Global Warming Worse Than Thought, Warm Water the Culprit

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  • GREENPEACE CREWMEMBERS INSPECT THE ICE IN ANTARCTICA
    Many scientists believe that the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica will follow the Larsen A shelf and disappear in the next few years.
  • Aerial photographs taken in February and March 2002 of parts of the Larsen B shelf in the Antarctic show different aspects of the final stages of the collapse
    -COMBO PHOTO- Aerial photographs taken in February and March 2002 of parts of the Larsen B shelf in the Antarctic show different aspects of the final stages of the collapse that has reignited fears of global warming and its catastrophic effects. The pictures show (clockwise from top left) the shelf breaking up near Foca Nunatak, a rift in the ice sheet near Cape Desengano, a cascade of water from melting ice nearly 30 meters high along the front of the shelf, and the new front edge of the shelf breaking up near Cape Foyn. About 500 billion tons of ice of the Larsen B shelf have disintegrated over the last month, the result of 50 years of sharp temperature rises on the Antarctic Peninsula unmatched elsewhere on the ice continent and in the rest of the world.
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Global warming and the melting of the polar caps is worse than previously thought, according to a new study from the University of Arizona that appeared in Nature Geoscience.

The study asserted that the culprit is warming ocean waters.

Water has a much larger heat capacity than air.  If you put an ice cube in a warm room, it will melt in several hours. But if you put an ice cube in a cup of warm water, it will disappear in just minutes, said Jianjun Yin, who worked on the study.

Water has the second highest specific heat capacity of all known substances.  It, rather than air, holds most of the earth's global warming heat, so it makes sense that its impact on global warming is significant.

The study estimates that subsurface ocean temperature along the coast of Greenland could rise by 3 degrees Fahrenheit and those along the coast of Antarctica could rise by 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.

While the study estimates that the subsurface temperatures for both poles will rise more than what the scientific community previously expected, the danger is greater for the North Pole (coast of Greenland).

LiveScience explains that the Gulf Stream sends warmer waters towards the North Pole while the Antarctic Circumpolar Current blocks some of the warm waters from reaching the South Pole, hence the temperature discrepancy.

As a result of the warming ocean, the sea level could rise by 3 feet by 2100 and much more in subsequent centuries, estimated the study.

The melting of ice sitting on water will not raise the sea level because water is actually denser than ice (that's why ice floats and takes up more space than water).

However, the problem is that global warming is melting ice that's sitting on the land of Greenland and Antarctica; the releasing of the grounded ice adds additional water to the oceans, thus raising the sea level. 

 

 

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