New data show much of Antarctica is warming more than previously thought

Jan 21, 2009
This illustration depicts the warming that scientists have determined has occurred in West Antarctica during the last 50 years, with the dark red showing the area that has warmed the most. Credit: NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists studying climate change have long believed that while most of the rest of the globe has been getting steadily warmer, a large part of Antarctica - the East Antarctic Ice Sheet - has actually been getting colder.

But new research shows that for the last 50 years, much of Antarctica has been warming at a rate comparable to the rest of the world. In fact, the warming in West Antarctica is greater than the cooling in East Antarctica, meaning that on average the continent has gotten warmer, said Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences and director of the Quaternary Research Center at the UW.

"West Antarctica is a very different place than East Antarctica, and there is a physical barrier, the Transantarctic Mountains, that separates the two," said Steig, lead author of a paper documenting the warming published in the Jan. 22 edition of Nature.

For years it was believed that a relatively small area known as the Antarctic Peninsula was getting warmer, but that the rest of the continent - including West Antarctica, the ice sheet most susceptible to potential future collapse - was cooling.

Steig noted that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, with an average elevation of about 6,000 feet above sea level, is substantially lower than East Antarctica, which has an average elevation of more than 10,000 feet. While the entire continent is essentially a desert, West Antarctica is subject to relatively warm, moist storms and receives much greater snowfall than East Antarctica.

The study found that warming in West Antarctica exceeded one-tenth of a degree Celsius per decade for the last 50 years and more than offset the cooling in East Antarctica.

Co-authors of the paper are David Schneider of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., a former student of Steig's; Scott Rutherford of Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I.; Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University; Josefino Comiso of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; and Drew Shindell of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. The work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.

The researchers devised a statistical technique that uses data from satellites and from Antarctic weather stations to make a new estimate of temperature trends.

"People were calculating with their heads instead of actually doing the math," Steig said. "What we did is interpolate carefully instead of just using the back of an envelope. While other interpolations had been done previously, no one had really taken advantage of the satellite data, which provide crucial information about spatial patterns of temperature change."

Satellites calculate the surface temperature by measuring the intensity of infrared light radiated by the snowpack, and they have the advantage of covering the entire continent. However, they have only been in operation for 25 years. On the other hand, a number of Antarctic weather stations have been in place since 1957, the International Geophysical Year, but virtually all of them are within a short distance of the coast and so provide no direct information about conditions in the continent's interior.

The scientists found temperature measurements from weather stations corresponded closely with satellite data for overlapping time periods. That allowed them to use the satellite data as a guide to deduce temperatures in areas of the continent without weather stations.

"Simple explanations don't capture the complexity of climate," Steig said. "The thing you hear all the time is that Antarctica is cooling and that's not the case. If anything it's the reverse, but it's more complex than that. Antarctica isn't warming at the same rate everywhere, and while some areas have been cooling for a long time the evidence shows the continent as a whole is getting warmer."

A major reason most of Antarctica was thought to be cooling is because of a hole in the Earth's protective ozone layer that appears during the spring months in the Southern Hemisphere's polar region. Steig noted that it is well established that the ozone hole has contributed to cooling in East Antarctica.

"However, it seems to have been assumed that the ozone hole was affecting the entire continent when there wasn't any evidence to support that idea, or even any theory to support it," he said.

"In any case, efforts to repair the ozone layer eventually will begin taking effect and the hole could be eliminated by the middle of this century. If that happens, all of Antarctica could begin warming on a par with the rest of the world."

