NASA video: astounding arctic sea ice melt

Wed, 2007-10-24 14:34Emily Murgatroyd
Emily Murgatroyd's picture

NASA video: astounding arctic sea ice melt

Here's new NASA satellite video showing the astounding loss of Arctic sea ice.

From NASA: The 2007 Arctic summer sea ice has reached the lowest extent of perennial ice cover on record - nearly 25% less than the previous low set in 2005.

The area of the perennial ice has been steadily decreasing since the satellite record began in 1979, at a rate of about 10% per decade. But the 2007 minimum, reached on September 14, is far below the previous record made in 2005 and is about 38% lower than the climatological average. Such a dramatic loss has implications for ecology, climate and industry.

And here's an oil and gas industry PR flak in the form of Chris Horner, “Senior Fellow” at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, trying to spin this inconvenient truth on “The Climate Misinformation Channel:”

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Previous Comments

Does NASA have video about the vast extent of sea ice surrounding the Antarctic continent for the winter just concluded?

I bet they do but most of the main stream media will ignore it because it does not fit their alarmist agenda. Reports say the vast amount of sea ice in the southern hemisphere this past winter is just as notable as the reported sea ice melt in the Arctic during this past northern summer.

Is so-called global warming really all that global? Not in the view of David Bromwich of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University. He reported earlier this year at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at San Francisco, “It’s hard to see a global-warming signal from the mainland of Antarctica right now.”

He says global models that the IPCC relies on are at odds with his own findings. Antarctica’s temperatures during the late 20th century did not climb as global climate models predicted.

“We’re looking for a small signal that represents the impact of human activity and it is hard to find it at the moment.” “… until the global models get the polar regions right, they won’t get the global climate right either.”

David Bromwich is head of the Polar Meteorology Group of the Byrd Polar Research Center and Professor in the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the Department of Geography of Ohio State University. He is president of the International Commission on Polar Meteorology, the chair of the Polar DAAC Advisory Group, a member of the Arctic Climate System Study Working Group on Reanalysis, and a past member of the National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data. The author or co-author of numerous papers, he received his PhD in meteorology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1979.

Obviously he is another toadie of big oil, right Richard?

I’ll wait for the Antarctic SUMMER data, thanks. Comparing summer melt at the north pole to winter freeze-up at the south sounds a bit strange.

It also occurs to me, a complete layman, I admit, that comparing the two situations is tricky at best, as there is an entire continent underneath the ice in Antarctica, while the northern polar ice is primarily sea ice. They are not parallel at all. The potential for a positive feedback loop in the north due to significant increases in the amount of open water area virtually guarantees a more dramatic response to increased temperatures.

I would be more surprised if the data in Antarctica was a carbon copy (sorry!) of the northern situation.

Femack, the point is that sea ice at both ends of the earth did something notable at the same time. It melted a lot up north and froze farther out than usual down south pushing icebergs into parts of the southern oceans where they are not normally seen. The southern hemisphere has come through one of the coldest winters in years. We only hear part of the story about what is happening at the poles. The main stream media only reports what fits the alarmist agenda and they cannot be trusted.

Antarctic data shows the ice on main part of that continent grows thicker and has been doing so for decades now. As the scientist said, that part of the world is not performing as the climate models say it should.

John, the thickening of the ice sheet over the middle of Antarctica fits with climate change scenarios in that warmer temperatures cause greater evaporation in the Southern Ocean (which surrounds Antarctica). This extra evaporation must condense and precipitate, and it does so in the form of snow on the ice sheets. The snow rate may have increased as a result of warming (as warmer air has greater moisture capacity).

John, I’d challenge you, however, to find data which would be contrary to an overall spatial reduction in ice coverage over Antarctica. I’d say that the areal extent of the ice sheet would have been reduced by warmer temperatures.

I have no problem with your referencing of Dr. Bromwich. He is a stellar Antarctic researcher and is a leader in this area. However, I am critical of your misinterpretation of his work.

Desmog tells us Exxon has cut his funding, so why is Horner still around to refute AGW alarmist crap? He has been bought and paid for by big oil, Desmog says, so he should have shrivelled up and blown away once the flow of oil money stopped. Unless, of course, he wasn’t bought and paid for by big oil. Could it be that Desmog’s attack dog Richard Littlemore is – gasp – wrong? Nah. Littlemore would never spin untruths; he’s an accomplished journalist – fair and balanced and all that.

That he won’t make money selling his schtick? Are you stupid?

According to a 2003 study by Arctic scientist Igor Polyakov, the warmest period in the Arctic during the 20th Century was the late 1930s through early 1940s. Many scientists believe that if we had satellite monitoring of the Arctic back then, it would have shown less ice than today. http://denali.frontier.iarc.uaf.edu:8080/~igor/research/pdf/50yr_web.pdf

“Many scientists”? List them.

You’re always on the site complaining about global warming “junk science” and uncertainty around forward looking computer models  - but then right when we have observable evidence, you start on about possible predictive models looking backwards… 

So which is it? Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

I can’t tell what journal this article is from, but it’s a year 2000 work. As Kevin notes below, melt has increased since then. Presuming he reads the stuff he puts up, I don’t know how J Dowell can make the claims he does.

