin Case on 10/17/2008 8:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
Wind turbines are viable in some areas, but very few. Biodiesel as it exists in the US is a scam. Solar panels, on the other hand, have improved massively over the past few years, and are set to improve even more over the next decade.

For the short-term, lots of nuclear plus some solar is definitely the way to go, and most real ecologists (the ones with a science degree, not the rich drop-outs who think it's cool to be in Greenpeace) agree.

In the long term, solar will probably replace everything else (virtually all the energy on Earth comes from there anyway; we'll just be cutting out the middle man).

But if you think we don't have more nuclear because of the "tree-huggers", you're very naif. Sorry to shatter your worldview, but the "tree-hugger lobby" doesn't have nearly as much power as the people who would lose millions if nuclear was adopted in large scale: big oil.

If we didn't waste oil to generate electricity, we'd be (almost) self-sufficient for transportation (which is the area where the energy density of fossil fuels is really essential). But when you have a president that walks hand in hand with the biggest oil "pusher" in the world, what do you expect?


RE: I knew!!
By arazok on 10/16/2008 12:18:43 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that people like Jason push green technology regardless of it’s practicality. If it’s green, but twice the cost of what it replaces, the cost is ignored and it’s declared a great improvement.


"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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