Sea ice melting as Arctic temperature rises

Oct 21, 2010 By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID , AP Science Writer

(AP) -- The temperature is rising again in the Arctic, with the sea ice extent dropping to one of the lowest levels on record, climate scientists reported Thursday.

The new Report Card "tells a story of widespread, continued and even dramatic effects of a warming Arctic," said Jackie Richter-Menge of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility in Hanover, N.H.

"This isn't just a climatological effect. It impacts the people that live there," she added.

Atmospheric scientists concerned about global warming focus on the Arctic because that is a region where the effects are expected to be felt first, and that has been the case in recent years.

There was a slowdown in Arctic warming in 2009, but in the first half of 2010 warming has been near a record pace, with monthly readings over 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) above normal in northern Canada, according to the report card released Thursday.

Highlighting the immediate consequences of the warming, researchers said last winter's massive snowstorms that struck the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states were tied to higher Arctic temperatures.

"Normally the cold air is bottled up in the Arctic," said Jim Overland of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. But last December and February, winds that normally blow west to east across the Arctic were instead bringing the colder air south to the Mid-Atlantic, he said.

"As we lose more sea ice it's a paradox that warming in the atmosphere can create more of these ," Overland said at a news briefing.

There is a powerful connection between ice cover and air temperatures, Richter-Menge explained. When temperatures warm, ice melts. When reflective ice melts it reveals darker surfaces underneath, which absorbs more heat. That, in turn, causes more melting "and on the cycle goes," she said.

In September the extent was the third smallest in the last 30 years, added Don Perovich of the Army laboratory. He said the three smallest ice covers have occurred in the last four years.

Other findings included:

- Winter snow accumulation on land in the Arctic was the lowest since records began in 1966.

- Glaciers and ice caps in Arctic Canada are continuing to lose mass at a rate that has been increasing since 1987, reflecting a trend toward warmer summer air temperatures and longer melt seasons.

- The temperature in the permafrost is rising in Alaska, northwest Canada, Siberia and Northern Europe.

- Greenland in 2010 is marked by record-setting high air temperatures, ice loss through melting, and marine-terminating glacier area loss. The largest recorded glacier area loss observed in Greenland occurred this summer at Petermann Glacier, where a piece of ice several times larger than Manhattan Island broke away.

The report card, prepared by 69 researchers in eight countries, is issued annually by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In addition to Richter-Menge, Overland and Perovich, lead researchers included Mary-Louise Timmermans at Yale University; Jason Box, Ohio State University; Mike Gill, Environment Canada; Martin Sharp, University of Alberta, Canada; Chris Derksen, Environment; and D.A. Walker, Vladimir Romanovsky and Uma Bhatt, University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

Explore further: Researchers provide guide to household water conservation

More information: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard .
http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/detect/

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User comments : 22

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lengould100
2.8 / 5 (9) Oct 21, 2010
So where's all the deniers to put a spin on this one? Spin your wheels away, people ;
eachus
2.4 / 5 (7) Oct 21, 2010
So where's all the deniers to put a spin on this one? Spin your wheels away, people ;


Sigh! I don't know about all 'deniers', but all the concerned scientists I know feel that the link between the current period of global warming, and human generated CO2 is very much unproven.

Also note that the correlation between stratospheric air pollution and the period of global cooling in the 1970s is pretty well established. All those in favor of 'fixing' global warming by returning to dirtier, less efficient aircraft jet engines, raise your hands. Thought so.

However, since adding aerosols to the upper atmosphere is both known to cause cooling and much less expensive than CO2 sequestration, it seems to me that right now the best approach is more research. For example, which aerosols are the least harmful and most efficient for the job--if and when needed.

I and my friends are not the ones with our heads stuck in the sand, or up politicians rear-ends.
eachus
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 21, 2010
Oh, if you want to reduce global CO2 levels because you think that they are harmful in other ways, I'm all for that. Unfortunately most of the political push is behind ideas which don't do the job. I'm from Pennsylvania, and I can tell you that "Clean Coal" does not exist.

Cleaning up the mess from over 100 years of coal mining is something politicians don't want to touch, and yet returning parts of upstate Pennsylvania to lush farmland (or forests) from something that makes a lunar landscape look homey would do a lot toward fixing the CO2 imbalance.

