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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: Son of a...
By MastermindX on 10/16/2008 1:03:47 PM , Rating: 5
Yes... Climate is cyclical. It doesn't mean global warming does not exists.

Temperature can go up during global cooling.
Temperature can go down during global warming.

It's like the stock market. It lost 20% in the last week... But over time, it returns an average of 7% a year.

The truth is, we produce more carbon dioxide than the environment can absorb back, producing a build up in the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas)

Now, does it have a really significant effect on global temperature? I'm no expert to even pretend to know the answer.

As I read in another article, another thing to take into account is that "pollution" is not always causing greenhouse effect. Some waste "thrown" in the atmosphere actually have a cooling effect.

Do I believe human activities have an effect on global temperature? Yes!
Do I believe it can be significant enough to warrant research in clean energy? Yes!
Do I believe we should do ALL we can to stop ALL carbon dioxide emissions? No.

And even if pollution had no effect on the weather, being able to breath cleaner air would be a good enough reason to do research on clean energies.


RE: Son of a...
By wookie1 on 10/16/2008 2:10:54 PM , Rating: 4
If the real benefit of any of these actions is to "clean" the air (as if CO2 were a pollutant instead of plant food), then this justification should stand on its own, and not need the primary justification of "climate change" and the fear pumped by the politicians to support it. Since this isn't a very good justification for spending trillions of dollars, the fear is needed to achieve the political goals. Kind of like the WMD's in Iraq.


RE: Son of a...
By Spuke on 10/16/2008 3:08:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Temperature can go up during global cooling. Temperature can go down during global warming.
So no matter what anyone says, if someone else says something is, then it isn't and if that someone or some else says something isn't, then it is.


RE: Son of a...
By AnnihilatorX on 10/17/2008 4:00:05 AM , Rating: 3
CO2 itself has a big problem on ecology.

The effect of it on coral reefs are well documented. CO2 itself is a proven green house gas.
It's proven that the sea can only absorb so much of it, and with dire consquence to shelled sea life that relies on carbonated shells.
It's also proven that tropical forest does not actually grow faster when more CO2 is available, actually they spill out more CO2.

On another topic, I think new scientist has an excellent article on environment and economy.
http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/mg2002...

This topic is often ignored by government and general population. The verdict is that earth resources are limited and it just cannot sustain economy growth at current pace indefinitely without dire environmental consequences. Yet all government in the world strife for economy growth as their main policy.


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