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Volume 3 Number 15:  26 July 2000

Media Mania Over Purported Greenland Meltdown: Fueled by Fear of Frying: A new study of the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet has spurred a spate of media reports that warn of rising sea levels and increased risk of coastal flooding worldwide.  But not to worry too much.  The purported thinning rate of the ice sheet is extremely small; and it's based on data so far removed from providing a measure of glacial melting that the authors themselves refer to their final result as a "hypothetical thinning rate."

Journal Reviews
Much Ado About Practically Nothing: Mass Balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet: A study of the height of the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet between 1994 and 1999 reveals it to be in nearly perfect mass balance above 2000 meters, where actual elevation measurements were made.  In coastal regions, however, where such measurements were scarce, estimates based on calculations of a hypothetical thinning rate are suggestive of a net loss of ice, which cannot be supported by any known physical mechanism.  In spite of the many weaknesses of the study, most of the media - spurred on by a misleading NASA press release - had a field day with it, claiming that global warming was melting the ice sheet and causing an increase in sea level and a heightened potential for coastal flooding worldwide.

More Mass Balance Results for the Greenland Ice Sheet: Estimates of the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet at high elevations reveal no significant changes over the past several decades, providing further evidence for the relative stability of Greenland's climate over this period.

California Summer: Where Did It Go?: Obscured by the impressive publicity shadow cast by the unusually strong El Niņo of 1997, an unprecedented cooling of sea surface temperatures off the coast of California over the following months dramatically altered coastal climatic conditions, leading to wholesale reorganizations of oceanic ecosystems and marine bird populations.

Effects of Elevated CO2 and Temperature on Leaf Chlorophyll Concentrations in Sugar Maple: During an unusually hot summer, atmospheric CO2 enrichment ameliorated the high temperature stress that induced chlorosis (loss of chlorophyll) in the leaves of sugar maple seedlings growing in ambient air.

Effects of Elevated CO2 and Temperature on Leaf Pigments in Douglas-Fir: Current-year needles of Douglas-fir seedlings exposed to elevated CO2 exhibited significant decreases in chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, and carotenoid contents, while exposure to elevated air temperature tended to produce increases in these leaf properties.