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London Scientist: Satellite Data Shows Arctic May Experience Ice Free Summers Within 10 Years

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Dr. Seymore Laxon at University College London’s Center for Polar Observation and Modelling stated on BBC News today that Arctic Ice is melting faster than scientists had previously warned. Scientists headed by Laxon analyzed satellite data from the European Space Agency Cryosat to determine sea ice volume trends. They found that since 2004, the Arctic is losing 900 cubic km of sea ice on average each year. By the end of summer 2011, only 7000 cubic kilometers of sea ice remained.

These preliminary results showed that, if current melt rates continue, the Arctic could see ice free periods during summer starting in less than 10 years.

“We have to be cautious until our data has been properly analysed as part of a climate model, but this does suggest that the Arctic might be ice-free in summer for a day at least by the end of the decade,” Laxon told BBC News.

These ice loss rates are troubling for many reasons. First, the rate of loss is more than 50% greater than scientists had previously estimated. Further, loss of large areas of ice coverage reduce albedo (reflectivity). Darker ocean areas absorb more sunlight than white, reflective sea ice. And though many have been callous to the loss of key species in the Arctic, increasing rates of ice loss could drive many species to extinction or unexpected and radical adaptation.

The Polar Science Center has also provided sea ice volume data that shows ice free periods during summer could occur within less than ten years. The statement by Laxon is the first secondary confirmation of this report.

Links:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19244895

https://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/arctic-sea-ice-melt-methane-release-shows-amplifying-feedbacks-from-human-caused-climate-change/

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July 2012: Hottest Month Since Record-Keeping Began in 1895

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According to a recent report by NOAA, July 2012 was the hottest month since record-keeping began back in 1895. NOAA data showed that the average temperature for the United States was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, .2 degrees hotter than the previous record set back in July of 1936.

The hottest month on record coincides with the hottest 12 month period ever recorded in the United States. The heat, which has spurred drought conditions over 63 percent of the United States, has had a severe impact on US Agriculture.

NASA scientist James Hansen and other climate scientists have repeatedly warned that heating events such as this year’s US drought, the Texas drought of 2011, and the Russian drought of 2010, are likely to become more common as human-caused global warming intensifies. A few days ago, NASA published a paper showing that extreme temperature events are currently likely to occur with ten year frequency. In the 1951-1980 period, comparable events were likely to occur only once every 300 years.

A number of newspapers have made statements to the effect that we should hope that atmospheric conditions change soon. And though, eventually, this drought will end, unless something is done about worldwide human greenhouse gas emissions, these kinds of extreme events will continue to recur and worsen.

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No Response to Global Warming After 60 Years of Scientific Warnings — Would we Really Take Away Our Children’s Hope?

The above video covers over 100 years of climate science. It shows how scientists began making serious warnings about global warming in the 1950s and that these warnings began to intensify during the 1970s and 1980s. It also shows that the scientists were absolutely correct in their estimates of temperature increase.

However, the most chilling aspect of this video is it shows that scientists greatly underestimated the degree of response from the world’s ice sheets and other key climate indicators and feedbacks. One such instance is displayed by early scientific estimates of sea ice melt.

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In the above figure, we see IPCC model runs on Arctic sea ice melt (shown in black) compared to actual arctic sea ice melt (shown in red). As with other observations, the response from sea ice to human heating has been much more sensitive than the response estimated by scientists. What one can extrapolate from this is that the entire climate system is probably much more sensitive to forcings than what scientific estimates and models show.

But what is most concerning about the video is that, despite over six decades of warnings from scientists, civilization has yet to make serious efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Now time is growing short and we have already locked in a certain degree of damage from human-caused climate change. Wait another decade or two and there probably won’t be much chance to stop some very, very tough consequences.

The video concludes with a stark statement by Dr. MacCracken:

“I have a colleague who went home very discouraged to her 13-year-old daughter. And her daughter just heard this disappointment and all this stuff, and basically said to her mother, “You can’t take away my hope.” I think we have an obligation to try to find a path.”

Though I agree with the statement by Dr. MacCracken, I believe, like most statements from scientists, that his words are entirely too moderate. I think that, if we were to set in place a series of events that would wreck the climate system for our children and grandchildren, then we would be nothing short of the most monstrous human generation who has yet lived. And, if humans survived such a self-inflicted trouble, they would rightly view our generation with even far greater ire than the most hated and feared tyrannies of human history. We will be seen as they ones who wrecked their prospects, who created the conditions that resulted in so much harm. And we would entirely deserve this hatred and ignominy.

 

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