by Robert Wilkinson
From Antarctic ice shelf collapse to Arctic glacier melt! Last Summer a team of scientists were at Canada’s Arctic Ward Hunt Island, and found a bottle with a message left by a scientist in 1959 with information and instructions anticipating the retreat of the Arctic glaciers since then.
We read in this remarkable CBC story from a few weeks ago titled 1959 message in a bottle a clue to glacier melt that “the note was signed by Paul T. Walker, an American geologist who’d been on the site in July 10, 1959. It left detailed instructions asking whoever found it to measure the distance between another cairn and the glacier. In 1959, the distance between the cairn and the glacier was 1.2 metres. This summer it was 101.5 metres.”
An expert in the field states ‘it took foresight to leave the note to measure how far the glacier had moved.’
’You weren't going to get any proposals funded to study deglaciation in the 1950s, so if anything, most scientists would think their cairn and their message in a bottle would be overridden by the advance of the glacier, not a marker for retreat.’”
It turns out Paul Walker died a few months later from a brain seizure. I guess he fulfilled his mission on Earth in a very unique way. If the glacier being measured has retreated 100 meters in 55 years, it clearly indicates an extreme rate of melt. 6 feet a year is extraordinarily fast from a geologic way of measuring time!!
I also found a great web page at SkepticalScience that reconstructs the extent of Arctic sea ice over the past 1500 years. It’s extremely clear that the rate of reduction of sea ice over the years is astonishing. And alarming. By all means, go over and take a look at the animated charts!
For future reference by visitors to this article: Planet Earth in 2014 and Beyond - Antarctica is Melting, Melting, Melting
Copyright © 2014 Robert Wilkinson