Ice melting takes some thought…
From reader rjs comes this list of links in paragraph form on records being passed over time on Arctic sea ice and Greenland glaciers melting. New radar allows for a variety of measurements, one being a way to measure ice thickness in the Arctic. Edited lightly for readability:
It has been an exciting week for those among us who have dedicated their lives to watching ice melt, since every day this past week has set a new record low for the amount of arctic ice remaining…arguably, the old 2007 record may have fallen on August 24th, when the japanese aerospace agency’s arctic sea ice monitor recorded their new low sea-ice extent of 4,189,375 square kilometers, but August 26th marks the date the record was broken according to our National Snow and Ice Data Center, when the arctic sea ice extent fell to 1.58 million square miles, or 4.10 million square kilometers, which was 70,000 square kilometers below the previous record low daily sea ice extent set on September 18 of 2007..
To put those numbers in perspective, that is about a million more square miles of the arctic now open than was during the 1979-2000 average, or about an area as large as texas and alaska combined…this is remarkable in that the record was broken so early in the arctic ice melt season, and that ice will continue to melt and set new low extents every day at least till mid september, also remarkable in that the melting is accelerating this late in the season, ie, more ice has been melting each day than the day before, rather than slowing down as it usually would in late august, with a daily rate of loss 50% higher than it was in 2007.
The year the old record was set; normally, at this time of year, we’re losing about 15,000 sq miles of ice a day; this year the rate of ice loss continues at 29,000 a day, nearly twice the average…of course, these newly opened areas in the arctic sea will absorb even more heat than iced over areas that would reflect the sun’s rays back into the atmosphere… the adjacent illustration from the NSIDC graphs the ice extent during the melt seasons since 1979, the beginning of the satellite record, on the date the new record was set; this year to that date is in dark blue, the previous record year 2007 is a green dash, 1980 is orange, the average of all data is in light blue, with the 1979-2000 average as a solid black line, and the gray area indicating the two standard deviation range of the data.
NSIDC also data shows that all 6 lowest ice extents in the satellite record have occurred over the past 6 years. Physicist Stuart Staniford, observing that the annual change in arctic sea ice was not linear, fitted a quadratic equation to the rate of loss, which shows the arctic would hit zero ice in 2017 and his further extrapolations show the Arctic ice free for six months out of the year by 2025…
Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at Cambridge, believes arctic ice is on the brink of collapse and that it will be gone in 3 years….you may recall that we discussed one of the effects of a warmer arctic sea on methane release this past winter; that the arctic contains copious amounts of methane-hydrates frozen at high pressure on the seabed, and that as the ocean warmed, russian scientists observed massive plumes of methane bubbling to the surface of the arctic ocean, some as large as 1000 meters in diameter…methane is known to be a potent greenhouse gas, considered 25 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as CO2 over a 100 year time horizon, but 72 times as potent over 20 years, so the release of methane enhances the warming feedback, accelerating the process….to see this visually, we have 3 arctic projections showing methane releases from 2002, 2010 and 2011 at the end of our January 8th blog post; the change over just a few years is really quite stunning…
It’s not just the ice in the arctic ocean that’s been melting…last week, analysis of satellite photographs confirmed that greenland had already also exceeded it’s one season melt record on August 8th, almost a full month before the normal end of the melt season on that large island…the record ice loss had been anticipated after an unprecedented 4 day thaw over 97% of the ice sheet in mid-july; also, a nearly obscure last item in the NSIDC’s first July Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis bulletin noted that the snow cover in the northern hemisphere in June had melted to such an extent that it beat the 45 year record low a month early, breaking the 2010 record by 1 million square kilometers…much of this snowpack loss is from higher elevations, where downstream cities depend on a continuous release of ice-melt for their water supply…
Arguably, the loss of seasonal of snow & ice on land masses is a more serious problem than over the arctic sea, because it adds to sea level rise, and most of the world’s major port cities are built at sea level; you might recall the illustration we used when discussing greenland’s ice-loss in 2010: if all the snow pack loss from greenland that year were to be dumped at once on low lying new jersey, it would cover new jersey with 257 feet of snow … James Hansen, the head of NASA’s goddard institute, believes that a 5 meter sea level rise is possible this century as the Greenland antarctic ice sheets rapidly melt…
Of immediate concern is the affect that the quickly warming Arctic is having on northern European weather.
