Friday, September 14, 2007

Antarctic Freeze-up

Well now, while the Arctic is melting, it seems the South Pole is freezing up. Of course, you say--it's winter down south. But that's not what we mean.

Interestingly (hat tip to Mattnoyes for this), while the Arctic Ocean set a record for least ice cover this week, the Antarctic set a record for maximum ice cover. For complete information on both the Arctic and Antarctic, check out The Cryosphere Today (you'll probably want to bookmark this site to make sure you don't miss a thing on the cryosphere!)

What does this all mean? Not clear. Certainly, there is clear evidence of dramatic, sustained warming at the North Pole, and we're likely to see more of the same. The Southern Hemisphere is a bit different, however.

Global warming skeptics will no doubt pounce on the Antarctic news to bolster their claims. But no one expects the effects of warming to be uniform across the globe. Indeed, even in the Antarctic there is variation, and there is evidence that some of the large glaciers that form the southern ice cap are accelerating.

It is also certainly possible that more than one thing is going on at a time--normal weather cycles that are still poorly understood may account for both the Arctic warming and Antarctic cooling, while global warming could well be exacerbating the trend in the north, and perhaps ameliorating it in the south (we don't have many years of data on the Antarctic).

We agree with MattNoyes on one thing: the media shouldn't report on warming in the north and then simply ignore the news from the south.

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