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Study: Glaciers Melting Faster
Thu Jul 18, 4:35 PM ET
By PAUL RECER, AP Science Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - An estimated 24 cubic miles of ice are disappearing annually from Alaskan glaciers, turning some imposing ice mountains into minor hills and adding to the steady rise in global sea level, a study shows.
Researchers at the University of Alaska surveyed 67 major glaciers using an airborne laser system and found that the rate of melting in the last five years is rapidly growing. "From the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s, the glaciers lost about 52 cubic kilometers (13 cubic miles) a year," said Anthony A. Arendt, first author of the study appearing in the journal Science. "In the last
five years, that rate has almost doubled." Over almost a half century, he said, the glaciers have
lost some 500 cubic miles of ice. The new measurements show that the glaciers of Alaska are contributing about half of the water worldwide flowing into the oceans from shrinking mountain
glaciers, said Arendt. Studies have suggested that the global sea level has risen about 7.8 inches over the last 100 years, and some experts say the rate is increasing. Arendt said that would be consistent with what he and his co-authors have found in their study of the Alaskan glaciers.
"The next question is what has been causing this glacier thinning. Is it because there is less snowfall in the winter or are the summers warmer?" said Arendt. "Glacier changes are linked to the climate, so this indicates that something has changed about the Alaskan climate."
Alaska's glaciers grow if they receive more snow in the winter than is melted in the summer. Since the glaciers are shrinking, then one end of ice equation has changed and Arendt said that more study is needed to find out the causes.
Experts have attributed sea level rise to two primary effects: run off from the melting of ancient ice fields, such as the Alaskan glaciers, and an ocean expansion due to warming. Some have attributed the warming of the ocean to a general global trend caused by human action.
Mysterious Shift in Earth's Gravity Suggests Equator
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
Something strange has been going on under our feet for the past four years. Earth's gravity field suddenly shifted gears and began getting flatter, reversing a course of centuries during which the planet and its gravity field grew rounder each year. The scientists who noticed the change and report it in the Aug. 2 issue of the journal Science suspect Earth itself may be flattening out, with the oceans rising near the equator, but they aren't sure. What they do know is that Earth has never been round. It has always bulged at the equator and is about 0.3 percent fatter there, partly a result of the planet's rotation.
Yet ever since the last Ice Age, the planet has been getting rounder as ground beneath the polar regions, relieved of the weight from ice that was miles thick in places, has been rebounding. In some parts of Scandinavia and Canada, the ground rises a quarter-inch (1 centimeter) per year.
Since the late 1970s, satellite measurements have shown that this post-glacial rebound, as it is called, generates a corresponding rounding of Earth's gravity field. Suddenly the trend has reversed. "Sometime around 1998, something began to make the Earth's gravity field flatter," says Christopher Cox of Raytheon Information Technology and Scientific Services. "The result is it looks as if post-glacial rebound has reversed itself. But, we do not have any
reason to think that post-glacial rebound has in any way stopped or changed."
In effect, Cox said in an interview, while post-glacial rebound continues to make the Earth rounder, some movement of mass on the surface of the Earth must be making the gravity field flatter. It's not a change anyone could notice; it's only revealed by sensitive satellite measurements. The shift, however, is significant. "The effect is twice as large as post-glacial rebound in terms of effect on the gravity field, and it's in the opposite direction," Cox said. "Whatever it is, it's big."
Like a rubber ball
Cox, who also works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, described post-glacial rebound as similar to pushing a rubber ball in at the top and bottom with your fingers. "The sides come out, and the top and bottom go in. Take your fingers off that rubber ball, and the sides are going to go in and the top is going to come out again."
What does this have to do with Earth?
"You have material moving inside," Cox explained. The rubber is compressed, but air is also pushed around. Some of the post-glacial rebound is caused by the ground simply decompressing. But scientists have long known that to account for what they've measured, Earth's physical shape must change. Material --ground, water or air -- must be moved around. Though the planet's shape and its gravity field are not directly correlated, they are related.
