East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week's meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown "significant cooling in recent decades".Obviously something is going on with our environment, it is changing. Some regions will become hotter and some regions will become cooler. Is anthropomorphic global warming the culprit? Probably not. But why get in the way of big government when there is so much money to be made?
Australian Antarctic Division glaciology program head Ian Allison said sea ice losses in west Antarctica over the past 30 years had been more than offset by increases in the Ross Sea region, just one sector of east Antarctica.
"Sea ice conditions have remained stable in Antarctica generally," Dr Allison said.
The melting of sea ice - fast ice and pack ice - does not cause sea levels to rise because the ice is in the water. Sea levels may rise with losses from freshwater ice sheets on the polar caps. In Antarctica, these losses are in the form of icebergs calved from ice shelves formed by glacial movements on the mainland.
Last week, federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett said experts predicted sea level rises of up to 6m from Antarctic melting by 2100, but the worst case scenario foreshadowed by the SCAR report was a 1.25m rise.
Mr Garrett insisted global warming was causing ice losses throughout Antarctica. "I don't think there's any doubt it is contributing to what we've seen both on the Wilkins shelf and more generally in Antarctica," he said.
Dr Allison said there was not any evidence of significant change in the mass of ice shelves in east Antarctica nor any indication that its ice cap was melting. "The only significant calvings in Antarctica have been in the west," he said. And he cautioned that calvings of the magnitude seen recently in west Antarctica might not be unusual.