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Arctic Sea Ice Continues Decline to Set New Records

4 September 2007

20070904_extent
Updated map of sea ice extent for September 3, 2007; the magenta line shows the median September extent based on data from 1979 to 2000. Click to enlarge. Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center

The Arctic sea ice extent continues to decline, and is now at a record low of 4.42 million square kilometers (1.70 million square miles), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This puts the sea ice extent yet further below the record absolute minimum of 5.32 million square kilometers (2.05 million square miles) that occurred on September 20–21, 2005.

Between the NSIDC report on 3 September and 28 August, the date of the prior report, the Arctic lost an additional 360,000 square kilometers (138,000 square miles) of ice, an area larger than the size of the state of New Mexico. In the report of 28 August, the NSIDC noted that the daily rate of ice loss was starting to slow; the loss rate has since accelerated again. (See chart below.)

20070904_timeseries
Data derived from Sea Ice Index data set. Click to enlarge. Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center

The August 2007 monthly average extent of 5.32 million square kilometers (2.05 million square miles) is sharply lower than all previous Augusts, and was 31% below the long-term average of 7.67 million square kilometers (2.95 million square miles).

Even more stunning is that the August 2007 monthly average is the lowest extent in the satellite record for any month, including any previous September, which is typically the lowest month each year. September 2005, the previous record, had a monthly mean extent of 5.56 million square kilometers (2.14 million square miles).

—NSIDC
20070904_augtrend
August sea ice extent. Click to enlarge. Source: national SNow and Ice Data Center

Another notable aspect of August was the opening of the Northwest Passage, which was “the most navigable that people have see since monitoring began,” according to the center. Although the Northeast Passage is still blocked by fairly heavy ice conditions north of the Taymyr Peninsula, the NSIDC suggests that passage might open as well during the next few weeks.

Reduced sea ice during the summer—when more solar energy reaches the surface than during the winter—has a big impact on the Arctic’s overall energy balance, according to the NSIDC. Whereas sea ice reflects much of the sun’s radiation back into space, dark ice-free ocean water absorbs more of the sun’s energy.

In its analysis of the 2005 record minimum, NSIDC noted that lower minimum extents affect the comeback in the following winter. The lack of recovery means that the sea ice is not building back up to prior levels after a summer of melting—leaving it even more susceptible to warmer summer temperatures.

Feedbacks in the system are starting to take hold. Right now, our projections for the future use a steady linear decline, but when feedbacks are involved the decline is not necessarily steady—it could pick up speed.

—NSIDC Lead Scientist Ted Scambos, 2005

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Fellow Americans

I have reviewed the information and have decided that there is no such thing as global warming

Kind regards, George W Bush

P.S. Based on the evidence, we were right to invade Iraq

Between the NSIDC report on 3 September and 28 August, the date of the prior report, the Arctic lost an additional 360,000 square kilometers (138,000 square miles) of ice, an area larger than the size of the state of New Mexico.

Holy smokes.

I'm looking forward to a book-length denialist rant from SP.

The graph showing the august average ice extent clearly is part of the growing amount of evidence that the Global Warming that has progressed slowly over the past 100 years now has accelerated dramatically since 2002. The other evidence is the numerous of new records in average world temperatures and extreme weather. This acceleration is mimicked by accelerating CO2 emissions from China and India. Indeed, China is now emitting more CO2 than the US and with a growth of about 11% a year it will take 12 years or until 2019 for China alone to emit more CO2 than US, EU and Japan combined.

With this explosion in CO2 emissions it is no wonder that global warming is accelerating. What scares the hell out of me is that the prevailing models on global warming do not predict this acceleration. They are predicting that the polar sea ice may be gone in 2050 or 2100 and now some researchers think it will happen in 2030 and maybe even before that. My question is what else do our models not predict and that are going to happen?

The fact is that we know very little about Global Warming. We know that it is happening and that it is manmade predominantly from our increasing CO2 emissions. However, we don’t know with any reasonably accuracy how serious it is and how it will change the weather in the coming decades.

