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DocWatch
arctic meltdown
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News stories about "arctic meltdown," with punchlines: http://apocadocs.com/d.pl?arctic+meltdown
Related Scary Tags:
global warming  ~ holyshit  ~ climate impacts  ~ anthropogenic change  ~ faster than expected  ~ rising sea level  ~ death spiral  ~ ocean warming  ~ feedback loop  ~ melting glaciers  ~ permafrost meltdown  



Tue, May 10, 2016
from Slate.com:
Powerful visualization of global heat over the last 166 years
...


Apocaiku:
Our spiraling path
These last two decades' hunger
Must we eat ourselves?


ApocaDoc
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Tue, Mar 29, 2016
from Cosmos Magazine:
Arctic sea ice hits a record low wintertime maximum
The Arctic Ocean ice cap peaked for the winter on 24 March at 14.52 million square kilometres - a record low and 20,000 square kilometres less than the previous record low maximum extent. The 13 smallest maximum extents on the satellite record have happened in the last 13 years. Record high temperatures were recorded in December, January and February around the world. In the Artic average air temperatures were up to 5.5 degrees C above average at the edges of the ice pack. ...


Talk about opportunities for improvement!!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 23, 2016
from New York Magazine:
New Paper Suggests Catastrophic Climate Shifts May Be Decades Away
Using computer models, evidence from ancient episodes of climate change, and modern observations, Hansen and his team arrived at one essential conclusion: The melting of the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets will set off a vicious cycle that dramatically accelerates the pace of climate change. The key concept here is ocean "stratification," a process by which cold, fresh meltwater rises to the ocean surface while warmer salt water is pushed beneath. (The Washington Post notes that an "anomalously cold 'blob' of ocean water" has been detected off the southern coast of Greenland.) That warmer salt water would eventually reach the base of the ice sheets, melting them from below, thus spurring more stratification, which would then spur more melting, which would then spur more stratification, which would spur more warming, until our grandchildren are all swallowed by the sea. But that's not all! Hansen's paper also projects that the influx of cold meltwater in the North Atlantic region, combined with warmer equatorial waters, would drive midlatitude cyclones so strong, the waves would be capable of thrusting gigantic boulders ashore. ...


All Systems Are Pointing. Any Solutions Are Prerequisites. Atlantic Seaboard Aquatically Plundered. Awkward Statements Acronyming Panic: A.S.A.P.!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 16, 2016
from Globe & Mail (Canada):
Winter ice coverage in Arctic sea reaching record low, scientists warn
Scientists warn that the area covered by this winter's Arctic sea ice could turn out to be the lowest ever measured. The news comes on top of a long season of freakishly warm weather at the top of the planet, including above-freezing days at the North Pole and a months-long string of temperature records. "The winter, overall, has been extremely warm in the Arctic," said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado. ...


The Arctic had the same sort of Wimpter that we had!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Mar 14, 2016
from PhysOrg:
Degrading ice wedges reshape Arctic permafrost and landscape
The wedges, which can be the size of a house, gradually formed over hundreds or even thousands of years as water seeped into permafrost cracks. On the ground surface, they form polygon shapes roughly 15-30 meters wide--a defining characteristic of northern landscapes.... Ice wedge degradation has been observed before in individual locations, but this is the first study to determine that rapid melting has become widespread throughout the Arctic. "Here we're combining observations from people working in the field across the Arctic--Russia, Canada and Alaska--where we're seeing the same ice wedge melting phenomenon," said Liljedahl, the lead author of the study.... "It's really the tipping point for the hydrology," Liljedahl said. "Suddenly you're draining the landscape and creating more runoff, even if the amount of precipitation remains the same. Instead of being absorbed by the tundra, the snowmelt water will run off into lakes and larger rivers. It really is a dramatic hydrologic change across the tundra landscape." ...


Wouldn't you expect a wedge to have a tipping point?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 5, 2016
from Washington Post:
What scientists just discovered in Greenland could be making sea-level rise even worse
Rising global temperatures may be affecting the Greenland ice sheet -- and its contribution to sea-level rise -- in more serious ways that scientists imagined, a new study finds. Recent changes to the island's snow and ice cover appear to have affected its ability to store excess water, meaning more melting ice may be running off into the ocean than previously thought.... Through on-the-ground observations, the scientists have shown that the recent formation of dense ice layers near the ice sheet's surface are making it more difficult for liquid water to percolate into the firn -- meaning it's forced to run off instead. ...


Greenland is going green.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 4, 2016
from Truthout:
Climate Disruption Amplifies Atlantic Currents' Contribution to Sea Level Rise
Anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) has progressed to a point where it is, literally, changing one of the most important ocean circulatory currents in the world. In a paper recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, NASA researchers confirmed that the circulation of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is slowing down. In 2009 and 2010 that shifting had already been linked to a sudden and extreme five-inch sea level rise on the East Coast. ...


AMOC is running amok!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 23, 2015
from PNAS, in Washington Post:
Bad news: Scientists say we could be underestimating Arctic methane emissions
"...The fact that this was done not just at one site, but multiple sites, is a breakthrough in our ability to quantify [methane] budgets for tundra ecosystems." The researchers found that cold-season methane emissions are not only not negligible -- they're pretty significant. While emissions varied somewhat from one site to the next, Zona said that, overall, emissions from September to May accounted for about half of all the methane emitted from those sites throughout the entire year. This might seem a little baffling when you consider the fact that methane is generally released as Arctic soil thaws -- a process that should be most pronounced during the warmest part of the year. Zona said the key to understanding where cold-season emissions come from lies in the way Arctic soil is structured and how it reacts to changes in temperature. ...


Oh, right: bacteria never sleep!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Aug 20, 2015
from NOAA, via CNN:
NOAA: July hottest month on record, and 2015 could be hottest year
July saw the highest average temperatures since record-keeping began -- globally, not just in the United States -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday. Globally, the first seven months of the year also had all-time highs. The latest global temperature data make it likely that 2015 will be the hottest year on record, the agency said. NOAA's findings follow reports by NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency, which reached the same conclusion using their own data. ...


It ain't the heat, it's the humanity!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jun 28, 2015
from Arctic News:
Arctic Heat Waves
Warming in the Arctic is accelerating. On June 25, 2015, high temperatures hit North America. Temperatures as high as 30.3 deg C (86.54 deg F) were recorded where the Mackenzie River is flowing into the Arctic Ocean. ... The image below shows that on June 27, 2015, temperatures of well over 40 deg C (104 deg F) were recorded in Europe and in Pakistan, where temperatures earlier this month had reached 49 deg C (120.2 deg F) in some places. The heat wave reportedly killed 1233 people in Karachi alone. This in addition to the 2500 people killed earlier in India by high temperatures.... Very warm water is also flowing from the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait into the Arctic Ocean. As the image below shows, the water that is flowing into the Arctic Ocean from the Pacific is much warmer than it used to be, as much as 6.1 deg C (10.98 deg F) warmer. ...


This Arctic heatwave is burnin' in my heart / Can't keep from crying, it's tearing me apart.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jun 10, 2015
from InsideClimate News:
Global Warming's Great Hiatus Gets Another Debunking
...A new study by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finds that the world's warming never really stalled during the last 15 years--it was just masked by incomplete data records that have been improved and expanded in recent years.... The "newly corrected and updated global surface temperature data from NOAA's NCEI do not support the notion of a global warming 'hiatus,'" wrote the study authors. The scientists argue the findings even underestimate the world's warming because they don't consider what has happened in the Arctic, where temperatures have increased rapidly in recent decades, but where there is a limited number of weather recording stations. ...


Let's put weather stations on those oil rigs heading into the Arctic!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 19, 2015
from Reuters:
Protesters gather in Seattle to block access to Shell oil rig
May 18 About 200 protesters gathered at the Port of Seattle on Monday to block access to a Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig headed for the Arctic this summer to resume exploration for oil and gas reserves... Environmental groups have planned days of demonstrations over Shell's plans, saying drilling in the icy Arctic region, where weather changes rapidly, could lead to a catastrophic spill that would be next to impossible to clean up. They also say drilling would threaten the Arctic's vast layer of sea ice that helps regulate the global temperature and that they say has already been disappearing as a result of global warming. ...


Don't drill, baby, don't drill!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Mar 29, 2015
from Grist:
Antarctica is basically liquefying
Antarctica's icy edges are melting 70 percent faster in some places than they were a decade ago, according to a new study in the journal Science. These massive ice shelves serve as a buffer between the continent's ice-sheet system and the ocean. As they disintegrate, more and more ice will slip into the sea, raising sea levels by potentially huge amounts. This study is just the latest bit of horrible news from the bottom of the world. Last year, we found out that the West Antarctic ice sheet was in terminal collapse, which could raise sea levels by 10 to 15 feet over a few hundred years. Then, earlier this month, we learned that an enormous glacier on the other side of the continent is in the same state, and could contribute about the same amount to sea-level rise.... But the bad news doesn't seem likely to stop anytime soon: On Monday and Tuesday, it was a balmy 63 degrees Fahrenheit at the bottom of the world, a record high. ...


Two words: Antarctic Surfing.

ApocaDoc
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Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
More fun than a barrel of jellyfish!
Fri, Mar 20, 2015
from National Snow and Ice Data Center:
Arctic sea ice maximum reaches lowest extent on record
Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its maximum extent for the year on February 25 at 14.54 million square kilometers (5.61 million square miles). This year's maximum ice extent is the lowest in the satellite record. NSIDC will release a full analysis of the winter season in early April, once monthly data are available for March. ...


It's deja doom all over again.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Mar 20, 2015
from Washington Post:
The melting of Antarctica was already really bad. It just got worse.
A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise. Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy -- when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note -- when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity. ...


It's clear we need to develop "Mr. Freeze" mutant abilities. Monsanto, are you listening?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 11, 2015
from The Independent:
March: Arctic sea ice near its all-time winter low and could break previous record
Sea ice in the Arctic is near its all-time minimum for the end of winter and could break the previous record within the next two weeks if it fails to grow, according to the latest satellite data. The area of the Arctic covered by floating sea ice is already the lowest for this time of year, highlighting the long-term warming trend experienced by the region in both winter and summer months. Sea ice expands and contracts with the seasons but satellite data collected since the 1970s shows that it is retreating further and further during the summer months compared to 20 or 30 years ago. Sea ice in summer has shrunk by 30 per cent on average over the past 30 years while average temperatures in the Arctic have risen by about 4C - more than 3C warmer than the global average. ...


If only I'd shorted Arctic futures -- I'd be set for life.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 1, 2015
from Guardian:
Time is running out on climate denial -- But is it running out fast enough?
In short, if we take action to slow global warming, the worst case scenario involves draconian government regulations that trigger an economic recession. If we don't, the worst case scenario involves an economic recession too, but also a host of other global and societal catastrophes. Although Craven doesn't look at the probabilities of these worst case scenarios, they're also heavily weighted towards the case for taking action to curb global warming. There are lots of options to slow global warming that don't involve drastic government regulation, and that can even be beneficial for the economy. If we decide that we've gone too far in cutting carbon pollution, it's relatively easy to scale back government policies.... In other words, if we take too much action to curb climate change, the worst case scenario (upper left grid) is easily avoided. If we don't take enough action, we may not be able to avoid some of the worst consequences in the bottom right grid. ...


There's no "us" in "deniers."

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Dec 18, 2014
from Youth Power Indiana:
A Message from Santa's Elves
...


How am I supposed to believe in elves, when Rudolph is missing?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Nov 19, 2014
from Los Angeles Times:
40 percent decline in polar bears in Alaska, western Canada heightens concern
The number of polar bears in eastern Alaska and western Canada has declined by 40 percent, according to a scientific study that raises more questions about the impact of global warming on the creature that has become the symbol of some of its worst effects. ...


Po' polar bears

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Nov 13, 2014
from Guardian:
New study shows warm waters are melting Antarctica from below
Just this week, a new study has appeared which describes a clever method for measuring the flows of ocean currents and their impacts on ice shelves. This study has identified a major mechanism for melting ice in the Southern Hemisphere. The paper, co-authored by Andrew Thompson, Karen Heywood, and colleagues is very novel. The scientists used sea gliders to identify water flows that bring warm waters to the base of ice shelves in Antarctica. As I've written before, ocean currents are complex; you cannot neglect their impact on the Earth's climate.... The data showed that eddy-transport and surface-wind-caused motion are comparable in their contribution to water circulation. They showed however, that the eddy motion is largely confined to the warm intermediate water layers. The penetration of the warm waters to the ice shelves is believed to be responsible for the dramatic ice loss that has been observed in the Antarctic. ...


It's the reach of Satan from the depths of Hell! Or maybe just another domino.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Oct 2, 2014
from AP, via Globe and Mail:
Sea-ice shortage sends tens of thousands of walruses swarming Alaska beach
Pacific walruses that can't find sea ice for resting in Arctic waters are coming ashore in record numbers on a beach in northwest Alaska. An estimated 35,000 walruses were photographed Saturday about eight kilometres north of Point Lay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.... Pacific walruses spend winters in the Bering Sea. Females give birth on sea ice and use ice as a diving platform to reach snails, clams and worms on the shallow continental shelf.... In recent years, sea ice has receded north beyond shallow continental shelf waters and into Arctic Ocean water, where depths exceed three kilometres and walrus cannot dive to the bottom. ...


I think it's just a big ol' Walrus party!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 2, 2014
from Climate News Network:
New Satellite Maps Show World's Major Ice Caps Melting at Unprecedented Rate
German researchers have established the height of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps with greater precision than ever before. And the new maps they have produced show that the ice is melting at an unprecedented rate... Over a three-year period, the researchers collected 200 million measurements in Antarctica and more than 14 million in Greenland. They were able to study how the ice sheets changed by comparing the data with measurements made by NASA's ICESat mission. ...


I think we need further research.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jul 17, 2014
from ScienceRecorder:
Scientists to monitor Arctic summer melt at level not seen before
An international team of researchers, headed by scientists from the University of Washington, aim to monitor the summer melt of the Arctic ice at a scale never seen before.... Lee described the project's ground breaking nature in a statement: "This has never been done at this level, over such a large area and for such a long period of time... We're really trying to resolve the physics over the course of an entire melt season." ...


In this case, Nero is measuring while the world burns.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jul 16, 2014
from TruthOut:
Arctic Warming and Increased Weather Extremes: The National Research Council Speaks
A new report from the National Research Council (NRC) details the findings of recent Arctic research: Arctic sea ice in all seasons is declining and the rate of loss is increasing. Multiple lines of study show this is impacting weather outside of the Arctic. Increased energy (heat) in the Arctic is slowing the progress of the jet stream around globe, allowing weather systems to linger, increasing the risk of severe weather happening more often in any one place.... In our old climate, we sort-of knew how it behaved. We had decades and even centuries of records to use to project changes into the future. But all of this historical data may be of much less use in the future as the baseline physics have now changed. Even more critical, the short term is now very important as tipping points may appear at any time. Because of 20 years of delay in controlling climate pollution, we are experiencing more warming faster than we would have if we had of begun to address climate pollutants as was suggested decades ago. Because we are warming faster, the risk of climate tipping points is higher. This discussion point states that recent Arctic changes may have "pushed the atmosphere into a new state with different variability." What they mean by variability is that the extremes get more extreme. ...


I'd rather not listen to those guys. They use too many big words!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 27, 2014
from Alaska Dispatch:
Arctic sea ice littered with tiny bits of 'microplastic' pollution
Dartmouth scientist Rachel Obbard was looking at samples of Arctic sea ice for small organisms when something else caught her eye: Tiny, bright-colored bits and pieces and miniature string-like objects that did not seem to belong. Those small specks turned out to be a type of pollution known as microplastics. Their presence in sea ice collected from the central Arctic Ocean showed that some of the vast quantities of garbage and pollution floating in the world's seas has traveled to the northernmost waters.... sea ice holding the small bits of trash is thinning and likely to shed them back into the water, where they can be ingested by fish, birds and mammals... ...


At least it sounds kinda pretty.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, May 22, 2014
from European Association of Geochemistry:
Iron from melting ice sheets may help buffer global warming
A newly-discovered source of oceanic bioavailable iron could have a major impact our understanding of marine food chains and global warming. A UK team has discovered that summer meltwaters from ice sheets are rich in iron, which will have important implications on phytoplankton growth. The findings are reported in the journal Nature Communications on 21st May, 2014. It is well known that bioavailable iron boosts phytoplankton growth in many of Earth's oceans. In turn phytoplankton capture carbon -- thus buffering the effects of global warming. The plankton also feed into the bottom of the oceanic food chain, thus providing a food source for marine animals. ...


Does that mean I can stop repressing this fart?

ApocaDoc
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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Mon, May 19, 2014
from University of California - Irvine:
Greenland will be far greater contributor to sea rise than expected: Work reveals long, deep valleys connecting ice cap to ocean
Greenland's icy reaches are far more vulnerable to warm ocean waters from climate change than had been thought, according to new research by glaciologists. The work shows previously uncharted deep valleys stretching for dozens of miles under the Greenland Ice Sheet. The bedrock canyons sit well below sea level, meaning that as subtropical Atlantic waters hit the fronts of hundreds of glaciers, those edges will erode much further than had been assumed and release far greater amounts of water. ...


Welcome to the Valleys of the Shadow of Death.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 19, 2014
from University of Leeds:
Antarctica's ice losses on the rise
Three years of observations show that the Antarctic ice sheet is now losing 159 billion tons of ice each year -- twice as much as when it was last surveyed. Scientists have now produced the first complete assessment of Antarctic ice sheet elevation change.... On average West Antarctica lost 134 gigatonnes of ice, East Antarctica three gigatonnes, and the Antarctic Peninsula 23 gigatonnes in each year between 2010 and 2013 -- a total loss of 159 gigatonnes each year. ...


What a comfort it is to have such accurate numbers!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 13, 2014
from Forbes:
If Antarctic Melting Has Passed The Point Of No Return, We Should Do Less About Climate Change, Not More
If it's going to happen anyway then we shouldn't waste resources in trying to stop it happening.... For however much we impoverish ourselves by killing off industrial society, or by razing all the coal fired stations to build more expensive solar installations, that flooding is going to happen anyway. So, why make ourselves poorer in order to change nothing?... We might as well face the floods being as rich, fat and happy as we can, without wasting resources on trying to prevent something inevitable. ...


When did Forbes buy The Onion?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 12, 2014
from NBC News:
West Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapsing, Triggers Sea Level Warning
Two teams of scientists say the long-feared collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has begun, kicking off what they say will be a centuries-long, "unstoppable" process that could raise sea levels by as much as 15 feet.... A second study, published Monday in Geophysical Research Letters, reports the widespread retreat of Thwaites and other glaciers on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet -- and says the retreat can't help but continue. "It has passed the point of no return," the research team's leader, Eric Rignot of the University of California at Irvine, told reporters during a NASA teleconference on Monday. The second study projected that the glacial retreat in Antarctica's Amundsen Sea Embayment, which includes Thwaites Glacier, would result in 4 feet (1.2 meters) of sea level rise -- and open the way to more widespread retreats. ...


So now I can go ahead and drive my Hummer guilt-free!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 5, 2014
from Reuters:
East Antarctica more at risk than thought to long-term thaw -study
...The Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica, stretching more than 1,000 km (600 miles) inland, has enough ice to raise sea levels by 3 to 4 metres (10-13 feet) if it were to melt as an effect of global warming, the report said. The Wilkes is vulnerable because it is held in place by a small rim of ice, resting on bedrock below sea level by the coast of the frozen continent. That "ice plug" might melt away in coming centuries if ocean waters warm up....The study indicated that it could take 200 years or more to melt the ice plug if ocean temperatures rise. Once removed, it could take between 5,000 and 10,000 years for ice in the Wilkes Basin to empty as gravity pulled the ice seawards. ...


What hath man melted.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 30, 2014
from Environmental News Service:
Russia Ships First Arctic Oil, Fortifies Oil Defenses
Riding on his pride in the first export of Russian Arctic oil earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that allows oil and gas corporations to establish private armed security forces to defend their infrastructure, upping the ante for protestors. On the same day, April 22, Earth Day, Putin also met with the Russian Security Council. There he said, "Oil and gas production facilities, loading terminals and pipelines should be reliably protected from terrorists and other potential threats. Nothing can be treated as trivia here." ...


Don't let anyone tell you we are not at war.

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Fri, Apr 25, 2014
from Los Angeles Times:
Judge suspends Arctic drilling, orders new environmental report
In the ongoing battle over offshore drilling, a federal judge in Alaska told regulators Thursday to redo an environmental impact study that underestimated the amount of recoverable oil and, potentially, the risks to delicate Arctic habitat. The decision by U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline stopped short of scrapping the $2.6 billion in leases, however. His ruling followed an appeals court decision in January that federal officials had arbitrarily decided drilling companies could extract 1 billion barrels of oil from the shallow waters off the northwest coast of Alaska. That figure led to a misguided environmental study, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said. ...


Sounds like an arctivist judge to me.

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Fri, Mar 7, 2014
from University College London:
New data confirms Arctic ice trends: Ice-free season getting longer by five days per decade
The ice-free season across the Arctic is getting longer by five days per decade, according to new research from a team including Prof Julienne Stroeve (UCL Earth Sciences). New analysis of satellite data shows the Arctic Ocean absorbing ever more of the sun's energy in summer, leading to a later appearance of sea ice in the autumn. In some regions, autumn freeze-up is occurring up to 11 days per decade later than it used to. ...


My short term mindset fails to see the bottom line point of this report.

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Thu, Feb 20, 2014
from NASA:
NASA satellites see Arctic surface darkening faster
The retreat of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is diminishing Earth's albedo, or reflectivity, by an amount considerably larger than previously estimated, according to a new study that uses data from instruments that fly aboard several NASA satellites.... As the sea ice melts, its white reflective surface is replaced by a relatively dark ocean surface. This diminishes the amount of sunlight being reflected back to space, causing Earth to absorb an increasing amount of solar energy. The Arctic has warmed by 3.6 F (2 C) since the 1970s. The summer minimum Arctic sea ice extent has decreased by 40 percent during the same time period. These factors have decreased the region's albedo, or the fraction of incoming light that Earth reflects back into space -- a change that the CERES instruments are able to measure. ...


albedone for

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Mon, Feb 17, 2014
from Agence France-Press:
Jet stream shift could prompt harsher winters: scientists
A warmer Arctic could permanently affect the pattern of the high-altitude polar jet stream, resulting in longer and colder winters over North America and northern Europe, US scientists say. The jet stream, a ribbon of high altitude, high-speed wind in northern latitudes that blows from west to east, is formed when the cold Arctic air clashes with warmer air from further south. The greater the difference in temperature, the faster the jet stream moves. According to Jennifer Francis, a climate expert at Rutgers University, the Arctic air has warmed in recent years as a result of melting polar ice caps, meaning there is now less of a difference in temperatures when it hits air from lower latitudes..."But over the past two decades the jet stream has weakened. This is something we can measure," she said. As a result, instead of circling the earth in the far north, the jet stream has begun to meander, like a river heading off course. This has brought chilly Arctic weather further south than normal, and warmer temperatures up north. Perhaps most disturbingly, it remains in place for longer periods of time. ...


Global chilling!

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Mon, Feb 17, 2014
from Aarhus University:
Arctic biodiversity under serious threat from climate change
Climate change caused by human activities is by far the worst threat to biodiversity in the Arctic. Some of these changes are already visible. Unique and irreplaceable Arctic wildlife and landscapes are crucially at risk due to global warming caused by human activities according to a new report prepared by 253 scientists from 15 countries. ...


Arcticktockticktock...

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Sat, Jan 25, 2014
from Environment 360:
Northern Mystery: Why Are Birds of the Arctic in Decline?
"These and other seabirds are superbly adapted to the sea ice environment. Without that ice, and with polar bears and mosquitoes hitting them hard, the only future in the Arctic for them is to move north." ... Predators such as the peregrine, the gyrfalcon, the snowy owl, and the Greenland long-tailed skua depend on peaks in these prey species to reproduce in numbers that will sustain their populations. For these birds, collapsing prey cycles are bad news. A team of Danish scientists, for example, recently documented how a collapse in collared lemming cycles at two sites in Greenland between 1998 and 2010 resulted in a 98 percent decline in the snowy owl population. They also documented a similar, albeit less drastic, decline in the population of long-tailed jaegers, part of the skua family.... University of Alberta biologist Alastair Franke has unequivocal evidence of peregrine falcon nestlings starving to death on the west coast of Hudson Bay. But lack of food, he says, is not the main thing killing these birds. According to a recent study led by graduate student Alexandre Anctil of the University of Quebec, some regions of the Arctic are now experiencing more periods of heavy rain each summer when compared to the early 1980s. With their downy white coats insulating them against the snow and the cold, these chicks do just fine. When it rains heavily, however -- as it has increasingly been doing along the west coast of Hudson Bay since 1980 -- up to a third of the peregrine chicks in the study area die of hypothermia as their wet feathers rapidly draw heat from their bodies. Some even drowned in their nests. ...


I think it's because what they're witnessing makes 'em so damned sad they forget to eat.

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Sat, Jan 25, 2014
from Arctic News:
Strangely high methane levels over the Arctic Ocean on January 14, 2014
Did these high methane levels originate from releases from the Arctic Ocean, and if so, how could such high methane releases occur from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean at this time of year, when temperatures in the northern hemisphere are falling?... These high levels of methane showing up over the Arctic Ocean constitute only part of the methane that did escape from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. Where these high concentrations did show up, the ocean can be thousands of meters deep, giving microbes plenty of opportunity to decompose methane rising through the water first. Furthermore, the methane has to pass through sea ice that is now getting more than one meter thick in the area where these high levels of methane showed up on satellite records. In conclusion, the quantities of methane that were actually released from the seafloor must have been huge.... Huge releases from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean have occurred persistently since early October 2013, even when releases like this may show up for one day in one area without showing up in that same area the next day on satellite images. ...


