NSIDC

Fri, 2012-09-21 11:32Graham Readfearn
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Arctic Melts As New Greenpeace Report Warns Of Coal Expansion In Australia

SOME processes of cause and effect are relatively easy to get your head around.

For example, if I smash the end of my thumb with a hammer then the effect will be extreme sharp pain, followed by a short burst of f****** swearing and then probably one of those under-the-nail bruises that stick around for months.

An equally simple process to understand is that burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas releases extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which causes temperatures to rise. The extra CO2 sticks around for a century or so, perhaps longer.

Now this is of course a hugely oversimplified version of the greenhouse effect. There's lots of “noise” in the climate system, but the fundamentals are there. This brings us to the Arctic. No honestly, it really does.

Earlier this week, the US Government's National Snow and Ice Data Center declared that more sea ice melted away this year than at any other time since records began in 1979.

Tue, 2012-08-07 14:17Richard Littlemore
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Arctic Ice Decline Much Worse Than Expected

As the extent of Arctic sea ice declines to levels unrecorded since satellite monitoring began, the National Snow and Ice Data Center has released a new analysis that shows the situation to be worse by far than even the most pessimistic models predicted.

It's a perverse endorsement of one of the most popular denier memes - that you can't rely on climate models because the world is too complicated to be reduced to a compilation of computer data. But, thanks to the expertise (and conservative nature) of the scientists behind this work, the models have shown the direction with perfect accuracy: it's the terrifying extent that they have failed to anticipate.

In addition to the catastrophic conditions currently prevailing in the Arctic, the NSIDC has also drawn attention to the dramatic melting occurring this year in Greenland. And all this is supported and reinforced by the Polar Science Center's ongoing calculation of Arctic ice volume.

The trends are all down. Or as James Hansen put it in the Washington Post last week, “Climate change is here - and it's worse than we thought.”

Tue, 2011-01-18 11:32Richard Littlemore
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Arctic Sea Ice Still at Lowest Extent Ever

The usual concern for Arctic sea ice crops up in the summertime, when the frightening ice decline results in more open water, and therefore a greater capacity for the dark Arctic Ocean to absorb the 24-hour sun’s heat - rather than reflect it back into space, as was the case when most of the Arctic surface was covered with bright, white ice.

But look at the state of Arctic ice now. Even as we approach the usual winter maximum, the ice extent is lower than at any time in recorded history, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. The Polar Science Center in Seattle reports that ice volume also continues its decline, or should I say, collapse - at unprecedented speed, to unprecedented lows.

Thus, despite the calls from d’oh-headed deniers like Art Horn for a global chill driven by a “super La Nina,” we have a year that wraps up tied as the warmest ever and a continuing trend that indicates the coming summer will feature the effects of redoubling climate feedbacks.

We stand in awe of the DenierGang’s ability to tie themselves up in logical knots and we await their next falacious analysis with unfailing interest.

Wed, 2010-11-03 10:16Richard Littlemore
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Arctic Sea Ice Trends: Down, Down Down

Two graphs, inluding the brand new one to the left, show two (mutually affirming) analyses of the trajectory of Arctic sea ice over the last 30 years.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center graph (left) shows Average Monthly Sea Ice Extent. The figure below shows a Polar Science Center model-generated calculation of Sea Ice Volume. Notwithstanding that NSIDC reports Arctic temperatures in October were 4 to 6 degrees Celsius (7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal, there is something chilling in the similarity of the two graphs. 

PIOMAS Ice Volume Anomaly

Thu, 2010-09-23 16:55Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Arctic Ice: There's bad news and worse news

Update: NSIDC pinpoints Sept. 19 as date of least Arctic ice extent in 2010

Arctic Sea Ice Extent, which the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Co., announced had reached its annual minimum on Sept. 10, has now slipped even further, to a point that could be below the 2008 minimum. That would make this the second lowest summer ice cover in recorded history.

“It’s awfully close (to the 2008 low),” NSIDC research scientist Dr. Walt Meier said on Wednesday (Sept. 22, 2010). “And even though the air temperatures are getting colder, the ocean has a lot of heat in it and can continue to melt ice.”