What is the problem? The solution is homesteading. There are lots of farmers with the patience to spread a few truckloads of topsoil, wait a year or two, spread it over twice the area, and repeat. Burying the coal spill won't work. You have to turn it into usable soil, and that takes time and loving care.

(Politicians don't see a dime in this for them.)
deatopmg
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 21, 2010
All this while the antarctic is far colder than the norm. It all balances out.
And in spite of the wishful thinking of some true believers, the sky is still not falling.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (6) Oct 22, 2010
"but all the concerned scientists I know feel that the link between the current period of global warming, and human generated CO2 is very much unproven." - Tard

And from this we can safely conclude that you don't know any scientists.

"However, since adding aerosols to the upper atmosphere is both known to cause cooling and much less expensive than CO2 sequestration, it seems to me that right now the best approach is more research." - Tard

You will do anything to remain a corporate wage slave, won't you?
Vendicar_Decarian
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 22, 2010
"All this while the antarctic is far colder than the norm. It all balances out. " - Tard2

If it balanced out then global temperatures would not be measured to be rising.

ConsrevaTards are incapable of any form of rational thinking.
Shootist
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 22, 2010
"The polar bears will be fine." - Freeman Dyson.
Skepticus
3 / 5 (4) Oct 22, 2010
The Idiotic Designer told me that Earth was made 6,000 years ago and is now out of warranty. If the user broke it, tough luck, they have to fix it themselves, or get a new one.
Loodt
2.2 / 5 (10) Oct 22, 2010
...In September the Arctic sea ice extent was the third smallest in the last 30 years...

Well Al and his ilk said that the Artic will be ice free in 2012, just in time for the Russians and BP to start drilling and get at all that lovely oil reserves up there!

Only two more years to wait!
Vendicar_Decarian
4.3 / 5 (6) Oct 22, 2010
"Well Al and his ilk said that the Artic will be ice free in 2012" - Republican Liar

No he didn't.

Why do you feel a need to lie about it?
Vendicar_Decarian
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 22, 2010
"The polar bears will be fine." - Freeman Dyson.

Alas Mr Dyson is now spending his days advocating for the search for space flowers growing on Pluto and the outer asteroids.

I wish him a pleasant journey.
Modernmystic
1.5 / 5 (8) Oct 22, 2010
These articles are getting pretty tired. I could care less about the polar bears. I take the same stance as nature, they're poorly adapted to one environmental niche and per the rules of natural selection deserve to die.

Hopefully when the last one kicks it we can finally stop writing articles about it. And when the polar caps are finally gone due to natural variations in the climate we can finally quit reading articles about that and listening leftist dipwads get whipped up into a frenzy over something as natural as grass growing.
Donutz
5 / 5 (5) Oct 22, 2010
All this while the antarctic is far colder than the norm.


No it isn't. This isn't even creative reinterpretation of statistics. It's out-and-out BS. You remember the report that denialists were using for a while (still may be, but I haven't seen it come up lately) to "prove" that the antarctic ice cap is growing? The one that also calculated the net loss of ice as 26 cubic miles annually (a little detail that the denialists somehow overlooked). Well, the POINT of that report is that the CENTRE of the antarctic is getting thicker because there's more precipitation. There's more precipitation because it's warmed up to the point where there CAN be precipitation. (Anyone who lives in cold regions knows that once the temp falls below a certain point, any form of precip is impossible). But this is more than balanced off by the loss at the edges DUE TO NET WARMING!
Skeptic_Heretic
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 22, 2010
There are 3 groups of people in this world.

People who can only understand the contemporary period in which they live

People who can see past the boundaries of the contemporary period

People who can but don't care to see beyond the contemporary period in which they live.

The Ignorant come from group 1.
The Scientists come from group 2.
The Hucksters come from group 3.

Denialists come from groups 1 and 3.
GSwift7
4 / 5 (4) Oct 22, 2010
I should keep quiet, but I won't. I don't have any problem with this article except for one little part:

"The largest recorded glacier area loss observed in Greenland occurred this summer at Petermann Glacier, where a piece of ice several times larger than Manhattan Island broke away."

