Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Europe: New Ice Age Cancelled?

It wasn't too long ago that one of the major fears of the looming ice melt-off in the Arctic was the cut-off of the Gulf Stream's feed of warm water to Europe. A new ice age decending on the continent was something to be considering, if not preparing for. But continued study and computer modelling have apparently put the kobosh to that future. Indeed, as we've been witnessing in Europe, the future seems to be consistent with the overall warming effect. It's been getting hotter and drier for more and more of the year.

Preparing for a cold future has never been high on the political agenda. Perhaps understandably, European leaders have been more preoccupied with responding to the 2003 summer heat wave that killed 15,000 people across France and the need for new dike technology to keep the Netherlands from being inundated by rising seas associated with melting ice caps.

Richard Seager, a senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, N.Y., said thatEuropeans should trust what they feel in the air. “Britain and western Europe have had one heat wave after another so far this century,” Dr. Seager said. “It’s phenomenal. The idea that anyone is worried about a new ice age I find rather odd.”

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