One of the reasons that our models are so pour at predicting is that we know too little about the feedback mechanisms. We all know the one about that when the polar sea ice disappears then the dark sea water absorbs the sun’s heat instead of reflecting it like the sea ice did. This is serious because of the huge size of the sea ice. It used to be 8 million sq kilometers or almost the size of the USA. Unfortunately there are other feedback mechanisms that may be far more serious. For instance, when CO2 levels increase the temperature increases. Increasing temperatures will increase water evaporation and water vapor is the most serious of all the greenhouse gases even more than CO2. So when the water vapor increases so does the temperature and that causes more water vapor which cause more warming. Rising CO2 level is perhaps the only thing we need for this mechanism to spin out of control and literally boil off all life on this planet.

It worries me that president Bush has cut back on research trying to increase our knowledge about Global Warming when this problem has the potential to end all life on this planet. The fight against poverty, terrorism, AIDS etc is simply completely unimportant compared to the seriousness of Global Warming. It is the only problem we have with a potential to ruin all life on our planet forever. And it is much more than just an obscure and unlikely possibility.

Yesterday I read this “Nicholas Kristof reported on a conversation with Al Gore in which the former Vice-President said: "I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers, and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants." I couldn’t agree more read it at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=1&ItemID=13675.

Hey, look on the bright side, all them SUV's can now put flotation rings, snorkels, and replace wheels with paddlers, I mean, they're all big enough to live in, right? Those roof racks will make good sunning for all the wet stuff to dry too ! :-)

I'm looking forward to a book-length denialist rant from SP

The denialists have been forced to give up the denial of the existence of global warning sometime during the past few years. Rather unsurprisingly, they have found a replacement to continue in the same spirit: the denial of the cause of global warming. ("It wasn't us").

What are you global warming believers going to do when the Earth starts cooling? How are you going to be able to back away from all your rhetoric? I know, I know, it will be our fault that the Earth is cooling then. Right?

Mike: If the earth starts cooling I think the vast majority of "global warming believers" will breath a long sigh of relief. Unfortunately, every time I've heard an announcement about global warming in the past 15 years it's about how much faster it's happening than was expected.

I'm willing to bet that all the ice will be back in the next few years, simply because nature enjoys f*cking with the global warming crowd. Remember hurricanes? The warmist alarmists told us that AGW would result in more and larger hurricanes - instead, the last couple of years have been relatively quiet, and the alarmists had to come up with wind shear as an explanation of how global warming could be responsible for both more *and* fewer hurricanes.

So what's it going to be this time?

What are you global warming believers going to do when the Earth starts cooling?

What are you going to do when little green men come to whisk you away to Planet Fnarbynarrr?

Matthew: You're kidding with the hurricane thing, right? NOAA just confirmed that this is the first year we've seen two cat 5 hurricanes make landfall in the same season.

Look at how several storms in the last few years have "blown up" from a cat 1 to a cat 4 or 5 very quickly. That happens because of the warmer water, the primary energy source for hurricanes.

And don't make the mistake of measuring GW by the number of storms in a single year. We know 2006 was an off year because of weather patterns that hindered the formation of hurricanes. GW is concerned with climate, not weather.

Matthew: What are you even talking about when yesterday, not only did the second category 5 hurricane this season make landfall but did so on the same day as a hurricane hit the tip of the Baja. And that's not to mention the cyclone activity the past few years in Asia.
In 2005 we went through the entire alphabet and had to use alpha, beta delta, gamma, epsilon AND zeta. It's true there were only 6 hurricanes in 2006 but it takes more than warm water to create a them. Last year we had a lot of wind shear that kept them from forming but I don't recall anyone saying wind shear was a result of global warming.

Matthew the 2005 Atlantic season was the worst on record.

Anyway, even if you don't think the case for anthropogenic climate change has been sufficiently proved, is it not more sensible and logical to adopt a more cautious approach along the lines of "let's reduce GHG emissions just in case they're right"? If it turns out the climatologists are wrong then fine, let's carry on burning fossil fuels til the cows come home.

It's completely irrational to pin your hopes on global cooling coming along to save us all when there is a complete absence of evidence that this will happen. Indeed all available evidence points to completely the opposite occurring with potentially devestating consequences to large swathes of the global population if we carry on as we are now.

I'm willing to bet that all the ice will be back in the next few years

You are? How much do you want to bet?

Stan's already into me for $100K come 2012, the year he said that no one will be talking about CO2.

Care to wager that much with respect to your ice prediction?

And don't make the mistake of measuring GW by the number of storms in a single year.

But...but...Al Gore told me it was so!