The "known knowns" have to compete with both the "known unknowns" and the "unknown unknowns," especially about a future of "unacceptable unknowns."

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Wed, Jan 8, 2014
from Climate Central:
Polar Vortex in U.S. May be Example of Global Warming
While the ongoing cold snap is breaking records from Minnesota to Florida, it will not go down in history as the most significant Arctic outbreak in U.S. history, not even by a longshot. Scientists said the deep freeze gripping the U.S. does not indicate a halt or reversal in global warming trends, either. In fact, it may be a counterintuitive example of global warming in action. Researchers told Climate Central that the weather pattern driving the extreme cold into the U.S. -- with a weaker polar vortex moving around the Arctic like a slowing spinning top, eventually falling over and blowing open the door to the Arctic freezer -- fits with other recently observed instances of unusual fall and wintertime jet stream configurations. ...


Climate change must be kinda fun for the weather.

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Sun, Jan 5, 2014
from Yale360:
Atlantic Ocean Zooplankton Are Now Reproducing in Arctic Waters
For the first time, scientists have discovered species of Atlantic Ocean zooplankton reproducing in Arctic waters. German researchers say the discovery indicates a possible shift in the Arctic zooplankton community as the region warms, one that could be detrimental to Arctic birds, fish, and marine mammals.... The researchers found fertile females as well as individuals at all stages of development, showing that the Atlantic species is reproducing in the frigid waters. The one-centimeter amphipods are smaller than respective Arctic species, meaning that the spread of the Atlantic crustaceans northward could reduce the volume of food available to Arctic predators. ...


The Arctic ecosystem is just not stepping up to the new requirements.

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Thu, Jan 2, 2014
from Bloomberg News:
Exxon Russia Ambitions Show Oil Trumps Obama-Putin Spats
As Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin argue over human rights in Russia and the fate of fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, the countries' biggest oil companies are preparing to drill for giant discoveries together in the Arctic Ocean. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and OAO Rosneft (ROSN) are set to start their first Arctic well this year, targeting a deposit that may hold more oil than Norway's North Sea. It will kick off a series of landmark projects and cement an alliance begun in 2011. They also plan to frack shale fields in Siberia, sink a deep-water well in the Black Sea and build a natural-gas export terminal in Russia's Far East. "We have a unique partnership," Glenn Waller, Exxon's Russian chief, said in an interview in Moscow. "They have the world's biggest reserves and we have the largest market capitalization." ...


Strange breadfellows, man.

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Fri, Dec 27, 2013
from London Guardian:
Arctic 30 protester: 'Russia owes me a medal'
The first environmental activist to leave Russia after more than two months of detention said that Russia owed him a medal rather than a pardon for his work to protect the environment. Dima Litvinov, a Greenpeace campaigner, was the first member of the Arctic 30 to be allowed to leave. His fellow activists are expected to leave Russia in the coming days... Speaking from a train to Helsinski, Litvinov said the Arctic 30 had been warmly received by ordinary Russians, but treated as criminals intent on destroying Russia by government officials. ...


The difference between a hero and a criminal is a fine line.

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Mon, Dec 16, 2013
from Ohio State University:
East Antarctica Is Sliding Sideways: Ice Loss On West Antarctica Affecting Mantle Flow Below
It's official: East Antarctica is pushing West Antarctica around. Now that West Antarctica is losing weight--that is, billions of tons of ice per year--its softer mantle rock is being nudged westward by the harder mantle beneath East Antarctica. The discovery comes from researchers led by The Ohio State University, who have recorded GPS measurements that show West Antarctic bedrock is being pushed sideways at rates up to about twelve millimeters--about half an inch--per year. This movement is important for understanding current ice loss on the continent, and predicting future ice loss. ...


Sounds like bullying to me.

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Wed, Dec 11, 2013
from London Guardian:
Russia to boost military presence in Arctic as Canada plots north pole claim
The political temperature in the Arctic rose on Tuesday when Vladimir Putin vowed to step up Russia's military presence in the region in response to a claim by Canada to the north pole. In typically trenchant style, the Russian president told his defence chiefs to concentrate on building up infrastructure and military units in the Arctic. He said the region was again key to Russia's national and strategic interests, following a retreat in the post-Soviet period. ...


I thought I owned the north pole!

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Mon, Dec 9, 2013
from Climate Central:
Study Adds to Arctic Warming, Extreme Weather Debate
A new study for the first time found links between the rapid loss of snow and sea ice cover in the Arctic and a recent spate of exceptional extreme heat events in North America, Europe, and Asia. The study adds to the evidence showing that the free-fall in summer sea ice extent and even sharper decline in spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is reverberating throughout the atmosphere, making extreme events more likely to occur. The study, published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to find correlations between rapid Arctic warming and extreme summer weather events, since previous research had focused on the links between Arctic warming and fall and winter weather patterns. ...


What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic!

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Sun, Dec 1, 2013
from Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
Researchers say Arctic Ocean leaking methane at an alarming rate
FAIRBANKS -- Ounce for ounce, methane has an effect on global warming more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and it's leaking from the Arctic Ocean at an alarming rate, according to new research by scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Their article, which appeared last week in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience, states that the Arctic Ocean is releasing methane at a rate more than twice what scientific models had previously anticipated. ...


There's no plugging this leak.

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Fri, Nov 29, 2013
from American Institute of Physics :
Glaciers Sizzle as They Disappear Into Warmer Water
Scientists have recorded and identified one of the most prominent sounds of a warming planet: the sizzle of glacier ice as it melts into the sea. The noise, caused by trapped air bubbles squirting out of the disappearing ice, could provide clues to the rate of glacier melt and help researchers better monitor the fast-changing polar environments. ...


Played backward, this recorded sizzle sounds like whispering aliens.

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Tue, Nov 26, 2013
from University of Alaska Fairbanks, via EurekAlert:
Study: Arctic seafloor methane releases double previous estimates
The seafloor off the coast of Northern Siberia is releasing more than twice the amount of methane as previously estimated, according to new research results published in the Nov. 24 edition of the journal Nature Geoscience. The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is venting at least 17 teragrams of the methane into the atmosphere each year. A teragram is equal to 1 million tons. "It is now on par with the methane being released from the arctic tundra, which is considered to be one of the major sources of methane in the Northern Hemisphere," said Natalia Shakhova, one of the paper's lead authors and a scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. "Increased methane releases in this area are a possible new climate-change-driven factor that will strengthen over time."... ...


I'm making mine a double, too.

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Wed, Nov 20, 2013
from INRS :
Global Warming in the Canadian Arctic
Ph.D. student Karita Negandhi and professor Isabelle Laurion from INRS'Eau Terre Environnement Research Centre, in collaboration with other Canadian, U.S., and French researchers, have been studying methane emissions produced by thawing permafrost in the Canadian Arctic. These emissions are greatly underestimated in current climate models. Their findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, illustrate the importance of taking into account greenhouse gases emitted by small thaw ponds, as they could have a significant impact on climate."We discovered that although the small shallow ponds we studied represent only 44 percent of the water-covered surface in a Bylot Island valley, they generate 83 percent of its methane emissions," notes water sciences doctoral student Karita Negandhi. ...


I have long maintained the small thaw ponds would get us in the end.

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Wed, Nov 20, 2013
from London Guardian:
Arctic oil spill is certain if drilling goes ahead, says top scientist
A serious oil spill in the Arctic is a "dead cert" if drilling goes ahead, with potentially devastating consequences for the pristine region, according to a leading marine scientist who played a key role in analysis of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The warning came as Russia filed court orders this week to have Greenpeace activists and journalists kept in prison for a further three months in prison before their trial over a protest at Arctic oil dirlling. Concerns about the potentially dire consequences of drilling for oil in the region have intensified as the Russian government and others have begun exploration under the Arctic seas. In such a cold region, any spill would be much more troublesome, because the oil would not naturally disperse as it does in warmer waters, and because of the difficulty of mounting a clean-up operation in hostile weather conditions. ...


Imagine... A polar bear covered in oil.

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Tue, Nov 19, 2013
from Planet Ark:
Russian court bails two of 30 Greenpeace protesters
A Russian medic and a freelance journalist who were among 30 people arrested for a Greenpeace protest against offshore Arctic drilling were granted bail on Monday in a case that has drawn fierce criticism abroad. Colin Russell, an Australian, was denied bail by a separate court earlier on Monday. He was a radio operator on the Arctic Sunrise, the Greenpeace ship used for the September 28 protest. Western leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel have expressed concern to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the case and Western celebrities have voiced support for the Greenpeace campaigners. Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney has asked Putin to help secure their release. The 30 arrested over the protest, in which activists tried to scale the offshore Prirazlomnaya oil rig that is crucial to Russia's drive to tap Arctic energy resources, face up to seven years in jail if convicted of hooliganism. ...


Working for Mother Earth is serious business.

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Mon, Nov 18, 2013
from Science Daily:
Volcano Discovered Smoldering Under a Kilometer of Ice in West Antarctica: Heat May Increase Rate of Ice Loss
... In the meantime, automated-event-detection software was put to work to comb the data for anything unusual. When it found two bursts of seismic events between January 2010 and March 2011, Wiens' PhD student Amanda Lough looked more closely to see what was rattling the continent's bones.... Will the eruptions punch through a kilometer or more of ice above it? The scientists calculated that an enormous eruption, one that released a thousand times more energy than the typical eruption, would be necessary to breach the ice above the volcano. On the other hand a subglacial eruption and the accompanying heat flow will melt a lot of ice. "The volcano will create millions of gallons of water beneath the ice -- many lakes full," says Wiens. This water will rush beneath the ice towards the sea and feed into the hydrological catchment of the MacAyeal Ice Stream, one of several major ice streams draining ice from Marie Byrd Land into the Ross Ice Shelf. By lubricating the bedrock, it will speed the flow of the overlying ice, perhaps increasing the rate of ice-mass loss in West Antarctica. "We weren't expecting to find anything like this," Wiens says. ...


If Antarctica belches a volcano, and nobody hears it, we can act as if that nothing happened at all.

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Thu, Nov 14, 2013
from The Independent:
Giant Antarctic iceberg 'could pose hazard to shipping lanes', scientists warn
A giant Antarctic iceberg has broken free of the continent and could be about to drift into busy international shipping lanes, a team of British scientists has warned ... 700 square kilometres (270 square miles) of ice - around eight times the size of Manhattan or the equivalent of Singapore.... Prof Bigg said the crack hadn't been enough in itself to allow the berg to break away over winter because it had stayed "iced-in". "But in the last couple of days, it has begun to break away and now a kilometre or two of clear water has developed between it and the glacier," he told BBC News.... "... they can either go eastwards along the coast or they can... circle out into the main part of the Southern Ocean."... This would take it into the path of one of the world's busiest international shipping lanes, and trigger hazard warnings via a number of observation agencies. ...


Thank God this economy is unsinkable!

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Tue, Nov 5, 2013
from London Guardian:
Polar bear attacks: scientists warn of fresh dangers in warming Arctic
A polar bear attack in Canada that left two people injured has brought new warnings from scientists of a dangerous rise in human-bear encounters in a warming Arctic. The friends had just walked out of the door in the pre-dawn hours after a party when the young polar bear crept up behind them, unheard and unseen. By the time, the bear was driven off by neighbours wielding a shovel, banging pots and pans, and firing multiple rounds from a shotgun, two people were badly mauled: the young woman who was the original target of the attack and an older male neighbour who tried to come to her rescue....It has also prompted new warnings from scientists of the rising risks of human-polar bear encounters because of climate change, with starving bears coming off the ice and onto land looking for food. ...


For hungry bears, people are just a drive thru window.

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Wed, Oct 16, 2013
from Reuters:
Icebergs, insurance hamper Arctic shipping route opened by climate change
The new shipping route opened up through the Arctic by climate change will not be crowded any time soon. Cargoes of coal, diesel and gas have made the trip but high insurance costs, slow going and strict environmental rules mean there will not be a rush to follow them. Looser ice means icebergs. One vessel has already been holed, and large ice breaking vessels, not always on hand, are a must. ...


Some days, you just gotta root for the icebergs.

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Mon, Sep 30, 2013
from NewScientist:
Climate report: Lull in warming doesn't mean we're safe
Humanity's role in driving climate change is more certain than ever before, but the most extreme scenarios of future warming are looking less likely than a few years ago. This is the upshot of the latest scientific assessment from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published today.... The new report leaves no doubt that a storm is brewing. It is unequivocal -- temperatures are rising and human activity is to blame. Without drastic action to curb emissions, it says, the world faces a century of strong warming, in which glaciers and ice sheets melt, sea levels rise, the oceans acidify, weather systems shift and rainfall patterns change.... this stark warning will be sidelined by the scientific conundrum over the "missing heat" that should, according to most climate models, have been warming the atmosphere ever faster these past few decades. This may be a short-term blip -- perhaps a result of the oceans temporarily taking up more heat from the atmosphere, says one of the IPCC's lead authors, Myles Allen of the University of Oxford. The report underlines that, whatever is happening to the atmosphere, the oceans continue to warm dramatically. ...


Damn you, ocean, for trying to save us all.

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Mon, Sep 30, 2013
from Associated Press:
Big freighter traverses Northwest Passage for 1st time
A large freighter completed a voyage through the hazardous Arctic Northwest Passage for the first time this week, showing the potential for cutting shipment times and costs as global warming opens new routes. The 75,000 deadweight-ton Nordic Orion, built in 2011 by a Japanese shipyard, left the Canadian Pacific port of Vancouver in early September and is scheduled to arrive in the Finnish port of Pori on October 7, according to AIS shipping data.... As the ice continues to melt, some experts have estimated that shipping via the Arctic could account for a quarter of the cargo traffic between Europe and Asia by 2030. ...


Let the feeding frenzy begin...

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Thu, Sep 19, 2013
from London Guardian:
Arctic sea ice shrinks to sixth-lowest extent on record
Sea ice cover in the Arctic has shrunk to one of its smallest extents on record, bringing the days of an entirely ice-free Arctic during the summer a step closer. The annual sea ice minimum of 5,099m sq km reached last Friday was not as extreme as last year, when the collapse of ice cover broke all previous records. But it was still the sixth lowest Arctic sea ice minimum on record, and well below the average set over the past 30 years of satellite records. ...


The Awesome Global Meltfest continues!

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Mon, Sep 16, 2013
from University of Bristol :
Achilles' Heel of Ice Shelves Is Beneath the Water, Scientists Reveal
New research has revealed that more ice leaves Antarctica by melting from the underside of submerged ice shelves than was previously thought, accounting for as much as 90 per cent of ice loss in some areas. Iceberg production and melting causes 2,800 cubic kilometres of ice to leave the Antarctic ice sheet every year. Most of this is replaced by snowfall but any imbalance contributes to a change in global sea level. For many decades, experts have believed that the most important process responsible for this huge loss was iceberg calving -- the breaking off of chunks of ice at the edge of a glacier. New research [shows] sub-shelf melting has as large an impact as iceberg calving for Antarctica as a whole and for some areas is far more important. ...


Silent, unseen and deadly.

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Sun, Sep 15, 2013
from PLoS One, via ScienceDaily:
Unprecedented Rate and Scale of Ocean Acidification Found in the Arctic
Acidification of the Arctic Ocean is occurring faster than projected, according to new findings published in the journal PLoS ONE. The increase in rate is being blamed on rapidly melting sea ice, a process that may have important consequences for health of the Arctic ecosystem.... The new research shows that acidification in surface waters of the Arctic Ocean is rapidly expanding into areas that were previously isolated from contact with the atmosphere due to the former widespread ice cover. "A remarkable 20 percent of the Canadian Basin has become more corrosive to carbonate minerals in an unprecedented short period of time. Nowhere on Earth have we documented such large scale, rapid ocean acidification" according to lead researcher and ocean acidification project chief, U.S. Geological Survey oceanographer Lisa Robbins.... "Not only is the ice cover removed leaving the surface water exposed to human-made carbon dioxide, the surface layer of frigid waters is now fresher, and this means less calcium and carbonate ions are available for organisms." ...


Kinda stands to reason: there ain't no ocean icidification going on!

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Fri, Aug 30, 2013
from The Independent:
It holds enough water to raise sea levels 50 metres, but East Antarctica ice sheet is even more unstable than we thought
Declassified images from spy satellites going back 50 years have revealed that the coastal glaciers and floating sea ice of Antarctica are more susceptible to air and sea temperatures than previously supposed, the researchers found. The images, which cover thousands of miles of East Antarctic's coastline and include measurements of 175 glaciers, show there is rapid and synchronised melting and freezing when local temperatures increase or fall, according to the study published in Nature.... "It was a big surprise therefore to see rapid and synchronous changes in advance and retreat, but it made perfect sense when we looked at the climate and sea-ice data. When it was warm and the sea-ice decreased, most glaciers retreated, but when it was cooler and the sea ice increased, the glaciers advanced," Dr Stokes said ...


Warning ahead! Antarctica may answer to the laws of thermodynamics!

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Sat, Aug 3, 2013
from William Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, WiIliam Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman, in NYT:
A Republican Case for Climate Action
Each of us took turns over the past 43 years running the Environmental Protection Agency. We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally. There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth's atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected. The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes "locked in." ...


Who listens to old politicos, anyway?

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Fri, Aug 2, 2013
from Blue and Green Tomorrow:
Greenland experiences 'record high' temperatures
Greenland - 80 percent of which is ice - experienced its highest temperature since records began on Wednesday. The new record, 25.9C (78.6F), was measured at Maniitoq Mittarfia near Baffin Bay on the west coast. The previous high was 25.5C (77.9F) at Kangerlussuaq in July 1990, with records dating back to 1958. Scientists have previously calculated that if the annual average temperature in Greenland increases by 3C (5.4F), its ice sheet will begin to melt at an abnormal and potentially catastrophic rate.... NSIDC scientist Walt Meier said, "By itself it's just a number, and occasionally records are going to get set. ...


Isn't "occasional" supposed to mean "not very often"?

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Wed, Jul 24, 2013
from BBC:
Arctic methane 'time bomb' could have huge economic costs
Scientists say that the release of large amounts of methane from thawing permafrost in the Arctic could have huge economic impacts for the world. The researchers estimate that the climate effects of the release of this gas could cost $60 trillion..., roughly the size of the global economy in 2012.... Previous work has shown that the diminishing ice cover in the East Siberian sea is allowing the waters to warm and the methane to leach out. Scientists have found plumes of the gas up to a kilometre in diameter rising from these waters. ...


A trillion or two could put up a lot of solar panels.

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Wed, Jul 24, 2013
from LiveScience.com:
North Pole Now a Lake
Instead of snow and ice whirling on the wind, a foot-deep aquamarine lake now sloshes around a webcam stationed at the North Pole. The meltwater lake started forming July 13, following two weeks of warm weather in the high Arctic. In early July, temperatures were 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 3 degrees Celsius) higher than average over much of the Arctic Ocean, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center. Meltwater ponds sprout more easily on young, thin ice, which now accounts for more than half of the Arctic's sea ice. The ponds link up across the smooth surface of the ice, creating a network that traps heat from the sun. Thick and wrinkly multi-year ice, which has survived more than one freeze-thaw season, is less likely sport a polka-dot network of ponds because of its rough, uneven surface. ...


I'm pretty sure I remember when "young and thin" was good thing.

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Tue, Jul 23, 2013
from PhysOrg:
Sea level rise: New iceberg theory points to areas at risk of rapid disintegration
In events that could exacerbate sea level rise over the coming decades, stretches of ice on the coasts of Antarctica and Greenland are at risk of rapidly cracking apart and falling into the ocean, according to new iceberg calving simulations from the University of Michigan. "If this starts to happen and we're right, we might be closer to the higher end of sea level rise estimates for the next 100 years," said Jeremy Bassis, assistant professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences at the U-M College of Engineering, and first author of a paper on the new model published in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.... "Essentially, everything is driven by gravity," Bassis said. "We identified a critical threshold of one kilometer where it seems like everything should break up. You can think of it in terms of a kid building a tower. The taller the tower is, the more unstable it gets."... ...


Thank goodness it's not my Lego!

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Fri, Jun 14, 2013
from NASA:
Is a Sleeping 'Climate Giant' Stirring in the Arctic?
...Over hundreds of millennia, Arctic permafrost soils have accumulated vast stores of organic carbon - an estimated 1,400 to 1,850 petagrams of it (a petagram is 2.2 trillion pounds, or 1 billion metric tons). That's about half of all the estimated organic carbon stored in Earth's soils. In comparison, about 350 petagrams of carbon have been emitted from all fossil-fuel combustion and human activities since 1850. Most of this carbon is located in thaw-vulnerable topsoils within 10 feet (3 meters) of the surface.... "Permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures - as much as 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius) in just the past 30 years," Miller said. "As heat from Earth's surface penetrates into permafrost, it threatens to mobilize these organic carbon reservoirs and release them into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, upsetting the Arctic's carbon balance and greatly exacerbating global warming."... If climate change causes the Arctic to get warmer and drier, scientists expect most of the carbon to be released as carbon dioxide. If it gets warmer and wetter, most will be in the form of methane. The distinction is critical. Molecule per molecule, methane is 22 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide on a 100-year timescale, and 105 times more potent on a 20-year timescale. ...


Nothing stinks up the joint like melting permafrost.

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Mon, May 27, 2013
from Washington Post:
Russia to pack up Arctic ice station after cracks develop in ice floe
Russia is evacuating a drifting Arctic research station that was supposed to last until September, because the ice it is built on is starting to break up. The cracks are another indication of the rapid decline of the Arctic ice sheet -- especially so because the encampment is on the Canadian side of the Arctic Sea, where the ice is oldest and most durable.... In years past, drift stations have remained in operation for 12 months or longer, with the exception of 2010, when an early breakup also caused a premature evacuation. One station in the Soviet era, called North Pole-22, was launched Sept. 13, 1973, and stayed in service until April 8, 1982. ...


Don'tcha just hate it when unexpected cracks appear in the fundament?

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Mon, May 20, 2013
from University of Colorado at Boulder:
World's Melting Glaciers Making Large Contribution to Sea Rise
While 99 percent of Earth's land ice is locked up in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the remaining ice in the world's glaciers contributed just as much to sea rise as the two ice sheets combined from 2003 to 2009, says a new study led by Clark University and involving the University Colorado Boulder. The new research found that all glacial regions lost mass from 2003 to 2009, with the biggest ice losses occurring in Arctic Canada, Alaska, coastal Greenland, the southern Andes and the Himalayas. ...


This loss of mass is likely responsible for the growing obesity epidemic.

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Wed, May 15, 2013
from Scientific American:
Climate Change Has Shifted the Location of the North and South Poles
Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, report that increased melting of the Greenland ice sheet -- and to a lesser degree, ice loss in other parts of the globe -- helped to shift the North Pole several centimeters east each year since 2005. "There was a big change," says lead author Jianli Chen, a geophysicist. From 1982 to 2005, the pole drifted southeast toward northern Labrador, Canada, at a rate of about 2 milliarcseconds --or roughly 6 centimetres -- per year. But in 2005, the pole changed course and began galloping east toward Greenland at a rate of more than 7 milliarcseconds per year.... Chen estimates that data on polar shifts goes back roughly a century, well before the advent of Earth-monitoring satellites. "We don't have a long record of measuring the polar ice sheet," he says. "But for polar motion, we have a long record." ...


Humans have long since lost track of true north.

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Mon, May 6, 2013
from BBC:
Arctic Ocean 'acidifying rapidly'
Scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) monitored widespread changes in ocean chemistry in the region.... It is well known that CO2 warms the planet, but less well-known that it also makes the alkaline seas more acidic when it is absorbed from the air. Absorption is particularly fast in cold water so the Arctic is especially susceptible, and the recent decreases in summer sea ice have exposed more sea surface to atmospheric CO2. ...


Thank goodness the Arctic is heating up!

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Mon, Apr 15, 2013
from Reuters:
Scientists find Antarctic ice is melting faster
The summer ice melt in parts of Antarctica is at its highest level in 1,000 years, Australian and British researchers reported on Monday, adding new evidence of the impact of global warming on sensitive Antarctic glaciers and ice shelves. Researchers from the Australian National University and the British Antarctic Survey found data taken from an ice core also shows the summer ice melt has been 10 times more intense over the past 50 years compared with 600 years ago. ...


Antarctic: the other melting Arctic.

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Tue, Mar 26, 2013
from London Guardian:
Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss
Climate scientists have linked the massive snowstorms and bitter spring weather now being experienced across Britain and large parts of Europe and North America to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice. Both the extent and the volume of the sea ice that forms and melts each year in the Arctic Ocean fell to an historic low last autumn, and satellite records published on Monday by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, show the ice extent is close to the minimum recorded for this time of year.... the Arctic ice loss adds heat to the ocean and atmosphere which shifts the position of the jet stream -- the high-altitude river of air that steers storm systems and governs most weather in northern hemisphere. ...


So you're saying there's no benefit at all from global warming???

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Tue, Mar 19, 2013
from London Guardian:
China pours cash into melting Arctic in bid to win influence
At face value, it is not one of the world's most important relationships. When Norway and China fell out two years ago over a Nobel prize awarded to a Chinese dissident, the spat had little wider resonance. But diplomatic relations are thawing as quickly as Arctic ice â€" and the upshot could be significant for the frigid northern wastes of the planet, which are thought to sit on formidable quantities of mineral reserves. China has been cosying up to Arctic countries as part of its effort to secure "permanent observer" status on the Arctic Council, an eight-country political body that decides regional policy. Norway was initially sniffy at the approaches because of the Nobel row, but appears to have changed its tune before a formal decision in May. ...


It's Norway or the highway!

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Tue, Mar 12, 2013
from American Geophysical Union:
Canadian Arctic Glacier Melt Accelerating, Irreversible, Projections Suggest
...In the past few years, the mass of the glaciers in the Canadian Arctic archipelago has begun to plummet. Observations from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites suggest that from 2004 to 2011 the region's glaciers shed approximately 580 gigatons of ice. Aside from glacier calving, which plays only a small role in Canadian glacier mass loss, the drop is due largely to a shift in the surface-mass balance, with warming-induced meltwater runoff outpacing the accumulation of new snowfall. ...