Source: University of Washington

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User comments : 31

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Damon_Hastings
3.3 / 5 (17) Jan 21, 2009
So will they bring back CFCs to combat global warming? ;-)
thematrix606
2.9 / 5 (18) Jan 21, 2009
Ok, why would anyone trust NASA in the first place? In the 60's they were screaming and yelling 'If we find water on another planet it will be 100% proof of life" Now they are still wondering what's on mars, ahaha, even after they found their water.
Arkaleus
3.2 / 5 (16) Jan 21, 2009
Look! It's turning bright red! It must be boiling hot! 1/10 of a degree is so little change that to create a histogram with such a wide variation in color is to distort the relationships between data sets. It's like the hockystick graph ol' Gravytrain Gore was pushing a few years back.
Avitar
3.9 / 5 (11) Jan 21, 2009
Very selective data for this article. Is there an estimate by one of authors of how long the meltdown might take? I understand that half a million years is the most likely time frame.
MikeB
2.8 / 5 (13) Jan 21, 2009
I wonder if the penguins noticed that 1/10 th of a degree...
daqman
2.8 / 5 (13) Jan 21, 2009
Global warming denying morons fall upon this website once again. Sad.

Mercury_01
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 21, 2009
Inaugural...thats a funny word.
andyd
3.6 / 5 (12) Jan 22, 2009
Hmm, read the article. All the warming occurred before 1980. Since then, flat or cooling. But they draw a line from start to the end and so get an up-rise... ergo it shows warming over 50 years! Charlattans.
mikiwud
3.5 / 5 (11) Jan 22, 2009
"all of Antarstica COULD begin warming on par with the rest of the world". The world has COOLED in the last decade. Also the "C"word again,could? and "if", very scientific.
IF the dog had not stopped for a shit it COULD have caught the rabbit!
mikiwud
3.3 / 5 (10) Jan 22, 2009
See Watts Up With That. The "warm" area contains alot of volcanoes including a newly discovered one erupting under the ice. Did we all miss the name in the credits:- Michael Mann plus GISS data. Says it all! Even if correct, who will believe it.
MikeB
3.2 / 5 (9) Jan 22, 2009
I guess Hansen will have to change this graph too:

http://icecap.us/...C_SP.jpg

Also they put in this disclaimer:

"The scientists estimate the level of uncertainty in the measurements is between 2-3 degrees Celsius."

Well the good thing is... at least they tricked Physorg into putting up this scary headline:

New data show much of Antarctica is warming more than previously thought
Velanarris
3.5 / 5 (8) Jan 22, 2009

Also they put in this disclaimer:

"The scientists estimate the level of uncertainty in the measurements is between 2-3 degrees Celsius."


This is the most important part of the article. The level of uncertainty in the measurements at it's minimum is 4x the measured and touted warming. Meaning that their figure of 0.5 degrees of warming could really be 2.5 degrees of cooling. Conversely it could be 3.5 degrees of warming. With such a low total figure that is well inside the standard of deviation, the statistic is considered useless.
MikeB
3.9 / 5 (7) Jan 22, 2009
UN IPCC lead author, Dr. Kevin Trenberth, not in any way a climate change skeptic, said of the study: %u2018I remain somewhat skeptical%u2026 It is hard to make data where none exist.%u201D Echoing Trenberth%u2019s analysis were several other scientists.


Alabama State Climatologist Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, questioned the study. "One must be very cautious with such results because they have no real way to be validated," Christy told the AP. %u201CIn other words, we will never know what the temperature was over the very large missing areas that this technique attempts to fill in so that it can be tested back through time,%u201D Christy added.


Former Colorado State Climatologist Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr., senior scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder said the authors of the Antarctic study %u201Coverstated%u201D their results. %u201CIn terms of the significance of their paper, it overstates what they have obtained from their analysis,%u201D Pielke told the AP. %u201CIn the abstract they write, for example, %u2018West Antarctic warming exceeds 0.1C per decade over the past 50 years%u2019. However, even a cursory view of Figure 2 shows that since the late 1990s, the region has been cooling in their analysis in this region. The paper would be more balanced if they presented this result, even if they cannot explain why,%u201D Pielke wrote. Pielke also questioned how the authors %u201Creconcile the conclusions in their paper with the cooler than average long term sea surface temperature anomalies off of the coast of Antarctica.%u201D Pielke added: %u201CThese cool anomalies have been there for at least several years. This cool region is also undoubtedly related to the above average Antarctic sea ice areal coverage that has been monitored over recent years.%u201D