When this story first broke, I actually looked up the original press release from the team studying the Petermann Glacier. In that press release, from the foremost experts on that glacier, the spokesman clearly stated that calving of that kind is common for that glacier. They have seen pieces of that size break off before, and that the Petermann Glacier is one of the few Greenland glaciers which is actually not shrinking for the time being. The calving is just part of the natural cycle of that glacier.

That was his words, not mine. I paraphrased of course, but he actually said all of that. Please look up the original press release before you criticize my comment, if you disagree with him.
Donutz
not rated yet Oct 22, 2010
Please look up the original press release before you criticize my comment, if you disagree with him.


When you actually give attributions like this, I think people are going to tend to treat it like a valid argument rather than denialism. At least I hope so.

The two statements aren't necessarily mutually exclusive anyway. He might have said "pieces that big" in a casual way, while the anal types with measuring tapes may have determined that this indeed was bigger than the others. Who knows? It sounds though like the type of discrepency where when you dig into it, it turns out to be nothing. Frankly, it's friday afternoon, I'm off for the weekend soon, and I just don't care :-)
Mesafina
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 24, 2010
Here's what denialists want us to do:

"Hey kids fasten your seatbelts before we start driving"

"But mom, I don't wanna! I mean the chance we'll crash is like nothing at all!"

"Oh well in that case don't worry about it kids!"

Sound responsible? Just because some people think that we should take crazy risks with our future does not make it a good idea. Some people also think the world is 6000 years old. There's a word for those people: delusional.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (2) Oct 25, 2010
"He might have said "pieces that big" in a casual way, while the anal types with measuring tapes may have determined that this indeed was bigger than the others. Who knows?"

Yes, and no. The surprising thing about this calving is that it waited so long before it calved. According to the serious research sites I can find about the Petermann Glacier, they didn't expect the ice toung to get so long before it calved. That's what really made the ice berg so big. It seems that the berg should have actually calved a long time ago at a point closer to the sea, but somehow managed to stay in one piece, then it calved at a point way back up the glacier valey. It was long overdue, so they've been watching it for years now. The fact that it stayed in one piece even after it calved was even more surprising. Due to the huge shock wave caused by calving, it should have broken into pieces. Now they expect another large piece to break off relatively soon because of a fracture caused by that shock.
SamB
1 / 5 (4) Oct 25, 2010
Here's what warmists want us to do:

"Hey kids fasten your seatbelts before we start driving"

"But mom, seat belts are not good enough! I mean the chance we'll crash is like absolute! Please Mom, put your life savings into new unproven safety technology and then we will be happy!"

"No problem cause it will not actually be my money..!"
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) Oct 25, 2010
Here's what warmists want us to do:

"Hey kids fasten your seatbelts before we start driving"

"But mom, seat belts are not good enough! I mean the chance we'll crash is like absolute! Please Mom, put your life savings into new unproven safety technology and then we will be happy!"

"No problem cause it will not actually be my money..!"
Not really an apt comparison.

You wear a seatbelt because the potential for a crash is always present. If you don't see a potential for human beings to crash the ecosystem of the planet, you're a moron. If you're 100% certain that we're going to crash the ecosystem, you're going to need to provide some specific evidence.
We've established that you're a moron, so what alternatives do you suggest?
GSwift7
2 / 5 (2) Oct 26, 2010
I really despise namecalling Skeptic, but that was funny.

"If you don't see a potential for human beings to crash the ecosystem of the planet, you're a moron. If you're 100% certain that we're going to crash the ecosystem, you're going to... "

There are infinite shades of gray lying somewhere in between those two black and white options (my own opinion among them). I suppose that makes me only partially a moron?
Mesafina
5 / 5 (1) Nov 14, 2010
Skeptics position here was consistent GSwift7, he said that if you fail to see it's possible at all (which it obviously is at least "possible" based on our current understanding of how the world works), then you really must be missing something.

I don't think he was calling you a moron at all, mainly because I don't believe you think it's impossible we may have some kind of impact on our environment. It's obvious that all things in the universe affect their environment to varying degrees. Therefor, the question of how much we affect it is a legitimate one.