Arctic could face warmer and ice-free conditions

Dec 29, 2009

There is increased evidence that the Arctic could face seasonally ice-free conditions and much warmer temperatures in the future.

Scientists documented evidence that the Ocean and Nordic Seas were too warm to support summer during the mid-Pliocene warm period (3.3 to 3 million years ago). This period is characterized by warm temperatures similar to those projected for the end of this century, and is used as an analog to understand future conditions.

The U.S. Geological Survey found that summer sea-surface temperatures in the Arctic were between 10 to 18°C (50 to 64°F) during the mid-Pliocene, while current temperatures are around or below 0°C (32°F).

Examining past climate conditions allows for a true understanding of how Earth's climate system really functions. USGS research on the mid-Pliocene is the most comprehensive global reconstruction for any warm period. This will help refine , which currently underestimate the rate of sea ice loss in the Arctic.

Loss of sea ice could have varied and extensive consequences, such as contributions to continued Arctic warming, accelerated due to increased wave activity, impacts to large predators (polar bears and seals) that depend on sea ice cover, intensified mid-latitude storm tracks and increased winter precipitation in western and southern Europe, and less rainfall in the American west.

"In looking back 3 million years, we see a very different pattern of heat distribution than today with much warmer waters in the high latitudes," said USGS scientist Marci Robinson. "The lack of summer sea ice during the mid-Pliocene suggests that the record-setting melting of Arctic sea ice over the past few years could be an early warning of more significant changes to come."

Global average surface temperatures during the mid-Pliocene were about 3°C (5.5°F) greater than today and within the range projected for the 21st century by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Explore further: Scientists make strides in tsunami warning since 2004

More information: You can read the full article at micropress.org/stratigraphy/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Climate projections underestimate CO2 impact

Dec 10, 2009

The climate may be 30-50 percent more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide in the long term than previously thought, according to a recent study published in Nature Geoscience.

Arctic heats up more than other places

Jan 16, 2009

Temperature change in the Arctic is happening at a greater rate than other places in the Northern Hemisphere, and this is expected to continue in the future.

New method to estimate sea ice thickness

Mar 05, 2008

Scientists recently developed a new modeling approach to estimate sea ice thickness. This is the only model based entirely on historical observations.

Recommended for you

Scientists make strides in tsunami warning since 2004

14 hours ago

The 2004 tsunami led to greater global cooperation and improved techniques for detecting waves that could reach faraway shores, even though scientists still cannot predict when an earthquake will strike.

Trade winds ventilate the tropical oceans

15 hours ago

Long-term observations indicate that the oxygen minimum zones in the tropical oceans have expanded in recent decades. The reason is still unknown. Now scientists at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research ...

User comments : 16

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

defunctdiety
2.4 / 5 (15) Dec 29, 2009
This will help refine climate models, which currently underestimate the rate of sea ice loss in the Arctic.

Of course... the models still need refining, yet they already KNOW they underestimate. One has to be brainless to take any of this drivel at face value.
could be an early warning of more significant changes to come

COULD be, but the fact is they don't actually have any certainty at all.
Examining past climate conditions allows for a true understanding of how Earth's climate system really functions.

What is so important in the AGW debate, and what AGW theorists routinely ignore, is that the resolution of historic data is very poor. They make all these claims about rate of change millions of years ago, but the fact is they don't have data to determine year by year change, or even century by century in many cases, which would be necessary to back the claims they make.

These half-baked embarrassments to science are really getting old.
jonnyboy
3.1 / 5 (12) Dec 29, 2009
While I am not at all certain that Global Warming is actually occurring, at least this research is starting to move back towards the actual science which has never shown that the cause is man made. Maybe now we can move on and start the process of exploring how to ameliorate any possible effects of rising ocean levels.
Parsec
3.7 / 5 (11) Dec 29, 2009
defunctdiety - its pretty easy to run a model, compare it with reality, and see that the predictions understate the reality. Trying to find something suspicious in that statement displays your bias.

Saying a conclusion COULD mean this or that is a standard way of declaring uncertainty. Surely yuou don't want these guys to declare surety?

How poor is the resolution of historic data guy? Do you really know this? It is certainly more unreliable than a direct measurement, but calculating a temperature range from proxy data (which species were present, oxygen isotope ratio's, etc.) does provide a reasonably good idea of the temperature range, always with the caveat that the error bars are much larger than any direct measurement.

