Massive piece of Ward Hunt Ice Shelf collapses

Tue, 2008-07-29 12:04Todd Carmichael
Todd Carmichael's picture

Massive piece of Ward Hunt Ice Shelf collapses

Arctic scientists are reporting today that a four-square-kilometer chunk of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf has broken off.

As reported in the Globe and Mail:

Scientists say the break, the largest on record since 2005, is the latest indication that climate change is forcing the drastic reshaping of the Arctic coastline, where 9,000 square kilometres of ice have been whittled down to less than 1,000 over the past century, and are only showing signs of decreasing further.

Northern explorers have used the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf as a launching point for expeditions for years. But much like the changes that I have witnessed in my expeditions to the Antarctic, things just aren't right at the other Pole either.

Scientists have been studying the effects of global climate change on the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf for years. “Sea ice cover has been shrinking about 3 percent per decade over the past few decades. We saw a record minimum in September 2002, and the summer of 2003 almost set a new record,” said Mark Serreze, a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

According to NASA:

Loss of sea ice can have major implications for global climate. Because of its light appearance, sea ice reflects most of the Sun’s energy back into space, whereas darker seawater absorbs most of the incoming radiation and could potentially warm Earth’s climate. As sea ice continues to melt, more radiation will be absorbed by the ocean.


You can go here for more on the history of the breakup of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf.

On November 8, 2008 Todd Carmichael will attempt to become the first American in history to reach the South Pole, solo and unaided.

Sign up for Todd's Expedition E-lerts and keep track of Todd's Antarctic Expedition with live updates throughout the journey.



Staggering. The reader comments at the G&M on this article are wildly out of control! A quick glance a the gist of them suggests the same "yes it is" -- "no it isn't" that just goes around and around in circles. There is a very good article about journalistic whiplash at Andy Revkin writes:

Under nonstop scrutiny, conflicting findings can make news coverage veer from one extreme to another, resulting in a kind of journalistic whiplash for the public. . . How fast is Greenland shedding ice? Did human-caused warming wipe out frogs in the American tropics? Has warming strengthened hurricanes? Have the oceans stopped warming? These questions endure even as the basic theory of a rising human influence on climate has steadily solidified: accumulating greenhouse gases will warm the world, erode ice sheets, raise seas and have big impacts on biology and human affairs.

Scientists see persistent disputes as the normal stuttering journey toward improved understanding of how the world works. But many fear that the herky-jerky trajectory is distracting the public from the undisputed basics and blocking change.

It also creates a perfect environment for the Fred Singers, Viscount Moncktons and their ilk to wreack havoc.

Fern Mackenzie

Fern what you describe is turmoil within the AWG camp as the world backs away from the grossly overstated doom peddled by global warming fanatics.

A chunk of ice broke off one of the polar shelves, when all is said and done the implication of this occurance means. A chunk of ice broke off a polar shelf.

There are just to many voice saying "Hey, global warming is a non issue"

Still ignoring one cause of events like "ice shelf collapses" that threaten the human community.

Based upon what we can see now, and understand from so many discussions in the DeSmog Blog, would it be correct to say unequivocally that an increasing food supply for the human species is the essential factor producing the recent skyrocketing increase of absolute global human population numbers?

Until this relationship is seen (ie, food is the independent variable and human population numbers is the dependent variable), and its implications understood and accepted, the human community cannot respond ably to the global challenges that are looming ominously on the far horizon, I believe. The family of humanity will continue its necessary but insufficient projects at “symptom mitigation” of the global threats without ever taking hold of what is actually causing our difficulties and threatening our very existence. We can identify the problem. We are it.

If the skyrocketing growth of human numbers worldwide is THE number one problem to be confronted by the human community in our time, then ideas for humanely reducing human population numbers makes good sense, I suppose.

To have continuously denied the seminal work of Thomas Malthus and to have castigated the great scientists who have extended his thinking and improved our understanding; to have adamantly demanded that the relationship between food and human population numbers be seen conversely, will be acknowledged as the greatest failure of human perception in human history. At least to me, the implications of this potentially catastrophic perceptual error (ie, human population numbers is the independent variable and food supply the dependent variable) appear to be profound and could have something to do with the existence of the culturally derived functional insanity in the thinking of the leaders of the global political economy and their manipulation of many minions in the mass media who are mainstreaming this primary misperception and other economically expedient and politically convenient mistaken impressions to people everywhere.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001

Ice melts when it get warmer.
It got warmer because of perfectly natural climate cycles.
It is now getting cooler.
The ice will return just like it did the last several times this has happened. (like the 1930s for example)
There is nothing new or unusual here.