That's one of the problems I have with the AGW crowd...whenever something bad happens, it's proof of global warming, and we'll be getting a lot more of it. But when it doesn't come back, we get the "climate, not weather" line.

I suspect in the next few years polar ice will be classified as "sea weather".

Care to wager that much with respect to your ice prediction?

Nope - because even if I was the wagering sort, I'm not interested in your Pokemon cards as payment.

Domenick - Behold! "Global Warming Increases Wind Shear, Reduces Hurricanes, Climate Model Shows"

Global warming is responsible for both more *and* fewer hurricanes. It's a neat trick, really...no matter what the long-term trend in hurricane activity turns out to be, global warming is responsible.

Denilist can still say it "its not us" and "who cares, maybe global warming is a good thing" Well it's probably not a good thing (especially if you live close to shore), but that’s beside the point, if your given a 80% chance of rain would it no be wise to bring a umbrella? So global warming is generally agreed to be happening and is "bad", would it not be wise to prepare for it? Who knows maybe it's not that bad but better safe then sorry. Combined with the problems of peak oil and energy security change must happen.

Matthew: Holy cow. The claim from scientists all along has been that GW would make stronger storms, not more of them. And what have we seen? Stronger storms.

And notice that the people who know what they're talking about are very careful not to say, "storm X was caused by GW", but that such storms are more likely. That's not playing words games, that's science.

But by all means, believe whatever you want. The rest of us will figure out how to respond to this situation and use taxes and other tools of public policy to force people like you to change your behavior.

With respect to more ice formation and Global Warming the two are not mutually exclusive. Some models of Global Warming predict that initial warming will cause ice loss at the poles but this could be followed by more water vapor available at the poles in winter.

Theoretically, early onset of glacial periods could be proceeded by Global Warming enabling a moisture conveyor from the tropics to the poles. The poles are always going to be below freezing in the winter due to lack of light. Import a lot of moisture to northern latitudes in winter (which is rare now) and you will get an enormous snow pack that might not melt off the land during the summer, even if it does melt out of the ocean.

Nope

OK, you were lying when you said "I'm willing to bet." Shows the weakness of your beliefs as well as your lack of veracity.

You are now classified as Troll.

OK, you were lying when you said "I'm willing to bet."

It's a figure of speech, dumbass.

It's a figure of speech, dumbass.

It still means what it means, dumbass. You're yapping about ice coming back, but I guess you don't actually believe that. Hence, you are a Troll.

Keep up the games, child. Clearly you have nothing of value to offer besides seeking attention.

The warmist alarmists told us that AGW would result in more and larger hurricanes - instead, the last couple of years have been relatively quiet -- Matthew

By what criterion? 2005 may have seen fewer Atlantic hurricanes (4) than any in the last 10, but in that year there were more E. Pacific hurricanes (11, 5 major) than any other year in the last 10. The Western Pacific had a typical year (15 typhoons), although the Philippines got pasted by 6, 5 of them major, 3 of them Katrina-sized or larger. FYI the Western Atlantic != world. Even this year in the Western Atlantic we haven't reached peak season yet -- and had 2 storms make landfall as Cat 5.

"The fight against poverty, terrorism, AIDS etc is simply completely unimportant compared to the seriousness of Global Warming. It is the only problem we have with a potential to ruin all life on our planet forever." - Henrick


Henrick, while I agree that Global warming is a serious problem that demands immediate global attention, it should not be at the expense of Poverty and AIDS. Keeping others poor to keep thier production of C02 down is not a viable long term strategy in my opinion. Nor do I see how ignoring the AIDS plight and suffering of others helps solve global warning.

As for death of life on our planet, I think that is a bit of a stretch. It might well mean the end of human civilization as we currently know it, it might exterminate some species that are less able to adapt, but the planet, and humans, are pretty adaptable. Please do not take this as a tacit suggestion for us to continue soiling our beds, only that there have been far greater injuries to our planet in the past and life survived.

Now, whether or not SUV driving, CO2 spuing, War mongering, bunmkins with no care about the only known habitable planet in the universe survive, well, that's a different question.


.


so what are you gonna do about GW?

Do you want to shut down industry and leave people sick and hungry in the dark? Do you want to build a massive nuclear worldwide grid system...and allow the nuclear material to fall into the hands of terrorists?

those are the options.

Unless renewables work for 7 billion people - thats the only other hope.

No governments seem to believe it will.

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