Wednesday, May 28, 2008

North Pole Control

As you may remember, the ice at the north pole retreated to a record last year. Here's a new story from the BBC that indicates that the process is accelerating.

Vast cracks appear in Arctic ice
BBC News
By David Shukman BBC News

Dramatic evidence of the break-up of the Arctic ice-cap has emerged from research during an expedition by the Canadian military.

Scientists travelling with the troops found major new fractures during an assessment of the state of giant ice shelves in Canada's far north. The team found a network of cracks that stretched for more than 10 miles (16km) on Ward Hunt, the area's largest shelf.

The fate of the vast ice blocks is seen as a key indicator of climate change.

One of the expedition's scientists, Derek Mueller of Trent University, Ontario, told me: "I was astonished to see these new cracks. "It means the ice shelf is disintegrating, the pieces are pinned together like a jigsaw but could float away," Dr Mueller explained.

According to another scientist on the expedition, Dr Luke Copland of the University of Ottawa, the new cracks fit into a pattern of change in the Arctic.

"We're seeing very dramatic changes; from the retreat of the glaciers, to the melting of the sea ice. "We had 23% less (sea ice) last year than we've ever had, and what's happening to the ice shelves is part of that picture." (clip)

The rapid changes in the Arctic have reignited disputes over territory.

The Canadian military's expedition was billed as a "sovereignty patrol", the lines of snowmobiles flying Canadian flags in a display of control.

After the record Arctic melting last year, all eyes are now on what happens to the sea ice this summer. (more)

Of course, like the Canadians, some of the eyes are not just looking for geopolitical control, many are looking at the Arctic Ocean as a new shipping lane and as new happy hunting grounds for the discovery of more oil, so we can release more CO2, so we can melt the ice even faster.

But our radiative forcing from the increased blanket of CO2 that we have created will somewhat pale in comparison to the amount of energy that will be absorbed by the open blue water.

While the Canadians are sending troops to our north pole, the US is sending robots to the north pole of Mars. The Phoenix Mars Lander is now on the north pole of Mars, which may prove to have more ice than our north pole pretty soon. Maybe we are thinking we can control the Mars north pole, like the Canadians and the Russians want to control ours.

If you look closely at the picture, you can see the mini DVD that we brought them.

Perhaps they can buy the player at the Comp USA.



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