Saturday, March 15, 2014

A new island is born

The effects of climate change on the Western Antarctic peninsula are profound; for some reason, this place is warming faster than any other location on the planet, having seen an 11 degree temperature increase in just the last 60 years.  Among other things, this is causing the glaciers in the area to retreat at an astounding pace; the ice sheet behind our station has gone back almost 3/4 of a mile just since this station was built in the late 1960s.

As it's moved back, it's exposed more water but also more rocks; on the north side of Arthur Harbor, just across from the station, a new block of land has slowly been emerging.  It was the source of endless speculation on station when it would finally break free, and yesterday it happened.  On possibly the last warm(ish) sunny day of the season, the last wall of ice connecting the as yet unnamed island to the glacier fell away.

The local population of Antarcticans, being nothing if not a "helpful" group of people, have had a few suggestions on what the new island should be named.

In just the time since I took that picture yesterday, a whole host of additional suggestions have been tossed up, including "Nice People Island", "Island of misfit people", and "Fun Police Island" (A dig at the decades-long complaint by many station personnel that we're not allowed to have sea kayaks, due to safety concerns).

My personal vote is for Kayak Island, or perhaps Fire Skull Island (Because c'mon, how awesome would that be to say over the radio when boating?  "We've arrived at Fire Skull Island").  But I think the general consensus so far seems to be around "Pi Island", or maybe "PiLand", as the ice bridge broke away yesterday on Pi Day (3/14).  I'm not sure what the actual process of naming islands is, but in the past (such as with Dead Seal Island), it seems to have been whatever general name people have casually used that ended up sticking.

I think it's much like when you end up with a nickname; you can't choose it for yourself.  The group has to choose it for you.

1 comment:

Ashok said...

Hi. This is fascinating. The island has now been named as the Kingdom of Piland and you have been named as the Duke of the Eastern Shore and Prime MInister ( subject to your acceptance)

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