JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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West Antarctica: more evidence it was the volcanoes that melted the ice

As I’ve repeatedly posted this year, there is a strange coincidence between geothermal activity and warming in Antarctica. We are still discovering volcanoes underwater, so we can’t pretend we have accurate data on their contribution in joules or the trends in that. On Antarctica almost all the headlines of doom and collapse come from West Antarctic peninsula or the ice sheet nearby which also happen to be over the West Antarctic Rift System. Most other places in and around Antarctica are cooling or staying the same, and sea ice is hitting record levels. “Must be CO2 then.” ; -)

Damiani et al looked at the crustal thickness beneath Thwaites Glacier, and finds it is quite thin, like that beneath the Pine Island Glacier. The researchers conclude that it is likely there is a major volcanic dome in Marie Byrd Land.[1]

Spot any media mention of the possibility that hot lava might be to blame instead of your SUV.[2]  Good little propaganda writers produce plenty of gloom and doom headlines of the imminent collapse of ice-sheets. Where are the journalists? For that matter — which climate scientist tries to make sure journalists present an accurate report?

h/t The HockeySchtick

...

..

The two key parts of the abstract:

“The thin continental crust we reveal beneath Thwaites Glacier supports the hypothesis that the West Antarctic Rift System underlies the region and is expressed topographically as the Byrd Subglacial Basin. This rifted crust is of similar thickness to that calculated from airborne gravity data beneath neighboring Pine Island Glacier, and is more extended than crust in the adjacent Siple Coast sector of the Ross Sea Embayment. A zone of thinner crust is also identified near the area’s subaerial volcanoes lending support to a recent interpretation predicting that this part of Marie Byrd Land is a major volcanic dome, likely within the West Antarctic Rift System itself.”

The presence of such inferred warm upper mantle also suggests regionally elevated geothermal heat flux in this sector of the West Antarctic Rift System and consequently the potential for enhanced meltwater production beneath parts of Thwaites Glacier itself.”

REFERENCE

[1^] Damiani, T., Jordan, T., Ferraccioli, F., Young, D., Blankenship, D. (2014) Variable crustal thickness beneath Thwaites Glacier revealed from airborne gravimetry, possible implications for geothermal heat flux in West Antarctica, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 407, 1 December 2014, Pages 109–122 DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2014.09.023

[2^] Dustin M. Schroeder, Donald D. Blankenship, Duncan A. Young, and Enrica Quartini. Evidence for elevated and spatially variable geothermal flux beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. PNAS, June 9, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1405184111 [Abstract]

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West Antarctica: more evidence it was the volcanoes that melted the ice, 9.5 out of 10 based on 84 ratings

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57 comments to West Antarctica: more evidence it was the volcanoes that melted the ice

  • #
    john karajas

    You are asking “Our ABC” to consider geological evidence that contradicts their worthy, self-evidently superior opinions? Are you kidding????

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  • #
    stan stendera

    OT Sorry! Does anyone know why I can’t access Andrew Bolt’s blog. I am in the USA and have no trouble with Jo’s excellent blog.

    30

    • #
      Truthseeker

      Working fine for me …

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    • #
      bemused

      I’ve actually asked Andrew about this and he said he’d check. My belief is that news.com.au has implemented some tracking or other features and, in order to be able to access the site, you have to allow these access. If you have your browser securely locked down, it won’t respond. Firefox does work, as you can’t implement the same levels of security as you can with IE11 (go figure).

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    • #
      Ian

      Accessible from the UK

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    • #
      Ian George

      Had the same problem with Safari, Stan. Used Firefox and worked.
      Had another problem and rebooted my computer – the blog worked fine after that.

      00

  • #
    thingadonta

    It might be a long bow to blame the volcanos. It’s an interesting idea, but not yet clear, as far as I know.

    People have also suggested that the development of areas of warmer water and El Ninos in the eastern Pacific might be related to the high heat flux and high level of geothermal activity on the ocean floor in the Eastern Pacific, however, although there is a geographical correlation, evidence for a direct connection is currently weak, as far as I know.

    You might also need evidence of increased seismic activity in recent years/decades(which isn’t really there) associated with rising magma and changes in geothermal activity in the area.

    The correlation of areas of atmospheric warming and volcanoes in Antarctica might be more related to the local and regional geography, which also happens to be associated with the geothermal activity; i.e. a rift system with ?lowland areas, which might for some reason also be more climatically susceptible to warming and melting.