What's a giggleton?

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Mon, Mar 11, 2013
from Boston University College of Arts & Sciences :
Amplified Greenhouse Effect Shaping North Into South
An international team of 21 authors from 17 institutions in seven countries has just published a study in the journal Natural Climate Change showing that, as the cover of snow and ice in the northern latitudes has diminished in recent years, the temperature over the northern land mass has increased at different rates during the four seasons, causing a reduction in temperature and vegetation seasonality in this area. In other words, the temperature and vegetation at northern latitudes increasingly resembles those found several degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 30 years ago. ...


We humans like to mix it up!

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Mon, Mar 11, 2013
from Earth Policy Institute:
Where Has All the Ice Gone?
... In September 2012, sea ice in the Arctic Ocean shrank to a record low extent and volume. The region has warmed two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 1960s -- twice as much as lower latitudes. With less snow and ice to reflect the sun's rays and with more exposed ocean to absorb heat, a vicious cycle leads to even warmer temperatures. Thinner ice combined with rising temperatures makes it increasingly difficult for the sea ice to recover. The historically ever-present white cap at the top of the globe could disappear entirely during the summer within two decades...Greenland's ice loss has accelerated from 51 billion tons per year in the 1990s to 263 billion tons per year today... parts of Antarctica's vast ice sheet may be even less stable. The continent is flanked by 54 major ice shelves, which act as brakes slowing the movement of ice in land-based glaciers out to sea. Twenty of them show signs of thinning and weakening, which translates into accelerated ice loss. ...


The air conditioner of the planet is turning into a space heater!

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Tue, Mar 5, 2013
from PNAS, via PhysOrg:
Global warming will open unexpected new shipping routes in Arctic, researchers find
"The development is both exciting from an economic development point of view and worrisome in terms of safety, both for the Arctic environment and for the ships themselves," said lead researcher Laurence C. Smith, a professor of geography at UCLA. The findings, which explore accessibility during the Arctic's most navigable month of the year, September, appear in the latest issue of the scholarly journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Plus. The first thorough assessment of trans-Arctic shipping potential as global temperatures continue to rise, the study is based on independent climate forecasts for the years 2040 to 2059. By mid-century, even ordinary shipping vessels will be able to navigate previously inaccessible parts of the Arctic Ocean, and they will not need icebreakers to blaze their path as they do today, the researchers found. "We're talking about a future in which open-water vessels will, at least during some years, be able to navigate unescorted through the Arctic, which at the moment is inconceivable," said co-author Scott R. Stephenson, a Ph.D. candidate in the UCLA Department of Geography. ...


Inconceivable?

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Mon, Mar 4, 2013
from Indiana Living Green:
To engineer the climate, or not to engineer the climate
... For those paying attention to the positive feedback mechanism occurring in the Arctic, this few tenths of a degree rise is unstoppable -- and, imminent. The ice melt in the Arctic is suffering a feedback loop. The more the ice melts, the more the sunlight warms the water, instead of bouncing off the ice back into the atmosphere. The warmer the water, the less ice forms; the less ice forms, the easier it is to melt, thus warming the water, diminishing the ice and warming the water, ad infinitum. Or, shall I say, sad infinitum. Cooling off the planet right now seems to me to be a prudent course of action, except that we don't know what unintended consequences may result from SRM or any act of geoengineering. ...


Has 'Doc Jim gone mad?

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Mon, Feb 25, 2013
from New Scientist:
Major methane release is almost inevitable
We are on the cusp of a tipping point in the climate. If the global climate warms another few tenths of a degree, a large expanse of the Siberian permafrost will start to melt uncontrollably. The result: a significant amount of extra greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, and a threat -- ironically -- to the infrastructure that carries natural gas from Russia to Europe. The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet, and climatologists have long warned that this will cause positive feedbacks that will speed up climate change further. The region is home to enormous stores of organic carbon, mostly in the form of permafrost soils and icy clathrates that trap methane -- a powerful greenhouse gas that could escape into the atmosphere. ...


There is no I in methane.

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Tue, Feb 19, 2013
from Reuters:
Arctic needs protection from resource rush as ice melts: U.N. body
The Arctic needs to be better protected from a rush for natural resources as melting ice makes mineral and energy exploration easier, the United Nations' Environment Programme (UNEP) said..."What we are seeing is that the melting of ice is prompting a rush for exactly the fossil fuel resources that fuelled the melt in the first place," said Achim Steiner, U.N. Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director. ...


Irony? ...or tragedy?

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Wed, Feb 13, 2013
from Associated Press:
Shell will repair rigs in Asia, possibly delaying Arctic work
After dedicating nearly eight years and $5 billion to the quest, Shell's plans to continue hunting for Arctic oil this summer are in jeopardy, as company officials on Monday confirmed they will tow two drilling units to Asian dry docks for repairs. Although Shell Oil said the firm has not ruled out drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska this summer, it appears unlikely the vessels will be able to make the two-to-four-week treks to those Asian ports, undergo repairs, clear U.S. inspections and return to those Arctic waters in time for the drilling season that begins in July. ...


By the following summer, it will be smooth sailing in the Arctic.

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Wed, Jan 9, 2013
from Live Science:
Arctic Snow Cover Shows Steep Decline
The blanket of snow that covers Arctic regions for most of the year has been shrinking at an increasing pace over the past decade, researchers say. A recent study found an overall decrease in Arctic snow-cover extent (snow that covers the Arctic at the end of the spring) from 1967 through 2012, and an acceleration of snow loss after the year 2003. The rate of snow-cover loss in June between 1979 and 2012 was 17.6 percent per decade (relative to the 1979-2000 mean), which is greater than the rate of September sea-ice decline during that same period, the researchers say....The link between snow-cover and sea-ice extent is not completely understood. "But if you remove snow cover earlier, you're creating the potential to send warmer air out over the ocean. It can't be good for sea ice if you lose the snow early," study researcher Chris Derksen, a cryosphere scientist at Environment Canada in Toronto... ...


At this point I suggest we stop paying attention to the Arctic!

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Tue, Jan 1, 2013
from New York Times:
Light Absorption Speeding Arctic Ice Melt
The record-setting disappearance of Arctic sea ice this fall was an indication to many climate scientists and ice experts that the pace of climate change was outstripping predictions. Now a new study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters provides a look at a dynamic that may further accelerate the process: the rate at which the ocean underneath the ice absorbs sunlight ... the more the ice melts in late summer, the more first-year ice replaces multiyear ice, and the warmer the ocean beneath the ice becomes, accelerating the melting process. ...


This feedback loop is insatiable.

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Tue, Jan 1, 2013
from London Guardian:
2012: the year we did our best to abandon the natural world
It was the year of living dangerously. In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half-century. Three weeks before the minimum occurred, the melting of the Arctic's sea ice broke the previous record. Remnants of the global megafauna -- such as rhinos and bluefin tuna -- were shoved violently towards extinction. Novel tree diseases raged across continents. Bird and insect numbers continued to plummet, coral reefs retreated, marine life dwindled. And those charged with protecting us and the world in which we live pretended that none of it was happening. ...


Who'd want to be in charge of this ecotastrophe?

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Sun, Dec 23, 2012
from BBC:
West Antarctic Ice Sheet warming twice earlier estimate
A new analysis of temperature records indicates that the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is warming nearly twice as fast as previously thought. US researchers say they found the first evidence of warming during the southern hemisphere's summer months. They are worried that the increased melting of ice as a result of warmer temperatures could contribute to sea-level rise.... The results indicate an increase of 2.4C in average annual temperature between 1958 and 2010. "What we're seeing is one of the strongest warming signals on Earth," says Andrew Monaghan, a co-author and scientist at the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research.... "The fact that temperatures are rising in the summer means there's a prospect of WAIS not only being melted from the bottom as we know it is today, but in future it looks probable that it will be melting from the top as well," he said. ...


C'mon, Anti-arctica, willya stop being so darned positive!

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Wed, Dec 19, 2012
from London Guardian:
'Climate change is taking place before our eyes' — the weather of 2012
When in September the Arctic sea ice that freezes and melts each year shrank to its lowest extent ever recorded and then contracted a further 500,000 sq km, the small world of ice scientists was shocked. This was unprecedented, yet there was nothing unusual about the meteorological conditions in the Arctic in 2012, no vast storms to break up the ice, or heatwave to hasten the retreat. Only widespread warming of the atmosphere could have been responsible for less ice growth during the winter and more ice melt during the summer, the scientists concluded. It was, said the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), just one of dozens of major physical events in 2012 that convinced many people that the extremes have become normal. ...


But I don't want to look.

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Mon, Dec 3, 2012
from The Globe and Mail:
Marine industries beware: Ice islands dead ahead
... Recent years have produced a wave of ice islands. Researchers tracking the giant formations have tabulated roughly 1,000 square kilometres that have broken free from Greenland and Canada's Arctic islands. At a time when new research suggests the Greenland ice sheet is melting five times faster than in the 1990s -- and roughly a quarter of that is in the form of icebergs, according to the Swiss Federal Research Institute -- a frozen area the size of Hong Kong is wandering south, breaking into hundreds and thousands of smaller bits, some too small to be seen by ship radar, as they drift. That volume of ice stands to present hazards to marine industries along Canada's northern and eastern coasts for years to come, researchers are now warning. Ice islands, especially if they stay in northern latitudes, can last for decades as they slowly splinter apart, so the potential for problems is a lengthy one. ...


Pack plenty of dynamite!

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Thu, Nov 29, 2012
from Sydney Morning Herald:
At the edge of disaster
THE world is on the cusp of a "tipping point" into dangerous climate change, according to new data gathered by scientists measuring methane leaking from the Arctic permafrost and a report presented to the United Nations on Tuesday. "The permafrost carbon feedback is irreversible on human time scales," says the report, Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost. "Overall, these observations indicate that large-scale thawing of permafrost may already have started." ...


D'oha!

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Thu, Nov 29, 2012
from Associated Press:
Arctic sea ice larger than US melted this year
An area of Arctic sea ice bigger than the United States melted this year, according the U.N. weather agency, which said the dramatic decline illustrates that climate change is happening "before our eyes." In a report released at U.N. climate talks in the Qatari capital of Doha, the World Meteorological Organization said the Arctic ice melt was one of a myriad of extreme and record-breaking weather events to hit the planet in 2012. Droughts devastated nearly two-thirds of the United States as well western Russia and southern Europe. Floods swamped west Africa and heat waves left much of the Northern Hemisphere sweltering. ...


Ain't nothin' bigger'n the United States.

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Wed, Nov 21, 2012
from Discovery Channel:
Greenland Loses 200 Billion Tons Ice Per Year
Glacier-covered Greenland has had an average net loss of 200 billion tons of ice every year since 2003, confirm scientists who are studying the changing mass of the island using satellite data. The latest analysis backs up the previously reported trend without even including the last two summers of record-breaking ice melts. "Greenland is really the place where everyone agrees that (the ice melt) is definitely accelerating with time and there is a big contribution to sea level rise," said researcher Isabella Velicogna of the University of California at Irvine (UCI). Just how much is 200 billion tons of ice? Roughly, it's the amount needed to fill enough railroad coal cars to encircle the Earth 800 times. ...


Where's my bucket?

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Sat, Nov 10, 2012
from Foreign Policy:
The Arctic is the Mediterranean of the 21st century.
If climate scientists' prophesies of an ice-free Arctic Ocean pan out, the world will witness the most sweeping transformation of geopolitics since the Panama Canal opened. Seafaring nations and industries will react assertively -- as they did when merchantmen and ships of war sailing from Atlantic seaports no longer had to circumnavigate South America to reach the Pacific Ocean. There are commercial, constabulary, and military components to this enterprise. The United States must position itself at the forefront of polar sea power along all three axes.... Former U.S. Navy chief oceanographer David Titley estimates that "sometime between 2035 and 2040 there is a pretty good chance that the Arctic Ocean will be essentially ice-free for about a month" each year. If so, polar shipping lanes will cut transit distances by up to 40 percent, saving ship owners big bucks on fuel and maintenance. They could pass those savings on to producers and consumers of the cargo their vessels carry. Global warming, it appears, could bestow significant advantages on mariners, fostering economic growth in the bargain. New sources of wealth concentrate minds. ...


Makin' lemonade from a foetid lemon!

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Tue, Nov 6, 2012
from Reuters:
Insight: Great expectations fill Greenland as China eyes riches
...With global warming thawing its Arctic sea lanes, and global industry eyeing minerals under this barren island a quarter the size of the United States, the 57,000 Greenlanders are wrestling with opportunities that offer rich rewards but risk harming a pristine environment and a traditional society that is trying to make its own way in the world after centuries of European rule. Great expectations could lead to greater disappointments, for locals and investors. Yet a scramble for Greenland already may be under way, in which some see China trying to exploit the icebound territory as a staging ground in a global battle for Arctic resources and strategic control of new shipping routes. ...


We just can't leave anything alone.

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Tue, Nov 6, 2012
from CTV:
Three men in a sailboat: Adventurers complete historic trip through Northwest Passage
A Canadian-led group of eco-adventurers has returned home after achieving a historic first, successfully completing the most northern crossing of the Arctic Circle ever accomplished by a sailboat.... Peissel and two other crewmen successfully navigated a 31-foot fiberglass sailboat through the McClure Strait, travelling from Greenland to Alaska over a three-month period. The route has only been completed once before, in 1991, by a Russian icebreaker -- and never by a purely wind-powered vessel with no reinforcements for dealing with the ever-present ice. ...


The sailboat's name? "Natural Variation."

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Mon, Nov 5, 2012
from Kitchener Record:
Spring snow pack in the Arctic disappearing fast, Environment Canada warns
The spring snow pack in the Arctic is disappearing at a much faster rate than anticipated even by climate change models, says a new study by Environment Canada researchers. That has implications for wildlife, vegetation and ground temperatures, say the scientists, who looked at four decades of snow data for the Canadian Arctic and beyond. Combined with recent news that the Arctic sea ice retreated to an all-time low this summer, it suggests climate change may be happening much faster than expected, said Dr. Chris Derksen, a research scientist for Environment Canada and one of the study's authors. ...


Seems our response to faster than expected events is slower than hoped for.

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Mon, Nov 5, 2012
from Geological Society of America:
Why Seas Are Rising Ahead of Predictions: Estimates of Rate of Future Sea-Level Rise May Be Too Low
Sea levels are rising faster than expected from global warming, and University of Colorado geologist Bill Hay has a good idea why. The last official IPCC report in 2007 projected a global sea level rise between 0.2 and 0.5 meters by the year 2100. But current sea-level rise measurements meet or exceed the high end of that range and suggest a rise of one meter or more by the end of the century. "What's missing from the models used to forecast sea-level rise are critical feedbacks that speed everything up," says Hay... One of those feedbacks involves Arctic sea ice, another the Greenland ice cap, and another soil moisture and groundwater mining. ...


Feedbacks will eat us up!

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Thu, Nov 1, 2012
from PhysOrg:
Not-so-permanent permafrost
As much as 44 billion tons of nitrogen and 850 billion tons of carbon stored in arctic permafrost, or frozen ground, could be released into the environment as the region begins to thaw over the next century as a result of a warmer planet according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey. This nitrogen and carbon are likely to impact ecosystems, the atmosphere, and water resources including rivers and lakes. For context, this is roughly the amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere today.... "While the permafrost of the polar latitudes may seem distant and disconnected from the daily activities of most of us, its potential to alter the planet's habitability when destabilized is very real." ...


As we said in 2008, "It turns out permafrost ain't so perma, after all."

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Wed, Oct 24, 2012
from The Telegraph:
Australia's Antarctic airstrip melts
Researchers said global warming has caused the glacial ice on the runway to turn to mush just four years after it was built for about 30 million pounds. It was due to receive about 20 flights each summer but only six have been able to land in the past two years. The runway was supposed to service Australia's three stations on the continent, Casey, Davis and Mawson. The stations can also be supplied via an American runway or by ships, which take about a fortnight to arrive from Tasmania. The flights take less than five hours. The Australian Antarctic Division said global warming was causing the ice to melt faster than had been expected. Six flights are due to land on the runway in the coming months but none will be permitted in January. ...


Hold the de-icing! Stat!

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Mon, Oct 1, 2012
from The Earth Institute at Columbia University :
High-Arctic Heat Tops 1,800-Year High, Says Study; Modern Spike Outmatches Naturally Driven 'Medieval Warm Period'
Summers on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard are now warmer than at any other time in the last 1,800 years, including during medieval times when parts of the northern hemisphere were as hot as, or hotter, than today, according to a new study in the journal Geology... The naturally driven Medieval Warm Period, from about 950 to 1250, has been a favorite time for people who deny evidence that humans are heating the planet with industrial greenhouse gases. But the climate reconstruction from Svalbard casts new doubt on that era's reach, and undercuts skeptics who argue that current warming is also natural. ...


I am svo svad about this.

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Mon, Oct 1, 2012
from London Guardian:
US polar bear researcher cleared of scientific misconduct
The Obama administration has wound up its controversial investigation of a government polar bear researcher without finding any evidence of scientific wrongdoing, campaign groups said late Friday... The investigation was launched in March 2010 just as Obama announced he would open up the Arctic to offshore drilling and expand oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. ...


While we fiddled with this, polar bears went up in flames.

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Sun, Sep 23, 2012
from New York Times:
Greenland's 'Ice Quakes' May Set a Record
One of the more amazing facts about the ongoing destruction of the Greenland ice sheet is that it is producing earthquakes that can be detected worldwide. Now, fresh evidence is at hand to show that these "ice quakes" are spreading to previously quiescent parts of Greenland. We're only in September, but it seems increasingly likely that 2012 will set a record for such quakes.... The striking thing about this paper is the evidence that glacial earthquakes, and the ice loss they represent, have spread to one of the coldest parts of Greenland, in the far northwest. From 2000 to 2010, 66 glacial earthquakes occurred at northwestern glaciers that in previous decades had produced virtually none. The paper describes this as "a major expansion in the number of glaciers producing glacial earthquakes and the geographic range of those glaciers." ...


If I was a quake, I'd be moving north too!

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Thu, Sep 20, 2012
from Think Progress:
Republican Meterologist To Romney: Top 10 Reasons The GOP Needs To Accept The Climate Reality
...As a Republican business owner, entrepreneur, meteorologist and father of two upbeat, optimistic boys, I may not fit the stereotype of a "global warming alarmist.” I'm an Evangelical Christian. I'm enthusiastic about streamlining government and letting the markets work. But unlike some, I see no inherent struggle between my faith and the ability of science to improve our understanding of the world. The Creator gave me a brain, to think and reason, and react to facts on the ground. And I'm disillusioned, because some in my party are pro-science-denial, and on the wrong side of history ... Will the GOP rise to the occasion, or bet the farm on carbon, and ask our grandkids to deal with the mess? It's time for bold leadership. Climate change is a threat, but it is also an opportunity to transition to a cleaner, greener, more sustainable economy. American Exceptionalism shouldn't stop when it comes to innovating new energy sources. We have the technology and entrepreneurial DNA to mitigate climate change, foster innovative, job-producing clean energy technologies, and reinvent America's economy. Let's put it to work, Governor Romney. As one prominent supporter said at the convention: "Go ahead, make my day!” ...


Didn't Clean Harry say that?

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Wed, Sep 19, 2012
from :
Arctic ice shrinks to all-time low; half 1980 size
Scientists say the amount of ice in the Arctic Ocean shrank to an all-time low this year, smashing old records for the critical climate indicator... in the 1980s, summer ice would cover an area slightly smaller than the Lower 48 states. Now it is about half that size. ...


Another one bites the dust.

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Mon, Sep 17, 2012
from London Guardian:
Arctic expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within four years
One of the world's leading ice experts has predicted the final collapse of Arctic sea ice in summer months within four years. In what he calls a "global disaster" now unfolding in northern latitudes as the sea area that freezes and melts each year shrinks to its lowest extent ever recorded, Prof Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University calls for "urgent" consideration of new ideas to reduce global temperatures. In an email to the Guardian he says: "Climate change is no longer something we can aim to do something about in a few decades' time, and that we must not only urgently reduce CO2 emissions but must urgently examine other ways of slowing global warming, such as the various geoengineering ideas that have been put forward." ...


Even if we have a paddle we're too far up Shit's Creek for it to matter.

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Fri, Sep 14, 2012
from ScienceDaily:
Reduced Sea Ice: Fewer Consequences Than Anticipated?
Recent data show that we face a historical and dramatic decline in the Arctic summer sea ice extent. This has believed to be bad news for marine organisms living under the ice. But new research show that perhaps some of the species actually have adapted to minimal ice cover in summer. The scientists call their hypothesis the "Nemo hypothesis."... The scientists point to an unresolved paradox concerning the evolution and current distribution of ice associated organisms within the Arctic Ocean: How is it possible to retain a large and viable population of organisms totally dependent on sea ice when their habitat is annually reduced by up to 75-80 percent through melting and the Transpolar Drift through the Fram Strait? ...


Sweet! Knowing that a few species will survive lets me stay guilt-free!

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Wed, Sep 12, 2012
from Toronto Star:
Climate change conundrum: Will Arctic animals' wardrobes be able to adapt?
It's a twice-annual change of wardrobe, one that helps the snowshoe hare avoid becoming another animal's lunch. An age-old biological phenomenon critical to animal survival, the hare sheds its rust-coloured coat for its white winter apparel at around this time every year, a seasonal change called moulting that not only keeps the animal warm, but also provides camouflage for its snowy surroundings. But what happens if northern landscapes usually covered in snow remain muddy brown for longer stretches of time each year? Will the hare, and other moulting snow-dwellers, still change their coats? That's the question perplexing biologists as climate change continues to alter the Arctic landscape: whether the hare and other moulting species -- the ptarmigan, Arctic fox and collared lemming among them -- will be able to adapt their camouflaging behaviour as the snow and ice around them continues to vanish. ...


Does this extinction make my butt look big?

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Tue, Sep 11, 2012
from Anchorage Daily News:
Drifting sea ice halts Shell's Arctic drilling
Royal Dutch Shell halted drilling in the Chukchi Sea on Monday -- one day after it began -- because of sea ice moving toward the company's drill ship off Alaska. Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said drilling was stopped as a precautionary measure in accordance with its ice management plan. Environmental groups say the complication illustrates the dangers of working in the Arctic. The Wilderness Society said Shell, faced with a shortened drilling season, was trying to mark its space in the Arctic whether or not it was ready to drill. ...


I bet this "sea ice" was Greenpeace activists in costume!

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Mon, Sep 10, 2012
from Anchorage Daily News:
Shell begins offshore drilling in Chukchi Sea
After a day of slower-than-expected preparations in the Chukchi Sea, Shell Alaska officially began drilling into the seafloor above its Burger prospect at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, the company said. The action marks the first drilling offshore in the Alaska Arctic in two decades and is being closely watched by Alaskans and the oil industry -- and criticized by environmentalists... Shell has invested close to $5 billion in its quest to drill in the Alaska Arctic. A federal government assessment last year estimated the Alaska Arctic offshore region holds nearly 27 billion barrels of "undiscovered technically recoverable" oil. ...


As of today, the planet is sooooooo Chukchied.

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Sat, Sep 8, 2012
from BBC:
Arctic ice melt 'like adding 20 years of CO2 emissions'
The loss of Arctic ice is massively compounding the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, ice scientist Professor Peter Wadhams has told BBC Newsnight. White ice reflects more sunlight than open water, acting like a parasol. Melting of white Arctic ice, currently at its lowest level in recent history, is causing more absorption. Prof Wadhams calculates this absorption of the sun's rays is having an effect "the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO2 being added by man". The sea ice extent at 26 August (white) is markedly different from the 1979-2000 average (orange line) The Cambridge University expert says that the Arctic ice cap is "heading for oblivion". ...


"Oblivion"? Is that in Ohio?

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Thu, Sep 6, 2012
from Deep Rogue Ram:
Weathergirl goes rogue

Arctic ice cover just reached its lowest point in recorded history. Pippa goes off script and drops some science.... The ApocaDocs approve this message. ...


Pippa must have actually read the statement from the American Meteorological Association!

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Tue, Sep 4, 2012
from LA Times:
Three-man sailboat makes record voyage, traverses Northwest Passage
In an account of their voyage posted Monday, the crew of the 31-foot Belzebub II -- a fiberglass sailboat with a living space the size of a bathroom -- described how they crossed through the McClure Strait in northern Canada, a decreasingly ice-packed route through the famed Northwest Passage. The international three-man crew -- an American, Canadian and Swede -- claim to have piloted the first sailboat to do so.... "With sails up in a light breeze we sailed swiftly toward the Northwest point of Banks Island and to becoming the first sailboat in history to complete this route," the crew wrote in their post.... "Our approach to sail across a historical stretch of water that has traditionally been frozen is meant to be a clear visual example of the extent of declining polar ice," the group said in a statement. ...


And records are made to be broken.

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Mon, Sep 3, 2012
from Associated Press:
Arctic becomes cold war zone
Global warming has ignited a rush to exploit Arctic resources -- and Greenpeace is determined to thwart that stampede. Employing the same tactics it has used against nuclear testing or commercial whaling, the environmental group is now set on preventing oil companies from drilling for oil near the Arctic's shrinking ice cap ... Greenpeace officials said 1.6 million people since June have signed the group's online petition urging world leaders to declare the Arctic a global sanctuary, off limits to oil exploration and industrial fishing. Dozens of celebrities, including Robert Redford, Paul McCartney and Penelope Cruz have announced their support, said Greenpeace activist Sarah North. ...


If this works, let's declare the globe a global sanctuary.

