Frost and Antarctica, a bit off topic

Wed, 14 Nov 2007 18:19:05 PST
The current Antarctic ice mass is above the annual mean recorded since 

Hi Gang,

I did a brief check, and it seems that only 2 flowering plants grow on 
Antarctica, and they are not geophytes.  There are about 2 dozen vascular 
plants species in all and no trees or shrubs (Although, I understand the Air 
Force might have planted some trees along a runway).

The quote above prompted me to review articles and recent publications on 
Anarctic ice and temperatures.  The story of climate and ice in Antarctica 
is certainly one of confusion.  Some studies have shown cooling and some 
have shown warming.  Some have shown loss of ice, and others have shown 
increases in ice.

Part of the problem, of course, is the paucity of records from times before 
the 1970s.   Also, Antarctica is a big place; it covers about 5.4 million 
square miles.  For comparison, the USA (including Alaska) comprises less 
than 4 million square miles.  Thus, measurements in one part of Antarctica 
may not reflect conditions in another part of the continent.  Additionally, 
much of the continent is of high elevation, over 1.5 miles high, and such 
areas have termperatures and precipitation that are very different from the 
lower coastal areas.

One author of a 2002 study, that found that much of Antarctica had cooled 
between 1986 and 2000, felt his research has been misused to refute global 
warming.  He wrote an interesting Op-Ed piece in the New York Times in 2006. 
He had been cited by some writers, columnists, and politicians, as someone 
who doubted global warming.  In his Op-Ed piece he explained that his data 
was not in conflict with global warming and that parts of Antarctica (high 
and dry areas of the interior) should be expected gain ice if more 
precipitation accompanied global warming.  He concluded by saying, "...I 
would like to remove my name from the list of scientists who dispute global 
warming."  He also urged that more studies be conducted.

NOTE:  The articles below (except the one at are free. 
However, to gain access to the Science Magazine articles, you will need to 
register (it is free).  It is worth reading Science articles, and they are 
free a year after publication under the open access policy.  However, 
Science Magazine almost never publishes information about geophytes.


Conroe TX
We don't have climate change here, we have climate confusion.

LINK:  Cold, Hard Facts (Op-Ed, NY Times 2006)…

LINK:  Antarctic climate cooling and terrestrial ecosystem response (2002)…

Joughin I, Tulaczyk S.
Positive mass balance of the Ross Ice Streams, West Antarctica.
Science. 2002 Jan 18;295(5554):476-80.
(free access with registration at Science Magazine,
PMID: 11799237

Shepherd A, Wingham DJ, Mansley JA, Corr HF.
Inland thinning of Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica.
Science. 2001 Feb 2;291(5505):862-4.
(free access with registration at Science Magazine,
PMID: 11157163

LINK:  Antarctic temperatures over the past two centuries from ice cores 
(2006) Abstract only…

LINK:  Plants of Antarctica… 

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