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    • #
      Rereke Whakaaro

      Well, living as I do, in a place with several active volcanos, and getting the odd periodic earthquake, can I gently point out that you don’t need any change in seismic activity or evidence of rising magma, to observe boiling, or near boiling water, on a constant basis? Cold water filters down through porous rock and structural fissures, gets heated, and comes back out somewhere else.

      This is the normal state of affairs, around volcanos and other geothermal areas. We generate electricity from geothermal steam and hot water, because it is reliably constant.

      So it is rather a long bow to say that it is probably not the volcanos, that we know are there, causing the ice to melt, just because there is nothing spectacular happening this week.

      The situation only get dramatic when something gets blocked. Then we get earthquakes big enough to notice, and sometimes some rather spectacular ejecta. That is the point when journalists (and offshore scientists) get excited. But it is not business as usual.

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  • #
    JoKaH

    Andrews blog works OK for me also but Tim Blair’s blog seems to be infected with some awful New Ziland virus!

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  • #
    bemused

    Aren’t volcanoes caused by man-made CO2? There was a minister or someone a while ago who said that tsunamis were caused by man-made CO2, so it makes sense that volcanoes are as well.

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    • #
      john karajas

      bemused: you may be onto something very relevant here. You may find, upon checking with Naomi Klein, Ban Ki Moon. Al Gore, Michael Mann, and with the collective board of “Our ABC” that there is a very real correlation between the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and the rate of tectonic forces leading to sea floor spreading. They found out all this from a 19 year old delegate to a recent UN sponsored conference.

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      • #
        ianl8888


        … there is a very real correlation between the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and the rate of tectonic forces leading to sea floor spreading

        The scary point here is that the general populace is so geologically ignorant that they will believe this

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        • #
          Rereke Whakaaro

          … the general populace is so geologically ignorant …

          They are not geologically ignorant. In controlled, double-blind, trials it has been shown that 97% of people can recognise a rock, if it falls on their foot.

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      • #
        JLC

        There is a strong correlation between increasing atmospheric CO2 and my increasing weight. I would love to blame my tonnage on CAGW but, alas, it has more to do with wine, blue cheese and chocolate.

        110

        • #
          John F. Hultquist

          To continue: Have you noticed that by adding a few pounds that your girth increases and your height decreases. I’d prefer it work the other way and am searching for a molecule to add to the atmosphere that will exert control in this direction.

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        • #
          Barry

          It is just another example of Gaia keeping the planet in balance. The more CO2 we emit, the more is sequestered around our waistlines.

          00

        • #
          Peter Carabot

          Welll, there is a correlation between your and others weight and the malignant CO2, namely is all the CO2 you inject by sipping fuzzy drinks……

          00

      • #
        Thomas Englert

        Which came first? The tectonics or the CO2?

        00

  • #
    mmxx

    I undertook a tourist expedition cruise to the Antarctic peninsula in early 2014.

    I know that several fellow passengers were incredulous to be told by the on-board geologist that volcanic activity is normal in Antarctica.

    A short visit to Deception Island with its black laval features and beaches and steam rising from the shoreline of the navigable waters inside its caldera demonstrated real and present volcanic activity.

    The size of that particular volcano would appear to be of lesser scale than the many other sub-Antarctica ones.

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  • #

    Does the world have enough virgins to plug the volcanoes with?

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  • #
    Safetyguy66

    Sorry but the science is settled and the evidence is overwhelming. AGW also increases volcanic activity. So it is CO2 after all.

    http://www.livescience.com/25936-climate-change-causes-volcanism.html

    /sarc off

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  • #
    Yonniestone

    Apologies for OT but the Galileo Movement has announced the Australian appearance dates for DR Patrick Moore here I’ll be at Melbourne, can’t wait.

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    • #
      Rereke Whakaaro

      You can’t wait to be in Melbourne? You are really odd!

      81

      • #
        Yonniestone

        Yep goin to the big smoke, might even get me a ride on one of those new fangled streetcars!

        Here’s a photo of us from our last visit sent by those nice folk from CityLink, sure was expensive for a photo though?

        10

  • #
    Graeme No.3

    It’s probably warm water circulating. On our (?) ABC last night they had a piece about the Sydney octopus now in Tasmanian waters due to global warming.

    Since the Earth’s temperature hasn’t risen for 18 years, and nobody can find evidence of the oceans warming, I conclude that the octopus has always been there, but being a shy creature avoided the limelight until it was invited to audition on the ABC for Lateline or some such.