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Wed, Aug 29, 2012
from Live Science:
Billions of Tons of Methane Lurk Beneath Antarctic Ice
Microbes possibly feeding on the remains of an ancient forest may be generating billions of tons of methane deep beneath Antarctic ice, a new study suggests. The amount of this greenhouse gas -- which would exist in the form of a frozen latticelike substance called methane hydrate -- lurking beneath the ice sheet rivals that stored in the world's oceans, the researchers said. If the ice sheet collapses, the greenhouse gas could be released into the atmosphere and dramatically worsen global warming, researchers warn in a study published in the Aug. 30 issue of the journal Nature. ...


The Arctic's quiet little sister is about to start screaming!

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Tue, Aug 28, 2012
from Washington Post:
Arctic sea ice hits record low, scientists say
The extent of Arctic sea ice has reached a record low, a historic retreat that scientists said is a stark signal of how climate change is transforming the global landscape. Scientists at the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA said that, as of Sunday, the Arctic sea ice cover had shrunk to 1.58 million square miles, the smallest area since satellite measurement began in 1979. With the melting season not yet over, the ice will almost certainly contract further in the coming weeks before it begins to re-form. ...


You mean we might break the record we just broke?

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Mon, Aug 27, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
Shell seeks more time to drill exploratory well in Chukchi Sea
With its bid to launch offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean running up against a deadline to protect against sea ice, Shell Alaska has requested an extension in its window for drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Peter E. Slaiby, vice president of the Alaska venture, said Sunday that the company has proposed extending the time allowed for drilling in the Chukchi by slightly less than two weeks beyond the Sept. 24 deadline set by the U.S. Department of Interior to allow time for cleanup of any oil spill before the onset of winter sea ice. Meeting with reporters at an Arctic Imperative Summit here, Slaiby said the company's latest models for forecasting the onset of winter sea ice now show the first freeze-up occurring somewhat later than originally envisioned when federal officials imposed their initial deadline for ending operations in the Chukchi Sea. ...


When it comes to oil, hey we'll letcha slide!

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Thu, Aug 23, 2012
from Guardian:
Arctic sea ice levels to reach record low within days
Arctic sea ice is set to reach its lowest ever recorded extent as early as this weekend, in "dramatic changes" signalling that man-made global warming is having a major impact on the polar region. With the melt happening at an unprecedented rate of more than 100,000 sq km a day, and at least a week of further melt expected before it begins to reform ahead of the northern winter, satellites are expected to confirm the record - currently set in 2007 - within days.... "In the last few days it has been losing 100,000 sq km a day, a record in itself for August. A storm has spread the ice pack out, opening up water, bringing up warmer water. Things are definitely changing quickly." Because ice thickness, volume, extent and area are all measured differently, it may be a week before there is unanimous agreement among the world's cryologists (ice experts) that 2012 is a record year. Four out of the nine daily sea ice extent and area graphs kept by scientists in the US, Europe and Asia suggest that records have already been broken. ...


It's as bad as the state of Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson's relationship!

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Wed, Aug 22, 2012
from Planet 3.0:
Top Ten Things Aunt Sally Doesn't Know About Climate and Greenhouse Gases
1) Carbon is forever... 2) The next ice age has already been cancelled.... 3) Bugs, weeds, jellyfish, rats.... 4) CO2 disrupts directly.... 5) Rapid increases of atmospheric CO2 poison the ocean.... 9) Until the moment we get this problem under control and for a few decades to follow climate will get not just hotter but more peculiar and fraught with extraordinary events, some of them disruptive.... 10) Uncertainty cuts both ways.... ...


0.1) The Arctic is warming much faster than everywhere else. 0.2) Methane hydrates are released as arctic waters warm.... 0.3) OMG

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Wed, Aug 15, 2012
from Mongabay:
NASA image shows Northwest Passage open
A satellite image released by NASA last week shows a key channel that forms part of the Northwest Passage is partially free of ice.... Predictions range widely, but many experts expect the Arctic to be free of summer sea ice entirely within a few decades. By almost all standards, sea ice is disappearing faster than expected, partly a consequence of a positive feedback loop triggered by retreating ice. Sea ice typically helps cool the Arctic by reflecting sunlight back into space. But when sea ice melts, the dark areas of open water absorb the sun's radiation, warming the region and worsening melting. ...


We'll be over Peak Methane before ya know it!

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Tue, Aug 14, 2012
from Guardian:
Rate of Arctic summer sea ice loss is 50 percent higher than predicted
Sea ice in the Arctic is disappearing at a far greater rate than previously expected, according to data from the first purpose-built satellite launched to study the thickness of the Earth's polar caps. Preliminary results from the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 probe indicate that 900 cubic kilometres of summer sea ice has disappeared from the Arctic ocean over the past year. This rate of loss is 50 percent higher than most scenarios outlined by polar scientists and suggests that global warming, triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions, is beginning to have a major impact on the region. In a few years the Arctic ocean could be free of ice in summer, triggering a rush to exploit its fish stocks, oil, minerals and sea routes. ...


If that were 900 cubic miles, well, we'd be talking real meltdown.

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Tue, Aug 7, 2012
from Bloomberg News:
Greenland melt spawns iceberg threat in search for offshore oil
Oil companies off Greenland's shores may be basing risk assessments on outdated information as icebergs splinter the island's coastline at an ever faster pace, scientists and environmentalists said. ...


Assassin icebergs!

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Mon, Jul 30, 2012
from New York Times:
"Unprecedented" Greenland Surface Melt -- Every 150 Years?
The flow of news releases and background science content from NASA is generally excellent, but the space agency badly blew it earlier this week with this headline, which has now reverberated around the Web: "Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt." Unprecedented means "never done or known before." Yet the news release beneath the headline directly undercuts that description of this melting event, saying that it is rare -- the last wide surface melt was in 1889, recorded in separate ice cores at the Greenland ice-sheet summit and in the northwestern part of the vast frozen expanse -- and has happened roughly every 150 years over a long stretch of centuries, as recorded deeper in the ice. ...


It is not unprecedented that headline writers would use apocalyptic hyperbole!

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Thu, Jul 26, 2012
from Guardian:
Loss of Arctic sea ice '70 percent man-made'
The radical decline in sea ice around the Arctic is at least 70 percent due to human-induced climate change, according to a new study, and may even be up to 95 percent down to humans - rather higher than scientists had previously thought.... He found that a climate system called the Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation (AMO) was a dominant source of variability in ice extent. The AMO is a cycle of warming and cooling in the North Atlantic that repeats every 65 to 80 years - it has been in a warming phase since the mid-1970s.... "We could only attribute as much as 30 percent [of the Arctic ice loss] to the AMO," he said. "Which implies that the rest is due to something else, and this is most likely going to be man-made global change." ...


Thank goodness 30 percent is well within the "natural variation" meme.

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Tue, Jul 24, 2012
from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center:
Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt
For several days this month, Greenland's surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its two-mile-thick center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists. ...


Greenland is aching to be green!

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Tue, Jul 17, 2012
from University of Delaware :
Glacier Break Creates Ice Island Twice Size of Manhattan
An ice island twice the size of Manhattan has broken off from Greenland's Petermann Glacier, according to researchers at the University of Delaware and the Canadian Ice Service. The Petermann Glacier is one of the two largest glaciers left in Greenland connecting the great Greenland ice sheet with the ocean via a floating ice shelf... According to Muenchow, this newest ice island will follow the path of the 2010 ice island, providing a slow-moving floating taxi for polar bears, seals and other marine life until it enters Nares Strait, the deep channel between northern Greenland and Canada, where it likely will get broken up. ...


Given the circumstances, you'd think these animals would be more likely to take public transportation.

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Mon, Jul 16, 2012
from Texas A&M University:
Antarctica at Risk from Human Activities
The continent of Antarctica is at risk from human activities and other forces, and environmental management is needed to protect the planet's last great wilderness area, says an international team of researchers, including a Texas A&M University oceanographer, in a paper published in the current issue of Science magazine.... Antarctica faces growing threats from global warming, loss of sea ice and landed ice, increased tourism, over-fishing in the region, pollution and invasive species creeping into the area. One of the longer-term concerns that may present the greatest threat overall is the potential for oil, gas and mineral exploitation on the continent and in the surrounding ocean... ...


Why should anywhere on the planet be immune from this virus called humanity?

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Mon, Jul 16, 2012
from NOAA via ScienceDaily:
Back-To-Back La Ninas Cooled Globe and Influenced Extreme Weather in 2011
Worldwide, 2011 was the coolest year on record since 2008, yet temperatures remained above the 30 year average, according to the 2011 State of the Climate report released online today (July 10, 2012) by NOAA ... Two back-to-back La Ninas, each characterized by cooler-than-average water temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific, affected regional climates and influenced many of the world's significant weather events throughout the year. ...


Cormac McCarthy: You never know what worse luck your bad luck is saving you from.

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Fri, Jul 6, 2012
from NSIDC, via Guardian:
Arctic sea-ice levels at record low for June
Sea ice in the Arctic has melted faster this year than ever recorded before, according to the US government's National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC). Satellite observations show the extent of the floating ice that melts and refreezes every year was 318,000 square miles less last week than the same day period in 2007, the year of record low extent, and the lowest observed at this time of year since records began in 1979. Separate observations by University of Washington researchers suggest that the volume of Arctic sea ice is also the smallest ever calculated for this time of year.... The increased melting is believed to be a result of climate change. Arctic temperatures have risen more than twice as fast as the global average over the past half century. ...


Apocaiku:
Unfreezing our ice/ faster than all history/ yet onward we burn.

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Mon, Jul 2, 2012
from Reuters:
Rise in sea level can't be stopped: scientists
Rising sea levels cannot be stopped over the next several hundred years, even if deep emissions cuts lower global average temperatures, but they can be slowed down, climate scientists said in a study on Sunday... Rising sea levels threaten about a tenth of the world's population who live in low-lying areas and islands which are at risk of flooding, including the Caribbean, Maldives and Asia-Pacific island groups. More than 180 countries are negotiating a new global climate pact which will come into force by 2020 and force all nations to cut emissions to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius this century - a level scientists say is the minimum required to avert catastrophic effects. But even if the most ambitious emissions cuts are made, it might not be enough to stop sea levels rising due to the thermal expansion of sea water, said scientists at the United States' National Centre for Atmospheric Research, U.S. research organization Climate Central and Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research in Melbourne. ...


Surf's up... and up... and up...

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Mon, Jun 11, 2012
from Anchorage Alaska Dispatch:
Arctic tundra transforming into forest much quicker than expected
Rising summer temperatures have triggered an arboreal facelift across a vast swath of Eurasian tundra, transforming patches of Arctic prairie into forest much faster than scientists ever thought possible. Instead of trees slowly invading from the south over the course of centuries, stands of existing dwarf willows and alders have responded to the changing climate on their own -- growing up and branching out into groves of small trees during mere decades, according to a new detailed analysis published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change... The speed and scale of the change reported in the latest study -- as much as 15 percent of the willow and alder in the area had bloomed into six-foot-high groves over 30 to 40 years -- suggests that Arctic warming has the potential to dramatically accelerate, while creating new woodsy ecosystems in the process. Since forested areas absorb more solar energy than grassy tundra, the spread of trees will also help jumpstart warming -- some climate models predict an extra two to four degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature rise, in turn, will promote even more forest growth. ...


What a beautiful, cruel, spiral.

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Thu, Jun 7, 2012
from Agence France-Press:
Environmental collapse now a serious threat: scientists
Climate change, population growth and environmental destruction could cause a collapse of the ecosystem just a few generations from now, scientists warned on Wednesday in the journal Nature. The paper by 22 top researchers said a "tipping point" by which the biosphere goes into swift and irreversible change, with potentially cataclysmic impacts for humans, could occur as early as this century. The warning contrasts with a mainstream view among scientists that environmental collapse would be gradual and take centuries. ...


These must be mainscream scientists.

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Thu, May 31, 2012
from NOAA, via Christian Science Monitor:
Arctic passes 400 parts per million milestone
Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. The number isn't quite a surprise, because it's been rising at an accelerating pace. Years ago, it passed the 350 ppm mark that many scientists say is the highest safe level for carbon dioxide. It now stands globally at 395. So far, only the Arctic has reached that 400 level, but the rest of the world will follow soon.... Before the Industrial Age, levels were around 275 parts per million.... It's been at least 800,000 years -- probably more -- since Earth saw carbon dioxide levels in the 400s, Butler and other climate scientists said. ...


Do they even have milestones on dead-end roads?

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Tue, May 29, 2012
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Latest Southern Ocean research shows continuing deep ocean change
Comparing detailed measurements taken during the Australian Antarctic program's 2012 Southern Ocean marine science voyage to historical data dating back to 1970, scientists estimate there has been as much as a 60 per cent reduction in the volume of Antarctic Bottom Water, the cold dense water that drives global ocean currents.... "It's a clear signal to us that the oceans are responding rapidly to variations in climate in polar regions. The sinking of dense water around Antarctica is part of a global pattern of ocean currents that has a strong influence on climate, so evidence that these waters are changing is important," Dr Rintoul said.... "When we speak of global warming, we really mean ocean warming: more than 90 per cent of the extra heat energy stored by the earth over the last 50 years has gone into warming up the ocean...." ...


I wonder if making the ocean deeper would help.

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Mon, May 21, 2012
from BBC:
Arctic melt releasing ancient methane
Scientists have identified thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane that has been stored for many millennia is bubbling into the atmosphere. The methane has been trapped by ice, but is able to escape as the ice melts. Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this ancient gas could have a significant impact on climate change. Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and levels are rising after a few years of stability... Using aerial and ground-based surveys, the team identified about 150,000 methane seeps in Alaska and Greenland in lakes along the margins of ice cover. ...


I call these seeps ApocaLeaks!

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Thu, May 10, 2012
from New York Times Op-ed:
James Hansen: Game Over for the Climate
If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate. Canada's tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now.... That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California's Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels. If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically.... The science of the situation is clear -- it's time for the politics to follow. ...


If we slam the brakes on, we'll have to cope with the SQID: the Status Quo Inertia Disorder.

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Tue, Apr 24, 2012
from The Independent:
New climate threat as methane rises from cracks in Arctic ice
A new source of methane - a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than carbon dioxide - has been identified by scientists flying over areas in the Arctic where the sea ice has melted.... Eric Kort of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that he and his colleagues were surprised to see methane levels rise so dramatically each time their research aircraft flew over cracks in the sea ice. "When we flew over completely solid sea ice, we didn't see anything in terms of methane. But when we flew over areas were the sea ice had melted, or where there were cracks in the ice, we saw the methane levels increase," Dr Kort said. "We were surprised to see these enhanced methane levels at these high latitudes. Our observations really point to the ocean surface as the source, which was not what we had expected," he said. "Other scientists had seen high concentrations of methane in the sea surface but nobody had expected to see it being released into the atmosphere in this way," he added. ...


That tipping point is tap-tap-tapping, tap-tap-tapping on our climate door....

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Tue, Apr 24, 2012
from CBC News:
Arctic fishing moratorium needed, thousands of scientists say
A group of more than 2,000 scientists from 67 countries has called for a moratorium on commercial fishing in the Arctic until more research can be completed on waters that were once covered by ice year-round. The scientists said the loss of permanent sea ice has opened up as much as 40 per cent of the Central Arctic Ocean during recent summers, making industrial fishing viable for the first time. But they said such activities should be prohibited until there's a better understanding of the area and sustainable fishing quotas can be set. "The ability to fish is not the same as having the scientific information and management regimes needed for a well-managed fishery," the scientists said in an open letter released Sunday by the U.S.-based Pew Environment Group.... "In the absence of this scientific data and a robust management system, depletion of fishery resources and damage to other components of the ecosystem are likely to result if fisheries commence." ...


But it's brand new territory to suck dry! I can't resist!! Gold rush!!!

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Tue, Apr 17, 2012
from The Daily Climate:
Bugs in the ice sheets: Melting glaciers liberate ancient bacteria
Locked in frozen vaults on Antarctica and Greenland, a lost world of ancient creatures awaits another chance at life. Like a time-capsule from the distant past, the polar ice sheets offer a glimpse of tiny organisms that may have been trapped there longer than modern humans have walked the planet, biding their time until conditions change and set them free again. With that ice melting at an alarming rate, those conditions could soon be at hand. Masses of bacteria and other microbes -- some of which the world hasn't seen since the Middle Pleistocene, a previous period of major climate change about 750,000 years ago -- will make their way back into the environment. ...


Welcome back, old friends.

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Tue, Apr 17, 2012
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Satellite observes rapid ice shelf disintegration in Antarctic
Now, with ten years of observations using its Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR), Envisat has mapped an additional loss in Larsen B's area of 1790 sq km over the past decade.... "The northern Antarctic Peninsula has been subject to atmospheric warming of about 2.5 degrees C over the last 50 years - a much stronger warming trend than on global average, causing retreat and disintegration of ice shelves."... The Envisat observations of the Larsen Ice Shelf confirm the vulnerability of ice shelves to climatic warming and demonstrate the importance of ice shelves for the stability of glaciers upstream. ...


If we renamed it Proarctica, would we treat it differently?

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Mon, Apr 16, 2012
from Associated Press:
As ice cap melts, militaries vie for Arctic edge
To the world's military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts. By Arctic standards, the region is already buzzing with military activity, and experts believe that will increase significantly in the years ahead. ...


Would that it was a "Cold" War.

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Thu, Mar 29, 2012
from New York Times:
Scientists Look to Thinning Ice to Explain Weather Weirding
Lurching from one weather extreme to another seems to have become routine across the Northern Hemisphere. Parts of the United States may be shivering now, but Scotland is setting heat records. Across Europe, people died by the hundreds during a severe cold wave in the first half of February, but a week later revelers in Paris were strolling down the Champs-Elysees in their shirt-sleeves.... "The question really is not whether the loss of the sea ice can be affecting the atmospheric circulation on a large scale," said Jennifer A. Francis, a Rutgers University climate researcher. "The question is, how can it not be, and what are the mechanisms?"... "A changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events," the report found.... February was the 324th consecutive month in which global temperatures exceeded their long-term average for a given month; the last month with below-average temperatures was February 1985. ...


324 consecutive months? That's just fuzzy math.

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Tue, Mar 27, 2012
from Washington Post:
Captivity could help polar bears survive global warming assault, some zoos say
Polar bears are ideally suited to life in the Arctic: Their hair is without pigment, blending in with the snow; their heavy, strongly curved claws allow them to clamber over blocks of ice and snow and grip their prey securely; and their rough pads keep them from slipping. The one thing they cannot survive is the disintegration of the ice. They range across the sea ice far from shore to hunt fatty seals, whose blubber sustains them. Heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuel are making the Arctic warm twice as fast as lower latitudes, and Arctic summer sea ice could disappear by 2030, according to climate models. So a group of activists, zoo officials, lawmakers and scientists have a radical proposal: Increase the number of polar bears in U.S. zoos to help maintain the species' genetic diversity if the wild population plummets. ...


Is there room for us in those zoos?

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Mon, Mar 19, 2012
from CTV:
Melting Arctic ice could poison ecosystem, experts say
Arctic sea ice that's been melting at a dramatic rate in the last few decades is releasing a chemical soup that could poison the food chain with mercury and other dangerous chemicals, a new study suggests.... Over the last 30 years, the amount ice that survives the summer melt and grows again in the winter is becoming significantly smaller (12 per cent per decade), resulting in a much thinner and more salty form of ice. When the "new" ice melts, it releases a higher concentration of the chemicals into the air that create the mercury, the study found.... Mercury is a toxic substance that can enter the food chain and eventually be ingested by humans through food consumption. "This is being concentrated in things like fish and it's working it way up the food chain," geochemist Norman Halden said in the report. ...


In the Arctic, the mercury is literally rising.

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Wed, Mar 14, 2012
from London Guardian:
Dogs take lead in sniffing out Arctic oil
When it comes to drilling for oil in the harsh and unpredictable Arctic, Shell has gone to the dogs, it seems. A dachshund and two border collies to be specific. The dogs' ability to sniff out oil spills beneath snow and ice has been tested and paid for by Shell -- and other oil companies and government research organisations -- in preparation for the industry's entry into the forbidding Arctic terrain. The company hopes to begin drilling for oil off the north-west coast of Alaska in June. ...


So much for man's best friend.

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Mon, Mar 12, 2012
from PIK, via EurekAlert:
Greenland ice sheet may melt completely with 1.6 degrees global warming
The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be more vulnerable to global warming than previously thought. The temperature threshold for melting the ice sheet completely is in the range of 0.8 to 3.2 degrees Celsius global warming, with a best estimate of 1.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels, shows a new study by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Today, already 0.8 degrees global warming has been observed. Substantial melting of land ice could contribute to long-term sea-level rise of several meters and therefore it potentially affects the lives of many millions of people. ...


I'm prepped!

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Mon, Mar 5, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
Shell oil rig set for landmark Alaska journey
Amid the tangle of towering steel, heavy cranes and overcast skies of Seattle's busy commercial shipyards, Shell Oil's massive Kulluk drilling rig is preparing to push off for the Arctic Ocean. When it does, America's balance between energy needs and environmental fears will enter a new era. Barring unexpected court or regulatory action, by July the Kulluk will begin drilling exploratory oil wells in the frigid waters off Alaska's northern coast. ...


Apo-Kullukse!

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Thu, Mar 1, 2012
from NASA, via Science Daily:
Thickest Parts of Arctic Ice Cap Melting Faster
A new NASA study revealed that the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is disappearing at a faster rate than the younger and thinner ice at the edges of the Arctic Ocean's floating ice cap. The thicker ice, known as multi-year ice, survives through the cyclical summer melt season, when young ice that has formed over winter just as quickly melts again. The rapid disappearance of older ice makes Arctic sea ice even more vulnerable to further decline in the summer, said Joey Comiso, senior scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and author of the study, which was recently published in Journal of Climate.... Comiso compared the evolution of the extent and area of multi-year ice over time, and confirmed that its decline has accelerated during the last decade, in part because of the dramatic decreases of 2008 and 2012. He also detected a periodic nine-year cycle, where sea ice extent would first grow for a few years, and then shrink until the cycle started again. This cycle is reminiscent of one occurring on the opposite pole, known as the Antarctic Circumpolar Wave, which has been related to the El Nino-Southern Oscillation atmospheric pattern. If the nine-year Arctic cycle were to be confirmed, it might explain the slight recovery of the sea ice cover in the three years after it hit its historical minimum in 2008, Comiso said. ...


Don't we always prefer stuff fresh?

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Wed, Feb 15, 2012
from Mongabay:
Arctic warms to highest level yet as researchers fear tipping points
Last year the Arctic, which is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth due to global climate change, experienced its warmest twelve months yet. According to recent data by NASA, average Arctic temperatures in 2011 were 2.28 degrees Celsius (4.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above those recorded from 1951-1980. As the Arctic warms, imperiling its biodiversity and indigenous people, researchers are increasingly concerned that the region will hit climatic tipping points that could severely impact the rest of the world. ...


I so wish this was a sci-fi film instead of reality.

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Tue, Jan 31, 2012
from Toronto Star:
Killer whales finding prey further north as Arctic ice melts, Inuit tell scientists
Warming Arctic waters and depleting sea ice are making it easier for killer whales to swim ever northward in search of sources of prey, including other species of whales, a new study has found. After spending three years interviewing more than 100 Inuit hunters from 11 different Nunavut communities, researchers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the University of Manitoba believe killer whales, also known as orcas, are increasingly targeting prey in northern areas where they didn't previously. ...


Like kids in a candy store.

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Mon, Jan 23, 2012
from BBC:
Arctic Ocean freshwater bulge detected
UK scientists have detected a huge dome of freshwater that is developing in the western Arctic Ocean. The bulge is some 8,000 cubic km in size and has risen by about 15cm since 2002. The team thinks it may be the result of strong winds whipping up a great clockwise current in the northern polar region called the Beaufort Gyre.... "What we seen occurring is precisely what the climate models had predicted," said Dr Giles. "When you have clockwise rotation - the freshwater is stored. If the wind goes the other way - and that has happened in the past - then the freshwater can be pushed to the margins of the Arctic Ocean. "If the spin-up starts to spin down, the freshwater could be released. It could go to the rest of the Arctic Ocean or even leave the Arctic Ocean." If the freshwater were to enter the North Atlantic in large volumes, the concern would be that it might disturb the currents that have such a great influence on European weather patterns. These currents draw warm waters up from the tropics, maintaining milder temperatures in winter than would ordinarily be expected at northern European latitudes. ...


Is that a bulge in your Arctic, or are you just happy to be predicted?

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Fri, Jan 20, 2012
from Duke University via ScienceDaily:
Harp Seals On Thin Ice After 32 Years of Warming
Warming in the North Atlantic over the last 32 years has significantly reduced winter sea ice cover in harp seal breeding grounds, resulting in sharply higher death rates among seal pups in recent years, according to a new Duke University-led study."The kind of mortality we're seeing in eastern Canada is dramatic. Entire year-classes may be disappearing from the population in low ice years -- essentially all of the pups die," said David W. Johnston, research scientist at the Duke University Marine Lab. "It calls into question the resilience of the population." ...


Climate change is like a giant, brutal hakapik.

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Tue, Jan 17, 2012
from Inter Press Service:
Melting Ice Makes Arctic Access a Hot Commodity
China, Brazil and India want seats on the Arctic Council as global warming creates new opportunities for shipping and resource extraction in the vast Arctic region. There are concerns this is the beginning of a 21st century "scramble for the Arctic", but rather than staking territorial claims, non- Arctic countries want to exert economic and political influence in the region. China already has a research station in Norway's high Arctic and is building an 8,000-tonne icebreaker. ...


"Hot commodity"? Sounds like a hot mess to me!

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Wed, Dec 21, 2011
from Nature News:
Permafrost science heats up in the United States
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is embarking on a US $100-million research programme to investigate what will happen to the 1,500 billion tonnes of organic carbon locked up in frozen soils of the far northern permafrost when they thaw in the rapidly warming Arctic climate. ...


For two cents I'll tell ya: the Apocalypse!

