Global Cooling? Ice Coverage Growing in Antarctica


Ice, Ice, Baby...

Michael Bastasch on thinks someone ought to inform Al Gore about the South Pole: it isn't melting. Ice in the eastern Weddell Sea and zones south of Australia hit record levels for April—3.5 million square miles of new coverage, which the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSDC) proclaims the largest on record. This incredible growth averages approximately 43,500 square miles a day. Record levels continued through May. Areas in the southern Indian Ocean too are seeing a cooling trend, by as much as 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. The real mystery (listen up, Al!) lies in determining why vast regions of the far Southern Hemisphere are seeing higher-than-average temperatures. Climate scientists are stumped, but not pessimistic about finding an answer—or answers.

Last December, a handful of them got trapped in Antarctic ice some 1,500 miles south of Tasmania. "We're stuck in our own experiment," stated the Australasian Antarctic Expedition at that time. "We came to study how one of the biggest icebergs in the world has altered the system by trapping ice." The scientists—and a few hapless tourists—were rescued by helicopter. An assisting ice-breaker too got locked in on its return! Antarctica appears to be suffering climatological schizophrenia. Let's hope the cooling trend, isolated though it may be, continues. Eric Rignot, lead author of a study warning of collapsing ice sheets having "[R]eached the point of no return," claims this could elevate sea levels between 10 to 13 feet. Antarctica, it seems, is literally cracking up.

  • Henry Galt

    The tourists—and a few hapless scientists—were rescued by helicopter.