    Surely that is a much more likely explanation to “ABC global warming beat-up:. Sarc off.

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  • #
    Geoff Sherrington

    We are more iinterested in Flimate change now than in the distant padt. But geological processes on continental scale tend to be some slow that they are regarded as fonstant for now. (Apart from obvious effects like erosion, isostasy, to name but two).
    So, volcanic activity in half of the Antarctic would be considered constant ot normally active on the scale of centuries. Like lsewhere, zThis does not preclude an occasional volcanic eruption here and there during a yesr, at the normal rate of eruption.
    There would be significance for glaciers in Antarctica if a. The rate of eruption or imminent eruption beneath a glacier increased suddenly on a years to decades scale or b. If volcanic activity beneath a glacier was ever present but more intense than under comparison glaciers, leading to different glacier properties like thickness, rate of bottom melt, physical strength.
    Niether a. nor b. has many useful connection with climate change.
    If you have a mental model that climate change is affecting the heat produced by Antarctic regional volcanism, it would be a good idea to scrap it.

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  • #
    Peter Miller

    And that’s why ‘climate scientists’ hate geologists, who keep coming up with all these inconvenient facts:

    1. Natural climate cycles have been around for many hundreds of millions of years, it is called climate change. Somehow something – climate change – totally natural has morphed into something very scary for the lumpen proletariat.

    2. The present inter-glacial period, known as the Holocene, is similar, albeit cooler than most of the the dozen or so which preceded it over the past 2.65 million years of the Pleistocene Age. In other words, what is happening today in our climate is not in the slightest bit unusual.

    3. Natural climate cycles did not stop in 1950, as per one of the cornerstones of alarmist theory.

    4. As witnessed in this post, geothermal activity can, and does, melt ice.

    5. In the Arctic, there are three geological hot spots/zones, which are too deep to have a direct effect on the Arctic ice cap, but however could cause upwellings of saline water to the relatively low saline areas near surface. These high saline upwellings would reduce the freezing point of water and may be one of the reasons for the contraction in the extent of the Arctic ice cap up until a few years ago.

    6. Almost all geologists in the private sector (government/NGO geologists have to follow the party line or there are employment consequences) firmly believe CAGW theory is a complete crock.

    7. Our Sun, like very other star, is a ‘variable star’, which means that its level of radiation varies over time – we are all aware of a 11 year cycle, but do not know the impact of any longer cycles the Sun may, or may not, have.

    8. There is no evidence of CAGW in the geological record.

    9. In the ice core records of the past one million years, changes in carbon dioxide levels always follow changes in temperature and not vice versa, as per alarmist theory.

    10. The geological record clearly shows we are in an abnormally cool part of the Earth’s history.

    11. The wind does not blow, or the sun shine, consistently, so it is insane to rely on expensive, unreliable, intermittent, renewable energy for your electricity generation.

    12. Species extinctions are the natural order of things in the process of evolution – although I do not think for a moment there has been one instance of species extinction due to ‘man made climate change’.

    13. Without CO2, life would be impossible on our planet. CO2 is a life giving, not an evil, gas – sorry Obama, but what you know about climate is on par with what I know about brain surgery.

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  • #
    Bulldust

    I note we have a new head for the CSIRO:

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/public-service/venture-capitalist-larry-marshall-appointed-new-csiro-head-20141009-113g4x.html

    Larry Marshall, venture capitalist and that ain’t the most flattering photo. Makes him look dodgy as…

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    • #
      the Griss

      His first job will be to get them back to doing real science…….

      and get rid of the ‘climate change’ mumbo-jumbo they have waste so much time on.

      Although… that’s where the money and grants has been!

      10

  • #
    Bobl

    Jo, please make the point (do the math yourself to check) the western shelf is about 1.9 million square kilometers and it’s supposed to be melting by 300 cubic km per year. So let’s follow that through.

    Latent heat of fusion for water 334 kJ/kg
    Density of ice = 0.92 kg per litre
    There are 1 e12 litres per cubic km.
    Weight of 300 cubic km of ice = 0.92 × 300 × 1e12 = 2.76E14 kg
    Energy to melt that 2.76E14 x 334 = 9.281E16 kJ
    Averaged over 1.9 million sq km 9.28E16/1.9E6 = 4.85 E10 kJ/ sq km
    There are 1 million square meters to a square km
    4.85e10/1E6 = 48500 kJ/ square meter per year.
    Divide by seconds in a year 48500/31556926 = 0.0015 kJ/second (1.53 J/s per square meter) otherwise known as 1.5 Watts per square meter.

