Sunday, January 20, 2008

Antarctic melt may outstrip prediction

Jo Chandler in the Age (Australia) reports on the status of the ice and Antarctica, following up on the much-followed story from Nature Geoscience about accelarating ice loss in various parts of the continent. She also paints a vivid picture of the beauty and strangeness of the polar landscape.

The theme is the limits to our knowledge. As Chandler reminds us, the estimates of Antarctic ice melt used in the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are probably too low. We -- or rather, the scientists who study such things -- know little about what actually happens at the base of the tremendous ice sheets. And of course, we can count on denialists to trumpet stray bits of data to create an impression of "no problem-o."

Map of Antarctica from the US Geological Survey.

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