I lived in The Netherlands during still “normal” weather years (1977-1986), and I can attest to the fact that it was nearly always cold and miserable.
Twenty years later, and weather in Holland and the U.K. had become much more pleasant.
In late November 2010, a friend in London sent me photos of a park and the trees were still covered in green foliage. Before global warming, the weather would turn cold by mid-September and the leaves would certainly be gone by October.
But now the Arctic has warmed to the point that high-pressure systems intrude on the Bering Strait side, pushing the low-pressure systems out to the North Atlantic. This is causing all the horrible cold and rainy weather in the U.K., such as what happened this summer.
The increased Arctic temperatures are causing stupendous melt of Greenland’s ice sheet.
There is also research showing that this fresh melt water is slowing down the branch of the thermohaline circulation that runs partway up the western coast of Greenland.
The thermohaline circulation is part of the system that has brought mild weather to the British isles for millenia.
The situation is not good for northern Europe, and it is a situation that cannot be reversed for generations.
This is probably more important even than the robbery and murder of Social Security that is taking place.
But it has the same causes: criminal stupidity on the part of our “leaders” who are all sure that if they can just get “theirs” before the bottom drops out, they’ll be okay.
I don’t fault “the people” for criminal stupidity. the people have to live with the world they are given by their leaders, and really have no way to judge the “bigger picture.”
but they will suffer for it nevertheless.
ice melt watching is no pass time for the weak of thoughtful considerations
the adjacent illustration from the NSIDC graphs the ice extent during the melt seasons since 1979, the beginning of the satellite record, on the date the new record was set; this year to that date is in dark blue, the previous record year 2007 is a green dash, 1980 is orange, the average of all data is in light blue, with the 1979-2000 average as a solid black line, and the gray area indicating the two standard deviation range of the data.
here’s the link to the missing illustration:
Another article that would have more properly been titled “Melting Hysteria from the Edge.” I mean really. If the situation up in the North Pole were so serious, then why hasn’t anybody done anything about it? Really.
I mean other than the rush by Russia, Canada, and the U.S. to take advantage of all that open ocean now presenting perfect access to all that buried oil and natural gas I see no other form of concerned interest being aroused (other than lots and lots of self-interest, on all sides).
You really have to wonder about these doomer articles, with their claims that a melting ice cap will result in things like rising oceans. Has anybody seen any rising oceans? I haven’t.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, these kinds of articles (well, stories really) are all very entertaining, but I mean really. How many years, and years, and years, have these same people been preaching the collapse of well everything? Oh, yeah, and selling books about collapse, and making money off the impending end of days. And here we all are. Still here. So sorry about that.
Oh, and where do I go to get my money back?
where men once struggled to get to by dogsled, men are now travelling by sailboat:
well, the doom preaching hasn’t been going on as long as you think. and of course it does no good, because human beings are basically stupid. they don’t move until the shooting actually starts.
sorry we can’t arrange for global warming to happen in one week so you can appreciate it. if it takes fifty or a hundred years to make a noticeable difference, you still won’t notice it. you will think it has always been this hard to get enough to eat.
and yes, the new oil rush is a part of the problem… that is normal human greed … “lets get ours while we still can.” it is in fact why no one does anything until the shooting starts.
Where do you go to get your money back, the blamee1? Why, the oil companies, of course! But you probably already know that.
You’re still here, but there are many polar bears who are not, and many horses and other animals who lived in the drought-stricken areas of this country that are not.
But I’m just wondering: What report or book did you read that predicted weather-related Armageddon by Sept. 2012? Even most wingnuts understand the concept of future. Apparently not all do, though.
Where there was ice as far as one could see not that long ago.
There are now strawberry fields for ever.
But the fool on the hill sees the sun going down.
Who will be extinct first?
Humans or the Walrus.
Here is a clue for you all.
The Walrus is us, not Paul. 🙂
Blah, blah, blah. We’ve listened to this “end of the world” stuff since “The Book of Revelations” came out. And now you secularists have started marketing your version. Blah, Blah, Blah.
The point is that the world sucks but we are the suckers being born every second now, being taught (yes taught) by our parents, the people that are supposed to love us beyond everthing and everyone else, and are supposed to protect us from the marketers and exploiters (yes, people like you), but betrayed us. And the world somehow manages to suck even more than it did before.