    So to melt that much ice you need to add 1.5 Watts per square meter that’s 2.5 times the supposed imbalance of 0.6 Watts per square meter over every inch of the western shelf even in places ice never melts, and there has to be melt 24 hours a day 365 days a year!

    Nooooo, the pundits say, it just melts more where and when it does melt, well the problem then is that you need much more energy to melt 300 cubic km over the smaller melt area in fact in direct proportion to the reduction in time and space. For example if the melt occurs over 6 months over let’s say 20% of the shelf area (not an unreasonable estimate) then the energy requirement for the same 300 cubic km melt is 5x2x1.5 or 15 Watts per square meter which is about 25 times that Hansen reports is available for warming.

    Now insightful readers will note that I have not included the energy absorbed to raise the ice from subzero a higher temperature which makes things even worse. That is, a reasonable estimate would put the energy requirement for melting that much ice at 20-30 Watts per square meter over a melt area of 380,000 square km

    Jo, the point being that the melting on the western antarctic shelf requires between 2.5 and 40 times too much energy to be due to CO2 warming, if it is occuring it MUST be due to something else. It literally is mathematically impossible for the supposed 0.6W per square meter warming to melt this much ice!

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    • #

      Bobl
      Nice to see some real numbers. Thankyou. I do not have time to do so well but hope to make up for that with logic.
      Your latent heat problem will stike with a cold vengeance if the Antactic ice extent anomaly melts away again this summer. Nearly a million square kilometers (not cubic) of ice needs a lot of heat to melt again. Not thick but not over a year either.
      If it does not melt then the sun is up and that is a huge albedo to reflect a massive amount of heat off the planet.
      Either way we freeze!

      Antarctic webcams.
      http://www.antarctica.gov.au/webcams/davis

      41

      • #
        Bobl

        Thanks Sliggy, it always pays to check the energy budget of such claims. I learned this when I read a paper that claimed that rainfall would increase 20% due to global warming over the next century. That would increase average rainfall from 1m to 1.2m averaged over the earths surface. That implies evaporation must also increase by 20%. Turns out that the 3W per square meter for a doubling ( using the inflated IPCC feedback) can at best evaporate just 0.8% more water. So the 20% claim also violates the law of conservation of energy.

        There seems to be something about climate scientists and environmentalists where the laws of the universe like energy conservation dont apply to them. But then again… from what I’ve seen environmentalists don’t seem to think the law applies to them anyway, why should the laws of physics be any different?

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    • #
      Peter Miller

      Your problem is you are not using Mannian mathematics or those unique statistical methods approved by the IPCC.

      If you did, you would instantly see the reason for the melting icebergs in western Antarctica is CO2 and only CO2.

      Please do not try and use observational data to refute the theories, that’s just not good climate science.

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    • #
      Mark D.

      Bobl, isn’t the important question: “where will the now cooled heat (the melt) end up?” The astounding amount of cold liquid based on your calcs is free to move about the earth no longer locked up at the pole.

      Should we be worried?

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    • #

      Bobl,
      Thanks for the calculation, which puts the problem in perspective. I am not sure though where you get the 300 km3 of melting from. Is it just from the last couple of years? There are so many estimates around, that are contradictory. Sheppard et.al 2012 (which was used in AR5) estimates 65 Gt for 1992 to 2011. This contributes less than 6% of the recorded sea level rise of 3.2mm per year recorded by the satellites. With 1.9 m km2 of area 300km3 loss would be equivalent to an average depletion of 145mm per year. The Shepard paper estimates a net gain for East Antarctica of 14 Gt a year. With 10 m km2 of area, that is an increase in ice of 1.4mm per year.
      If your figure is short-term it contradicts the AGW theory in a quite different way. The impact of AGW theory is meant to be a long-term global phenomena. A short-term trend from 15% of the ice-caps suggests a localized phenomena. Most remarkable is that the Greenland ice sheet is slightly smaller than West Antarctica (1.7 m km2) but has exactly two-thirds of the ice melt over twenty years (142/213) according to Sheppard. I never ceased to be amazed how the numbers in climate science tend to fall out so neatly.