That does NOT mean they are worthless however. If the water was simply too warm to allow summer arctic ice, even considering the error bars, that does mean something.
Parsec
2.9 / 5 (10) Dec 29, 2009
Of course, you reject any sort of direct measurements and direct observations as a hoax and a fraud. You can draw almost any conclusion you want by simply discarding any data you dislike. The chances of it meaning anything real, or being able to use it to make workable plans for the future however, are squandered.
defunctdiety
4 / 5 (4) Dec 29, 2009
run a model...and see that the predictions understate the reality

Yeah, I probably read that wrong. But Ive never hid my bias, obviously I believe most AGW related studies have their own bias, often evident in the presentation of their "conclusions". I missed here, sorry. What I am more interested in is showing others how to identify "good" science.
standard way of declaring uncertainty

But they didn't say, "it is unclear what this could mean due to the uncertainty of historic melt patterns", which would be the neutral statement warranted... without being able to make a conclusion themselves, they are seeking to lead the readers mind towards the conclusion they want with suggestive language.
That does NOT mean they are worthless

I never said it was worthless and would never call it such. I just want them to be upfront about the certainty and statistical significance of their data, especially as that relates to today's minute geological time-frame's worth of data.
defunctdiety
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 29, 2009
you reject any sort of direct measurements and direct observations as a hoax and a fraud

Hmmm, am I rejecting direct measurements or do I actually just require conclusive proof of their connection to CO2 emissions before I'll stand for ppl claiming it to be so?
You can draw almost any conclusion you want by simply discarding any data you dislike

LMAO, apparently the East Anglia CRU knew this too! lolzorzmofaotl!! Thanks, Parsec, you make it too easy.

You could be right though. Taking drastic action in the absence of evidence could turn out well. Seems to have worked for the US in Iraq (WMDs anyone?).
sams
2.8 / 5 (8) Dec 29, 2009
There is no "conclusive" proof that hitting a nuclear warhead repeatedly with a hammer will cause it to detonate, so let's keep doing it.
eachus
4.4 / 5 (7) Dec 29, 2009
There is no "conclusive" proof that hitting a nuclear warhead repeatedly with a hammer will cause it to detonate, so let's keep doing it.
I have to dispose of this before addressing any of the climate issues. Hitting a nuclear warhead with a hammer will not cause it to detonate, no matter how hard you try. Do it long enough and you will end up with lots of little pieces of explosive. Some nuclear warheads may use explosives that can be set off by hitting one of these little pieces with a hammer--most do not. Nuclear warheads are expensive, and shock detonation of the explosives could ruin your whole day, even though it would not cause a nuclear explosion. To cause a nuclear explosion requires precise timing and multiple trigger sites . Yes, the explosives can be triggered by a rapid enough shock, but not one you can create with a hammer.

So please, don't try this experiment at home. It can get you and your furniture radioactive without any explosive result.
GrayMouser
2.9 / 5 (7) Dec 29, 2009
There is no "conclusive" proof that hitting a nuclear warhead repeatedly with a hammer will cause it to detonate, so let's keep doing it.

Bad comparison. Nuclear warheads are designed to take worse impacts and not detonate.
On the other hand, if you take a disproven hypothesis, dust it off 100 years later, and scream about loudly to the pressm maybe they won't go and look in to its' history...
TegiriNenashi
3 / 5 (2) Dec 29, 2009
Yes it "could". All these "predictions" make OK article on a slow news day, but is utter garbage.
http://wattsupwit...g-event/
Nartoon
1 / 5 (1) Dec 30, 2009
One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day!

Here's the news headlines for tonight: Man bites dog, Los Angeles hit by 50 Megaton nuclear bomb, firestorms everywhere, deaths in the millions... These stories and more after these important messages.
GrayMouser
2 / 5 (4) Dec 30, 2009
One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day!

Here's the news headlines for tonight: Man bites dog, Los Angeles hit by 50 Megaton nuclear bomb, firestorms everywhere, deaths in the millions... These stories and more after these important messages.

Well, at least they would have a hard time exaggerating THAT.
As it is, the Arctic was supposed to be ice free in 2005 and several times since then. They forget that it was closer to being ice free in the 1935 to 1945 period than now.
sams
5 / 5 (1) Dec 30, 2009
"Some nuclear warheads may use explosives"

Typically they do. Try some reading, it helps:
http://en.wikiped..._warhead
While I'm sure there are all sorts of precautions to try to prevent accidental detonation, these are also complex systems that may have aged and become dysfunctional, or have faults. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't volunteer to go and whack one with a sledge hammer.
Noein
1 / 5 (1) Dec 31, 2009
Magic invisible volcanoes are melting the Arctic. That's what my lord and savior, James Inhofe, says. Humans have no impact on the environment at all.
Loodt
3 / 5 (2) Dec 31, 2009
Nearly one hundred years ago, Prof Percival Lowell stated that he saw, with his own eyes, through his nice big telescope, the canals on Mars. It was also headline news in the popular press in the USA. This myth stayed as a truth in the minds of most common folk, hence the chaos the ensued when Orslon Wells did the adapted dramatisation of the HG wells book, 'War of the worlds' in 1939. Once bullshit finds purchase in the minds of simpletons it takes years of selective breeding and eons of education to purge the skid marks.
GrayMouser
1 / 5 (1) Dec 31, 2009
"Some nuclear warheads may use explosives"

Typically they do. Try some reading, it helps:
http://en.wikiped..._warhead
While I'm sure there are all sorts of precautions to try to prevent accidental detonation, these are also complex systems that may have aged and become dysfunctional, or have faults. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't volunteer to go and whack one with a sledge hammer.

Well, while I'm fairly confident that whacking one won't set off the chemical explosives, the casing for the H-bomb is plutonium... So I'll need a realllllly long handle on that hammer. ;-)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.