A critical analysis of the paper from December 21, 2008 accused the authors of the Antarctic study of making questionable data %u201Cadjustments.%u201D (See: Scientist adjusts data -- presto, Antarctic cooling disappears - December 21, 2008) the analysis concluded: %u201CLooks like [study author] Steig "got rid of" Antarctic cooling the same way [Michael] Mann got rid of medieval warming. Why not just look at the station data instead of "adjusting" it (graph above)? It shows a 50-year cooling trend,%u201D the analysis concluded.

From here:

http://epw.senate...ty.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=fc7db6ad-802a-23ad-43d1-2651eb2297d6
VinceCataldi
3.1 / 5 (9) Jan 22, 2009
OR - submerged volcanic activity may be responsible: perhaps warming ice above it; perhaps westerly winds warm the west due to warming ocean water, and the air above it.

How deeply did the research probe?

.. or look up to see upper atmospheric links to our suns' fluctuating output?

... or warming of the over-all solar system?

Tunnel vision?, I must wonder!
VinceCataldi
1 / 5 (7) Jan 22, 2009
... AND IS THERE ANY RESEARCH TO MEASURE 'LIGHTNING'-TYPE (AND OTHER), CUMULATIVE SPACIAL ENERGY TRANSFER CYCLES, OVER TIME AND LOCATION;

FROM ELECTROMAGNET SHELL (SUN->O),
THROUGH 'INSULATED' DRY-AIR,
TO AN ICE-COVERED ELECTRODE BELOW
- A BIG ONE IN A SPECIAL PLACE;

THIS 'ELECTRODE', AS A BATTERY - LINKED TO A MASSIVE SALTY OCEAN INTERFACED THROUGH VARYING ELECTRO-CONDUCTIVE SALT WATER / FRESH WATER, CYCLICALLY VARYING SALINITY;

PERHAPS EVEN CHANGE OF OSCILLATION OF SUCH A 'geoElectroNet' ENERGY-TRANSFER IS SIGNIFICANT.

(sorry for upper case only mode, and when I discovered my error - any Google Gadgets fix YET, without work?)
John_balls
2.8 / 5 (9) Jan 23, 2009
Wow, their is some bright bulbs on this site. They know so much more then :

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007
InterAcademy Council
Joint science academies' statement 2008
Joint science academies%u2019 statement 2001
International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences
Network of African Science Academies
National Research Council (US)
European Science Foundation
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Federation of American Scientists
World Meteorological Organization
Royal Meteorological Society (UK)
Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
International Union for Quaternary Research
American Quaternary Association
Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London
International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
International Union of Geological Sciences
European Geosciences Union
Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences
Geological Society of America
American Geophysical Union
American Astronomical Society
American Institute of Physics
American Physical Society
American Chemical Society
American Society for Microbiology
Institute of Biology (UK)
World Federation of Public Health Associations
American College of Preventive Medicine
American Public Health Association
American Medical Association
American Statistical Association
Engineers Australia (The Institution of Engineers Australia)
Water Environment Federation
Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management
Federal Climate Change Science Program (US)
Royal Society of New Zealand

I must say that people really can't be that stupid (the deniers). They must be being paid by some misinformation campaign funded by big oil.

Whenever any related articles on GW comes out the nut jobs come out in droves.
John_balls
2 / 5 (8) Jan 23, 2009
Try to remember this:
Comparing people that worshipped sky Gods/myths/fairytales that received their information from a holy book whose information was static to actual scientists around the world who support the theory of AGW based on the latest evidence is just a piss poor analogy.

I don%u2019t need to present the argument, the argument has been made by people that are experts in this field and better qualified then myself.

