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Climate - Aug 28

Click on the headline (link) for the full text. Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Arctic sea ice reaches record low, Nasa says

Roger Harrabin, BBC Online
The Arctic has lost more sea ice this year than at any time since satellite records began in 1979, Nasa says.

Scientists involved in the calculations say it is part of a fundamental change.

What is more, sea ice normally reaches its low point in September so it is thought likely that this year's melt will continue to grow...

'Inevitable death'
Walt Meier, from the National Snow and Ice Data Center that collaborates in the measurements, said: "In the context of what's happened in the last several years and throughout the satellite record, it's an indication that the Arctic sea ice cover is fundamentally changing."...

"This means an inevitable death for the ice cover, because the summer retreat is now accelerated by the fact that the huge areas of open water already generated allow storms to generate big waves which break up the remaining ice and accelerate its melt.

"Implications are serious: the increased open water lowers the average albedo [reflectivity] of the planet, accelerating global warming; and we are also finding the open water causing seabed permafrost to melt, releasing large amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere."...
(27 August 2012)



Arctic sea-ice melt record more than broken, it’s being smashed

David Spratt, Climate Code Red
Sunday's data confirms that the previous sea-ice extent minimum of 24 September 2007 was broken last Friday, 24 August 2012. What is also stunning are sea-ice daily extent figures averaging ice loss of more than 100,000 square kilometres per day for the last four days. This suggest melt is accelerating very late in the melt season in a pattern that has never before been observed. The Arctic this year is heading into new territory and it looks like 2012 may in retrospect be seen as the year when a new melt regime took hold.

The ice extent is about to drop below 4 million square kilometres for the first time in the satellite record, and the Arctic has shed almost half a million square kilometres of sea-ice in last five days! With three weeks of the melt season still to go, it's not hard to see extent dropping another half a million square kilometres (or more!) to 3.5 million square kilometres. (In previous big melt years of 2007 and 2011, around half a million square kilometres was lost after 26 August.)...
(27 August 2012)



This isn't just natural variation – it's caused by global warming

Steve Connor, The Independent
A few years ago, just after the Arctic sea ice had retreated to its (then) all-time record in September 2007, I found myself in the company of a distinguished scientist and polar explorer who had taken a rather sceptical line on global warming. In short, he thought it was all a hoax.

Rising to the bait, I asked him what he thought about one of the most obvious manifestations of a warmer world, the continuing retreat of the Arctic sea ice in the summer months. How do you explain that? I asked him...
(28 August 2012)



Along with the Arctic ice, the rich world's smugness will melt

George Monbiot, The Guardian
There are no comparisons to be made. This is not like war or plague or a stockmarket crash. We are ill-equipped, historically and psychologically, to understand it, which is one of the reasons why so many refuse to accept that it is happening...

The Arctic has been warming roughly twice as quickly as the rest of the northern hemisphere. This is partly because climate breakdown there is self-perpetuating. As the ice melts, for example, exposing the darker sea beneath, heat that would previously have been reflected back into space is absorbed...

As I've warned repeatedly, but to little effect, the IPCC's assessments tend to be conservative. This is unsurprising when you see how many people have to approve them before they are published. There have been a few occasions – such as its estimate of the speed at which glaciers would be lost in the Himalayas – on which the panel has overstated the case. But it looks as if these will be greatly outnumbered by the occasions on which the panel has understated it.

The melting disperses another belief: that the temperate parts of the world – where most of the rich nations are located – will be hit last and least, while the poorer nations will be hit first and worst. New knowledge of the way in which the destruction of the Arctic sea ice affects northern Europe and North America suggests that this is no longer true. A paper published earlier this year in Geophysical Research Letters shows that Arctic warming is likely to be responsible for the extremes now hammering the once-temperate nations...
(27 August 2012)



As Arctic Ice Reaches Record Low, Meteorologists Name Humans 'Dominant' Cause Of Climate Change

Alex Knapp, Forbes
Today, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, in conjunction with NASA, announced today that Arctic sea ice has reached a record low since the previous record-breaking low in 2007. The extent of Arctic sea ice extent fell to 4.10 million square kilometers on August 26, 2012. That’s particularly disturbing because Arcitc sea ice minima usually happen in late September, meaning that if the usual trends hold up, there’s still more melting to go. For example, the last record Arctic ice low was set on September 18, 2007...

In related news, the American Meterological Society released its official statement on climate change, something that it does once every five years. The AMS has been a bit slower to jump to the conclusion that human-caused climate change is happening than their colleagues in climatology...

That equivocation is gone in the most recent statement, which concludes: ”There is unequivocal evidence that Earth’s lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities. This scientific finding is based on a large and persuasive body of research.”
(27 August 2012)

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