As for the population post.
Seriously, I suggest that extremists should do their part to cut the population first.
We can then evaluate the effect on climate and see if we need more action.
These guys will volunteer first:

from the globe & mail article:
"Scientists believe the lake was created when the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf formed off the northern flank of Ellesmere Island around 3,000 years ago."
Does Gary understand that the 1930s was not 3000 years ago?

"Scientists believe"? Which scientists? A few? Most? Or nearly all scientists? The article never says. "Believe" implies lack of certainty.

Secondly, the Globe says: "the break, the largest on record since 2005". That's it? Biggest in three years?

More reliable information is required on this subject before any type of informed opinion can be made.

Your arguments regarding the word "believe" and "biggest in three years" are very weak. Reliance on that rather than reading available material is a good way to put off being able to make an informed opinion. But, Paul S, please apply the same skepticism of your own claim that Exxon's millions are not enough to 'do propaganda'.

Exxons millions aren't enough to do propaganda Steve. They are massively outspent on this issue by far more influential green organizations and governments promoting the AGW issue.

A 30 second SuperBowl ad costs over $4 million but you expect people to believe that $20 million spent over a decade has paralyzed people into inaction? I don't find that credible for one minute (or even 30 seconds :) ).

Anonymous Paul P/S/G or non-anonymous people working in the field? I've countered your silly claim about propaganda numerous times and you've never even come up with a newspaper article or ANYTHING written by ANYONE else in support of what you say, despite my freqent asking. Yet you get pointed to published articles quoting real people who should know what they're talking about and you complain that you don't have enough information .... You are (willfully) blind.

The Exxon thingy is an urban myth Steve. There is no research that has been peer reviewed that supports anything about the nonsense about Exxon and propaganda.

The Exxon story is at best an internet myth. It's propagated by agitators with an ideological ax to grind against Exxon.

It's not a fact based story.

What discipline would a study of Exxon's contributions to a propaganda campaign fall into? Certainly not climate science. Investigative journalism? Maybe media studies. I have it: public relations! So maybe the research, analysis, reporting and peer review of these shenanigans should be in the hands of PR experts. I wonder where we might find some of those?

Oh. Right . . .

Fern Mackenzie


Far from "countering" anything Steve, you've dodged, weaved and avoided the issue. And you should, as your claims have no basis in fact.

You may be the phoniest commenter this site has ever seen. Your response to, "why does ExMo spend money on these groups if they can't spend enough to affect public perceptions?", was that it wasn't your concern that ExMo is also uninformed (relative to whom, you?) regarding the ineffectuality of their efforts. Your response to requests for some supporting information on your claim is to never provide even a single link. Your response to questions about differences between effective and failed propaganda campaigns is to go back to repeating your claim again.

It is various green groups who have claimed that the small amount of money spent by Exxon has had the result of "paralyzing" the public into inaction. It is incumbent upon those making the claim to vouch for its veracity. Since they have been wholly unable to do so, I am under no obligation to accept their claims.

You are trying to get others to accept your claim. You repeat it over and over (propagandistically) as fact and cannot point to a single reference in support of it.

As for vouching for the veracity of the claim, green groups do vouch for it. And so do others. And to the more general point, so do marketing studies (show that even limited marketing beats no marketing). And so does the continued use of the tactic by pro-fossil fuel groups. And so does the history of the tobacco lobby.

But let's end this silliness. Since you refuse to take-on my challenges to you, can you at least say what you would consider good evidence supporting the claim that $$ from the pro-fossil fuel lobby limits public response to AGW?

Greens made and make the claim about Exxon; onus weighs on them to prove their assertions.

As for green groups vouching for the "veracity" of their claims, that is ridiculous. They pat each other on the back as they repeat their internet myth to each other.

"It is incumbent upon those making the claim to vouch for its veracity." -- that's what you asserted.

Advertising works. It's been shown over and over. That's the principle being applied here. It's up to you to disprove that it works.

I would be happy, though, if you'd just reference a good analysis that gives an indication of the amount of money that needs to be spent before perception is altered. Can't provide that?
Well, now I've asked you to at least say what you would accept as evidence that the 'green' claim is correct. No answer again? Wow.

This whole thread is weak.
Ice has been melting for hundreds of years.
Whats the big deal?
This has nothing to do with AGW.
It is simply a natural reaction to a natural cycle.

BTW: any comment on the Antarctic Ice.
It is establishing estent record regularily now.
Most Ice EVER Recorded.

Why don't we see Headlines about that?

but I suspect you only have eyes for a conspiracy