Comments: Buckle Your Seat Belts

"Arctic Ocean Could Be Ice-Free in Summer Within 100 Years, Scientists Say "

I find that quite believable. I may have already said this on your website, but once when I was a kid, my dad showed me a little experiment, to teach me about global warming. It went like this:

Get a glass and fill it half way with soda. Now pack it the rest of the way with ice cubes. Wait a few moments so it can cool down. Now put it in the window so the hot sun can hit it, or, if the day is overcast, put it somewhere else that is hot. Put a thermometer in it. Take the tempature every 3 or 4 minutes.

What happens to the tempature? Nothing, at first. The tempature remains stable, for as long as there are still ice cubes left in the glass. You can apply more heat or less heat and the only thing you'll effect is the speed at which the ice cubes melt. However, once those ice cubes are just about gone, the tempature takes off like a rocket.

Supposedly the Earth has been warming since the year 1850. But the tempature change has been moderate: only about 1 degree celcius. The more dramatic change has been the retreat of the glaciers. A tour of Alaska reveals bay after bay that is now water but that Jack London knew only as glaciers. The Thames river no longer freezes solid every winter. Hudson Bay is now navigable several months each year.

The ice that keeps the Earth moderate is in rapid retreat. The more it disappears, the more we can expect the tempature to spike. Thus, tempature increases in the next 100 years are likely to be much more dramatic than they've been in the last 100 years.

Posted by Lawrence Krubner at October 12, 2005 02:49 PM

No, I don't think you'd mentioned that experiment before. Thanks for sharing it.

Posted by Anne at October 13, 2005 10:33 AM