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Expanding glaciers

15 September 2012

At http://phys.org/print266762185.html … the events in the Arctic this year, although still impeding Shell's attempts to drill in the sea bed, have given birth to speculation on how fast glaciers respond to climate change – for some reason dropping the word warming. This might be because the Arctic is still very cold and wind was a factor in the break up of the ice this year – which however must necessarily have been very thin ice for that to happen. A study in the journal Science looked at historical glaciation on Baffin Island and found they expanded rapidly during a cold spell around 6200BC. The fear, or the hope, depending which side of the CAGW fence you squat, is that if glaciers reacted quickly in the past, either to cooling or warming, they might do so again if the earth warms up as it is expected to according to CAGW belief systems. The essential word to take into account here is 'if' and the idea we must hurry to set in motion mechanisms to block increasing levels of co2 in the atmosphere. The study describes the event at 6200 as a short phase of cooling. Other sources have claimed it lasted at least 200 years and I have seen a claim that it extended to as much as 400 years – so it is not exactly short and may be likened to a sort of mini dryas event.

The study also found glaciation at 6200BC was greater on Baffin Island than it was in the much longer Younger Dryas period, 11900-9500BC. This suggests summers may have been colder in the more recent event. It may also indicate other catastrophic factors.

At http://phys.org/print266598735.html … this story pops up on a lot of internet sites as it comes with an image of a cute animal, a baby arctic fox with big stary eyes. Apparently, during the Little Ice Age a new wave of these creatures colonised Iceland (research at Durham University) as a result of a bridge of sea ice that allowed them to migrate from Greenland. What the research also shows is that sea ice grew during the LIA – so it must have been much lower prior to the LIA. Does this mean modern sea ice levels may not be as anomalous as it is supposed by those wishing to exploit the situation for various nefarious reasons. We might also note that it indicates arctic foxes were keen to get out of Greenland, evidence that in the medieval period Greenland was a warmer habitat than it became following the departure of the Viking colonists. Obviously, they were not too keen on the growing ice sheet.

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