I present to the deniers on this site these organizations as to you say what do you know that they don%u2019t??? Has science dropped the ball completely to the whim of the almighty Al Gore??

What are your credentials??? Why would I listen to some propagandist paid oil hacks over the aforementioned organizations???

%u201CBut this is absurd; it is truth that matters, not reputation or numbers%u201D

Right, I would have to say that evolution is widely accepted theory as now being fact to the vast majority of scientists. You are today considered a nut in academic circles if you don%u2019t adhere to this theory. Am I going to argue with some (Get ready for another ad hominem attack) nut job that is in the extreme minority of people that don%u2019t accept it? I think not.

I point to these organizations because there are so many deniers posting on this site that back this bizarre world that AGW is some sort of conspiracy devised in Al gores basement because he hates capitalism and wants to see industry fail.

Is the science that bad in support of AGW???? Why is the vast majority of climatologist in agreement?? (and yes they are, I know someone is going to say %u201CNO THEY ARE NOT%u201D).

Why are all these aforementioned reputable organization backing junk science as many poster have been saying on every AGW article that come out on physorg? Is the fix in ?


%u201CAs Einstein wittily said when hundreds of 'top minds' declared his theories wrong, it only takes one person to prove him wrong, not hundreds. He was later vindicated. Ideas are important not people. Try to remember that.%u201D

Again, I think this was not a good analogy. Einstein had some theories which at that time did not have the scientific evidence to back up. I would like to think based on what we have been learning bears more weight then just an idea that popped up into someone%u2019s head not to say that%u2019s what he did but I think that we have ascertained a growing amount of evidence to support AGW.

Velanarris
3.8 / 5 (10) Jan 24, 2009
John,

You're incorrect.

Is the science that bad in support of AGW???? Why is the vast majority of climatologist in agreement?? (and yes they are, I know someone is going to say %u201CNO THEY ARE NOT%u201D).
Go read this article John, there isn't even a strong concensus within the IPCC any longer.

http://blogs.news...its_own/


Not all of the science is that bad, some is very well done. A lot is relying on inaccurate datasets that have been provided to them, and far more of it is model interpretation, unfortunately, these are the same people who are cranking out "alarming statements". Effectively they're the loudest ones.

And no not all climatologists are in agreement, there are thousands of scientists who believe AGW based on CO2 is a fallacy. It's well known and understood.

is some sort of conspiracy devised in Al gores basement because he hates capitalism and wants to see industry fail.


No, no, he's making money off of the scare, it has nothing to do with his stance on industry, or government, or anything else. It's a method to make cash since he'll never get the presidential seat and doing tours as the Former Vice President don't pay well.

Why would I listen to some propagandist paid oil hacks over the aforementioned organizations???


I've seen this.
What the IPCC produces is not based on two years of literature, but 30 or 40 years of literature. We%u2019re not dealing with short-term weather changes, we%u2019re talking about major changes in our climate system. I refuse to accept that a few papers are in any way going to influence the long-term projections the IPCC has come up with. - R. Pachauri

Yep that looks pretty scientific.


John_balls
1 / 5 (3) Jan 24, 2009
test
John_balls
1.5 / 5 (8) Jan 24, 2009

John, there isn't even a strong concensus within the IPCC any longer.

http://blogs.news...its_own/

Okayyyy, this link does not further you%u2018re claim. I think you need to look up the word consensus in the dictionary.

Not all of the science is that bad, some is very well done. A lot is relying on inaccurate datasets that have been provided to them, and far more of it is model interpretation, unfortunately, these are the same people who are cranking out "alarming statements". Effectively they're the loudest ones.

And no not all climatologists are in agreement, there are thousands of scientists who believe AGW based on CO2 is a fallacy. It's well known and understood.


Oh dear sir, please provide me with you're list of thousands of well known climatologist that think it's a fallacy so we can put this to sleep. The organizations I have listed represent the bulk of academics and most importantly, climatologist, so if there is something I have missed please enlighten me.


