Which of these states is closest to 20,000 square kilometers in area?
UPDATE: USGS has issued a statement, see below.
WUWT reader “DC” points us to this Gore-esque pronouncement from a USGS scientist about “Antarctic ice loss”.
Jane Ferrigno of the U.S. Geological Survey in a National Public Radio interview
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124178690 (Audio clip available)
Ms. FERRIGNO: The fact that the ice shelves are changing on the peninsula is a significant signal that global change, climate warming, is affecting the ice cover of Antarctica. It’s affecting first the area that’s towards the north, that’s slightly warmer, but the effect of the warming has traveled from the northern part of the peninsula to the southern part of the peninsula, where it’s colder.
“RAZ: Give us a sense of how much ice [on the Antarctic peninsula] has been lost over the past, say, 10 years.
Ms. FERRIGNO: I think I’ll go back 20 years, and in the last 20 years, I would say at least 20,000 square kilometers of ice has been lost, and that’s comparable to an area somewhere between the state of Texas and the state of Alaska.
RAZ: So about the size of the state of Texas in terms of ice has been lost in the past 20 years. ”
It gets better.
Ms. FERRIGNO: Well, this is a fairly small amount of ice when you consider the whole Antarctic continent consists of about 13 million square kilometers of ice.
RAZ: I mean, it sounds so dramatic, the size of Texas, right?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. FERRIGNO: It is. It is very dramatic, and it is larger than the size of Texas, but when you consider the entire Antarctic ice sheet, it’s still a fairly minimal amount. But the thing that we’re really interested in seeing is that this is a sort of a red flag because if the warming continues, if the retreat continues, if the amount of ice on the continent starts to flow into the water, then there will be substantial impact to the sea level.
RAZ: That’s Jane Ferrigno. She is a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Jane Ferrigno, thanks for coming in.
Ms. FERRIGNO: Thank you.
Ms. Ferrigno might do well to have a look at this map of the USA and Antarctica compared at Texas A&M University’s Polar Science program to get a sense of scale.
Here’s the story on all the Southern hemisphere sea ice, which includes all Antarctic sea ice, from Cryosphere today:
Maybe Ms. Ferrigno will be embarrassed enough by her geographic ineptitude and will heed Gavin Schmidt’s advice and stop trying to “persuade the public“.
Statement from USGS:
The comment by Jane in the NPR interview was an honest mistake. We are sorry for the delay in responding to your email, but Jane has been out of the office. Below is an apology and clarification statement that will be posted on the NPR site soon. Jane will be in the office later today, and if you have any questions, please let me or her know.
From Jane …
I want to apologize to NPR and the listening audience for my misstatement last Sunday, February 28. During the last 20 years, an area more than 20,000 sq. km. (comparable to the size of New Jersey) has broken off the ice shelves of the Antarctic Peninsula. It is the Antarctic Peninsula, the source of the ice loss, that I meant to say was larger than the state of Texas but smaller than the state of Alaska.
Public Affairs Specialist
Office of Communications
U.S. Geological Survey