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Tue, Dec 20, 2011
from Greenwire:
With federal green light, Shell hits the gas on Arctic plans
In a sign that the Obama administration is willing to clear the regulatory decks for oil drilling in Alaska's remote Arctic waters, the Interior Department on Friday gave a conditional green light allowing Royal Dutch Shell PLC to explore for oil this summer in Alaska's Chukchi Sea. More than 20 years after sinking its first exploratory well in the Chukchi, only to later abandon the project, Shell is seeking to reopen drilling in the nation's northern-most federal waters. The campaign has already had a colossal price tag. So far, Shell officials say they have sunk $4 billion in the project, including $350 million to build two of their own ice-breaking ships. If exploration is successful, it will take 10-12 years before Shell can begin producing oil. During that time, the company would have to build a new ice-resistant drilling facility, install 100 miles of subsea pipeline from the pumping rig to the tiny community of Wainwright and construct a 500-mile pipeline from the shoreline to the beginning of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in Prudhoe Bay. ...


It will be worth all the work, if we can indeed destroy the planet!

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Sun, Dec 18, 2011
from New York Times:
As Permafrost Thaws, Scientists Study the Risks
A bubble rose through a hole in the surface of a frozen lake. It popped, followed by another, and another, as if a pot were somehow boiling in the icy depths. Every bursting bubble sent up a puff of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas generated beneath the lake from the decay of plant debris. These plants last saw the light of day 30,000 years ago and have been locked in a deep freeze -- until now.... If a substantial amount of the carbon should enter the atmosphere, it would intensify the planetary warming. An especially worrisome possibility is that a significant proportion will emerge not as carbon dioxide, the gas that usually forms when organic material breaks down, but as methane, produced when the breakdown occurs in lakes or wetlands. Methane is especially potent at trapping the sun's heat, and the potential for large new methane emissions in the Arctic is one of the biggest wild cards in climate science.... A recent survey drew on the expertise of 41 permafrost scientists to offer more informal projections. They estimated that if human fossil-fuel burning remained high and the planet warmed sharply, the gases from permafrost could eventually equal 35 percent of today's annual human emissions. ...


"Transitoryfrost" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

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Wed, Dec 14, 2011
from New Scientist:
Call for Arctic geoengineering as soon as possible
It's the most urgent call for geoengineering yet: begin cooling the Arctic by 2013 or face runaway global warming. But the warning -- from a voice on the scientific fringe -- may be premature, according to experts contacted by New Scientist. John Nissen, a former software engineer who has become alarmed at the possibility of reaching a climate "tipping point" argued for Arctic geoengineering as soon as possible in a poster presentation at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco last week.... Although Nissen's opinion is not in the scientific mainstream, he has the backing of a leading expert on sea ice, Peter Wadhams of the University of Cambridge, who recently suggested that the Arctic ocean may be ice-free at the end of each summer from 2015 onwards. Wadhams says that accelerating climate change in the Arctic has forced him to abandon his scepticism about geoengineering. "One has to consider doing something," he says. ...


Geoengineering... the equivalent of of punting.

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Tue, Dec 13, 2011
from London Independent:
Shock as retreat of Arctic sea ice releases deadly greenhouse gas
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane -- a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide -- have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region. The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years. In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.... "Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we've found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It's amazing," Dr Semiletov said. "I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them." ...


You know you're trouble when scientists freak out!

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Fri, Dec 9, 2011
from NASA, via ScienceDaily:
Paleoclimate Record Points Toward Potential Rapid Climate Changes
In studying cores drilled from both ice sheets and deep ocean sediments, Hansen found that global mean temperatures during the Eemian period, which began about 130,000 years ago and lasted about 15,000 years, were less than 1 degree Celsius warmer than today. If temperatures were to rise 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, global mean temperature would far exceed that of the Eemian, when sea level was four to six meters higher than today, Hansen said. "The paleoclimate record reveals a more sensitive climate than thought, even as of a few years ago. Limiting human-caused warming to 2 degrees is not sufficient," Hansen said. "It would be a prescription for disaster." Hansen focused much of his new work on how the polar regions and in particular the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland will react to a warming world.... "We don't have a substantial cushion between today's climate and dangerous warming," Hansen said. "Earth is poised to experience strong amplifying feedbacks in response to moderate additional global warming." ...


Killjoy.

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Sat, Dec 3, 2011
from UPI:
Study: Arctic is warmer, will remain so
The arctic polar region's climate has warmed up in the last five years and the change is likely to stick around as a "new normal," U.S. scientists say. A team of 121 scientists from 14 nations concluded the arctic climate has reached a turning point, ScienceNews.org reported Thursday. Enough data have been collected "to indicate a shift in the Arctic Ocean system since 2006," said Jacqueline Richter-Menge of the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H. "This shift is characterized by the persistent decline in the thickness and summer extent of sea-ice cover and by a warmer, less salty upper ocean."... "We've got a new normal," Don Perovich of CRREL said. "The past five years have had the five smallest September ice extents," Perovich said, "showing that Arctic sea ice has not recovered from the large decrease observed in 2007." ...


If a weird situation is dubbed the "new normal" then it's also simultaneously the "new strange." Right?

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Wed, Nov 30, 2011
from University of Alaska, via EurekAlert:
Abrupt permafrost thaw increases climate threat
As the Arctic warms, greenhouse gases will be released from thawing permafrost faster and at significantly higher levels than previous estimates, according to survey results from 41 international scientists published in the Nov. 30 issue of the journal Nature. Permafrost thaw will release approximately the same amount of carbon as deforestation, say the authors, but the effect on climate will be 2.5 times bigger because emissions include methane, which has a greater effect on warming than carbon dioxide.... The authors estimate that the amount of carbon released by 2100 will be 1.7 to 5.2 times larger than reported in recent modeling studies, which used a similar warming scenario. "The larger estimate is due to the inclusion of processes missing from current models and new estimates of the amount of organic carbon stored deep in frozen soils," Abbott said. "There's more organic carbon in northern soils than there is in all living things combined; it's kind of mind boggling." ...


Tell it to DURBAN!

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Fri, Nov 18, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Are lemmings turning the Arctic green?
Researchers found that large populations of lemmings are turning the Arctic green as the herbivores graze on plants and fertilise the soils. But for all it appears the the retreat of Arctic the tundra is encouraging global warming it may actually cool down the climate as plants can grow bigger and store more carbon. The team from the University of Texas at El Paso found when lemmings are excluded from the Arctic environment in enclosures in Alaska there is an increase in certain plant types called lichens and bryophytes. However when the lemmings were present there were surprising increases in grass and sedge, the plant material that lemmings actually feed on.... Dr Johnson said the increasing plant matter could reduce global warming as bigger plants absorb more carbon. On the other hand soil decomposition increases with warmer temperatures meaning soil microbes are respiring and releasing carbon into the atmosphere and potentially increasing climate warming. "We still don't know the relative magnitude of these two feedbacks to warming...." ...


And what we don't know could send us off a cliff!

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Wed, Oct 26, 2011
from City College of New York via ScienceDaily:
Extreme Melting On Greenland Ice Sheet, Team Reports; Glacial Melt Cycle Could Become Self-Amplifying
The Greenland ice sheet can experience extreme melting even when temperatures don't hit record highs, according to a new analysis by Dr. Marco Tedesco, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at The City College of New York. His findings suggest that glaciers could undergo a self-amplifying cycle of melting and warming that would be difficult to halt. ...


I worry about how much I worry about all this.

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Fri, Oct 14, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Young and thin instead of old and bulky: researchers report on changes in Arctic sea ice after return of research vessel Polarstern
In the central Arctic the proportion of old, thick sea ice has declined significantly. Instead, the ice cover now largely consists of thin, one-year-old floes. This is one of the results that scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association brought back from the 26th Arctic expedition of the research vessel Polarstern.... One of the most important research questions was: Did sea ice melt to a greater extent this summer, making it thinner than in past years?... "The ice has not recovered. This summer it appears to have melted to exactly the same degree as in 2007. Yes, it is exactly as thin as in the record year," says Hendricks. ...


I'm of the belief that you can never be too young or too thin!

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Thu, Oct 6, 2011
from PhysOrg:
Why climate models underestimate Arctic sea ice retreat
In recent decades, Arctic sea ice has suffered a dramatic decline that exceeds climate model predictions. The unexpected rate of ice shrinkage has now been explained by researchers at CNRS, Université Joseph Fourier and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They argue that climate models underestimate the rate of ice thinning, which is actually about four times faster than calculations. This model bias is due to the poor representation of the sea ice southward drift out of the Arctic basin through the Fram Strait. When this mechanism was taken into account to correct the discrepancy between simulations and observations, results from the new model suggested that there will be no Arctic sea ice in summer by the end of the century. ...


Underestimates may be underestimated.

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Tue, Oct 4, 2011
from Sydney Morning Herald:
US government breaks the ice in Arctic drilling dispute
THE US government has decided to uphold the sale of nearly 500 leases to drill for oil in Arctic waters near Alaska, in response to a successful lawsuit by environmentalists and native Alaskan organisations that had thrown the contracts into jeopardy. The move on Monday by the Interior Department was celebrated by Shell and other companies that snapped up some of the 487 leases to drill in the Chukchi Sea during a government auction in 2008. Shell hopes to launch exploratory drilling in the Chukchi next northern summer. The decision was criticised by conservationists, who blasted the Obama administration for bypassing calls for more scientific research on the region's marine life and better studies of how to clean up oil spills in remote icy waters. ...


Chuk-ching! The Chukchi Sea's the place to be!

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Sat, Oct 1, 2011
from Associated Press:
Canadian Arctic nearly loses entire ice shelf
Two ice shelves that existed before Canada was settled by Europeans diminished significantly this summer, one nearly disappearing altogether, Canadian scientists say in new research. The loss is important as a marker of global warming, returning the Canadian Arctic to conditions that date back thousands of years, scientists say. Floating icebergs that have broken free as a result pose a risk to offshore oil facilities and potentially to shipping lanes. The breaking apart of the ice shelves also reduces the environment that supports microbial life and changes the look of Canada's coastline. ...


Without shelves, where will we display all our shiny new consumer goods?

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Thu, Sep 29, 2011
from The Independent:
World's leading climate sceptic sees his funding melt away fast
Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and bete noire of climate change activists around the world, has been told that the incoming Danish government will cut off his Ł1m a year funding. Mr Lomborg, whose 2001 book suggested the planet should adapt to global warming rather than wasting resources trying to prevent it, has made his name by accusing scientists and others of exaggerating the extent and effects of climate change.... "The reason he received funding in the first place was ideological," said Ms Auken, environment spokesman for SF, the junior partner in the incoming coalition. "We believe that it is wrong to give funding to specific ideological researchers."... The centre has received funding from private sources in the past, including the Carlsberg Group and the EU. However, the lion's share of its income comes from the Danish state. ...


Cue the conspiracy-theorist outrage.

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Wed, Sep 28, 2011
from New York Times:
Climate Change and the Exodus of Species
To most humans, so far, climate change is still more of an idea than an experience. For other species, it is an immediate reality. Many will be left behind as the climate alters, unable to move quickly enough or with nowhere to move to. Others are already adapting. An iconic example of these swift changes is the recent discovery that Atlantic and Pacific populations of bowhead whales -- long kept apart by the frozen Arctic -- are now overlapping in the open waters of the Northwest Passage. A team of scientists from the University of York examined the movement of 2,000 animal and plant species over the past decade. According to their study, published in Science last month, in their exodus from increasing heat, species have moved, on average, 13.3 yards higher in altitude -- twice the predicted rate -- and 11 miles higher in latitude -- three times faster than expected. These changes have happened most rapidly where the climate has warmed the most. Chris Thomas, an author of the study, says, these changes "are equivalent to animals and plants shifting away from the equator at around 20 centimeters per hour" for the past 40 years. ...


Eat. my. dust.

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Thu, Sep 22, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Arctic sea ice reaches minimum 2011 extent, the second lowest in the satellite record
The blanket of sea ice that floats on the Arctic Ocean appears to have reached its lowest extent for 2011, the second lowest recorded since satellites began measuring it in 1979, according to the University of Colorado Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center.... While this year's September minimum extent was greater than the all-time low in 2007, it remains significantly below the long-term average and well outside the range of natural climate variability, according to scientists involved in the analysis. Most scientists believe the shrinking Arctic sea ice is tied to warming temperatures caused by an increase in human-produced greenhouse gases pumped into Earth's atmosphere. ...


All the news stories last week were about a record. See how those warmists exaggerate?

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Wed, Sep 21, 2011
from London Guardian:
Times Atlas is 'wrong on Greenland climate change'
Leading scientists have accused the world's top cartographers of making a blunder in their representation of the effects of climate change in Greenland, prompting a robust defence by the map-makers' publisher. Maps in the 13th edition of the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World, published last week, show large areas of the eastern and southern coasts of Greenland coloured brown and pink, and the permanent ice cap now covering a significantly smaller area than it did in the 1999 12th edition of the atlas. The atlas suggests that 300,000 sq km, or 15 percent, of Greenland's ice cover had been lost in the period... But seven researchers at Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute backed by glaciologists in the US, Europe and elsewhere, have said that both the maps and the figure of 15 percent are wrong. ...


T'was a bit of a bloody blunder naming it Greenland in the first place, roight?

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Wed, Sep 21, 2011
from CBS News:
EPA grants air permit to Shell for Arctic drilling
Shell Oil Co. on Monday took a step closer to tapping vast petroleum reserves off Alaska's Arctic coasts when the federal Environmental Protection Agency approved an air quality permit for one of the company's drilling vessels. The EPA approved the air permit for the drilling vessel Noble Discover, which Shell hopes to use for exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast, and its support fleet of oil spill response and supply vessels. Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said the permit was a hopeful step. "The delivery of final air permits for our exploration program is another in a series of recent, positive developments and adds to our confidence that we will be drilling our offshore Alaska leases by July of next year," Smith said in an email. ...


Way to go, EPA! That'll get the GOP on your side.

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Mon, Sep 12, 2011
from Mongabay, and others:
Northwest Passage open as sea ice falls to lowest cover ever recorded
Arctic sea ice cover fell to its lowest level on record, report researchers from the University of Bremen.... Heygster said this year's mark is "most probably" the lowest Arctic sea ice extent "since the last climate optimum about 8,000 years ago." He added that the record could be extended if sea ice continues to melt in coming weeks. Sea ice is no longer melting from the surface; instead if it melting from underneath due to warmer water below.... Melting of sea ice opened the Northwest Passage to navigation again this summer. The ice retreat has set off a scramble between Canada, Russia, the U.S., Denmark, Sweden and Norway which are all seeking to claim rights to the Arctic's rich mineral and gas deposits.... Predictions range widely, but many experts expect the Arctic to be free of sea ice entirely within a few decades. By almost all standards, however, sea ice is disappearing faster than expected, partly a consequence of a positive feedback loop triggered by retreating ice. ...


Some days, saying "I told you so" doesn't help. At all.

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Mon, Sep 12, 2011
from RealClimate:
The unnoticed melt
A rainy summer might be one reason for an apparent lack of public attention with respect to the ongoing sea-ice loss. Another reason, however, is possibly the fact that we scientists have failed to make sufficiently clear that a major loss of sea ice during the early summer months is climatologically more important than a record minimum in September.... Because of its high albedo (reflectivity), sea ice reflects most of the incoming sunlight and helps to keep the Arctic cold throughout summer. The relative importance of this cooling is largest when days are long and the input of solar radiation is at its maximum, which happens at the beginning of summer. If, like this year, sea-ice extent becomes very low already at that time, solar radiation is efficiently absorbed throughout all summer by the unusually large areas of open water within the Arctic Ocean.... This feedback loop, which is often referred to as the ice-albedo feedback, also delays the formation of new sea ice in autumn because of the accompanying surplus in oceanic heat storage.... ... [T]he loss of Arctic sea ice can still be slowed down and eventually stopped if an efficient reduction of CO2 emissions were to become reality soon. Last week, however, it became obvious once more how unlikely such scenario is: On 30th August, Exxon announced a deal with Rosneft, the Russian state oil company. As part of this deal, Exxon will invest more than US$2 billion to support Rosneft in the exploitation of oil reserves in the Kara Sea, which is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia. One requirement for the success of this deal: a further retreat of Arctic sea ice. Given that climate model simulations indeed all project such further retreat of Arctic sea ice, it seems that at least to some degree, managers of big oil companies have started to make business decisions based on climate-model simulations. That may be good news. Or not. ...


Mila Kunis won this year's Guy's Choice "Holy Grail of Hot" Award. She's hot, but not Holy Grail hot.

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Tue, Sep 6, 2011
from Associated Press:
In Greenland, lives are altered with the weather
...The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, and "Greenland is experiencing some of the most severe environmental impacts," social researcher Lene Kielsen Holm concludes in a preliminary report on a north-to-south survey of Greenlanders. Those impacts are broad and deep. For a village society whose dogsledding ice hunters long supplied it with seal and walrus meat and fish in winter, the "dark months" are now a time of enforced idleness, limited travel and emptier larders. On land, the thawing permafrost underfoot is leaving houses askew and broken. Climate change touches the animals, too: Greenlanders find lean polar bears, unable to stalk seals on sea ice, invading their settlements for food. And the very sound of Greenland is changing. Where villages once echoed to the howl of huskies, that old call of the wild has been muted. Dispirited hunters up and down the west Greenland coast, unable to feed winter game to their sled dogs, have been shooting them. ...


You know things are very very bad when you have to shoot your dog.

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Thu, Sep 1, 2011
from MSNBC:
Second giant ice island set to break off Greenland glacier
New photographs taken of a vast glacier in northern Greenland have revealed the astonishing rate of its breakup, with one scientist saying he was rendered "speechless." In August 2010, part of the Petermann Glacier about four times the size of Manhattan island broke off , prompting a hearing in Congress. Researcher Alun Hubbard, of the Centre for Glaciology at Aberystwyth University, U.K., told msnbc.com by phone that another section, about twice the size of Manhattan, appeared close to breaking off.... In 2009, scientists installed GPS masts on the glacier to track its movement. But when they returned in July this year, they found the ice had been melting so quickly -- at an unexpected 16-and-a-half feet in two years -- that some of the masts stuck into the glacier were no longer in position.... "I'm very familiar with the glacier. It's very hard to sort of envisage something so big not being there ... to come back and basically see an ice shelf has disappeared, which is 20 kilometers across (about 12 miles) ... I was speechless and started laughing because I couldn't sort of believe it," Hubbard added, speaking to msnbc.com. ...


I thought Greenland was too big to fail.

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Thu, Sep 1, 2011
from New York Times:
Exxon Reaches Arctic Oil Deal With Russians
MOSCOW -- Exxon Mobil won a coveted prize in the global petroleum industry Tuesday with an agreement to explore for oil in a Russian portion of the Arctic Ocean that is being opened for drilling even as Alaskan waters remain mostly off limits. The agreement seemed to supersede a similar but failed deal that Russia's state oil company, Rosneft, reached with the British oil giant BP this year -- with a few striking differences. Where BP had planned to swap stock, Exxon, which is based in Texas, agreed to give Rosneft assets elsewhere in the world, including some that Exxon owns in the deepwater zones of the Gulf of Mexico and on land in Texas. ...


Folks, these are your Oil Overlords.

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Thu, Sep 1, 2011
from Associated Press:
Federal agency lifts Alaska scientist's suspension
An Alaska scientist whose observations of drowned polar bears spurred national publicity on climate warming returned to work Friday at the federal agency that oversees offshore petroleum drilling. Dr. Charles Monnett was suspended from his job at the Anchorage office of the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement after federal inspectors said he helped a polar bear researcher prepare a proposal even though he was the government official responsible for determining whether the proposal met minimum qualifications. He was away from his job for the last six weeks. But advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has claimed Monnett was targeted for his 2006 paper in a scientific journal on the drowned polar bears. ...


It would seem scientists are a threatened species as well.

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Fri, Aug 26, 2011
from The Independent:
British team the first to row to the North Pole
A team of British adventurers was poised last night to become the first to row to the magnetic North Pole. They were less than a mile from the end of their journey after a 28-day struggle through Arctic waters to complete a historic trip only made possible by climate change. The retreat of the Arctic's summer ice sheet has left navigable water where only a few years ago explorers would have to walk if they wanted to reach the pole. It was still a close-run thing, with wind-driven ice floes threatening to smash into the reinforced rowing boat and destroy it. Ironically, the last two miles of the journey had to be completed by hauling the boat onto an ice floe which had floated over the pole as the team approached.... Mr Wishart, who has rowed across theAtlantic, added: "We are all exhilarated and relieved that weather conditions were in our favour. It is an enormous achievement, and a privilege for our team to have been part of what is one of the world's last great firsts." ...


I guess we humans still have a few things to discover.

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Thu, Aug 25, 2011
from BBC:
Arctic sea routes open as ice melts
Two major Arctic shipping routes have opened as summer sea ice melts, European satellites have found. Data recorded by the European Space Agency's (Esa) Envisat shows both Canada's Northwest Passage and Russia's Northern Sea Route open simultaneously. This summer's melt could break the 2007 record for the smallest area of sea ice since the satellite era began in 1979.... But the Northern Sea Route has been free enough of ice this month for a succession of tankers carrying natural gas condensate from the northern port of Murmansk to sail along the Siberian coast en route for Thailand. "They're often open at the same time in the sense that with some ingenuity you can get through them," observed Peter Wadhams, an Arctic ice expert from the University of Cambridge. "But this time they've really been open, with a proper Suez-size tanker going through the Northern Sea Route with a full cargo - that's a real step forward," he told BBC News. ...


One step forward, ten steps back.

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Thu, Aug 25, 2011
from Reuters:
Polar bear death at BP oil field under investigation
Federal authorities are investigating the fatal shooting of a polar bear at an Alaska oil field operated by BP, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the oil company said on Thursday. The female bear was shot in early August by a security guard working for a BP contractor and died of its wounds about 11 days later, the agency and BP officials said. BP said the guard had been trying to ward off the bear rather than kill it and believed he was firing nonlethal ammunition....Polar bears, considered to be at risk because the Arctic sea ice they depend upon is dwindling, are listed as threatened with extinction under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. They are also managed under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which generally forbids hunting of the animals. ...


BP can either wait for global warming to kill them or take matters into their own hands.

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Tue, Aug 16, 2011
from Anchorage Daily News:
Human activities linked to warming and loss of sea ice
About half the recent record loss of Arctic sea ice can be blamed on global warming caused by human activity, according to a new study by scientists from the nation's leading climate research center. The peer-reviewed study, funded by the National Science Foundation, is the first to attribute a specific proportion of the ice melt to greenhouse gases and particulates from pollution. The study used supercomputers named Bluefire and Franklin and one of the world's most sophisticated climate models to reach its conclusions, said lead author Jennifer Kay, a staff scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The paper was published last week in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters. In a telephone interview from Boulder, Colo., where NCAR is headquartered, Kay said her study was an attempt to learn how much Arctic Ocean melting can be attributed to "natural variability" -- complex changes wrought by non-human forces -- and how much has been caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and by atmospheric particulates. ...


Nature + nurture = Apocalypse.

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Tue, Aug 9, 2011
from ThinkProgress:
Arctic Death Spiral: Sea Ice Passes De Facto Tipping Point Thanks to Deniers, Media Blow The Story, Again
The Arctic is all but certain to be virtually ice free within two decades (barring extreme volcanic activity). I'm happy to make bets with any bloggers, like Andy Revkin, who apparently believe otherwise. The recent scientific literature makes clear that while that death spiral could theoretically be reversed, it would require policies that climate science deniers have successfully demonized, policies many in the traditional media regularly pooh pooh or undercut. So we have passed a de facto tipping point, "the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development." If that wasn't obvious from observations, then it should have been clear from a December study in Nature widely misunderstood by the media. That study showed sea ice extent crashing by two thirds by the 2030s and then collapsing to near-zero shortly thereafter -- unless we cut GHG emissions about 60 percent to 70 percent almost immediately and have further cuts after that, an implausible assumption the authors never spelled out clearly.... The best recent models show staggeringly high Arctic warming this century if we stay on our current emissions path (see "M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10 deg F -- with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20 deg F"). Cooling ain't in the cards. Quite the reverse. ...


But with three or four percent of the experts thinking differently, there's reason for hope!

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Sat, Aug 6, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
US opens ways for Shell drilling in Arctic Ocean
US officials have granted Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell conditional approval to begin drilling exploration wells in the Arctic Ocean from next year, in a move swiftly slammed by conservationists as "inexcusable." The US Interior Department has opened the doors to Shell's proposal for four shallow water exploration wells in Alaska's Beaufort Sea to start in July 2012, said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) in a statement Thursday. ...


The Apocalypse has now officially commenced.

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Fri, Aug 5, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Arctic ice cap near 2007 record minimum: Russia
The polar ice cap in the Arctic has melted to near its 2007 record minimum level and in some areas is 50 percent smaller than average, Russia's environmental monitoring agency said Thursday. "According to the results of observations, the Arctic ice sheet is currently near the minimum that was observed in 2007 in the polar region," the Roshydromet agency said in a statement. It said the ice sheet covered an area of 6.8 billion square kilometres (2.6 billion square miles) and was much smaller than normal in Russia's Arctic seas.... "In September we can expect very easy navigation conditions in the Northern sea route," it said. ...


Whew! For some reason, I thought this was going to be bad news!

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Tue, Aug 2, 2011
from AFP, via The Independent:
Russia may lose up to 30 percent of permafrost by 2050: official
Russia's vast permafrost areas may shrink by a third by the middle of the century due to global warming, endangering infrastructure in the Arctic zone, an emergencies ministry official said Friday. "In the next 25 to 30 years, the area of permafrost in Russia may shrink by 10-18 percent," the head of the ministry's disaster monitoring department Andrei Bolov told the RIA Novosti news agency. "By the middle of the century, it can shrink by 15-30 percent, and the boundary of the permafrost may shift to the north-east by 150-200 kilometres," he said.... Permafrost, or soil that is permanently frozen, covers about 63 percent of Russia, but has been greatly affected by climate change in recent decades.... Scientists have said that permafrost thawing will set off another problem because the process will release massive amounts of greenhouse gas methane currently trapped in the frozen soil. ...


