Some great world change is taking place on the Antarctic Continent. Its glaciers are shrinking. Commander L.A. Bernacchi, who visited the South Polar land 30 years ago, says that the Great Ice Barrier which fronts the continent with a wall of ice for 250 miles has receded at least 30 miles since it was first seen and surveyed.

Sir James Ross, who went out on the earliest Antarctic expedition of the nineteenth century, and those who followed him, left clear descriptions of this tremendous ice frontage and its position. It was a cliff 150 ft. high and 1,000 ft. thick. But now it appears to be continuing its century-long process of shrinking; and that process may have been going on for centuries. It might imply, unless it is offset by some increase of ice in another less explored part of the Antarctic, that the climate of the South Pole is changing and becoming warmer.

The shrinkage of the Alpine glaciers of Europe is a well-known and carefully measured fact. Professor Buchanan, of Edinburgh, drew attention to it twenty years ago, and showed from old and accurate drawings of the Lower Orindelwald, the Rhone, and the Morteratoch glaciers that they were retreating rapidly. This led to the continuous measurement of the Swiss glaciers as well as examination of other glaciers of the Northern Hemisphere, in Greenland, Alaska, and elsewhere. From these measurements many geologists concluded that the northern part of the globe was still recovering from the last of its Ice Ages, of which the more southerly of its glaciers in Europe were a relic.

If all the glaciers of the Southern Hemisphere as well as those of the Northern are shrinking, the geologists would have a new problem to examine. It would be whether, instead of areas of cold and ice having shifted on the earth, the whole globe is growing warmer. Even if that could be shown the change might prove to be temporary.

Source: The Queenslander

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