Meier acknowledged that the NSIDC jumped the gun in announcing the apparent annual minimum. The ice extent had been increasing for three consecutive days and the scientists assumed the season had turned. But much of the ice is broken up and thin, conditions that mean “it doesn’t take a lot to get late season melting,” Meier said.

Ice watchers may be more concerned, however, by the inset Polar Science Center graph of ice volume, which shows that the total amount of ice (as differentiated from the extent of the Arctic ice cover) has dropped off a cliff.

Wed, 2010-06-30 14:43Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Contemplating Arctic sea ice collapse

Wondering whether weather indicates climate

The latest graph tracking un unprecedented plunge in Arctic sea ice measurements raises once again the question of when you can look at a weather event - a dramatic and unprecedented weather event - and make a relevant and reasonable assumption about what is happening to the climate.

Given the enthusiasm that the denier community brings to challenging assumptions at the contestable edge of science, I’d be wary about saying, unequivally, that this graph shows climate change in action. It’s only part of one year’s data. Admittedly, it’s compared to an average over a much longer time, but it’s still just one year. That’s why you might want to look at the next graph:

Fri, 2009-07-31 14:02Richard Littlemore
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Rex Murphy: The Titanic didn't arrive - No story here!

No Records Broken Today: Climate Change Called Off

It is legitimate to criticize people who use a single weather event to bolster their case for concern about global warming. But how much more bizarre is it to seize upon a single soggy summer (this one) in a very narrow part of the world (Toronto) to argue the opposite?

The purple proseur Rex Murphy did just that in his Globe and Mail column (“So where’s the global cooling alert?”) a week ago. He wanted to know why we had not all cancelled the climate change alarm on account of Toronto’s unusually wet and chilly summer weather. Noting the likelihood that record-breaking hot weather moves people to discuss the risks and evidence of global warming, Murphy says:

Now, however, Toronto in July is cool and I am waiting in vain for the lips of just one forecaster to ask how can this be. Waiting just once to hear the familiar phrase “global warming” in a sentence that even hints that the theory behind it is so much more tentative than we have been urged with such fervour to believe.

It’s a little like ending an uneventful motorcycle ride with the conclusion that there is - quite apparently - no longer any danger to cycling and that helmet legislation should be repealed.

Mon, 2009-04-06 11:23Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Arctic Starts Annual Melt, Balancing on Thin Ice

Arctic ice has maxed out for the year and is starting its slow melt into summer in much worse shape than normal, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre.

If you look only at the extent of Arctic sea ice, things are not as bad as they have been in recent years. Ice cover is five per cent higher this year than in the record low 2006, even if it is four per cent lower than the 1979 to 2000 average.

But ice thickness is another story, and that seems to be all bad news.

Wed, 2008-12-17 16:04Page van der Linden
Page van der Linden's picture

Has Arctic sea ice loss become irreversible?

The party’s over, we had us a time..
We burned all the kindling…
Watched the last coals dwindling
And the ice melting down…

Eliza Gilkyson

Is the party over?

According to a new study by scientists at the NSICD (National Snow and Ice Data Centre), there’s a good chance that Arctic sea ice has melted beyond the point of no return.

Joseph Romm points us to a story in today’s edition of the UK’s Independent.  The news is not good:

Scientists have found the first unequivocal evidence that the Arctic region is warming at a faster rate than the rest of the world at least a decade before it was predicted to happen.

Climate-change researchers have found that air temperatures in the region are higher than would be normally expected during the autumn because the increased melting of the summer Arctic sea ice is accumulating heat in the ocean. The phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, was not expected to be seen for at least another 10 or 15 years and the findings will further raise concerns that the Arctic has already passed the climatic tipping-point towards ice-free summers, beyond which it may not recover.

Thu, 2008-11-20 11:36Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Idiot-Proofing the "Climate Debate"

There is a warm air of celebration in the DenierSphere because the statistical mavens at Climate Audit and WattsUpWithThat have discovered an error in the October global temperatures as reported by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

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