Tuesday, November 15, 2011

GEO #005 - Antarctica, Earth's Southern Air Conditioner

Antarctica, the forgotten continent. Here is what little I know about it.

At 14 million sq.km. / 5.4 million sq.mi. in land area, about two-thirds that of North America and twice that of Australia, Antarctica is the 5th largest continent, the only one that is almost entirely buried under a vast ice cap up to 6.5 km. / 4 mi. thick.

Its main life forms are penguins...

... other sea birds, seals and whales.

Over the last 500,000 years, there have been four major temperature fluctuations, each corresponding to a major carbon dioxide fluctuation between 200 ppm and 280 ppm.

Notable is that the atmospheric CO2 concentration has never exceeded 280 ppm, including as late as the year 1880 AD when the Industrial Revolution began. For the first time in millions of years, the atmospheric CO2 concentration exceeded 280 ppm, and not only that. It has climbed up to 390 ppm, and climbing, exponentially.

Today, though the Eastern Antarctic is remaining relatively cool, the Western Antarctic is warming, which is caused by the warming of the Southern Ocean.

Global warming has been evident since mid last century, especially in the Arctic and Antarctic.

And they will lead the rest of the world in temperature anomolies for decades to come.

With Antarctic warming will come the melting of the on-land ice sheet and the offshore ice shelves, the former resulting in sea-level rise.

But the melting of the Antarctic ice will absorb vast quantities of the Latent Heat of Melting, thus cooling the Southern Hemisphere and buying time for us to save the planet as a whole.

All in all, though the Antarctic is remote, it is not to be ignored.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

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