Splendid vacation homes now available in Omsk, Tomsk, and Krasnoyarsk!

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Tue, Aug 2, 2011
from PNAS, via Irish Weather Online:
Small Amounts Of Warming Could Trigger Rapid Ice Shelf Collapse
Only small amounts of subsurface warming of water is required to trigger a rapid collapse of ice shelves, according to a new report to be published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.... The findings, the researchers say, provide historical evidence that warming of water by 3-4 degrees was enough to trigger these huge, episodic discharges of ice from the Laurentide Ice Sheet in what is now Canada. They claim the results are important due to concerns that warmer water could cause a comparatively fast collapse of ice shelves in Antarctica or Greenland, increasing the flow of ice into the ocean and raising sea levels. One of the most vulnerable areas, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, would raise global sea level by about 11 feet if it were all to melt. "We don't know whether or not water will warm enough to cause this type of phenomenon," said Shaun Marcott, a postdoctoral researcher at Oregon State University (OSU) and lead author of the report. "But it would be a serious concern if it did, and this demonstrates that melting of this type has occurred before." ...


Then we'd better stop all that hot air coming from the scientists!

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Sun, Jul 31, 2011
from National Snow and Ice Center:
2011 Arctic ice melt tracking record 2007
...


Isn't all science just a theory, anyway?

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Sun, Jul 31, 2011
from BBC, thx to DesdemonaDespair:
Huge 2007 Arctic tundra fire points to new climate feedback
An exceptional wildfire in northern Alaska in 2007 put as much carbon into the air as the entire Arctic tundra absorbs in a year, scientists say. The Anaktuvuk River fire burned across more than 1,000 sq km (400 sq miles), doubling the extent of Alaskan tundra visited by fire since 1950. With the Arctic warming fast, the team suggests in the journal Nature that fires could become more common. If that happens, it could create a new climate feedback, they say.... But 2007 saw unusually warm and dry conditions across much of the Arctic - resulting, among other things, in spectacularly fast melting of Arctic sea ice. This created conditions more conducive to fire, and when lightning struck the tundra in July, the Anaktuvuk River fire ignited. "Most tundra fires have been very small - this was an order of magnitude larger than the historical size," said Michelle Mack from the University of Florida in Gainesville, who led the research team on the Nature paper and is currently conducting further field studies in Alaska. "In 2007, we had a hot, dry summer, there was no rain for a long period of time. "So the tundra must have been highly flammable, with just the right conditions for fire to spread until the snow in October finally stopped it."... Another impact of the fire that has yet to be fully assessed is that the blackened soil absorbs more solar energy than normally vegetated tundra. This abets melting of the permafrost layer below. "Once permafrost melts beyond a certain depth on a slope, then all of the organic layer slides down the slope like a landslide," Dr Mack told BBC News. "This whole issue of melting can lead to other huge changes in drainage, in areas of wetlands - releasing carbon that's been frozen since the Pleistocene [Epoch, which ended more than 10,000 years ago]." ...


New concepts learned today: 1) Tundra fires. 2) Permafrost landslides. 3) omg

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Thu, Jul 21, 2011
from National Geographic News:
Longest Polar Bear Swim Recorded--426 Miles Straight
A female polar bear swam for a record-breaking nine days straight, traversing 426 miles (687 kilometers) of water -- equivalent to the distance between Washington, D.C., and Boston, a new study says. The predator made her epic journey in the Beaufort Sea..., where sea ice is shrinking due to global warming, forcing mother bears to swim greater and greater distances to reach land -- to the peril of their cubs. The cub of the record-setting bear, for instance, died at some point between starting the swim and when the researchers next observed the mother on land. She also lost 22 percent of her body weight. ...


You go, girl!

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Thu, Jul 14, 2011
from Guardian:
Arctic may be ice-free within 30 years
Sea ice in the Arctic is melting at a record pace this year, suggesting warming at the north pole is speeding up and a largely ice-free Arctic can be expected in summer months within 30 years. The area of the Arctic ocean at least 15 percent covered in ice is this week about 8.5m sq kilometres - lower than the previous record low set in 2007 - according to satellite monitoring by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. In addition, new data from the University of Washington Polar Science Centre, shows that the thickness of Arctic ice this year is also the lowest on record. In the past 10 days, the Arctic ocean has been losing as much as 150,000 square kilometres of sea a day, said Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC. "The extent [of the ice cover] is going down, but it is also thinning. So a weather pattern that formerly would melt some ice, now gets rid of much more. There will be ups and downs, but we are on track to see an ice-free summer by 2030. It is an overall downward spiral." ...


Again? That news is so "last year."

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Tue, Jul 5, 2011
from Guardian:
Thawing Arctic opens up new shipping routes on the 'roof of the world'
Cold is the new hot in shipping circles as melting sea ice opens up prospects for trade between China and the west to move across the roof of the world. An increasing amount of seaborne traffic is beginning to move on the so-called Northern Sea Route which traverses the Siberian coast. There are also hopes of opening up more of the North West Passage above Canada. The attraction of the voyage is that it is one-third of the distance of more traditional routes through the Suez Canal. This means less carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions and less fuel. It also means less pirates.... Canadian and American maritime experts say 2 percent of global shipping could be diverted to the Arctic by 2030, rising to 5 percent by 2050. Already cruise ships are bringing tourists and income to countries such as Greenland. But they are also raising concerns about safety and pollution from oil spills. There is a widespread view that it is only a matter of time before there is a potential emergency: a passenger ship in trouble and potential evacuation into freezing seas. ...


What a positive development for trade, growth, and the sustainability of a consumer society!

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Mon, Jul 4, 2011
from University of Arizona, via EurekAlert:
Warming ocean layers will undermine polar ice sheets faster than expected
Warming of the ocean's subsurface layers will melt underwater portions of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets faster than previously thought, according to new University of Arizona-led research. Such melting would increase the sea level more than already projected. The research, based on 19 state-of-the-art climate models, proposes a new mechanism by which global warming will accelerate the melting of the great ice sheets during this century and the next. The subsurface ocean layers surrounding the polar ice sheets will warm substantially as global warming progresses, the scientists found. In addition to being exposed to warming air, underwater portions of the polar ice sheets and glaciers will be bathed in warming seawater.... "Ocean warming is very important compared to atmospheric warming because water has a much larger heat capacity than air," Yin said. "If you put an ice cube in a warm room, it will melt in several hours. But if you put an ice cube in a cup of warm water, it will disappear in just minutes."... Co-author Jonathan T. Overpeck said, "This does mean that both Greenland and Antarctica are probably going melt faster than the scientific community previously thought." ...


You mean that isn't the second hand?

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Fri, Jul 1, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Ocean currents speed melting of Antarctic ice
Stronger ocean currents beneath West Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf are eroding the ice from below, speeding the melting of the glacier as a whole, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience. A growing cavity beneath the ice shelf has allowed more warm water to melt the ice, the researchers say - a process that feeds back into the ongoing rise in global sea levels.... "More warm water from the deep ocean is entering the cavity beneath the ice shelf, and it is warmest where the ice is thickest," said study's lead author.... One goal was to study oceanic changes near the Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf, which they had visited in an earlier expedition, in 1994. The researchers found that in 15 years, melting beneath the ice shelf had risen by about 50 percent. ...


Is it melting half-faster, or not-melting half-slower?

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Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from National Post:
Pacific species migrating through warmer Northwest Passage
Set loose by an ice-free Northwest Passage, an invasion force of Pacific sea creatures are moving east to Atlantic waters. Researchers at the U.K.-based Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science have called the discovery of a microscopic west coast plant on the east coast a "harbinger of an inundation of the North Atlantic with foreign organisms."... "The Arctic is getting easier to navigate ... organisms that don't even swim are getting through," says Eric Solomon, director of conservation strategy at the Vancouver Aquarium.... "There's going to be some reshuffling of the ecosystems," says Mr. O'Dor. "Whether that's good for humans or bad for humans is yet to be determined." The invasion is already bad news for Newfoundland's ravaged Atlantic cod. While the decimated cod stock may no longer be threatened by fishing nets, they are "facing a potentially mutating ecosystem with the arrival of these different species," says Julian Dodson, a marine biologist at the University of Laval. He notes Arctic char are already facing tough competition for food by schools of east-moving capelin, a small forage fish.... Pacific salmon have begun cropping up off the Arctic coast of Alaska, and Atlantic salmon are appearing near Iqaluit. It is "inevitable" the two species will eventually collide, says Mr. O'Dor. ...


We've run out of immigration forms!!

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Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from NOAA:
State of the Climate for 2010 (PDF of slideshow)
Global average surface temperature among the two warmest of the instrumental record ~~ Greenland's ice sheet lost more mass in 2010 than at any time in the past ten years ~~ Consistent and unmistakable signal from the top of the atmosphere to the bottom of the oceans ~~ Many extreme events at regional and local levels ~~ Trends in snow cover duration, permafrost, and vegetation continued or accelerated ~~ Record-setting temperatures along entire western Greenland, both near the ground and higher in the atmosphere ~~ 2010 report tracks 41 climate indicators. Long-term trends continue to show the world is warming. ...


All that, in twelve slides?!?

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Tue, Jun 28, 2011
from CBC:
Rapid melting of Arctic sea ice possibly explained
Scientists have long puzzled over why Arctic sea ice is retreating at up to three times the rate that climate models say it should. In an effort to answer that question, a group of U.K-based explorers walked more than 500 kilometres of sea ice in the High Arctic, taking temperature readings of the ocean below them. They found a layer of cold, salty water about 200 metres down that they suspect has come from the melting of first-year ice. That meltwater has forced the relatively warmer water to the surface, where it's speeding up the decay of more ice.... The report concluded that sea ice retreat is 30 years ahead of where scientists thought it would be.... Year-old ice, however, remains fairly salty. And when it melts, it produces meltwater that's denser than the relatively fresh water from older ice. As multi-year ice declines throughout the Arctic, more of the saltier meltwater from younger ice is mixing into the ocean. That colder, denser water sinks more quickly and forces less dense water from deeper in the ocean up to the surface. Because fresh meltwater is colder than seawater, that means relatively warm water is being forced upwards. And that, said Boxall, may be part of the reason that sea ice is melting so much faster than anyone thought it would. ...


I'm so glad to understand the physics of the freight train bearing down on me.

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Mon, Jun 27, 2011
from Washington Post:
Arctic sea ice headed for another major melt
According to one measure of sea ice coverage - average ice extent - the decline in ice cover appears to be occurring slightly faster so far this year than in June 2007, but it's not clear that it will wind up below the extent measured in September 2007.... "It is important to note for context that all 2011 estimates are well below the 1979-2007 September climatological mean of 6.7 million square kilometers."... "We do not know if Arctic change is responsible for record cold outbreaks in Europe the past two years or the heavy snowstorms along the U.S. East Coast. All we know right now is that the behavior fits the current theory." ...


Wasn't 2007's melt a once-in-a-century event?

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Sun, Jun 19, 2011
from Anchorage Daily News:
Arctic warming even faster than predicted, scientists say
Surface temperatures in the Arctic since 2005 have been higher than for any five-year period since record keeping began in 1880, according to a new report from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, an international group within the Arctic Council that monitors the Arctic environment and provides advice on Arctic environmental protection. The rate of sea-ice decline has accelerated and the decline rate in the past 10 years has been higher than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted in 2007, the report says.... Temperatures in the Arctic permafrost have risen by up to 3.5 degrees in the past two to three decades, and the southern limit of the permafrost has been moving north, with the limit having retreated by 80 miles in the past 50 years in the Canadian province of Quebec, for example, the report says.... And, in terms of mitigation, deep and immediate cuts are required in the emission of the greenhouse gases that most scientists blame for the high, observed rate of global warming, the report says. ...


Like I've been saying for years, we've got Nature on the run!

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Tue, Jun 7, 2011
from Associated Press:
Greenhouse gas emissions hitting record highs
Despite 20 years of effort, greenhouse gas emissions are going up instead of down, hitting record highs as climate negotiators gather to debate a new global warming accord. The new report by the International Energy Agency showing high emissions from fossil fuels is one of several pieces of bad news facing delegates from about 180 countries heading to Bonn, Germany, for two weeks of talks beginning Monday...The figures are "a serious setback" to hopes of limiting the rise in the Earth's average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 F) above preindustrial levels, he said. Any rise beyond that, scientists believe, could lead to catastrophic climate shifts affecting water supplies and global agriculture, setting off more frequent and fierce storms and causing a rise in sea levels that would endanger coastlines. ...


Sounds eerily like what's happening now.

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Tue, May 31, 2011
from London Daily Mail:
Melting of the Arctic 'will accelerate climate change within 20 years'
An irreversible climate "tipping point" could occur within the next 20 years as a result of the release of huge quantities of organic carbon locked away as frozen plant matter in the vast permafrost region of the Arctic, scientists have found...Billions of tons of frozen leaves and roots that have lain undisturbed for thousands of years in the permanently frozen ground of the northern hemisphere are thawing out, with potentially catastrophic implications for climate change, the researchers said. ...


If only ancient people had invented the rake.

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Wed, May 25, 2011
from Ohio State University via ScienceDaily:
Two Greenland Glaciers Lose Enough Ice to Fill Lake Erie
A new study aimed at refining the way scientists measure ice loss in Greenland is providing a "high-definition picture" of climate-caused changes on the island. And the picture isn't pretty. In the last decade, two of the largest three glaciers draining that frozen landscape have lost enough ice that, if melted, could have filled Lake Erie. The three glaciers -- Helheim, Kangerdlugssuaq and Jakobshavn Isbrae -- are responsible for as much as one-fifth of the ice flowing out from Greenland into the ocean. ...


This study makes me feel Kangerdlugssuaq all over!

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Fri, May 13, 2011
from BBC:
Wikileaks cables show race to carve up Arctic
The opportunity to exploit resources has come because of a dramatic fall in the amount of ice in the Arctic. The US Geological Survey estimates oil reserves off Greenland are as big as those in the North Sea.... Tom Burke, who advises mining company Rio Tinto and the UK Foreign Office on climate change and business, told Newsnight that political tensions were rising because "the ice is declining much faster" than expected, so "everybody who thinks they've got a chance to get at those resources wants to get in there and stake their claim". Since the 1970s, Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University has made repeated trips under the North Pole in Royal Navy nuclear submarines to measure the thickness of the ice. He told Newsnight the graph "has gone off a cliff" because the ice sheet has thinned as well as shrunk. The Pan-Arctic Ice-Ocean Modelling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS) which measures ice volume shows that last September there was only a quarter of the ice in the Arctic that there had been in 1979. Prof Wadhams says in summer "it could easily happen that we'll have an ice-free North Pole within a year or two". ...


Sometimes it's the offhand comments that hit the hardest.

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Sun, May 8, 2011
from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:
As Climate Changes, Methane Trapped Under Arctic Ocean Could Bubble to the Surface
A two-part study by scientists from the U.S Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Los Alamos National Laboratory paints one of the most detailed pictures yet of how climate change could impact millions of tons of methane frozen in sediment beneath the Arctic Ocean. Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. The initial phase of the project found that buried deposits of clathrates, which are icy crystalline compounds that encase methane molecules, will break apart as the global temperature increases and the oceans warm. In the second phase, the scientists found that methane would then seep into the Arctic Ocean and gradually overwhelm the marine environment's ability to break down the gas. Supplies of oxygen, nutrients, and trace metals required by methane-eating microbes would dwindle year-by-year as more methane enters the water. After three decades of methane release, much of the methane may bubble to the surface -- where it has the potential to accelerate climate change.... Their research counters the view held by some scientists that the oceans will always consume big plumes of methane. Indeed, small-scale methane releases have been seeping from seafloor vents for eons. In these cases, hungry ocean-dwelling microbes quickly oxidize most of the methane before it escapes into the atmosphere. But this cycle will be disrupted if the Arctic region's vast stores of clathrates break apart and unleash a rash of new methane seeps, the scientists found. "Large-scale methane releases have a greater impact than we anticipated," adds Reagan. "When this happens, microbes cannot consume all of the methane because there isn't enough oxygen to fuel them." ...


How dare the physics and biology of the Arctic waters impede our continuous growth and prosperity!

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Thu, May 5, 2011
from Associated Press:
Climate scientists told to 'stop speaking in code'
Scientists at a major conference on Arctic warming were told Wednesday to use plain language to explain the dramatic melt in the region to a world reluctant to take action against climate change. An authoritative report released at the meeting of nearly 400 scientists in Copenhagen showed melting ice in the Arctic could help raise global sea levels by as much as 5 feet this century, much higher than earlier projections…Prominent U.S. climate scientist Robert Corell said researchers must try to reach out to all parts of society to spread awareness of the global implications of the Arctic melt. "Stop speaking in code. Rather than 'anthropogenic,' you could say 'human caused,'" Corell said. ...


Or you could just say: We're fucked.

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Tue, May 3, 2011
from AP:
New report confirms Arctic melt accelerating
A new assessment of climate change in the Arctic shows the ice in the region is melting faster than previously thought and sharply raises projections of global sea level rise this century.... A summary of the key findings obtained by the AP on Tuesday shows Arctic temperatures during that period were the highest since measurements began in 1880.... It said melting Arctic glaciers and ice caps are projected to help raise global sea levels by 35 to 63 inches ... by 2100. That's up from a 2007 projection of 7 to 23 inches ... by the U.N.'s scientific panel on climate change. ...


That's only a factor of three. Pfft.

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Mon, May 2, 2011
from Reuters:
African ocean current could boost Gulf Stream: study
An ocean current that flows down the east coast of Africa could strengthen a circulation pattern that brings warmth to Europe, according to a new study that challenges existing climate science. In a study in the latest issue of the journal Nature, scientists examining the Agulhas Current found more of the current's warm, salty water was entering the southern Atlantic, whose waters are cooler and fresher. This in turn could strengthen the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic that brings warm waters and warmer temperatures to northern Europe. Until now, most studies suggest climate change would weaken the Gulf Stream over the coming decades. In a further twist, the research team led by Lisa Beal of the University of Miami found signs that climate change had boosted the amount of water from the Agulhas current "leaking" into the south Atlantic over the past few decades.... "This could mean that current IPCC model predictions for the next century are wrong, and there will be no cooling in the North Atlantic to partially offset the effects of global climate change over North America and Europe," said Beal.... The researchers found evidence to suggest dramatic peaks in the flow of water from the Agulhas current over the past 500,000 years may have triggered the end of glacial cycles. They also found the current had been warming since the 1960s and a general movement south of warmer Indian Ocean waters, patterns consistent with climate change. ...


Maybe we need to see the MPCC model, in which Murphy's Law is invoked.

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Sun, May 1, 2011
from Bloomberg:
Disaster Needed for U.S. to Act on Climate Change, Harvard's Stavins Says
The U.S. probably won't take significant steps to curb climate change until an environmental disaster sways public view and prompts political action, Robert Stavins of Harvard University said. "It's unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction," Stavins, director of Harvard's Environmental Economics Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said today in an interview in Bloomberg's Boston office.... Stavins, an economist, is a member of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said in 2007 that scientists are more than 90 percent certain that humans are causing global warming.... "There's a legit reason for the public to be skeptical about climate change because they don't see it," Stavins said. Grabbing the public's attention would require a dramatic development, such as a "well-observed melting of parts of polar ice caps that result in some amount of sea-level rise," Stavins said. ...


Yeah, whaddaya expect from the public, abstract thinking?

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Sat, Apr 23, 2011
from Science News:
Salt clouds relieve some Arctic warming
Earth's warming in recent years has had an exaggerated impact in the Arctic. There, temperatures have soared relative to temperate areas, resulting in an increased summer melting of sea ice. But new research indicates that the local warming would be even more dramatic if it weren't for salt sprays kicked up by whitecaps from the Arctic's increasingly open waters. Snow and sea ice reflect much of the sun's warming rays back into space. As an increasing share of the Arctic Ocean's year-round cover of sea ice has disappeared, the sea surface has darkened -- or reduced its albedo -- and become an increasingly better absorber of solar energy. The open water starts to develop in spring and doesn't ice over again until fall. Year-round ice is ice that survives the summer...As expected, the salt clouds can exert a subtle cooling of the Arctic, the team reports online April 13 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. ...


Hey, this gives me a geoengineering idea: zeppelin saltshakers!

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Fri, Apr 22, 2011
from Alaska Dispatch:
Arctic glacier meltdown accelerates
Glaciers in the Canadian High Arctic -- home to about one third of the world's ice outside of the continental sheets of Antarctica and Greenland -- are melting away much faster than anybody realized. Between 2004 and 2009, the frigid runoff from the ice tongues of Ellesmere, Baffin and hundreds of other islands in the Canadian Far North would have filled Lake Erie three quarters full, according to a new study published this week in the journal of Nature. Toward the end of that period, the accumulated meltdown had surpassed the runoff from the glaciers rimming the Gulf of Alaska and became the greatest single contributor to global sea-level rise outside the continental sheets... ...


Happy Earth Day

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Sun, Apr 17, 2011
from Hot Topic:
The trillionth ton
If we want to give ourselves a 75 percent chance of coming in below a 2 degree C rise in the global average temperature, then we (as in all humanity) can emit around one trillion tonnes of CO2 (for more see Meinshausen et al here, discussed in the context of emissions targets at HT in this post). It doesn't much matter when we do the emitting, because CO2 hangs around in the atmosphere for a long time, but stick to that limit we must if we're serious about avoiding damaging warming. I like that way of thinking about the issue, as I noted in my report on the Forum, but it seems that I may have been rather optimistic about the height of the ceiling we're living under, and our chances of hitting a 2 degree C target. A new study by a team of Canadian climate modellers, Arora et al, Carbon emission limits required to satisfy future representative concentration pathways of greenhouse gases in Geophysical Research Letters..., suggests that: "... we have already surpassed the cumulative emission limit and so emissions must ramp down to zero immediately. The unprecedented reduction in fossil‐fuel emissions implied by either of these scenarios suggests that it is unlikely that warming can be limited to the 2 degrees C target agreed to in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord." Bugger. ...


Oh heck, stop worrying. Somebody'll think of something. Sometime.

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Fri, Apr 15, 2011
from NOAA:
March 2011 Arctic Ice Extent Second Lowest on Record
Average Arctic sea ice extent for the month of March 2011 was the second lowest in the satellite record (behind 2006), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The NSIDC reported that sea ice extent reached its yearly maximum on March 7. Covering an estimated 5.65 million square miles (14.64 million square kilometers), the extent tied for the lowest winter maximum extent in the satellite record. Arctic sea ice maximum extent has decreased by 2.7 percent per decade since 1979, a much smaller decline than the 11.5 percent per decade drop in the September minimum. The relatively small decline in winter maximum extent, however, does not mean the ice is fully recovering each winter from dramatic summer melting. Strong summer melting in the past decade has reduced the core of thick ice that manages to survive all year long. Spring ice cover has become increasingly dominated by young and generally thinner ice that formed over the previous months. Most of the thin, first-year ice melts again in the summer. ...


Which is it -- second lowest, or tied for lowest? Clearly, the scientific cabal of warmists have contradictory conclusions.

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Wed, Apr 13, 2011
from Australia ABC News:
Ice melt a weighty problem: expert
Melting ice sheets could cause a redistribution of the world's gravitational field causing higher than expected rises in sea level for some parts of the world, according to a senior Australian scientist. Dr John Church, chief research scientist with CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, says the full effect of this shift in gravity hasn't been factored into sea level rise predictions....the gravitational effect is lost and sea levels will be slightly lower than expected around the icy regions, but higher than expected in far away places such as New York or the Pacific islands. ...


Does this massive global shift make my butt look big?

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Tue, Apr 12, 2011
from Discovery News:
Penguin, Krill Populations in Freefall
Numbers of Chinstrap and Adelie penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula region have dropped by more than 50 percent in the last 30 years, driven mainly by dramatic declines in supplies of tiny, shrimp-like krill, their main prey, says a new study. Krill, meanwhile, have declined by 40 to 80 percent, due primarily to rapidly warming temperatures in the area -- the South Shetland Islands near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and nearby sites. This is one of the fastest-warming places on the planet with winter mean temperatures some 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer now than in pre-industrial times.... The krill rely on phytoplankton growing in mats on the underside of sea ice for food at critical stages, he said. "The young krill that are spawned in the Antarctic summer can't survive the winter without food," he said. "Once they get one year or older they can fast through the winter. We would get these long stretches of two, three or four warm, ice-free winters and there would be no survival of krill from the year before." "We put together the pieces of the puzzle and said what's driving the penguin declines is a change in climate," he concluded. ...


By grilling the world, we're krilling ourselves.

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Tue, Apr 5, 2011
from New Scientist:
Gulf Stream could be threatened by Arctic flush
Rapid warming in the Arctic is creating a new and fast-growing pool of fresh water in the Arctic Ocean. Measuring at least 7500 cubic kilometres, it could flush into the Atlantic Ocean and slow the Gulf Stream, bringing colder winters to Europe. The water is mostly coming from melting permafrost and rising rainfall, which is increasing flows in Siberian rivers that drain into the Arctic, such as the Ob and Yenisei. More comes from melting sea ice, says Laura de Steur of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research in 't Horntje, who is tracking the build-up.... "Sea ice is melting quicker. It is thinner and more mobile, and could exit the Arctic faster. Also more of it will enter the Atlantic as liquid water rather than ice." A dramatic freshening of the North Atlantic could disrupt the engine of a global ocean circulation system called the thermohaline circulation, or ocean conveyor. This system, of which the Gulf Stream forms a part, is driven by dense, salty water in the North Atlantic plunging to the ocean bottom near Greenland. ...


Thermohaline disruption just doesn't feel very catchy to me.