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      • #
        Bobl

        Kevin, exactly the point I’m trying to make. Any west Antarctic warming has to be local because the math says that AGW warming is too weak over the melt area to account for it. Even so we have the warmist trolls piping up and claiming it’s all due to global warming when it physically can’t be.

        The rest of my post centres around the fact that the minimum energy requirement of 1.5 W per sq meter comes only when the melting is completely uniform across the whole 1.9 million sq km and every second of the year. But it isn’t uniform, melting has to be more concentrated in the north and in summer, with almost no melting inland or in winter. If melt is not uniform then the areas of high anomalous melt need even more energy. Heat doesn’t pool, it ALWAYS flows from high temperature to low, CO2 is a well mixed gas it doesn’t create pools of heat.

        I can’t remember the exact reference for the 300 cubic km, IIRC it was an alarmist paper around the time of the ship of fools. I made a similar comment then.

        My point is simply this, to make any association with AGW it is necessary to prove that the energy requirement of the effect is less than 0.6W per square meter – the climate scientists SHOULD do this sanity check before they publish their wild claims about melting. They need to properly define where and when melt is occuring, and then calculate the PEAK, not the average energy requirement and show that the peak requirement is below 0.6W per square metre.

        20

    • #
      Stanley

      Have you taken into account that the melting point of ice under pressure can be as low as -21.9 degrees C?

      20

  • #
    handjive

    Of course it is volcanoes causing antarctic ice to melt.

    After all, we now know 97% of settled climate scientists now say more ice is a consequence of Global Warming:

    Antarctic sea ice shows record growth, climate change likely cause

    http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2014/10/10/Antarctic-sea-ice-shows-record-growth-climate-change-likely-cause/8271412937929/?spt=su

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  • #
    blackadderthe4th

    ‘more evidence it was the volcanoes that melted the ice’ so volcanoes have just popped up over the last 20 years or so? Looks like we are in bigger trouble than was thought. They could pop up anywhere!

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  • #

    Back in Jan 2008 the British Antarctic Survey reported (and published about) a layer of ash from a subglacial volcano. The ash extends across an area larger than Wales. They estimated that the still active volcano blew big-time about 2000 years ago. The location? It’s not polite to talk about it. Well, okay, if you must…The eruption occurred close to Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

    You can see why it’s not polite to talk about it these days.

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  • #
    John F. Hultquist

    I will just point out a word meaning, namely the word “extended” as used in:

    This rifted crust is of similar thickness to that calculated from airborne gravity data beneath neighboring Pine Island Glacier, and is more extended than crust in the adjacent Siple Coast sector of the Ross Sea Embayment.”

    In this usage, extended is from “extension” implying tension or the pulling apart (as a balloon being filled with air causes the rubber to thin). In contrast, pushing parts together is called compression.

    Thanks. That’s useful. – Jo

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  • #

    Even without this evidence, have none of the AGW propagandists spent a moment to think before claiming ice melt in West Antarctica as evidence in support of their theory?

    West Antarctica is perhaps 20% of the area of Antarctica so the fact that it exhibits a different pattern to the majority area suggests it is a localized phenomena, whereas global warming is a global issue.

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  • #
    Owen Morgan

    I was in Iceland, a few months ago, a very volcanic country. The lava flows from Laki still cover a significant section of the southern landscape. I was on a guided tour and the guide frequently pointed out mountains which had the same sort of profile as Cape Town’s Table Mountain. These were mountains formed by eruptions, beneath the ice-sheet, which failed to reach the surface. Funnily enough, with the rather persistent low cloud-cover over Iceland, it was a bit hard to tell which was the “table mountain” and which the one that went up for another four thousand feet.

    My map of Iceland shows the recently active Bartharbunga (sorry, I don’t know how to do those Icelandic runes on an Apple keyboard) as covered by an ice-sheet, but recent photographs suggest otherwise. Perhaps those silly old Vikings got the names mixed up. Situated right on the Atlantic rift, Iceland should end up as “Greenland” (or, maybe, “Greenland West” and “Greenland East”) and the less tectonically active Greenland as “Iceland”.

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  • #
    Ian George

    Here’s a little side issue that ‘weatheraction’ has highlighted about the blatant omission of information re Antarctic ice extent.
    If you search the Met Office (UK) for ‘Arctic ice extent’ and ‘Antarctic ice extent’ you get two different responses.
    The former – heaps of info re melting of the sea ice. The latter – nothing.
    Try it for yourself
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk

    or look at it here.
    http://weatheraction.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/the-met-office-the-lies-of-ommission/

    00