Cox and his colleague, Benjamin Chao of Goddard, were at first baffled by the sudden reversal and flattening of the gravity field. They considered that ice melting at the poles and raising the overall sea level could be the culprit. Calculations showed, however, that "you would have to drop a 10x10x5 kilometer cube of it into the ocean every year for the past five years." Separate measurements of sea surface height from NASA's TOPEX/Poseidon mission don't support this
scenario. Material in Earth's crust can't be responsible -- it couldn't move so quickly from the poles to the equator. Molten rock oozing around in Earth's core might be to blame, but data do not support such a scenario. Changes in the atmosphere might be involved, but no data supports that being the primary cause, either. So what is it? Instead, Cox said, long-term circulation patterns in
the ocean seem to be the most likely cause. Shifts in huge ocean currents -- similar to El Nino
but on larger scales and moving in a north-south direction -- might transport enough water toward the equator to account for the flattened gravity field. One such cycle is called the Pacific Decadal
Oscillation. "We have a strong suspicion that it's in the ocean," Cox said. "Whatever the cause, the results of Cox and Chao emphasize the importance of gravity variations as a barometer of integrated mass changes in the Earth system," write scientists Anny Cazenave and R. Steven Nerem in an analysis of the research for Science. "Monitoring these variations with improved spatial and temporal resolution would provide an important tool for studying Earth system changes." Since Cox and Chao submitted their paper to the journal, they've continued to look into the mystery and are more confident that the ocean is behind it all. "But we need more data," Cox said.
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Note to "Prophesied 'Earth Changes' List" members
Herein you'll find three current news stories (or excerpts thereof), followed by an URL to the original article...
News Article Titles
---- ------- ------
"Scientists Say 30-Second Alert Possible for Quakes"
12 Aug. '02
"Experts warn of disasters from climate changes"
30 July '02
"Louisiana Sinking: One State's Environmental
Nightmare Could Become Common Problem" (first in an
occasional AP series) 10 Aug. '02
This first one is short, so is included in total, followed by URL to original.
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SCIENTISTS SAY 30-SECOND ALERT POSSIBLE FOR QUAKES
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Scientists working with a new network of seismic monitoring stations in Taiwan say it is now possible to give as much as 30 seconds warning before some major earthquakes time to shut off gas lines, stop public transit and take other precautions to limit damage. "This could be a 911 (emergency) call for earthquakes," researcher Leon Teng of the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California said on Monday. "When you have this kind of information coming in, you really can prepare."
Teng's research, published in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, is based on the analysis of data derived from Taiwan's seismic station network, now one of the most comprehensive earthquake monitoring systems in the world.
By allowing computers to isolate "subnetworks" of closely placed monitoring stations, they were able to identify the early stages of specific earthquakes, calculating estimates of epicenter and magnitude rapidly enough to alert communities further away that a shake-up is coming. During the test period, the "subnetwork" system correctly detected and reported 54 earthquakes
measuring between 3.5 and 6.3, and that further tests have shown it close to 100 percent accurate.
The quake information is then relayed to emergency response agencies in areas likely to be affected as the quake's shockwaves move through the earth's surface. While in some cases the earthquake occurs too close for warning, communities that are further away can get 20 to 30 seconds to prepare, Teng said. "(The information) is coming in ahead of the destructive waves. That will give you some warning,"
Earthquake alert systems have been tested in several West Coast communities, as well as in Mexico and areas of Japan, according to Prof. Thomas Heaton, an earthquake expert at the California Institute of Technology. While these systems have proven to be effective in
sensing some of the "compression waves" or "p-waves" that signal the onset of an earthquake, they are often too small or localized to provide much in the way of a useful warning. "In the most likely circumstances you would get less than ten seconds," Heaton said. "The demand for such
systems is not really there until we have a capability to deliver and use the information quickly."
Teng said the Taiwan prototype for earthquake alerts could be replicated in other seismically active areas, allowing the automated shutdown of key utility, transit and computer systems and giving officials time to prepare emergency medical and rescue teams. But he said that in most cases -- including California -- earthquake agencies have not set up enough seismic monitoring stations to form the "subnetworks" crucial to determining when and where an earthquake will hit.
Taiwan, which experiences numerous earthquakes, has spent a total of $60 million on its seismic monitoring system. To equip California with a comparable network could cost as much as $200 million, he said. "Taiwan is about 20 percent the size of California, but it has as many instruments as California. There is high density, quick transmission and good software."