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Sun, Apr 3, 2011
from The Independent:
Glaciers melting at fastest rate in 350 years, study finds
Some mountain glaciers are melting up to 100 times faster than at any time in the past 350 years. The findings, based on a new ice loss calculation technique developed by studying the glaciers of Patagonia in South America, have worrying implications for crop irrigation and water supplies around the world. The quantity of ice lost from Patagonia is equivalent to a fifth more than the contents of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes of North America. Scientists behind the discovery claim their findings show that the rate of melting at the start of the 20th century was much slower than previously calculated, but that over the past 30 years it has been significantly faster than suspected.... The figures show the contribution to sea level rise is increasing, though still at a low level, but what alarmed the team most was that the rate of loss has sped up rapidly since 1980. "The glaciers have lost a lot less ice up until 30 years ago than had been thought. The real killer is that the rate of loss has gone up 100 times above the long-term average. It's scary," said Professor Glasser, who carried out the study with the University of Exeter and Stockholm University. ...


I thought Patagonia was just an outdoor clothing line.

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Sun, Apr 3, 2011
from CBC:
Quebec hunters kill 12 times more polar bears this winter
Hunters in Quebec have killed 12 times the usual number of polar bears they harvest in southern Hudson Bay this winter, leading a Canadian polar bear researcher to wonder if soaring prices for polar bear hides are to blame. Hunters in Nunavik, a predominantly Inuit region in northern Quebec, harvested 47 polar bears in southern Hudson Bay in the last seven months, according to numbers obtained by CBC News. On average, fewer than four polar bears were hunted every year for the last five years, according to the figures. Ian Stirling, a longtime polar bear researcher at the University of Alberta, said he fears the recently soaring price of polar bear hides is driving the hunt. "It's an effort for a quick buck, and it's certainly not sustainable," Stirling told CBC News. Stirling said the polar bear population in southern Hudson Bay is estimated at about 900 to 1,000 bears. That population is already being hit hard by poor sea ice conditions, he added.... Lucassie Arragutainaq, chairman of Sanikiluaq's hunters and trappers organization, said people in his community have heard even more polar bears may have been hunted in Nunavik. "People talk and we've been hearing about 60-plus. This is a lot of more bears as far as we're concerned, but it's the same population that we're hunting," he said. ...


Curiously, the laws of supply and demand lead to extinctions.

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Tue, Mar 29, 2011
from Our Amazing Planet:
Oceans May Be Speeding Melt of Greenland's Glaciers
Dynamic layers of warm Atlantic and cold Arctic Ocean waters around Greenland may be speeding the melt of the country's glaciers, researchers find. "Over the last 15 years or so, the Greenland Ice Sheet has been putting a lot more ice into the ocean," said Fiammetta Straneo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts, who has spent years studying the ice-coated country that is currently responsible for about a quarter of worldwide sea level rise. "We're trying to understand why, as we thought ice sheets changed on much longer timescales, like thousands of years," she told OurAmazingPlanet. Researchers know that warm air over Greenland melts surface snow and ice, but this process doesn't do enough melting to explain the extent of the glaciers' rapid retreat. ...


Maybe the glaciers are simply recoiling from the horror!

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Mon, Mar 28, 2011
from Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres via ScienceDaily:
Freshwater Content of Upper Arctic Ocean Increased 20 Percent Since 1990s, Large-Scale Assessment Finds
The freshwater content of the upper Arctic Ocean has increased by about 20 percent since the 1990s, according to a new large-scale assessment... The freshwater content in the layer of the Arctic Ocean near the surface controls whether heat from the ocean is emitted into the atmosphere or to ice. In addition, it has an impact on global ocean circulation...This freshwater lies as a light layer on top of the deeper salty and warm ocean layers and thus extensively cuts off heat flow to the ice and atmosphere. Changes in this layer are therefore major control parameters for the sensitive heat balance of the Arctic. ...


That's the problem with this planet. It's sooooo sensitive.

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Wed, Mar 23, 2011
from AlaskaDispatch:
Warmer Arctic could increase threat of disease for caribou, other foods
Climate change in the Arctic could change the balance of power between humans, animals and the germs or pathogens that make them both sick, according to a paper by University of Alaska Fairbanks microbiologist Karsten Hueffer.... The rates of predicted climate change for the Arctic could spell disaster for this longstanding host-pathogen balance. A warmer Arctic could increase survival of organisms that carry disease and decrease survival of the animals they infect - including animals used as subsistence food by people living in the Arctic. "What happens when a caribou has its calf on ground warm enough to have pathogens the calf cannot fight off?" said Hueffer. "The same issue could face bears giving birth in dens." Muskoxen are affected by a lung worm known to develop much faster when it's warmer. "The faster the worm grows the more generations are born, which increases the disease pressure on the muskoxen," said Hueffer. Humans are at risk as well. A warmer Arctic and the prospect of an ice-free Northwest Passage is expected to drive an increase in development and other human activity in the North, all of which will increase contact among wildlife, humans and domesticated animals. ...


Caribou, muskox, and bears -- they die!

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Wed, Mar 16, 2011
from Montreal Gazette:
Could global warming be causing recent earthquakes?
Severe earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and now Japan have experts around the world asking whether the world's tectonic plates are becoming more active -- and what could be causing it. Some scientists theorize that the sudden melting of glaciers due to man-made climate change is lightening the load on the Earth's surface, allowing its mantle to rebound upwards and causing plates to become unstuck....The surface of the Earth is elastic. A heavy load such as a glacier will cause it to sink, pushing aside the liquid rock underneath. ...


Regardless, these earthquakes are good practice for the Apocalypse.

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Sat, Mar 12, 2011
from New York Times:
Polar Ice Loss Is Accelerating, Scientists Say
...On Wednesday, a research team led by a NASA scientist unveiled a new study that is sure to stir debate on the topic. The paper concludes that ice loss from both Greenland and Antarctica is accelerating, and that the ice sheets' impact on the rise in sea levels in the first half of the 21st century will be substantially higher than previous studies had projected. The increasing ice loss means that, for the first time, Greenland and Antarctica appear to be adding more to sea-level rise than the world's other reserves of ice -- primarily mountain glaciers, which are also melting because of rising temperatures. In 2006 alone, the study estimated that the two ice sheets lost roughly 475 billion metric tons of ice.... If the rates of melting observed in the study were to continue, the ice sheets could add nearly six inches to the rise in global sea levels in the next forty years -- a far larger contribution than the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international scientific body, has projected. ...


Six inches in 40 years? I can crawl away from that!

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Tue, Mar 8, 2011
from NASA, via ScienceDaily:
Melting Ice Sheets Now Largest Contributor to Sea Level Rise
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass at an accelerating pace, according to a new NASA-funded satellite study. The findings of the study -- the longest to date of changes in polar ice sheet mass -- suggest these ice sheets are overtaking ice loss from Earth's mountain glaciers and ice caps to become the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted.... The nearly 20-year study reveals that in 2006, a year in which comparable results for mass loss in mountain glaciers and ice caps are available from a separate study conducted using other methods, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets lost a combined mass of 475 gigatonnes a year on average. That's enough to raise global sea level by an average of 1.3 millimeters (.05 inches) a year... The pace at which the polar ice sheets are losing mass was found to be accelerating rapidly. Each year over the course of the study, the two ice sheets lost a combined average of 36.3 gigatonnes more than they did the year before.... "What is surprising is this increased contribution by the ice sheets is already happening. If present trends continue, sea level is likely to be significantly higher than levels projected by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. Our study helps reduce uncertainties in near-term projections of sea level rise." ...


I hear Charlie Sheen is #winning!

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Sat, Mar 5, 2011
from LiveScience:
Arctic's Spring Phytoplankton Blooms Arrive Earlier
When summer comes to the Arctic, the tiny plants that feed the ocean's food chain form green blooms in the water. In some Arctic waters, the peak of this bloom has been arriving earlier every year since 1997, a study has found. These areas, where peak bloom time is creeping up, are roughly the same as those with decreasing sea ice in June, according to the researchers.... In some areas, the change was quite dramatic. For example, in the Baffin Sea, southwest of Greenland, the peak bloom moved from September to early July. Phytoplankton is crucial to the marine ecosystem, because it forms the base of the food chain. The creatures that eat the tiny plants, including fish and tiny animals called zooplankton, have adapted to make the most of these blooms. It's not clear if they are able to sync up with the earlier blooms and avoid disruptions to critical life stages, such as egg hatching and larvae development, according to lead study author Mati Kahru, a research oceanographer in the Integrative Oceanography Division at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California. ...


The early fish gets the phytoplankton!

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Thu, Feb 17, 2011
from NSIDC, via IPS:
Permafrost Melt Soon Irreversible Without Major Fossil Fuel Cuts
Thawing permafrost is threatening to overwhelm attempts to keep the planet from getting too hot for human survival. Without major reductions in the use of fossil fuels, as much as two-thirds of the world's gigantic storehouse of frozen carbon could be released, a new study reported. That would push global temperatures several degrees higher, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable. Once the Arctic gets warm enough, the carbon and methane emissions from thawing permafrost will kick-start a feedback that will amplify the current warming rate, says Kevin Schaefer, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. That will likely be irreversible. And we're less than 20 years from this tipping point. Schaefer prefers to use the term "starting point" for when the 13 million square kilometres of permafrost in Alaska, Canada, Siberia and parts of Europe becomes a major new source of carbon emissions. "Our model projects a starting point 15 to 20 years from now," Schaefer told IPS. The model used a 'middle of the road' scenario with less fossil fuel use than at present. Even at that rate, it found that between 29 and 60 percent of the world's permafrost will thaw, releasing an extra 190 gigatonnes of carbon by 2200. The study is the first to quantify when and how much carbon will be released and was published this week in the meteorological journal Tellus. ...


That's the "starting point" of "we're finished."

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Thu, Feb 10, 2011
from NASA:
January Arctic Sea Ice Extent Lowest Since Satellites
During the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2010-2011, unusually cold temperatures and heavy snowstorms plagued North America and Europe, while conditions were unusually warm farther north. Now the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has reported that Arctic sea ice was at its lowest extent ever recorded for January (since satellite records began). NSIDC reported that ice extent was unusually low in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, and Davis Strait in the early winter. Normally frozen over by late November, these areas did not completely freeze until mid-January 2011. The Labrador Sea was also unusually ice-free.... Another factor in the low Arctic sea ice extent, NSIDC explained, could be that the areas of open ocean were still releasing heat to the atmosphere. Due to its bright appearance, sea ice reflects most of the Sun's light and heat back into space. Dark ocean water, by contrast, absorbs most of that energy and reinforces the melting process. ...


Records, alas, seem made to be broken.

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Fri, Feb 4, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
Still Hope for Arctic Sea Ice
The substantial decline of Arctic sea ice in recent years has triggered some fears that the ice cover might be approaching a "tipping point" beyond which the loss of the remaining sea ice would become unstoppable. However, new research carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg/Germany now indicates that such tipping point is unlikely to exist for the loss of Arctic summer sea ice. The sea-ice cover reacts instead relatively directly to the climatic conditions at any given time. Hence, the ongoing loss of Arctic sea ice could be slowed down and eventually stopped if global warming were to be slowed down and eventually stopped.... The researchers underline that their results do not question the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice or its relation to anthropogenic climate change. "If we don't slow down global warming extensively, we will lose the summer sea-ice cover in the Arctic within a few decades," says Tietsche. "Our research shows that the speed of sea-ice loss is closely coupled to the speed of global warming. We think that it's important to know that we can still do something about slowing down or possibly even stopping the loss of the sea-ice cover." ...


I'm delighted there are no other tipping points involved.

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Thu, Feb 3, 2011
from Earth Institute, Columbia University:
In the Arctic More Than Elsewhere, Things Are Heating Up
Today's water temperatures are roughly 2.5 degrees F above what they were during the Medieval Warm Period, which affected the North Atlantic from about 900 - 1300 A.D. and altered the climates of Northern Europe and northern North America. The authors of the study hypothesize that this recent rise in water temperature in the Fram Strait is related to the amplification of global warming in the Arctic.... Based on their studies, the team of researchers behind the study believes that a number of recent trends (including the rapid warming of the Arctic, the loss of Arctic sea ice, and the warming of the North Atlantic) are interrelated.... Both methods demonstrated a sharp rise in the abundance of warmer-water foraminifera in the last 100 years; for the first time in 2,000 years, this species became dominant over a cold-water variety.... [A] co-author of the CU-Boulder study recently stated he feels "fairly confident that what we are seeing today is largely an anthropogenic signal." ...


I'm "fairly confident" that signal is saying STOP!

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Tue, Feb 1, 2011
from CBC:
Arctic mapping camp abandoned amid thin-ice worry
The Canadian government is abandoning plans for a remote scientific camp on the Arctic Ocean ice this year, citing dangerously thin ice conditions. Over the past five years, scientists have set up ice camps in remote areas of the Arctic Ocean as they gather extensive mapping data that could help Canada claim a greater area of the seabed under the Law of the Sea convention. Canada and other Arctic countries are vying to claim more of the Arctic seabed, which is potentially rich in oil and gas resources. Canada has until 2013 to submit its claim. This year, 25 Canadian scientists were to conduct their mapping work from an ice camp about 400 kilometres offshore. Last year, a similar camp housed 12 researchers on an ice floe on the Arctic Ocean, about 250 kilometres offshore from Borden Island in the High Arctic. But that ice floe started breaking up, said Jacob Verhoef, director of Canada's mapping program with the Natural Resources Department. "That floe actually broke up, and so we had a new crack forming about a kilometre away from the camp," Verhoef told CBC News on Monday, adding that the camp was luckily not affected. ...


Cap'n! We're moving into iceberg country!

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Sun, Jan 30, 2011
from Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
Alaska seeing impact of climate change in its infrastructure, villages
Climate change has already begun to make life difficult for state transportation managers. And they expect it to become a bigger and more expensive challenge if warming trends continue as predicted. "With over 6,600 miles of coastline and 80 percent of the state underlaid by ice-rich permafrost, you can certainly imagine we are at the forefront of climate change impacts," said Mike Coffey, maintenance and operations chief for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Coffey discussed the impact of climate change on transportation in a webinar last week, hosted by the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. New challenges include warming permafrost, coastal erosion and the potential for more dramatic storms and flooding, he said. These could lead to more highways and facilities cracking, icing up or even washing away. The hardest-hit areas are northern, western and Interior Alaska, where roads and structures are built over permafrost and near the coast. ...


Benefits of climate change include seeing Russia more easily from Alaskan windows.

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Sat, Jan 29, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Polar bear's long swim illustrates ice melt
In one of the most dramatic signs ever documented of how shrinking Arctic sea ice impacts polar bears, researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska have tracked a female bear that swam nine days across the deep, frigid Beaufort Sea before reaching an ice floe 426 miles offshore. The marathon swim came at a cost: With little food likely available once she arrived, the bear lost 22 percent of her body weight and her year-old female cub, who set off on the journey but did not survive, the researchers said. ...


We can only hope being "dead" might clarify the debate between "threatened" and "endangered."

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Sat, Jan 29, 2011
from University of Colorado at Boulder via ScienceDaily:
Warming North Atlantic Water Tied to Heating Arctic
The temperatures of North Atlantic Ocean water flowing north into the Arctic Ocean adjacent to Greenland -- the warmest water in at least 2,000 years -- are likely related to the amplification of global warming in the Arctic, says a new international study involving the University of Colorado Boulder...The team believes that the rapid warming of the Arctic and recent decrease in Arctic sea ice extent are tied to the enhanced heat transfer from the North Atlantic Ocean..."Cold seawater is critical for the formation of sea ice, which helps to cool the planet by reflecting sunlight back to space..." ...


Call it... the "albedone effect."

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Thu, Jan 27, 2011
from Reuters:
Castration seen as climate change aid for reindeer
Indigenous Sami peoples in the Arctic may have found a way to help their reindeer herds cope with climate change: more castration. Research by Sami experts shows that sterilised males can grow larger and so are better at digging for food -- as Arctic temperatures vary more, thawing snow often refreezes to form thick ice over lichen pastures. Neutered males are more able to break through ice with their hooves or antlers, and seem more willing than other males to move aside and share food with calves that can die of starvation in bad freeze-thaw winters like 2000-01. ...


Something about this solution ... just doesn't seem sustainable.

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Thu, Jan 27, 2011
from Reuters:
Arctic short-cut shipping to leap in 2011 -Russia
Russia predicted on Tuesday a surge in voyages on an Arctic short-cut sea route in 2011 as a thaw linked to climate change opens the region even more to shipping and oil and mining companies. High metals and oil prices, linked to rising demand from China and other emerging economies, is helping to spur interest in the Arctic and the route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as an alternative to travelling via the Suez canal. ...


The Apocalypse is nigh -- LET'S PARTY!!!

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Mon, Jan 24, 2011
from International Business Times:
Greenland Ice Sheets Melt At Record Rate In 2010
"Melting in 2010 started exceptionally early at the end of April and ended quite late in mid- September," Tedesco said in a statement. "This past melt season was exceptional, with melting in some areas stretching up to 50 days longer than average." A melting Greenland ice sheet contributes to sea level rise, which has occurred at a mean rate of about 1.8 millimeters per year over the past century. If the Greenland ice sheet were to melt completely it would raise sea levels by 7 meters. But that is unlikely to happen for several centuries at least. One reason for the record-breaking melt was that summer temperatures in the Arctic were 2-3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F) warmer than normal. Greenland's capital, Nuuk, experienced temperatures higher than any since 1873, when weather records started being been kept there. NASA data showed that 2010 was tied with 2005 as, globally, the warmest year on record. ...


Greenland is trying to live up to its name!

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Sat, Jan 22, 2011
from Climatewire:
Greenland's Ice Feels the Heat in Record-Setting 2010
Greenland's massive ice sheet experienced record surface melting and runoff last year, according to research released today. Unusually warm conditions in much of the country helped extend the annual melting season by up to 50 days longer in 2010 than the average observed between 1979 and 2009, researchers found... Last year was the warmest in Greenland's capital, Nuuk, since record keeping began there in 1873. Nuuk, on the country's southwest coast, also set records in 2010 for warmest winter, spring and summer seasons. ...


We're Nuuked!

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Wed, Jan 19, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
The silver lining to Arctic global warming
In the Arctic Ocean as elsewhere, the full, destructive power of global warming appears unmistakable. Regional sea ice is retreating fast, threatening to raise global sea levels, destroy traditional habitats and ways of life, and accelerate the rate at which the planet as a whole is warming up. Yet there is one silver lining to this depressing and disturbing picture. For when last week representatives of the Russian oil company Rosneft signed a "historic" new deal with BP, it was an indication that, in the years ahead, climate change will present a more complex picture than the darker image that is often drawn.... The mere threat of resource shortages should prompt us to exploit the remaining reserves to the full, not to fight over them. ...


The sooner we use up those resources forever, the sooner we can get on with the business of resource wars.

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Tue, Jan 18, 2011
from PNAS, via EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Gulf Stream edging northwards along Canadian coast
The Gulf Stream off eastern Canada appears to have advanced northward of its historical position in recent decades, possibly in response to anthropogenic climate change. That is according to researchers in North America and Switzerland who say that the changes could have some profound implications for marine life off the coast of Canada.... As these deep-sea corals grow new rings in their endoskeleton every year, Sherwood's team was able to determine annual variations in water composition stretching back 1800 years. According to Sherwood, one of the big challenges his team faced was collecting corals for analysis, but these were collected by remotely operated vehicles and others were supplied by the fishing industry, which accidentally scoops up corals in its nets.... Reporting their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers say that the dominance of the warm Gulf waters since the early 1970s appears to be largely unique within this bimillennial period. Although Sherwood's team links these changes with recent changes in global climate, it says that further analysis is need to investigate the effects on wider ocean circulation. "These water masses do appear to have changed significantly in recent years, though I must emphasize that we have only looked at a very specific region off the coast of Nova Scotia," says Sherwood. ...


That's just the Gulf Stream wanting to check out the New Northwest Passage.

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Mon, Jan 17, 2011
from Scientific American:
Thaw of Earth's icy sunshade may stoke warming
Shrinking ice and snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is reflecting ever less sunshine back into space in a previously underestimated mechanism that could add to global warming, a study showed. Satellite data indicated that Arctic sea ice, glaciers, winter snow and Greenland's ice were bouncing less energy back to space from 1979 to 2008. The dwindling white sunshade exposes ground or water, both of which are darker and absorb more heat.... "This reduction in reflected solar energy through warming is greater than simulated by the current crop of climate models," he said of the findings by a team of U.S.-based researchers and published in the journal Nature Geoscience Sunday. "The conclusion is that the cryosphere (areas of ice and snow) is both responding more sensitively to, and also driving, stronger climate change than thought," he said. ...


See? That shows that those climate models are wrong.

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Tue, Jan 11, 2011
from Washington Post:
As Arctic melts, U.S. ill equipped to tap resources
...Like the rest of the 2.5-million-square-foot area at the top of the world, this chunk of the U.S. Arctic is melting quickly because of accelerated climate change. The prospect of newly thawed sea lanes and a freshly accessible, resource-rich seabed has nations jockeying for position. And government and military officials are concerned the United States is not moving quickly enough to protect American interests in this vulnerable and fast-changing region. ...


The Empire is sooo melting.

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Mon, Jan 10, 2011
from CBC:
Climate change on inevitable course: study
Researchers from the University of Calgary and Environment Canada's climate centre at the University of Victoria say coastal areas will flood and the Earth's land mass will shrink as global sea levels rise by at least four metres over the next millennium. They also believe parts of North Africa will dry out by up to 30 per cent and ocean warming is likely to trigger widespread collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, a region the size of the Canadian Prairies.... "We were kind of surprised by the result, actually. Even if we change behaviour and totally change society, we're still in store for a lot of bad scenarios. I feel a bit defeatist from it."... The team used computer modelling to speculate how the world would change by the year 3000 in a "zero emissions" scenario.... If we drop dead with emissions right now, the Arctic sea ice gets worse for another 10 or 20 years but then it comes back -- so by 2100 it's back to what we're used to. "If we keep business as usual, the sea ice in the Arctic is mostly gone." ...


Time to invest in Nunavut!

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Sun, Jan 9, 2011
from Berlingske Tidende, via DesdemonaDespair:
Greenland's melting seems unstoppable
No matter how much we turn down the CO2-burner, Greenland will still reach a significant turning point by around 2040, writes Berlingske Tidende.... "It is a very troubling result, because it shows that the melting can go much stronger than we usually imagine," says one of the article's authors, Jens Hesselberg Christensen, Berlingske Tidende.... "Based on our model, I would almost argue that the time has already passed. Our results indicate in principle that continuous melting is inevitable," says Jens Hesselberg. ...


Thank goodness this is from Bizarro-Earth, where "inevitable" means "never going to happen."

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Sat, Jan 8, 2011
from The ApocaDocs:
2010 not yet forgotten
Since its release in the waning weeks of 2010, The ApocaDocs 2010 Year in Review -- a "year's 100 worst" cavalcade of catastrophes and comedy -- has consistently been our site's second most popular page, after the home page. If you haven't skimmed it, please do. If you have skimmed it, and remember what that felt like, please pass it on to others, or link to it, or tweet it. We don't have much time left to come to our senses. ...


Let's hope past is not precursor.

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Thu, Jan 6, 2011
from New York Times:
A 'Bulge' in Atmospheric Pressure Gives Us a Super-Cold Winter Amid Global Warming
Icicle-covered oranges in Florida. The United Kingdom swamped with its coldest December in more than a century. Travelers stranded in airports surrounded by snowy fortresses.... So how does this fit with global warming models? According to some climate scientists, the cold in places like Florida actually could be a sign of warming, rather than an argument against the phenomenon. The ongoing disappearance of sea ice in the Arctic from elevated temperatures is a factor to changes in atmospheric pressure that control jet streams of air, explained James Overland, an oceanographer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. That is because ice-less ocean is darker and, thus, absorbs more solar heat, which in turn spews warmer air than average back into the Arctic atmosphere. That unusually warm air can contribute to a "bulge" effect to the atmospheric pressure controlling how cold air flows, according to Overland, who works at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. Rather than moving circularly in the Arctic from west to east as typical, the bulge may prompt air to move in a U-shaped pattern down to the southern United States. ...


Apocaiku: cold air is warming / it roils and pushes further / chaos brings new ice

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Tue, Jan 4, 2011
from CBC:
'Double whammy' warms Nunavut -- light rain in January
A lack of sea ice in parts of Canada's eastern Arctic is contributing to unusually mild temperatures in Nunavut, according to scientists. In recent months, the weather in many parts of Nunavut has been 10 to 12 degrees above the -20 and -30 C temperatures that are normal at this time of year. Light rain fell in Iqaluit, the territorial capital, as the daytime temperature hovered around 0 C on Monday. Environment Canada declared 2010 to be the warmest year on record there. In a rare sight for this time of year, Frobisher Bay has not yet frozen over entirely. Likewise, there is a lack of sea ice in parts of Hudson Bay, Davis Strait and other Arctic waterways.... According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, nearly half of Hudson Bay would have been frozen over by the end of November. But by Nov. 30, only 17 per cent of the bay had sea ice on it.... "You may be seeing a little bit of a hint of what the future holds in store for you," he said. ...


Can you call a gut punch "a little bit of a hint"?

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Tue, Dec 28, 2010
from Time:
The Northeast Blizzard: One More Sign of Global Warming
It's become as much a winter tradition as eggnog at Christmas and champagne on New Year's Eve -- the first major snowstorm of the year bringing out the climate-change skeptics. And the bona fide blizzard that has frozen much of the Northeast just a few days after winter officially began definitely qualifies as major. But while piles of snow blocking your driveway hardly conjure images of a dangerously warming world, it doesn't mean that climate change is a myth. The World Meteorological Organization recently reported that 2010 is almost certainly going to be one of the three warmest years on record, while 2001 to 2010 is already the hottest decade in recorded history. Indeed, according to some scientists, all of these events may actually be connected... The loss of Arctic sea ice helps accelerate the warming of the atmosphere in the far north, thanks to what's known as the albedo effect. White ice reflects sunlight into space, cooling the air, but when ice melts and is replaced with dark ocean water, the effect is reversed and more of the sun's heat is absorbed. As the Arctic air warms, it raises the altitude of discrete areas of high pressure, which can then alter wind patterns. This, in turn, can weaken the jet stream, allowing more cold air to seep out of the Arctic and into Europe and the eastern U.S. ...


