Despite media reports to the contrary, the Antarctic ice is still melting, as noted here:
Climate change is warming the Amundsen Sea, which is at the southern margin of the Pacific Ocean. As rising sea levels push the warm water beneath the ice shelves, it melts them from below, pushing the grounding line higher up the continental shelf.That statement, from a recent New Scientist article is generally true: it is true of the majority of ice shelves. In the case of one specific site on the relatively small Fimbul ice shelf, the water appears not to be warm enough to increase the existing melt rate.
In a recent article: Global Cooling: A Good Story, If Only It Were True, I showed how the Daily Mail had got the facts wrong in two stories. On January 12th, 2010, they did it again. "Now tests show the ice ISN'T melting: Sea water under shelf in the East Antarctic is still freezing", states the Daily Mail headline.
That headline is just plain wrong, as is the article. The accompanying stock photo is mis-captioned as well. The photo, captioned "Tests: The Fimbul ice shelf, where scientists conducted experiments on the temperature of water there" is a photo, not of an ice shelf, but of an iceberg!
The terms 'sea water' and 'still freezing' are misleading. In the public mind, 'sea water' is water in, or directly connected to the sea, or the remaining water from recent seawater floods. The term 'freezing', generally applied, means 'below the freezing point of water'. Applied to water, it means 'in process of becoming ice'.
The report which the Daily Mail has mis-represented demonstrates that the water under, specifically, the Fimbul ice shelf and no other ice shelves, is not subject to penetration by warm ocean water, which suggests that melting under the Fimbul ice shelf does not increase.
The report does not say that melting does not occur - it says that melting does not increase.
The data gathering cited by the Daily Mail, ( with no link to the original publication ), refers to temperatures above the freezing point of sea water and refer to trapped water isolated from the ocean. It says nothing whatsoever about the general upwards trend of sea water temperatures around Antarctica.
Here are the points of interest which the Daily Mail appears to have mis-read:
The relatively warm deep water found over the continental slope does not seem to penetrate into the cavity beneath the ice shelf.Source:
We observed a roughly 50 meter deep layer of water with temperatures very close to the freezing point, about -2.05 degrees, just beneath the ice shelf.
We collected three profiles from the underside of the ice to the seabed at 653 meters below sealevel. No trace of the relatively warm deep water that upwells over the continental slope was found. It will be exciting to see if this is the situation all year round, says Ole Anders Nøst.
Models of the ocean circulation in the area show warm deep water flowing in under the ice shelves. As this is not observed, the models are most likely wrong and should be improved. This is an important step towards an understanding of the processes under the Fimbul Ice Shelf.
The point about non-penetration of warm water to the cavity being surveyed needs to be emphasised.
Warm Deep Water does not have direct access to the ice shelf cavity, while relatively cold coastal waters shallower than 500 m will interact closely with the Fimbul ice shelf.Source:
The fact of a generally upwards warming trend in the Antarctic cannot seriously be disputed by the media.
Press Release - First comprehensive review of the state of Antarctica's climate - Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment - 01 Dec 2009Source:
Based on the latest evidence* from 100 world-leading scientists from 13 countries, the review focuses on the impact and consequences of rapid warming of the Antarctic Peninsula and the Southern Ocean; rapid ice loss in parts of Antarctica and the increase in sea ice around the continent
Record-tying High Global Surface Temperature in September 2009Source:
The monthly anomaly of the global average surface temperature in September 2009 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.37oC (prliminary value) (based on the 1971-2000 average) which tied with 2005 as the highest record since 1891 ...
There was also a record-tying average of temperatures from January to November 2009:
The annual anomaly of the global average surface temperature in 2009 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the sea surface temperature) was +0.31oC above normal (based on the 1971-2000 average) which tied with 2006, 2003 and 2002 as the third highest record since 1891 ...Source:
Why Is This Important?
Some people will not become convinced that global warming is real until they need scuba-diving gear to visit their own shoreside properties. Beyond reasonable doubt, the world's sea levels are rising. I remarked in a recent (10th Jan 2010) comment on this site that the 1953 flood, previously regarded as a 1000 year event has become a 100 year event. A newly-published report supports that view.
Radical sea defence rethink urgedSource: BBC
Rising sea levels and more storms could mean that parts of at-risk cities will need to be surrendered to protect homes and businesses, a report warns.
Further reading and references:
WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin
More on climate from the chatter_box
Global Cooling: A Good Story, If Only It Were True.
Global Cooling : Beyond Parochialism
Join The Navy : See A Nuke
Himalayan Hype : Reading Between The Lines
GMST : Discovering Trends
How To Model A Smoking Gun