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Giant Polynya Opens in Beaufort Sea

The polynya in the Beaufort Sea. The blueish tint of the ice near the polynya (red box) indicates that the ice is wet from surface melting . Click to enlarge. Source: NSIDC

A giant polynya—an area of open water in sea ice—in the Beaufort Sea fully opened last week. The new polynya measures some 38,000 square miles and is “extremely unusual” according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The only time we’ve seen a similar polynya was in 2000. However, the 2000 formation was much smaller and closer to the ice edge, barely enclosed with ice.

Some areas of the ocean show evidence of new ice formation as autumn cooling begins to take hold. However, at the same time, some areas south of the polynya that were formerly ice covered have continued to melt out. (See picture.)

A wider view of the polynya. The pink line shows the average ice extent for September, the end of the summer melt season. Click to enlarge.

So far, Arctic summer sea ice has shrunk to the fourth-smallest September minimum on record. Although some refreezing has begun, parts of the polynya are continuing to melt, so the final totals are uncertain.

A recent study from NASA shows that in 2005 and 2006, the Arctic winter sea ice maximum was about 6% smaller than the average amount over the past 26 years as well.

Speaking at the first ever Climate Clinic taking place at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton (UK), Director of British Antarctic Survey, Professor Chris Rapley, described how satellite and field data reveal that changes are taking place in the Polar Regions faster than scientists had predicted even five years ago.

There are still major uncertainties about what will happen and how quickly, but a sea level rise of up to 5m could take place in the long-term unless greenhouse gas emissions are significantly and quickly curbed.



I say God Bless G. W. Bush!!!! Things like this only prove nothing. "The science isn't in yet". Who cares about Global Warming, or an Oil Whore War based on lies. Not burning every drop of oil and speck of coal is unchristian and unpatriotic!! "You are either with us or against us".


I cant wait to see Florida disappear under water, the Eastern Seaboard be devasted by monster hurricanes and the general ensuing anarchy a la New Orleans style... then we'll see how many doubters are left!


New Orleans is "Blue". Florida is partially "Blue".
The "Red" part of Florida is in the panhandle.
The eastern and western coasts are "Blue".
So there could indeed be some method to the GOP position on Global Warming:
they want to drown the part of the country that don't vote GOP.


there are no doubters...
only people who can't/won't/don't read 928 papers on global warming published in peer reviewed scientific journals...

Joff Pentz

So what? Yeah, I guess the world is getting warmer. But what difference does it make? You guys act like this is the end of the human race. Pull your heads out.
The simple fact of the matter is that most people don't care, and it annoys you that the world disagrees with you. They have been told about the risks, they have read about global warming, they notice things like climate change, and they have decided that their way of life is more important because they understand that it won't lead to the end of the world. I suppose there will be a period of adjustment, but c'mon, the world is not going to end anytime soon.
I guess global warming has become a sort of "religion" that, like many others, needs some sort of massive end of the world cataclysm for it's adherents to hang on to.

FYI co2

"decided that their way of life is more important"?
as in more important than the next generations?

Joff, why don't you buy up some coastal property with all the money you're making based on your sociological advice?



"They have been told about the risks, they have read about global warming, they notice things like climate change, and they have decided that their way of life is more important because they understand that it won't lead to the end of the world."

Many people care about the world we are going to leave to our children and grandchildren. GW will not lead to the 'end of the world' in your lifetime, perhaps, but it will certainly lead to the end of the world as we know it in the lifetime of my children. Part of 'adjustment' is going to be lower standards of living for 'most people'. Once this becomes clear, 'most people' may start to take a different view of the matter.

Joff Pentz

Give me an example of how someone makes money on sociological advice and I will try to buy that coastal property.
Dude, give me a break. If people cared about the "next generation" and it's quality of life, the western birth rate wouldn't be declining, and we wouldn't be creating a social system that saddles our children with a huge debt that will require higher taxes and longer work hours. You may care about the "next generation", but society does not and there are far more of them than you. My worldview may be morallly bankrupt, but it's realistic.
I'm just gonna have a good time. Most people are like me, and you're going to have to get used to it. You may be right, but who cares? Society sure as hell doesn't, and unfortunatley for you, they make all the decisions.
Go vote for the guy you want, join the clubs you want to join, and post naive comments on someones blog if you want - we'll see how much the situation changes.
Me? Well, I live about 5 miles from the beach right now, so I'm gonna hang on to my place, and hopefully my grandkids will be having barbeques on my balcony as they stare at the cool blue waters of the Pacific Ocean....

