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June 4, 2011

Where do icebergs come from?

Climate change is such a hot topic right now, no pun intended, and I have spent a long time sifting through both sides. The war between the deniers, the skeptics, the consensus and the alarmists is all based on evidence from both sides and both sides make compelling arguments. But that's not what I want to talk about since, at this point, you aren't going to sway either side. I recently found out where icebergs come from and why it is such a big deal. 


Climate change protagonists claim rising temperatures will melt the icebergs which will then cause sea levels to rise. My initial thoughts have been, "Huh?" If you take a glass and put an ice cube in it then fill it to the rim the melting ice will not cause the water to spill over. I used this analogous image to simulate the icebergs in the arctic and antarctic. They are already in the water, how will their melting cause the oceans to rise?


I was browsing the Huffington Post last week (yes, I know it is left leaning but what better place to go when researching opposing viewpoints?) and there was another article on climate change. It was no surprise to read the article supported the consensus that climate change is real and is caused by human beings (labeled Anthropogenic Global Warming, or AGW). Even more interesting than the article were the comments, although sifting through them was a nightmare as they generally revolve around the pitting viewpoints of "Nuh, uh" and "Yuh, huh".


However, there was a comment that really made me rethink the scientific study of this planet, particularly glaciology. The majority of the icebergs in the Northern Atlantic do not come from the Arctic Ocean but rather from 100 iceberg bearing glaciers in Greenland. About 40,000 icebergs calve from these glaciers a year and some will float south along the Labrador current, some traveling as far as 2500 miles (4000m). Amazingly, Ninety-three percent of the world's mass of icebergs is found surrounding the Antarctic. 
Greenland from space


The glacial ice, which is made up of thousands of years of compacted snow,  would contribute to rising sea levels, if it melted at the rate climate change supporters claim, since it started on land and made its way to the sea. 


Using my glass example, fill a glass to the rim with water and then drop and ice cube into it.


I found this very interesting chart explaining both viewpoints of climate change.