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by on January 7, 2013

Warming Up to Scott:

A First Glance at Controls on Glaciers

Richard B. Alley

We know that warming melts ice.  And, we’ll be visiting many places where the geology tells us that ice is melting.  Can we blame it on warming?  With high confidence, yes.

Scott had it backward in 1905, Ewing and Donn were similarly confused at the other pole in 1956, and a few people today continue to stand on their heads to read their thermometers.  But, anyone who has watched the leftovers from the latest “snowstorm of the century” melting in a Walmart parking lot knows better.  And knowing better shows that most glaciers worldwide are shrinking because of warming.

On the British National Antarctic “Discovery” Expedition of 1901-04, geologist Hartley Ferrar and Captain Robert Scott observed the unmistakable evidence “everywhere…of the vastly greater ancient extent of the ice-sheet” (Scott, 1905, p. 364).  Reporting later, Scott argued…

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