INCREDIBLE SEA LEVEL RISE IS NOT CREDIBLE
By Dennis T. Avery
Beware, however. Global warming alarmists are particularly desperate to claim that the Antarctic is “warming first” — as the computerized climate models predicted the Polar Regions would. That’s a problem. Satellite readings show the Antarctic ice is increasing by 45 billion tons per year and the Antarctic sea ice is at record-large extent.
Don Easterbrook, a geologist at Western Washington University, puts melting Antarctic ice into longterm perspective. Easterbrook says there’s no way to date corals that died 120,000 years ago within an accuracy of 25 to 50 years. Dating within tens of thousands of years is more likely.
Secondly, he points out that the average temperature in the Antarctic is about 55 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. In order to melt any ice at all, you’d have to raise the temperature of the region by 87 degrees Fahrenheit just to get to the melting point of ice. To do this in 50 years is — incredible!
Third, notes Easterbrook, the volume of ice in the Antarctic is about 30 million cubic kilometers. To melt most of this ice in ten years, 2 to 3 million cubic kilometers would have had to melt per year; and, remember, the average temperature is -55 degrees Fahrenheit. This is far beyond anything even the computer models have imagined.
It is certainly likely that ice melted 120,000 years ago during the very warm Eemian Warming. But what produced the heat for that melting? With no humans to blame, it must have been the sun. If the sun can vary that much in the geologically recent past, how can we be sure that it hasn’t been the sun raising the earth’s temperature in the past 150 years?
When the last Ice Age began to end, glaciers covered North America as far south as Ohio and New York’s Long Island. Then the sun caused the planet to enter a warming phase. At its maximum warming rate, however, Easterbrook notes that the glaciers melted at about 1 meter per century.
Today, those huge glaciers are gone, and the oceans have already recovered about 400 feet of depth. Only two ice caps are left, with nearly all of it in the Antarctic and the rest in Greenland. Easterbrook does not see the potential for sea level rising faster than the one meter per century at the end of the last Ice Age — particularly with the slow, erratic warming that has occurred over the past 150 years.
John Stone, of the University of Washington, noted in a 2003 paper that glaciers and ice caps take thousands of years to melt because their surfaces reflect so much of the sun’s heat away. He says that even the relatively vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet, at least 10,000 years past its most recent Ice Age, still has another 7,000 years worth of ice to melt. Another Little Ice Age — or a big one — is certain to come along before that process is complete.
Ian Allison, of the Australian Antarctic Division, says a recent meeting of the Antarctic Treaty Nations noted the South Pole had shown “significant cooling in recent decades,” and that recent ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring show no large-scale ice-melt over most of Antarctica.
Remember Stone’s watchword — ice caps take thousands of years to melt because they deflect so much of the sun’s heat away. It takes 80 times as much heat to melt a one-inch cube of ice as to raise the temperature of the water one degree Celsius. Based on real-life physics, the Antarctica cannot melt rapidly.
Antarctic gaining ice: Curt Davis et al, “Snowfall Driven Growth in East Antarctic Ice Sheet Mitigates Recent Sea-Level Rise, Science, Vol. 308, 2005, pp. 1898–1901.
Antarctic sea ice extent: “Earth’s temperature 8th-warmest on record so far,” USA Today, April 16, 2009:
Slow melt of Antarctic ice: John Stone et al., “Holocene Deglaciation of Marie Byrd Land, West Antarctic,” Science 299, pp 99-102, 2003.
Antarctic Treaty nations meeting: “Report: Antarctic Ice Growing, Not Shrinking,” Fox News, April 18, 2009.
Political Economy -- Philosophies, Systems, & Public Policies:
Government, the Economy, & Economic Prosperity
Political Environmentalism Versus Human Progress & Prosperity:
Policy Issues Relating to Energy, Environment,
& Natural Resources
Dennis T. Avery is an environmental economist, and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He was
formerly a senior analyst for the U.S. Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global
Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at P.O. Box 202, Churchville, Virginia, 24421, or send email
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