Rich Walker

People will really believe when Greenland is green again. Till then its just one more claim by a group of scientists that the world is in grave danger. Maybe they should pay attention to this one; but their experience in the past is that every time a group of scientists proclaim the apocolypse... nothing happens.

My advice... structure your lives with the assumption that we are in fact going to burn every last drop of oil and pound of coal. Every last one. You can't save the world, but you can do a lot to help your kids adapt.


Just a remainder:

Melting of Arctic ice does not increase ocean level. This ice is already floating on the water, and according to Archimedes law displaces amount of water with exact weight of the ice.

Glaciers of Greenland and Antarctic continent – another matter.



"Better to light one candle..."


Perhaps I ought to take the advice offered by LAFN / Nick. We are aproaching the end of the biggest, roudiest party the world has ever seen, and our children or grandchildren will get the hangover. Should I care? Aparently not, because my caring makes no difference because noone else cares.


Is "society" going to go from denial to complaceny to ...?

So see such views on this sort of web site is disheartining. What does it say of the general view out there?


Oops, sorry I read the posted by before each post instead of after. I need to say sorry LAFN and Nick.

Joff, on the other hand represents a really sad position

Shaun Williams

Don't be too disheartened. Many of us are better at seeing problems and their solutions well before the slow mechanics of government and industry wind up to pace. Joff's throw-the-hands-up-in-the-air attitude is a typical reaction when there appears to be little leadership and consequently no perceived hope of change.

I'm very confident that Mother Nature will provide many more very uncomfortable moments for our more recalcitrant political leaders in the next decade or two and that the changes we all yearn for will be inevitable. It’s human nature not to change when we’re comfortable unless it hurts; some of us are …err…well…less “sensitive” when it comes to pain so it takes a little longer to react.

However it is very important that we continue to develop and support the most likely solutions NOW so to provide the smoothest possible transition into a sustainable society. In my opinion, a browse through GCC shows that there is much to be optimistic about.

Mark A

I agree with Andrey on this. I do not know Archimedes law, but do know that ice expands when it freezes, instead of contracting like every other property. Thats why pipes, or radiators, burst when they freeze. Hence I feel the melting ice, or water, takes up less space/volume than ice, or that it equals out if it floats.

I also do not see how anyone can blame one country, one government, or one administration (Bush's) for the cause of this melting ice. This was started well before Bush, and well before Clinton. It could be argued that perhaps it started as far back as Lincoln, or further! But I am not convinced that it is indeed a product of anything us humans have done, or even as big of a problem as we are being led to believe, but a normal cycle of events in our earths normal cycles. Us humans inhabit only a small skin of the earths entire mass.

But also, at the same time I agree that we need to be good stewards of this planet, and not waste/consume just for consuming sake. We can use the resources of this world smarter.

Harvey D.

As long as it is cheaper to pollute with dirty energy than to use cleaner sources, we will continue to do so. That's how we are.

A carbon tax could help but 95% of us would reject it. No politician who wants to get re-elected would vote for it. Will our children and future politicians have a different attitude? May be..... but not for the next decade or more.

It may be wise to move out of all low coastal lands now while the market is still good. This is not the time to rebuild New Orleans or to move to Bangladesh.

Canada may be a better place to live during the warm cycle.

fyi CO2

As Andrey postscripted above, Archimedes law does not apply to the Greenland ice sheet which if melted could raise sea level 20 feet. This polyna evidence does not bode well for Greenland.

Yes you can blame a country, e.g. the US contributes 25% to worldwide GHG, 4x the global per capita.
This is about the haves and the have-nots. There should be a blog for those that want to promote inconspicuous consumption,e.g.


I won't bother with the usual argument as they've been said so many times before. Instead I'll skip to the summary:

Baby boomers and Gen X are selfish egoistical m....f.... who don't want to bother with children (too much work) but prefer to extract every last ounce of oil and minerals for their personal comfort and enjoyment. Apparently we are perfectly happy to poison land and mess up atmosphere, while denying ANY effects or better yet ignoring it. Just dump all the waste in Africa, Asia and South America - out of sight out of mind. In conclusion, f4k the next generation, we are having a great time.

