Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year, and Keep Shoveling :-)

We were too demoralized by various infrastructure issues to get out and take pictures of the big snowfall. But George Johnson of Santa Fe Review went out on snowshoes in his eastside neighborhood and got some nice ones for his December 30th, Snow Day, post....

One of the news stories which came up this weekend while we were all snowed in was about the Ayles Ice Shelf, which broke off Ellesmere Island (the news was new, the shelf itself broke off in 2005). There were interesting articles (1)(2)(3). As to size--15 kilometers by 5 kilometers--it is not in the same league as the big berg which broke off the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica in March of 2000. That one, whose name was B-15, measured 300km x 37km, and has been bumping along the Antarctic coast slowly breaking up ever since. But the removal of that big slice of the Ross shelf was considered a normal adjustment; the fate of the Ayles Ice Shelf, on the other hand, is being construed as a highly significant indicator of conditions in the Arctic Ocean, and attributed to global warming.

There is not necessarily any connection between our big snowstorm, or any other single piece of extreme weather-- or for that matter any individual extreme season-- and the larger-scale changing of the climate, except in the sense that more extremes of weather are one of the predicted consequences of the warming. (If you google the phrase 'increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events' you get a lot of climate change sites back, with almost no hint of an original source. We think it might be one of the IPCC documents, but haven't found a proper citation yet.)

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