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Again short, so not excerpted. "Climate change" caused
disasters have been predicted for some years now, from
a number of sources... but, I guess *now* its
"official" since the so-called experts have chimed in.
--- <begin forwarded article> ---
EXPERTS WARN OF DISASTERS FROM CLIMATE CHANGES
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP)- Climate changes caused by global warming will inundate small island states and seriously threaten agriculture, forests, marine ecosystems and public health, a U.N. expert warned Tuesday.
"The earth's atmosphere is now warming at the fastest rate in recorded history, a trend that is projected to cause extensive damage to forests, marine ecosystems and agriculture," said Ravi Sawhney of the Bangkok-based United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, or ESCAP. Speaking at the opening of a four-day conference here on climate change, Sawhney warned that small island states, deltas and low lying coastlines will be submerged while agriculture and public health could be adversely affected in many countries. Sawhney said global warming can be controlled by more usage of renewable energy, cleaner production and
consumption of power and increased reforestation.
The 12th Asia-Pacific Seminar on Climate Change, which brought together scientists and experts from the Asia-Pacific region, was organized by Japan's Ministry of the Environment, ESCAP and the Tokyo-based Institute for Global Environment Strategies.
The delegates will be brought up to date on the status of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the landmark 1997 international agreement that seeks to set mandatory reductions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by industrial nations. The conference will also help contribute to the global conference on the environment to be held from Aug. 26 - Sept. 4 in Johannesburg, South Africa. In a welcoming speech, a senior Thai government official said "climate change is the most serious environmental threat facing the world today" and would have a profound impact on the Asian-Pacific region. But because of the lack the research and knowledge on how to plan for climate change, countries in the region need to increase education and transfers of technology, said Apichai Chvajarernpun, the deputy secretary general of the Office of Environmental Policy and Planning.
--- <end forwarded article> ---
The third, and final, news story today is excerpted below. You'll find the URL to the complete, original article (the first in what is called an "occasional series", by the Associated Press) afterward. This article touches upon some of the "disasters" only hinted at in the last one. So, fearless earthprophecy-l member, read on...
--- <begin excerpted article> ---
LOUISIANA SINKING: ONE U.S. STATE'S ENVIRONMENTAL
NIGHTMARE COULD BECOME COMMON PROBLEM
ISLE DE JEAN CHARLES, La. (AP) - At the end of the road to Isle de Jean Charles, a patchwork of dusty green salt grass and sparkling blue water extends untouched to the horizon.
Stilt-legged egrets wing the sky or stand frozen in the grass. Occasionally a fat mullet heaves itself out of the water and falls back with a gentle plop...A few decades ago Isle de Jean Charles was a patch of high ground in a sea of grassy marsh teeming with catfish and crawdads. Today the small community is a true island, regularly flooded during storms and sometimes even at high tide. In a few years it will be submerged completely...... A widely publicized government report recently predicted that sea-level rise caused by global warming could swallow sizable chunks of the coastal United States in the coming century. In Louisiana, that future is already here. Up to 35 square miles of Louisiana's wetlands sink into the Gulf of Mexico each year. To date, an area the size of Rhode Island has been lost. In some places the coastline has retreated 30 miles. If scientists' global warming projections prove correct, virtually every (U.S.) state along the
Atlantic and Gulf coasts will have problems similar to Louisiana's by the middle of the century. In a worst-case scenario, sea level would be 44 inches higher 50 years from now. If it is, 23,000 square miles of land along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts will disappear. Low-lying cities such as Miami, Houston, Wilmington, N.C., and Charleston, S.C., will face many of the same problems New Orleans grapples with today. Beyond the United States, low-lying coastal countries such as the Netherlands, Bangladesh and the Bahamas stand to lose large swaths of territory... ."We're not going to be the only ones in the boat," says Al Naomi, a project manager in the New Orleans
District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "We're just in the boat first."
--- <end excerpted article> ---
FULL NEWS STORY; in which the dire effects of a major
hurricane (25,000 to 100,000 people killed; stagnant,
possibly toxic, un-drainable water taking
weeks-to-months to evaporate) hitting southern LA.,
and New Orleans specifically, are discussed & a
long-term solution for the coastal wetlands proposed
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