12 December 2006

Tipping Point

The group of scientists and scientific organizations meeting in San Fransisco this week at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting.

The latest data presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting suggests the ice is no longer showing a robust recovery from the summer melt.

Last month, the sea that was frozen covered an area that was two million sq km less than the historical average.

"That's an area the size of Alaska," said leading ice expert Mark Serreze.

"We're no longer recovering well in autumn anymore. The ice pack may now be starting to get preconditioned, perhaps to show very rapid losses in the near future," the University of Colorado researcher added.

The sea ice reached its minimum extent this year on 14 September, making 2006 the fourth lowest on record in 29 years of satellite record-keeping and just shy of the all time minimum of 2005.

'Feedback loop'

Dr Serreze's concern was underlined by new computer modelling which concludes that the Arctic may be free of all summer ice by as early as 2040.

The new study, by a team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the University of Washington, and McGill University, found that the ice system could be being weakened to such a degree by global warming that it soon accelerates its own decline.

"As the ice retreats, the ocean transports more heat to the Arctic and the open water absorbs more sunlight, further accelerating the rate of warming and leading to the loss of more ice," explained Dr Marika Holland.

"This is a positive feedback loop with dramatic implications for the entire Arctic region."

Eventually, she said, the system would be "kicked over the edge", probably not even by a dramatic event but by one year slighter warmer than normal. Very rapid retreat would then follow.

You can read the whole article here, thanks to BBC News.

Click here for the study cited, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Thank God scientists still have consciences!

I heard this on the BBC's The World Today this morning. (Wake up, Brits! It's 7AM!) As a matter of fact, as they just replayed it, one scientist reported that the Arctic has not been ice-free in "hundreds of thousands of years." That's 100,000's of years! This would be a monumental event the likes of which modern humanity has never witnessed.

So, the polar ice caps are not only going to melt but, once they pass that critical point, the descent will become increasingly more rapid. This pisses me off no end!

We've known about this for decades and the fucking Republicans (Reagan, Bush and Bush-Lite) systematically downplayed any research and scientific evidence supporting the catastrophic consequences of global warming. You remember the broohaha over chlorofluorocarbons in the 70's and 80's (in which, if I recall correctly, the US did not want to take its full share of the burden...sound familiar? Kyodo?), the evils of aerosol spray cans. They trotted out reputed scientists to pooh-pooh the mounting piles of proof.

And all the while industry marched merrily along.

It's sure starting to look as if the Chicken Littles weren't overreacting after all.

Jesus, I hate this monstrosity our country has become. I'm sometimes ashamed to be called an American.

(Damn, I hope the above wasn't enough to send up any flares to the NSA. Swear to God, guys, I do not plan on blowin' anything up!)

As a little, added bonie, here's the links list from the BBC site for the article to which I referred. Very interesting stuff:

SEE ALSO

Big-dollar deals tempt Arctic firms
09 Nov 06 | Business

'Drastic' shrinkage in Arctic ice
14 Sep 06 | Science/Nature

Arctic ice 'disappearing quickly'
28 Sep 05 | Science/Nature

Arctic heads into warmer future
02 Nov 04 | Science/Nature

Earth - melting in the heat?
07 Oct 05 | Science/Nature

RELATED INTERNET LINKS

AGU Fall 2006

NSIDC

NCAR

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