Oh, and should someone try to deby us the oil for our SUVs we'll ..... (you know the rest)

P.S.: I am in Canada and don't mind having milder winters, but still this is shameful.


"I also do not see how anyone can blame one country, one government, or one administration (Bush's)"

The US produces 20% of the world's CO2. The US is 4.5% of the world's population.
Does that give you a clue where the responsibility lies.


Baby boomers and Gen X are selfish egoistical m....f.... who don't want to bother with children (too much work) but prefer to extract every last ounce of oil and minerals for their personal comfort and enjoyment.

That's strange logic. Would you rather people procreate and have 10 kids per couple? What would the oil and mineral consumption be under that scenario?

I was unaware that Baby Boomers didn't have many children, either.

We learn so many things here.

fyi CO2

Freedom, democracy, progress, economic theories, scientific concepts: these are all ideas and abstractions. One must be able to handle the printed word in order to understand and contemplate and debate these topics. It's obvious from some of the posts here, that the more time we spend overconsuming to satisfy our egos- the less our brains will be able to comprehend the written word and mathematical symbols; the less we will be able to deal with ideas, theories, and analytics.

Thomas Pedersen

It always saddens me to see the constant trench war between "evil polluters/deniers" vs "green/pink, pseudo-religious scaremongers"

Renewable energy is an answer to global warming, dependency on ME oil and air pollution all in one!

Conservation in the form of reducing/eliminating waste saves money from day one!

There is no real conflict between clean technology and a comfortable way of life. In fact, renewable energy is very likely to become cheaper than conventional energy if employed on a large scale. In the mean time, the "massive adverse effect on the economy" of cutting down on GHG emissions is on the order of having to settle for a 5 mega-pixel camera cell phone rather than a 10 mega-pixel one...


Well, if it's better to be amoral and selfish because the short-term rewards outweigh our moral integrity, then how about this? When climate change and peak oil destroy the tax base of the debt-ridden American empire, and the rich turn the country into a feudal dictatorship with privatized prisons as slave labor camps guarded by armed Christian fascists, how about I dedicate the rest of my life to something I truly find pleasurable? Revenge! As in I take out the handy list I've been keeping since Sept. 2006 of all the jerkholes who have really outraged me with their contribution to or indifference towards this tragedy, and start hunting them down for sport? The vicious? Vitrified! The vacuous? Vaporized! Vindictiveness? Vindicated! A venal vendetta for the vapid neo-Victorians. How much damage do you think one man, or ten thousand, like me could do once the government is broke and serious weapons are as available as they now are in Iraq?



“The US produces 20% of world CO2 emission. The US is 4.5% of world population.”

US also happens to produce more then a quarter of world’s wealth. CO2 emissions per capita is misleading indicator, mostly used to intimidate rich countries, especially US. Real science uses energy per dollar GDP indicator. In that terms US looks not so bad, being in second tenth of countries. Canada, Iceland, Luxemburg, Middle East, Russia, etc. have higher energy consumption per dollar wealth produced.

Joff Pentz

Well, silly rants about the end of the American "Empire" and revenge aside, the whole idea of hunting down the people that contributed to the problem is alot of nonsense. One person or Ten Thousand? Just angry rambling. Is the rest of the world supposed to believe that people of your opinion are not so different from white nationalist militia nut jobs? If you and your "Ten Thousand" were serious about stopping the problem with violence, you would be doing it now.
Misguided threats weaken your case. It isn't much different from the extremists that attempted to burn down Hummer dealers - how many converts do you think they got aside from the useless and bored rich kids looking for the next trendy cause. And Christian Fascist prison guards? Hahahahahaha.......Really, I would take them over climate change obsessives any day - after all, they have been running the show for quite a while now, and I can still do pretty much whatever I want. With your kind at the helm, I couldn't even light a camp fire without paying a zillion dollar carbon tax.
All is not lost, however - perhaps we can find common ground in the fact that "V for Vendetta" was possibly the worst movie ever made.

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