How big is big?

April 30, 2009


This latest global warming story about the breakup of some ice shelf in the Antarctic caught my eye: Huge ice chunks break away from Antarctic shelf (all bolding mine):

Massive ice chunks are crumbling away from a shelf in the western Antarctic Peninsula, researchers said Wednesday, warning that 1,300 square miles of ice — an area larger than Rhode Island — was in danger of breaking off in coming weeks.

“There is little doubt that these changes are the result of atmospheric warming,” said David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey.

It goes on to say:

The Wilkins shelf, which is the size of Jamaica, lost 14 percent of its mass last year, according to scientists who are looking at whether global warming is the cause of its breakup.

Over the next several weeks, scientists estimate the Wilkins shelf will lose some 1,300 square miles (3,370 square kilometers) — a piece larger than the state of Rhode Island, or two-thirds the size of Luxembourg.

The Independent (in the UK) ramps it up a notch: New York-sized ice shelf collapses off Antarctica . Wow! New York sized? Time to panic. Oh wait, they meant New York City. But still:

about 700 sq km of ice [is] bigger than Singapore or Bahrain and almost the size of New York [City]

This game is fun. What you don’t hear about often in the news is that the current Antarctic ice extent is about 1,000,000 sq km (yeah, that’s one million sq kms) over average, the size of Egypt!


3 Responses to “How big is big?”

  1. superdave524 Says:

    Rhode Island’s main job as our smallest state is to provide scale. Luxemborg, apparently, serves the same purpose as a really small country. New York City may be a big city, but it’s still just a city. No, if you want impact, better to use a really small state than a really big city. I think we need a new standard. How ’bout Erie, PA? Moose Jaw, Wyoming? “Not a whole lot of ice melted in the Indian Ocean today. A chunk only about the size of Moose Jaw, Wyoming melted. Scientists are not concerned”.

  2. kate Says:

    You guys are cornballs.

    You know this.


  3. John in IL Says:

    Dave’s the fun loving cornball. I’m a crank.

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