“Higher average temperatures result in the melting of glaciers, in ice being discharged into the oceans from the ice caps of Antarctica.”

     So stated Al Gore in his well-known book, Earth in the Balance. Indeed for years, many have been echoing similar alarms about the state of the Antarctic, claiming that rising temperatures are causing a melting of the polar cap and a rise in sea levels.

     Such rising sea levels, of course, could cause all manner of mayhem – as coastal cities and tropical islands would be covered in ever-rising ocean waters and whole ecosystems and urban populations would be threatened.

     Now comes two new studies offering a brighter take on this state of affairs.

     The first comes from the journal Science which notes that new measurements taken in the West Antarctic show the ice sheet is actually thickening, not melting, reversing earlier estimates about its condition. The new measurements, taken from the Ross ice streams using special satellite-based radars, indicate the ice streams in the region have slowed or halted altogether. And this is good news, so say researchers Ian Joughin and Slawek Tulaczyk of the University of California, Santa Cruz, because if the thickening is not merely part of some short-term fluctuation, it represents a major reversal of the long retreat of ice.

This finding comes less than a week after another astonishing revelation published in the prestigious journal Nature, which reports that Antarctica’s harsh desert valleys – long considered a bellwether for global climate change – have grown noticeably cooler since 1986. Indeed, air temperature readings taken continuously over the region indicate a significant cooling of over 1 degree Fahrenheit – and this defies a worldwide land-based warming trend spanning the past 100 years.

No doubt these Antarctic findings are continuing to chill concerns about catastrophic man-made global warming.