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Ice Sheet Collapse

22 December 2018
Climate change

At https://phys.org/print464581407.html … we have one of those alarmist doom and despondency stories based on the discovery that in the last interglacial period the West Antarctic peninsular ice sheet did not exist – and sea levels in a few locations were higher. As global sea levels were not part of the research we can ignore this add-on and it is entirely conjecture that sea levels around the world were higher in the last interglacial period. In contrast, the lack of an ice sheet on the Antarctic peninsular is actually telling us all something was different. According to the press release it was down to orbital and spin axis change – and nothing to do with co2 as nobody was using fossil fuels. One might even suggest other reasons – but the research article itself will not do that.

Last week, in The Times, we had a little piece about Deception Island – off the tip of the West Antarctic peninsular. It is a mountainous island, circular in shape, with a large lake in the centre of the island. It is a volcano that occasionally rumbles into life. Clouds of steam and heat rise up from the black sand along the island's beaches – which are so warm people can swim in the water offshore (smack bang in the Antarctic). The clouds of steam also create a phenomenon that looks like a ghostly rainbow. When sun light shines on water droplets in the steam the light is reflected and scattered and beamed out into a pale arc fringed with rainbow colours. In addition, a hundred thousand breeding penguins enjoy the warmer Antarctic waters around the island.

Weather Eye (a Times columnist) also visits the Arctic – where a polar vortex may be stirring up for some fun and games. Apparently, there is a good chance of cold weather in western Europe in January. On another day he said an El Nino event was also brewing – in the Pacific. This would bring a raft of warm tropical water into the Indian and Atlantic oceans and we may thus have a warm summer again in 2019. However, he adds this might not be the whole story as a quiet Sun has been a feature of 2018 – and this might indicate we have some cold weather to look forwards to in the next couple of months. In 2018 there have been 212 days without sun spots and by the end of next week there will be a few more spotless days. Weather Eye quotes records kept by port authorities on the Rhine between 1790 and 1963. The river Rhine froze over 14 times in that period – suggesting intense cold. This seems to have occurred mostly when the Sun was at minimum. When the Sun has fewer sun spots it gives out fewer ultra violet rays – which means there is less heating of the upper atmosphere (which in turn changes global wind patterns) and so on.

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