No, no, he's making money off of the scare, it has nothing to do with his stance on industry, or government, or anything else. It's a method to make cash since he'll never get the presidential seat and doing tours as the Former Vice President don't pay well.


OHHHHH, now I get it he is doing for the money. Sorry buddy but this a shallow argument and a right wing wet dream which shows you%u2019re lack of knowledge or inexperience in the matters of business.
A former VP of the U.S.A can make millions just sitting on the board of directors of companies without having to break his ass.
Trust me Al Gore can surely find an easier way to make his money. If your don%u2019t want to agree with the science is one thing, but to make this huge leap in logic that he is doing it primarily to make money is just not accurate and is common tactic by the right(oil industry) to marginalize him.
bmerc
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 25, 2009
If this technique can be used for the Antarctic to determine the temperature of the interior of the continent then why not do the same for the continental United States? In these hard economic times it could save some money by closing down sites to monitor the temperature. As a matter of fact why not just take it a step farther and close down all of the sites to monitor temperature worldwide except for a couple and use this technique to extrapolate the temperature for the rest of the globe and save a crap load of money?

Now if some idiot were to make such a proposal they would be told that it was stupid by many and yet many of those same people will defend such shenanigans to further an agenda that they support, in this case the global warming sham.

Velanarris
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 25, 2009
John, before I go ahead and look up the names of scientists who disagree with CO2 driven AGW, how about you lay down the theory of CO2 based AGW.

Should take oyu quite a while to find the actual theory seeing as there isn't one. CO2 driven AGW is a hypothesis, meaning it hasn't crossed into the realm of "correlated by multiple observations and factual findings".

Truth is, you can write all the peer reviewed papers you wish, but if you're not performing experiments, or developing observations that prove to be true then your hypothesis is nothing more than peer reviewed nonsense.
mikiwud
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 25, 2009
The method use to get their results is as follows:-
As there is not many station in Antarctica, infill the continent with location where they would like them to be.
Use a computer model to infill the data they would "expect" to be there if these stations actually had existed.
Use another computer model to give the warming/cooling trend they want. QED
Don't laugh, this is actually how they did it. Even some top warmists are apalled at Mann's method this time,but who cares, he got the media to publish it. So now it goes down as "FACT". God help us!
Velanarris
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 25, 2009
No miki, now it's getting caught in the filter.

http://www.prison...ing.html
anonperson
1 / 5 (3) Jan 25, 2009
I need to ask all the participants here how much of an increase in your water bill you've experienced in the last five years? Antarctica 'melting' aside, how much is your water bill?

Related?
Yes.

Most Americans are spending more on water, some are even in severe drought. Cyclical? Sure.

How much are you paying? When will the bill hurt so much that you will start to conserve water?

Polar caps melting cyclical? Sure.

When will the 'bill' for ignoring a 'natural cycle' cause you to do more?
Velanarris
5 / 5 (3) Jan 26, 2009
I need to ask all the participants here how much of an increase in your water bill you've experienced in the last five years? Antarctica 'melting' aside, how much is your water bill?

Related?
Yes.

Most Americans are spending more on water, some are even in severe drought. Cyclical? Sure.

How much are you paying? When will the bill hurt so much that you will start to conserve water?

Polar caps melting cyclical? Sure.

When will the 'bill' for ignoring a 'natural cycle' cause you to do more?

Conversely, how much did your bill go down in the 90's after the water scarees in the 80's?

Cyclical? Sure.

