Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Ice is Melting the Ice is Melting!

Grade 3 science class...
What you will need...
A) Several ice cubes of various sizes. (Small to large)
B) Several identical dishes to place ice cubes on.

What to do...
A) Place one ice cube onto each dish.
B) Place all of the plates on a table or counter where the temperature will be consistent for all of the ice cubes.
C) Watch the ice cubes melt.
D) Note which ice cube completely melts first, and which one completely melts last.

Three main variables determine the rate that the ice will melt.

1) Temperature
2) Surface area
3) Volume

The temperature part of the equation has been a factor since the end of the last ice age. It has been warmer since then... ;)

A larger surface area will also cause ice to melt faster, but that factor also depends on its volume.

A smaller volume of ice will melt faster at the same temperature as that of a larger volume of ice with the same surface area.

The glaciers have indeed been melting for thousands of years thankfully, or the planet would still be shrouded with ice. Which by the way is not very favorable for living things. As the glaciers recede, their volume decreases and the rate they melt increases. It is called physics or more specifically, thermodynamics.

Now I am just assuming that the people making the computer models have pretty accurate estimates on the volumes of ice on the planet as this is fairly easy to calculate (surface area multiplied by its thickness). So they should have been able to more accurately determine the rate at which they would melt in recent years using existing data of known volumes and temperatures. If they can get this one wrong by such a large margin, how can they, or anyone else, expect them to get the forecasts of future global temperatures correct in their computer models, when there are so many uncertain variables to take into account?

1 comment:

ABFreedom said...

Oh Nooooooo ... were all gonna die! ... were all gonna die! .... if it's melting that quick, how come we haven't seen a corresponding increase in sea levels as predicted? ... Something is really wrong.... it must be... It's gotta be..... normal warming.

All these guys are getting on my nerves with their new discoveries sending everyone into panic mode, with nothing abnormal as a result.