Either put up or shut up.
@ Beverly Mann
“But I’m just wondering: What report or book did you read that predicted weather-related Armageddon by Sept. 2012? Even most wingnuts understand the concept of future. Apparently not all do, though.”
Now, you’re just making stuff up? Tell me, show me where I said anything of the kind. You’re just another Barnum & Bailey depending upon the suckers for your livelihood, pulling your own version of this greed and avarice down, this banner of climate change hucksterism.
Show people like you an ocean and all you can talk about are sea monsters. Show you another human being and you start talking about witches.
i am sorry about your hard life. if you worked a little harder on understanding real science, you might have a basis for telling the difference between those who are out to take advantage of you and those who are trying to keep you from doing something stupid.
i really dont understand what there is to argue about here…
do you think the satellite measurements of the ice pack over the 34 year record are incorrect?
do you think the scientists math is wrong?
are the russian scientists reporting methane releases lying?
what are opinions expressed in what i’ve linked to are clearly stated as such, ie:
“professor Peter Wadhams believes…
“James Hansen, the head of NASA’s goddard institute, believes…”
the rest of it is just links to news, as reported by agencies of various governments..
Yack, yack, yack! Of course the climate has deteriorated to a crisis!Trust your eyeballs and the winter sweat on your brows. All this back-and-forth reminds me of maybe the only advantage in the old communist vs. democratic form of government we could settle on in debates in political science graduate school back in the late 70s: Due to political gridlock in a democracy, a communist system can move much more quicker to cut its people’s losses when threatened with either an economic or environmental catastrophe. But oh look! New energy fields are being uncovered by the melting ice. With the proverbial carcasses of the climate-change nether world piling up around us, we can look to a silver lining in this awful mess! For those privileged amongst us who’ll survive all this, gasoline will be cheaper! Pedal-to-the-metal days will be comin’ again! Hurray!
just a note on gridlock: Obama got the payroll tax holiday through both houses of congress over a weekend.
and you don’t want to know what the communists did to their own environment.
I’d joke that blamee is Christine O’Donnell, but there’s no point in baiting or debating with someone so thoroughly irrational, although I will point out that she did say that she knows that global warming science is a hoax because, well, she’s still here and the world still exists, and that this is Sept. 2012.
We’re all used to debating here among rational people, however much we disagree amongst ourselves, so it’s jarring to suddenly read comments so disconnected not only from reality but also from one another, by the same commenter in the same thread.
We should all just leave her alone.
i am in the middle of realizing (again) how very very alone we all are. what seems rational…even necessary… to one person seems utter nonsense to another. and that is not limited to people with diametrically opposite political beliefs. i have friends who agree with me, it seems, about 99% of the time, but when something comes up that we don’t agree about it’s like a cause for war.
i am not saying this particularly well. it’s not the bad feeling so much that i am talking about, but just the sheer “monad-ism” of belief.
this does not make me inclined to be more “tolerant” of “blamee.” maybe more sorry for her/him, but certainly more in despair of any possibility of reaching understanding much less knowing the truth.
I’m pretty sure that the Arctic will not be ice free in the near term. That is because the date of max melt is still in September which is over 2 months from the solstice. The Arctic starts refreezing in September because the sun is so low in the sky.
Even if the Arctic were to become ice free, it would still refreeze each year. But unless the melting occurs lots faster than it does currently, the refreezing will still probably start in September.
So someday the Arctic might be ice free, but it will not be for a long time or until we hit a tipping point with permafrost / methane hydrates.
i don’t think the issue is when will the Arctic be permanently ice free all over, night and day, summer and winter.
the issue is that the melting of the ice, besides being pretty good evidence of “global warming” which will have serious bad consequences, will itself lead to bad consequences, including drilling for oil where it has not previously been possible.
and some of us feel sorry for polar bears.
meanwhile the relation between temperature and solstice is not as direct as you suppose. in particular, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will act like a blanket keeping things warmer, at night and in winter, than they otherwise would have been by retaining the heat that did come in when the sun was up but hangs around after the sun goes down.
the existence of greenhouse gasses… including water vapor… is the reason the daytime temperature is within a hundred degrees of nighttime. but too much of a good thing is not a good thing. the growing concentration of CO2 tips the balance.