Not really a problem then? Sure.
GIR
5 / 5 (3) Jan 26, 2009
Oh dear sir, please provide me with you're list of thousands of well known climatologist that think it's a fallacy so we can put this to sleep


http://www.petiti...ect.org/

GrayMouser
5 / 5 (2) Jan 26, 2009
Wow, their is some bright bulbs on this site. They know so much more then :

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007
InterAcademy Council
Joint science academies' statement 2008
Joint science academies%u2019 statement 2001
International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences
Network of African Science Academies
National Research Council (US)
European Science Foundation
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Federation of American Scientists
World Meteorological Organization
Royal Meteorological Society (UK)
Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
International Union for Quaternary Research
American Quaternary Association
Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London
International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
International Union of Geological Sciences
European Geosciences Union
Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences
Geological Society of America
American Geophysical Union
American Astronomical Society
American Institute of Physics
American Physical Society
American Chemical Society
American Society for Microbiology
Institute of Biology (UK)
World Federation of Public Health Associations
American College of Preventive Medicine
American Public Health Association
American Medical Association
American Statistical Association
Engineers Australia (The Institution of Engineers Australia)
Water Environment Federation
Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management
Federal Climate Change Science Program (US)
Royal Society of New Zealand

I must say that people really can't be that stupid (the deniers). They must be being paid by some misinformation campaign funded by big oil.

Whenever any related articles on GW comes out the nut jobs come out in droves.


Full of self serving politicians one and all. That's why I quit the AAAS. They stopped concentrating on doing science and started politicizing it.
GrayMouser
5 / 5 (2) Jan 26, 2009
Oh dear sir, please provide me with you're list of thousands of well known climatologist that think it's a fallacy so we can put this to sleep. The organizations I have listed represent the bulk of academics and most importantly, climatologist, so if there is something I have missed please enlighten me.


On the other hand, could you provide us with a list of "thousands of well known climatologists"?

The IPCC doesn't have such a list. Take a look at the reviewers and you'll see that they are not all climatologists.

Then if you look at the chapter authors you'll find people who are not climatologists.

Finally, after the final review, it went to the politicians and activists that rewrote it and there was no review of that by any climatologists!
Roach
5 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2009
Al Gore has a Strip mine in his back yard in Tennessee. A zinc strip mine. That's eons beyond splinter in your eye board in mine. We're no longer even discussing responsible mining practices. Don't drive your SUV your killing the Earth ignore the clearcut hillside in my yard.

And if Everyone is in concensus about climate change, then
1. Why does the story keep changing.
2. why do the majority of organization on that list have little or no experiance in climate or weather related science?

Institute of Biology (UK)
American Astronomical Society
American Institute of Physics
American Physical Society
American Chemical Society
American Society for Microbiology
Institute of Biology (UK)
World Federation of Public Health Associations
American College of Preventive Medicine
American Public Health Association
American Medical Association
American Statistical Association
Engineers Australia (The Institution of Engineers Australia)
Water Environment Federation
just to point out some of the more obvious.

And seriously being a member of WEF I can tell you the interest there is more to be in conformance with political guidelines than actual support or acknowledgement of AGW. Regardless of what the majority of it's members think we are still for the most part low level government employees or contractors working for municiple governments. So again we have a case of politicians declaring science.

That being said I have yet to see anything where WEF(the organization, not individual journal contributers) has taken a specific stance on the existance of AGW. If one of the organizations on your list is a lie, then they all are suspect.
blackle4ps3
not rated yet May 26, 2009
soon we'll all have HHO /electric cars and global warming will continue what then back to blaming spray canisters or smokers,those oil wells in iraq that burned 24/7 for months on end and Darvaz pit another 24/7 and burning today helping that 1/10th average,and could someone plow that african desert into the ocean before it completely covers africa a big hot spot and let's not leave out northeastern U.S.underground cole mine fires
blackle4ps3
not rated yet May 27, 2009
the real cause is not spray canisters though they do add to the light weight gas problem.the major cause is HHO or to much hydrogen gas. making hydrogen with 12volts & 10 amps & water produces lots of hydrogen.the same theory applys to power lines in the fog where hydrogen gas can be produced or in humidity,if a bio dome were rigged with high voltage lines running through it with humid climate this one is sure hydrogen would make it presence known.maybe bury those hydrogen making power lines everywhere