Saturday, September 17, 2005

Drowning in Carbon



At least three readers sent in this story yesterday.

Global warming 'past the point of no return'
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 16 September 2005

A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover.

Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.


They believe global warming is melting Arctic ice so rapidly that the region is beginning to absorb more heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt still further and so reinforcing a vicious cycle of melting and heating.

The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a "tipping point" beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically.

Satellites monitoring the Arctic have found that the extent of the sea ice this August has reached its lowest monthly point on record, dipping an unprecedented 18.2 per cent below the long-term average.

Experts believe that such a loss of Arctic sea ice in summer has not occurred in hundreds and possibly thousands of years. It is the fourth year in a row that the sea ice in August has fallen below the monthly downward trend - a clear sign that melting has accelerated.

Scientists are now preparing to report a record loss of Arctic sea ice for September, when the surface area covered by the ice traditionally reaches its minimum extent at the end of the summer melting period.

Sea ice naturally melts in summer and reforms in winter but for the first time on record this annual rebound did not occur last winter when the ice of the Arctic failed to recover significantly.

Arctic specialists at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre at Colorado University, who have documented the gradual loss of polar sea ice since 1978, believe that a more dramatic melt began about four years ago.

In September 2002 the sea ice coverage of the Arctic reached its lowest level in recorded history. Such lows have normally been followed the next year by a rebound to more normal levels, but this did not occur in the summers of either 2003 or 2004.

This summer has been even worse. The surface area covered by sea ice was at a record monthly minimum for each of the summer months - June, July and now August.

Scientists analysing the latest satellite data for September - the traditional minimum extent for each summer - are preparing to announce a significant shift in the stability of the Arctic sea ice, the northern hemisphere's major "heat sink" that moderates climatic extremes.

"The changes we've seen in the Arctic over the past few decades are nothing short of remarkable," said Mark Serreze, one of the scientists at the Snow and Ice Data Centre who monitor Arctic sea ice."

Just last week, I ran this story about how warming soils in England are potentially creating more active bacteria that are releasing more carbon from the soil into the atmosphere. This is a huge feedback event, if it is true.

Just last month, there was another tipping point story which talked about the thawing of the frozen tundra of Siberia. The tundra line across the northern hemisphere is moving north. As it does, it leaves a thawed out bog of carbon that will soon return to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide or methane.

And just a few weeks before that there was this story about the Greenland ice sheet accelerating its march to the sea.

Back in late April, climate scientists announced that glaciers were retreating an an alarming rate world wide.

Exactly, when do we begin to believe and act like we have a problem here?

We are drowning in carbon and drenched with the facts.

When your vessel begins to fill up with water, you don't call your friends and tell them, "we've got a emergency". You put out a call for help on your radio, you start the bilge pumps, you begin bailing, you move into action. You pretty much forget about the sunset cruise, the morning yoga, and the Yacht Club.

Climate Change is no longer and never was your children's problem.

It is our problem.

Right here right now.

Some day when the president speaks with his heart,

instead of his limp dead politicized photo op puke putz,

he will hopefully show the leadership and true concern

that any leader should show for his constituents

and he will begin to help solve the problem

instead of be the problem.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, very strong OZ. I'm sending this out. MS

9:43 AM  
Blogger glycotech said...

As well, when the debate began about drilling for oil in Alaska, the ground was frozen for eight or nine months of the year, and the argument was they would drill and be out before the thaw.
Now it is only frozen a couple of months of the year, but everyone seems to have forgotten the original premise.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why haven't the seas risen thus far with significant quantities of ice already melted?

We may be the first generation without nostalgia for starting our time on earth all over again.
FM

11:24 AM  
Blogger OZ said...

FM, you've asked this before. They have risen. Here is a site for your perusal.

http://www.grida.no/climate/vital/19.htm

12:29 PM  
Blogger head lem said...

Family members should not confuse "global warming" with "climate change" -a.k.a. as abrupt climate change.

GW is about average, long term, global temeperture. CC is about local, immediate temperature.

Here is an example: Assume your body temperaature is 98.6 deg. F for month number 1. So is everyone eleses's around the planet. On day 1 of month 2 your local temp soars to 270 deg F. On day 2 it's 70 deg F (cause you are dead and 70 is room temp) Ok so your average is roughly 98-100 for this time period, but you personally experienced abrupt temp change and now you are dead as a result. Got it? For California, a simple change of 1-2 deg F is all it is going to take to cause massive floods and droughts.

7:15 PM  

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