Polyakov, I. , M. A. Johnson. 2000. Arctic Decadal and Interdecadal Variability. Geophysical Research Letters 27 (24): 4097-4100.

John Dowell said the study was from 2003. But he provided a link to a year 2000 publication. The paper does not say what Dowell claims. So, maybe he just copied the url to the incorrect paper. Or maybe he’s bullshitting. In either case, the record beating 2005 and the record obliterating 2007 are not considered by the authors. Dowell then makes a reference to ice extent “today” with no evidence (as pointed out by VJ), but probably hopes that the url provided gives his comment some weight.

Most welcome, I didn’t even need to use netdoc to find it :p….Anyways the content in the paper does suggest that normal artic cycles are obscuring the effect of global warming. That’s not surprising all regions of the world also go though regular cycles but I would suspect climate change also effects those cycles to. Not shockingly though, the Inuit of the north serve as the best measures for climate change. Animals (including insects) and plants are appearing that they don’t have names in their language for (sorry no paper reference but co-workers first hand) which would suggest some things are new entirely and definitely not part of a regular cycle. I was speaking to a grad student today who studies whales and she was telling me about killer whales showing up in Hudson’s bay, with about 30x the frequency of about 10 years ago and perhaps it was as high as 60x from about 70 years ago. Course the issues of sighting them is related to presence of people to sight them but she seems to think the whales are showing up due to the decrease in sea ice which was a barrier to the orcas

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/v5/content/subscribe?user_URL=http://www.theglobeandmail.com%2Fservlet%2Fstory%2FRTGAM.20040417.wxcentre17%2FBNStory%2FspecialScienceandHealth%2F&ord=4041406&brand=theglobeandmail&force_login=true

I study salmonids, so I remembered this story. I’m curious about how orcas and belugas get along….

Getting back to the article John Dowell cited as supporting the claim that the arctic was warmer in the first half of last century, what the article actually says is that the confluence of cycles in the late 1980’s and 1990’s could be producing the thinning ice, etc, that seemed to support predictions from AGW theory. It would be very interesting to see if their metrics for those cycles showed an intensification in the 2000’s or a reversal (as might be expected according to the periodicity the authors suggest).

Ahh interesting, I am currently working with an arctic research group, the stuff I do currently is mostly on lab work on Artic Char though rather boring.

The rate of change in the artic is simply extraordinary in terms of the distribution and natural range changes of biota. I recall hearing the salmon story a while back as well.

Laughs, they swim together like best friends I am sure. I wonder if they prefer seals or belugas as a food source…..

It is entirely possible for past arctic warming to have occurred. However, based on what I hear from people who work with the Inuit, warming to the degree we are facing now is not comparable to anything in recent history. I think you’re definitely right though about the article and the potential implications as time progresses and further data is collected.

Arctic char are cool. I doubt what you’re doing is boring. There’s the species complex in Thingvallvatn (or however you spell it) and then the adoption of Arctic char mitochondria in brook trout from northern Quebec. Hey, with AGW, maybe brook trout mtDNA will introgress into the Arctic char genome.

A paper in Geophysical Research Letters, says perennial sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean decreased by 23 percent during the past two winters as strong winds swept more Arctic ice than usual out Fram Strait near Greenland.

The paper says: While the total area of ice cover in recent winters has remained about the same, during the past two years an increased amount of older, thicker perennial sea ice was swept by winds out of the Arctic Ocean into the Greenland Sea. What grew in its place in the winters between 2005 and 2007 was a thin veneer of first-year sea ice, which simply has less mass to survive the summer melt.” http://www.exduco.net/news.php?id=2390

Which is of course evidence of global warming. I’m glad you’ve come around, John.

That’s evidence of warming, not global warming.

Let’s interject a little “real science” into the discussion. We don’t even know if polar ice melting is due to global warming. According to “real” calculations, the earth hasn’t been warming since 1998, it has cooled since that time, despite CO2 increases. The ocean temperature has also been found to have decreased in temperature, not increased, since that time.

How can the polar ice be melting then? How about a little common sense, and some real science that seems to be an “inconvenient truth”. A study by a KU engineer has measured a warming of the earth UNDER the artic, a thinning in the earth’s mantle and probable volcanic activity just below the infamous “ice river”. http://www.physorg.com/news116684418.html

While even he doesn’t have the balls enough to admit that volcanic activity is going to be a lot more efficient at melting ice than CO2, it’s incredibly odd that all that melting seems to be stemming from an area with increased volcanic activity, doesn’t it?

Um John, here’s NASA’s report on that research: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/quikscat-20071001.html

To quote: 

“The perennial sea ice pattern change was deduced by using the buoy computing model infused with 50 years of data from drifting buoys and measurement camps to track sea ice movement around the Arctic Ocean. From the 1970s through the 1990s, perennial ice declined by about 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) each decade. Since 2000, that amount of decline has nearly tripled.”

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In less than a decade, climate change-induced sea level rise could force thousands of people to migrate from some small island developing states (SIDS), according to the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.

The world’s 52 small island developing states (SIDS) increasingly share sea level rise and other escalating environmental threats that are further aggravated by economic insecurities, Achim Steiner added.

What makes this situation even more grievous is that the climate...

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