Skip to comments.Arctic Ice Cap 'Will Disappear Within The Century'
Posted on 09/28/2005 6:27:13 PM PDT by blam
Arctic ice cap 'will disappear within the century'
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
The Arctic ice cap is on track to disappear within a century, according to a study published yesterday.
The satellite survey by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), and the space agency Nasa reveals that for the fourth consecutive year there has been "a stunning reduction" in Arctic sea ice at the end of the northern summer, placing species such as polar bears at risk.
The reduction in ice levels places Arctic wildlife at risk
The survey recorded the lowest sea-ice extent yet seen - 2.06 million square miles on Sept 19 - 20 per cent below the mean average September sea-ice extent from 1978 to 2001.
That is the equivalent of 500,000 square miles - an area about twice the size of Texas.
This year "will almost certainly surpass 2002 as the lowest amount of ice cover in more than a century", said Julienne Stroeve, of the Centre. If current rates of decline in sea ice continue, the summertime Arctic could be ice-free well before the end of this century.
A recent assessment of trends throughout the past century indicates that the current decline also exceeds past low ice periods in the 1930s and 1940s.
From 1979 until 2001, the rate of September decline was slightly more than 6.5 per cent a decade. In 2002, the trend steepened to 7.3 per cent and is now approximately 8 per cent.
Walt Meier, of NSIDC, said: "Having four years in a row with such low ice extents has never been seen before in the satellite record. It indicates a downward trend, not just a short-term anomaly."
Cooler winter temperatures allow the sea ice to "rebound" after summer melting. But with the exception of May 2005, every month since December 2004 has set a new record low ice extent for that month. The winter recovery of sea ice extent in the 2004-05 season was also the smallest observed by satellites.
"Even if sea ice retreated a lot one summer, it would make a comeback the following winter, when temperatures fall well below freezing," said Florence Fetterer, of NSIDC. "But in the winter of 2004-05, sea ice didn't approach the previous wintertime level."
Compared to the past half century, average surface air temperatures from January until August 2005, were up to 3C (5.4F) warmer than average across most of the Arctic Ocean. Since 2002, satellite records have also revealed that springtime melting is beginning unusually early north of Alaska and Siberia.
This summer, the Northwest Passage was open except for a 60-mile swath of scattered ice floes, a far cry from earlier centuries when expeditions were lost as their crews tried to beat through thick ice. The Northeast Passage, north of the Siberian coast, was ice-free from Aug 15 until Sept 28.
The Arctic may be caught in a feedback loop caused by global warming. As sea ice melts there is less to reflect the sun's radiation back into space and experts fear that the downward trend is reaching a point from which the ice will not recover.
Will that make it easier to drill for oil there? :p
Well good! I'm sick and tired of these long, cold winters up here. Tell those folks to call me when I'm sitting here at -50 and colder, with snow up to the windowsills. Seriesly, global warming is my friend. ;)
Whole new market for refrigerators.
Practically my first thought, too. :)
Or, maybe it won't.
The elusive NW Passage will be found.
Canada and USSR will be neighbors.
OK, so the ice caps melt.
It wouldn't be the first time.
Does this mean that Santa Clause is a goner?
Everybody wants to be a psychic. A bunch of Miss Cleos.
How are these elite "scientists" able to detect "global warming" while enduring such significant brain freeze?
Ice caps melt. Sea level goes up. My house in central Florida is now ocean front property.
"Having four years in a row with such low ice extents has never been seen before in the satellite record. It indicates a downward trend, not just a short-term anomaly."
This is meaningless garbage. If I hold my head under water for 15 minutes, I will drown. Satellite photos are available for how many climate cycles? Since this excites the environmentalist youth, I guess we know just how good our high school science courses really are.
psst author of article: Next time you visit Yosemite National Park, those granite walls were carved by ice. Ice retreats...ice moves forward. It's part of the cycle of life on the planet. Get over it. Take a ride over Yosemite falls and go away.
Not to suggest that it's happening but if it did, New York, Miami, LA, San Francisco and others would look like New Orleans does today.
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