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Antarctic Ablation Areas Assessed
Van den Broeke, M., van de Berg, W.J., van Meijgaard, E. and Reijmer, C. 2006. Identification of Antarctic ablation areas using a regional atmospheric climate model. Journal of Geophysical Research 111: 10.1029/2006JD007127.

We are forever hearing about the catastrophic consequences of unprecedented CO2-induced global warming, especially as it applies to the melting of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and subsequent sea level rise. So what happened to the ice sheet's ablation zone (which is characterized by a negative specific surface mass balance: SSMB, kg/m2/year) over the past quarter-century, when the world's climate alarmists claim the planet warmed to a level that was unprecedented over the past two millennia, and when NASA's James Hansen claims the globe's mean temperature rose to a level that was close to its all-time high for the past million years? Just how much did Antarctica's ablation zone expand? ... and how much greater did its mean ablation rate become?

What was done
In a study designed to answer these important questions, the authors employed the regional atmospheric climate model RACMO2/ANT, with snowdrift-related processes calculated offline, to calculate the flux of solid precipitation (Ps), surface sublimation (SU), sublimation from suspended (drifting/saltating) snow particles (SUds), horizontal snow drift transport (TRds) and surface melt (ME). In doing so, they found that "even without snowdrift-related processes, modeled (Ps-SU-ME) from RACMO2 strongly correlates with 1900 spatially weighted quality-controlled in situ SSMB observations [our italics]," which result they describe as "remarkable," given that the "model and observations are completely independent." Then, to deal with a remaining systematic elevation bias in the model results, they applied a set of empirical corrections (at 500-m intervals) that "largely eliminated" this final deviation from reality.

What was learned
After analyzing all of the data-driven results for trends over the period 1980-2004, the four Dutch researchers report that "no trend is found in any [our italics] of the Antarctic SSMB components, nor in the size of ablation areas."

What it means
In spite of all the horror stories we hear about the ever-accelerating wasting away of Antarctica in response to a warming that climate alarmists can hardly find sufficiently-dramatic negative superlatives to describe, there has been no net change in the frigid continent's total area of negative specific surface mass balance, nor in its rate of mass loss, over the past quarter-century. Clearly, something is drastically wrong with the climate-alarmist perspective on this issue. And that's it: it's drastically wrong.

Reviewed 14 February 2007