Just like snowmen, climate skeptics will melt.

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Thu, Dec 23, 2010
from Los Angeles Times:
Polar bear status pits environmentalists vs. administration
A dispute about how much the government should protect polar bears has turned into a battleground for environmentalists and some of the country's most powerful business organizations over the larger question of global warming. On Wednesday, the Interior Department filed arguments in federal court defending its decision to classify polar bears as "threatened" rather than "endangered" despite widespread shrinkage of the sea ice that forms the bears' natural habitat. What makes the issue so sensitive is that, if polar bears received the stricter endangered classification, the Obama administration would be pressured to attack the problem at its source: the petroleum, coal and manufacturing companies that emit the greenhouse gases scientists say are a major factor in climate change. ...


I propose a third category for polar bears: screwed.

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Thu, Dec 16, 2010
from Greenpeace:
Free 'print 'n' play' game: Big Oil Vs Greenpeace to save the Arctic
It's a free print & play board game called Deepsea Desperation. It's all about Greenpeace against Big Oil, with one player struggling to establish marine reserves in the very territory the other player wants to exploit. Through a mix of strategic lobbying, oil exploration, direct action and reserve creation, one of you will triumph. But beware: If you choose to be oil and get too many blowouts you'll have a deepwater slaughter on your hands, a mock twitter account handling your PR, pictures of dead animals in the paper, billions in damages and all those things that are so bad for your bottom line. And if a species falls extinct, you both lose.... Of course this isn't just a game. The world's oil companies really are trying to drill in some of the riskiest and most environmentally sensitive areas in the world. Marine reserves - think national parks at sea - really are the answer. World Park Antarctica is closed to industry because you helped us win the campaign to protect it. There's no reason we can't do the same in the Arctic, where oil companies are licking their lips as, without a trace of irony, they welcome the shrinking of the ice caps due to climate change. See, retreating ice frees up more places they can drill for oil. Unfortunately that will lead to more climate change. You see the problem here. We like to call this humanity's "Stupid Test." ...


Maybe the sides ought to be "future civilization" and "carbon producers."

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Wed, Dec 15, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Ancient forest emerges mummified from the Arctic
The northernmost mummified forest ever found in Canada is revealing how plants struggled to endure a long-ago global cooling. Researchers believe the trees -- buried by a landslide and exquisitely preserved 2 to 8 million years ago -- will help them predict how today's Arctic will respond to global warming. They also suspect that many more mummified forests could emerge across North America as Arctic ice continues to melt. As the wood is exposed and begins to rot, it could release significant amounts of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere -- and actually boost global warming.... "Mummified forests aren't so uncommon, but what makes this one unique is that it's so far north. When the climate began to cool 11 million years ago, these plants would have been the first to feel the effects," Barker said. ...


Mummified forests releasing gases that then reveal more mummified forests -- are we sure this isn't another zombie-movie promo?

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Fri, Dec 10, 2010
from Nature, via EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Greenland ice sheet flow driven by short-term weather extremes, not gradual warming: UBC research
Sudden changes in the volume of meltwater contribute more to the acceleration - and eventual loss - of the Greenland ice sheet than the gradual increase of temperature, according to a University of British Columbia study.... Now a new study, to be published tomorrow in the journal Nature, shows that a steady meltwater supply from gradual warming may in fact slow down glacier flow, while sudden water input could cause glaciers to speed up and spread, resulting in increased melt.... "Sudden water input caused by short term extremes - such as massive rain storms or the draining of a surface lake - however, cannot easily be accommodated by existing channels. This allows it to pool and lubricate the bottom of the glaciers and accelerate ice loss," says Schoof, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Global Process Modeling. "This certainly doesn't mitigate the issue of global warming, but it does mean that we need to expand our understanding of what's behind the massive ice loss we're worried about," says Schoof. ...


Thank goodness gradual warming doesn't create local weather extremes!

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Mon, Nov 29, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Research highlights the 'human face' of climate change
Barry Smit is the Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change, and since 2005 he's studied how Arctic communities have tried to adapt to the rising temperatures caused by major shifts in global weather patterns. The human dimension of climate change has long been understudied, says Smit, who is taking part this week in a panel discussion on the environment and economy at the first ever Canada Research Chairs conference in Toronto. Over the course of two research projects - one with ArcticNet and another with the International Polar Year project - Smit has seen first-hand how Canada's Inuit have dealt with changing ice levels, wind speed, migration routes, and so on.... Some communities are seeing their dietary patterns evolve because the animals they've traditionally hunted have shifted their migratory patterns, says Smit. That shift has caused those communities to rely on grocery stores for their food - and since the groceries found in Canada's arctic are often no better than "what we in the south would generally characterize as junk food," that's led to teeth problems and higher rates of diabetes, says Smit.... "The ice is their highway. And one of the thing they've noticed is that their highway is collapsing in places it's never collapsed before," he says. ...


Accidental microcosmic phrases can make me weep.

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Thu, Nov 18, 2010
from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via ScienceDaily:
As Arctic Temperatures Rise, Tundra Fires Increase
In September, 2007, the Anaktuvuk River Fire burned more than 1,000 square kilometers of tundra on Alaska's North Slope, doubling the area burned in that region since record keeping began in 1950. A new analysis of sediment cores from the burned area revealed that this was the most destructive tundra fire at that site for at least 5,000 years. Models built on 60 years of climate and fire data found that even moderate increases in warm-season temperatures in the region dramatically increase the likelihood of such fires. ...


You know you're in trouble when your tundra is on fire!

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Sun, Nov 14, 2010
from New York Times:
As Glaciers Melt, Scientists Seek New Data on Rising Seas
...As a result of recent calculations that take the changes into account, many scientists now say that sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet by 2100 -- an increase that, should it come to pass, would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over. And the calculations suggest that the rise could conceivably exceed six feet, which would put thousands of square miles of the American coastline under water and would probably displace tens of millions of people in Asia... A large majority of climate scientists argue that heat-trapping gases are almost certainly playing a role in what is happening to the world's land ice. They add that the lack of policies to limit emissions is raising the risk that the ice will go into an irreversible decline before this century is out, a development that would eventually make a three-foot rise in the sea look trivial. ...


This will be remembered, my friends, as the Age of Fiddling Around.

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Wed, Nov 10, 2010
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
NOAA-funded tagging of narwhals finds continued warming of southern Baffin Bay
Temperatures in the study were collected by narwhals, medium-sized toothed Arctic whales, during NOAA-sponsored missions in 2006 and 2007. The animals were tagged with sensors that recorded ocean depths and temperatures during feeding dives from the surface pack ice to the seafloor, going as deep as 1,773 meters, or more than a mile.... As a result [of difficulty and cost], for the past decade, researchers used climatology data consisting of long-term historical average observations rather than direct ocean temperature measurements for winter temperatures in the area.... The published study reported that highest winter ocean temperature measurements in 2006 and 2007 from both narwhals and additional sensors deployed using helicopters ranged between 4 and 4.6 degrees Celsius (39.2 and 40.3 degrees Fahrenheit). The study also found that temperatures were on average nearly a degree Celsius warmer than climatology data. Whale-collected temperatures also demonstrated the thickness of the winter surface isothermal layer, a layer of constant temperature, to be 50 to 80 meters less than that reported in the climatology data. ...


I can't believe the narwhals will even work with us.

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Wed, Oct 27, 2010
from University of Delaware via ScienceDaily:
As Arctic Warms, Increased Shipping Likely to Accelerate Climate Change
As the ice-capped Arctic Ocean warms, ship traffic will increase at the top of the world. And if the sea ice continues to decline, a new route connecting international trading partners may emerge -- but not without significant repercussions to climate, according to a U.S. and Canadian research team that includes a University of Delaware scientist. Growing Arctic ship traffic will bring with it air pollution that has the potential to accelerate climate change in the world's northern reaches. And it's more than a greenhouse gas problem -- engine exhaust particles could increase warming by some 17-78 percent, the researchers say. ...


Why not make a horrific situation even worse!

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Fri, Oct 22, 2010
from The Washington Post:
Sea ice melting as Arctic temperature rises
The temperature is rising again in the Arctic, with the sea ice extent dropping to one of the lowest levels on record, climate scientists reported Thursday.... Atmospheric scientists concerned about global warming focus on the Arctic because that is a region where the effects are expected to be felt first, and that has been the case in recent years. There was a slowdown in Arctic warming in 2009, but in the first half of 2010 warming has been near a record pace, with monthly readings over 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) above normal in northern Canada, according to the report card released Thursday. ...


Earth's canary -- the Arctic -- is flying on a wing and a prayer.

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Mon, Oct 18, 2010
from Scientific American:
Melting Ice Turns 10,000 Walruses into Landlubbers
The lumbering marine mammals normally spend their summers resting on the ice as it floats north, making periodic dives to the ocean floor to forage for food. But this year, as in 2007 and 2009, a lack of ice in the eastern Chukchi Sea has driven thousands of walruses to congregate on land instead.... "This is the third time in the last four years that this has happened, and we're still learning and looking for patterns," Jay said. "Anything could have happened. In 2008, there was enough ice that stayed over the [continental] shelf that they never did come ashore, but we were kind of betting the odds they would come to shore again this year."... One of their initial studies, published last week, found "a clear trend of worsening conditions" for the animals through the end of this century. "Our biggest concern right now is stampeding," said Bruce Woods, a spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service's Alaska regional office. "That's the big risk posed to these animals." That's because the intensely social -- but easily spooked -- animals have congregated in numbers that dwarf their normal groupings of up to 500 animals. ...


There's a worsening trend of evidence supporting "a clear trend of worsening conditions."

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Tue, Sep 21, 2010
from CBC:
Northwest Passage traffic up in 2010
The number of ships travelling through the Northwest Passage has doubled this year, prompting at least one Arctic sovereignty expert to call for more enforcement in the increasingly ice-free Arctic waterway. The Canada Border Services Agency says 18 ships have cleared customs in Inuvik, N.W.T. -- at the western end of the Northwest Passage -- so far this year, and the navigation season is not even over yet. By comparison, only seven ships cleared customs there in 2009, according to the agency. "It is a little bit tricky -- lots of fog and ice," Börje Ivarsson, a Swedish adventurer who just finished a two-year journey from Russia to Inuvik on a 30-foot boat, told CBC News. "It's quite a shortcut if you're living in the north of Europe to get over to Alaska," Ivarsson said of the Northwest Passage. "It's a good adventure, too." The increase in marine traffic is largely a result of climate change opening up the passage, said Rob Huebert, the associate director for the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. Huebert said many people have talked about the Northwest Passage's potential for years, and now it's starting to happen. "I think that we'll often go back to 2010 and say that was the turning point, that was the time when it turned from theory to actuality," he said. ...


I wonder what we'll call the point that was once the North Pole, when we're sailing through it.

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Mon, Sep 20, 2010
from Voice of Russia:
Permafrost temp rise in Siberia: 3 degrees
This year's anomalous heat has told also on the Arctic regions. The Murmansk forum will outline some guidelines for the study of its impact on the region's wildlife. Speaking on the subject Aleksandr Frolov, the head of hydrometeorology and environment monitoring said: "The anomalous heat on the European territories was felt in Siberia and the European parts of the Arctic, be it even with a lower amplitude. The western parts of the Arctic had no ice - and that's another anomaly. We monitor the climatic changes in the Arctis using our 49 research stations including 3 observatories that are quite well-equipped, and satellites. Another important goal is the study of permafrost in Siberia and Yakutia that was also affected last summer." "The rise of the upper temperature level of the permafrost amounted to 3 degrees, and that that's a serious thing given that houses there are built on pillars, and if permafrost starts to melt, the pillars may sink with cracks in the walls of the houses. Then there are oil and gas pipelines and other infrastructure laid down in the permafrost. We are speaking about big cities - Norilsk, Dudinka and Vorkuta. Besides The world's northern areas and their southern extremities can also be affected by temperature rises, spelling trouble to up to 800 million people. If the temperatures rise above 2 degrees or the trend of their steady growth can in the coming two decades result in the 57 centimeter level rise of the world ocean," said Sergei Shoigu, the Minister for Emergency Situations and President of the Russian Geographic Society. ...


Is that three degrees Fubar, or three degrees Collapse?

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Wed, Sep 15, 2010
from ClimateProgress:
Serreze: Arctic is "continuing down in a death spiral."
National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) director Mark Serreze slammed the anti-science disinformers yesterday: "There are claims coming from some communities that the Arctic sea ice is recovering, is getting thicker again. That's simply not the case. It's continuing down in a death spiral. Every bit of evidence we have says the ice is thinning. That means there's less energy needed to melt it out than there used to be."... Arctic sea ice volume, extent, and area continue to shrink apace as we approach the dramatic end to this year's melt season. The NSIDC tells me extent dropped to 4.76 million square kilometers today -- which is below the majority of even the most recent expert predictions logged with the Study of Environmental Arctic Change... ...


Pretty soon there'll be nothing to get in the way of oil exploration!

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Tue, Sep 14, 2010
from Alaska Dispatch, via DesdemonaDespair:
Tens of thousands of walrus on land haulout near Point Lay, Alaska
A few miles down the coastline, tens of thousands of walruses are jammed together in a tight beach-bound pod to catch a little R&R from their daily routine. This is not a small group -- we're talking in the neighborhood of 40 million collective pounds of massive marine mammal.... But government scientists suspect it has more to do with an increasing lack of sea ice. Walruses have been known to haul out onto land in large numbers in Russia, but never on the Alaska side of their migratory corridor in the tens of thousands, as is being witnessed this year. ...


"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax, Of cabbages, and kings, And why the sea is boiling hot-- And whether pigs have wings."

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Thu, Sep 9, 2010
from Science2.0, via DesdemonaDespair:
Greenland, West Antarctic Ice Caps Melting At Half The Speed Previously Predicted
The Greenland and West Antarctic ice caps are melting at half the speed previously predicted, shows a team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft, The Netherlands) and SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research in Nature Geoscience. The melting of the ice caps has been charted since 2002 using the measurements produced by the two GRACE satellites. From space they detect small changes in the Earth's gravitational field and these changes are related to the exact distribution of mass on Earth, including ice and water. When ice melts and lands in the sea, this therefore has an effect on the gravitational field. Based on this principle, previous estimates for the Greenland ice cap calculated that the ice was melting at a rate of 230 giga-tons per year (i.e. 230,000 billion kg), which would result in an average rise in global sea levels of around 0.75 mm a year. For West Antarctica, the estimate was 132 giga-tons per year. However, it now turns out that these results were not properly corrected for glacial isostatic adjustment, the phenomenon that the Earth's crust rebounds as a result of the melting of the massive ice caps from the last major Ice Age around 20,000 years ago. These movements of the Earth's crust have to be incorporated in the calculations, since these vertical movements change the Earth's mass distribution and therefore also have an influence on the gravitational field. ...


Finally, science proves that science is wrong.

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Mon, Sep 6, 2010
from European Space Agency via ScienceDaily:
Giant Greenland Iceberg -- Largest in the Northern Hemisphere -- Enters Nares Strait
ESA's Envisat satellite has been tracking the progression of the giant iceberg that calved from Greenland's Petermann glacier on 4 August 2010. A new animation shows that the iceberg, the largest in the northern hemisphere, is now entering Nares Strait -- a stretch of water that connects the Lincoln Sea and Arctic Ocean with Baffin Bay... This iceberg is about 30 km long and 15 km wide at its foot and almost 7 km wide at its head, covering an area of around 245 sq km. By 22 August this giant mass of ice had been carried about 22 km from its birth place. ...


Let's nuke it!

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Thu, Aug 26, 2010
from CBC:
Huge ice chunk breaks off Ellesmere Island
A large parcel of ice has fractured from a massive ice shelf on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, marking the third known case of Arctic ice loss this summer alone. The chunk of ice, which scientists estimate is roughly the size of Bermuda, broke away from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf on the island's northern coast around Aug. 18, according to NASA satellite imagery. At 40 metres thick, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf is estimated to be 3,000 to 5,000 years old, jutting off the island like an extension of the land. "The cracks are going right to the mainland, basically, right to Ellesmere Island," John England, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences with the University of Alberta, told CBC News on Tuesday. "So, in the core of the ice shelf itself, the fracturing is occurring. "I think that's really quite significant, that it's like the most resistant and most tenacious part of the ice shelf is now being dismantled."... England said there is still a month to go in the summer ice loss season in the Arctic Ocean, raising the possibility that other parts of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf -- particularly on the eastern side -- could easily break off. ...


It's those eco-nazi terrorists, blowing ice up to convince us that the greenhouse thing is real.

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Tue, Aug 10, 2010
from Guardian:
Greenland ice sheet faces 'tipping point in 10 years'
The entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C, with severe consequences for the rest of the world, a panel of scientists told Congress today.... "Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive," Alley told a briefing in Congress, adding that a rise in the range of 2C to 7C would mean the obliteration of Greenland's ice sheet. The fall-out would be felt thousands of miles away from the Arctic, unleashing a global sea level rise of 23ft (7 metres), Alley warned. Low-lying cities such as New Orleans would vanish. "What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done," he said.... "While we don't believe it is possible to lose an ice sheet within a decade, we do believe it is possible to reach a tipping point in a few decades in which we would lose the ice sheet in a century." ...


Thank God! Long after I'm dead!

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Mon, Aug 9, 2010
from CBC:
Record heat forces Northwest Territories folks to adapt
Landslides and low water levels in the Northwest Territories in the wake of record-breaking warmth have prompted calls for changes in infrastructure planning. "It's really important that community decision-makers and government decision-makers are prepared to spend a little bit more to make sure that the design [of structures such as buildings and roadways], in terms of preparation for permafrost degradation, is as strong as possible," said Doug Ritchie, a spokesman for the environmental group Ecology North, in the wake of temperature changes that Environment Canada called "unprecedented." In the Northwest Territories this year, spring temperatures were almost six degrees warmer than average, surpassing the previous record set in 1998 by half a degree. Climatologist Dave Phillips said in his 40 years with Environment Canada, he's never seen such a rapid change in temperature. "In my business, you break records by a tenth or a hundredth of a degree, not by a full half-degree or a degree," he said. "This is unprecedented, this kind of warming that we've seen in the last six months."... The Yukon government is already spending millions fixing roads affected by landslides, erosion, and washouts caused by extreme weather such as heavy rainstorms, Ritchie said. ...


You don't need even a high school degree, to understand six degrees. Centigrade!

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Sat, Aug 7, 2010
from AolNews:
Giant Ice Island Breaks Off From Greenland
A giant chunk of ice four times the size of Manhattan has broken off from one of Greenland's two biggest glaciers, creating the largest Arctic iceberg since 1962. The new ice island has a surface area of about 100 square miles and a thickness of about half the height of the Empire State Building. It broke off from the Petermann Glacier on Thursday, and was spotted by a NASA satellite sensor... Icebergs often break off from glaciers in summer, when the ice begins to melt and gets thinner in some areas, triggering cracks. The process has been exacerbated by global warming, and the melting of arctic glaciers could lead to a rise in global sea levels. ...


It better be a nice iceberg.

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Wed, Aug 4, 2010
from New York Times:
Pessimism Clouds Climate Meeting
This week in Bonn, negotiators are meeting to prepare for this year's annual climate meeting, COP-16 (the 16th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), which opens in late November in Cancun, Mexico. There is little optimism this time around. Even the few areas of agreement that were hailed as great accomplishments in the Copenhagen Accord seem to be back on the negotiating table. The negotiating document for the Bonn session, which ends on Friday, leaves open - once again -- whether the goal of a new treaty should be to limit the temperature rise to 1 degree, 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees Celsius. Delegates will have to decide anew whether developed countries should "commit to a goal of mobilizing" $100 billion to support poorer nations or should be "assessed contributions of 1.5 percent of the G.D.P." Likewise, the negotiating document suggests that delegates will be revisiting emissions reductions goals for richer nations: Should developed countries, as a group, be required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by "75 to 85 percent," or "at least 80 to 95 percent," or "more than 95 percent" from 1990 levels by 2050? ...


And once more, we'll revisit the question "is humankind fatal to humans?"

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Tue, Aug 3, 2010
from University of Alaska, via EurekAlert:
Study finds widespread permafrost warming
Permafrost warming continues throughout a wide swath of the Northern Hemisphere, according to a team of scientists assembled during the recent International Polar Year.... The article notes that permafrost temperatures have warmed as much as two degrees Celsius from 20 to 30 years ago. They also found that permafrost near zero degrees Celsius warmed more slowly than colder permafrost.... ...


I wonder when we'll put the "im" in "impermafrost"?

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Mon, Aug 2, 2010
from University of Georgia, via EurekAlert:
Ice-free ocean may not absorb CO2
Scientists have been looking at ways the Earth might benefit from natural processes to balance the rising heat, and one process had intrigued them, a premise that melting ice at the poles might allow more open water that could absorb carbon dioxide, one of the major compounds implicating in warming. Now, though, in research just published in the journal Science and led by a University of Georgia biogeochemist, that idea may be one more dead end. In fact, a survey of waters in the Canada Basin, which extends north of Alaska to the North Pole, shows that its value as a potential carbon dioxide "sink" may be short-lived at best and minor in terms of what the planet will need to avoid future problems.... "But our research shows that as the ice melts, the carbon dioxide in the water very quickly reaches equilibrium with the atmosphere, so its use as a place to store CO2 declines dramatically and quickly. We never really understood how limited these waters would be in terms of their usefulness in soaking up carbon dioxide."... And because of this carbon dioxide uptake, the waters become quite acidic and "a poor environment for calcium-carbonate shell-bearing marine organisms," Cai said. ...


I'm not sure how a cul-de-sac can be composed of so many dead ends.

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Wed, Jul 28, 2010
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Scientists say soot a key factor in warming
Soot from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and burning wood is a bigger cause of global warming than previously thought, and is the major cause of the rapid melting of the Arctic's sea ice, Stanford climate experts say. The evidence of mounting pollution by carbon particles in soot has been inadequately counted in international government debates over policies to cope with the warming problem, according to Stanford's Mark Z. Jacobson, leader of the university's Atmosphere and Energy program and a professor of civil and environmental engineering. ...


Soot?? What are we, trapped in a Dickens novel?

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Wed, Jul 21, 2010
from New York Times:
A Russian Warning on Retreating Ice
Sea ice in the Arctic is again in rapid retreat this summer, putting the region on pace to match the record lows seen in 2007, the head of Russia's environmental agency said Tuesday, according to a Bloomberg News report.... Mr. Frolov told Bloomberg that the fast pace of the melt could mean that the North Pole could be ice-free during the summer within just few a decades, far sooner than previously estimated. Arctic waterways typically choked with ice are now opening up, he said. ...


They said it wouldn't happen till long after I was dead!

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Tue, Jul 6, 2010
from Science News:
Methane releases in arctic seas could wreak devastation
Massive releases of methane from arctic seafloors could create oxygen-poor dead zones, acidify the seas and disrupt ecosystems in broad parts of the northern oceans, new preliminary analyses suggest. Such a cascade of geochemical and ecological ills could result if global warming triggers a widespread release of methane from deep below the Arctic seas, scientists propose in the June 28 Geophysical Research Letters. Worldwide, particularly in deeply buried permafrost and in high-latitude ocean sediments where pressures are high and temperatures are below freezing, icy deposits called hydrates hold immense amounts of methane... ...


I am not high on these hydrates melting.

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Tue, Jun 29, 2010
from DiscoveryNews:
Arctic Overreacts to Climate Change
Whether it's 5 million years ago or June 2010, it's becoming very clear that whenever the Earth's climate warms up a few degrees -- for whatever reason -- the Arctic multiplies that warming by a factor of about three. Two new studies of past warming and cooling periods going back millions of years have found that the Arctic reliably amplifies whatever global climate is doing. If the world drops 3 degrees colder, the Arctic will see 9 to 12 degrees of cooling. If Earth warmed up 3 degrees, the Arctic steams up 9 to 12 degrees.... This year, that could mean the Arctic could be the warmest ever recorded since data from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies show that global temperatures in 2010 have reached record levels.... "You'll find since about 2000 every month you have positive temperature anomalies," Stroeve said. Translation: The Arctic is doing exactly what it has done for 5 million years: amplifying the global climate change signal. ...


If it's been doing it for 5 million years, why should I worry?

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Mon, Jun 28, 2010
from SolveClimate:
On Arctic Research Voyage, Scientists Have Many Words for Ice
Every two hours, a watcher enters information about the ice status into a computer, noting the ship's location and activity (such as transiting toward a station), along with the coverage and appearance of ice. Just as the French have many words for love, ice scientists have many ways of describing ice. If you're looking at ice that came from a glacier, you might see formations known as growlers, blocky growlers, bergs, bergy bits, and wedged bergy bits, among others. The ice that forms at sea, such as we're seeing here in the Chukchi, comes in pancakes, ice cakes, belts, strips, and floes ranging in size from small to giant. The computerized form that Don and the other Ice Watchers use was designed for the Antarctic, but was adapted for Arctic use during the International Polar Year, in an effort to create a common language among ice scientists.... "I'm a bit biased, but I would say sea ice decline is one of the most profound, climatic impacts that are changing in our life time. Many of the models that are out there right now say that perennial sea ice will be absolutely gone in 30 years. Thirty years! That's not your grandkids or your great grandkids. That's our lifetime! What are the biological ramifications of that? What are the biogeochemical ramifications of that? What are the feedbacks that are going to ensue, and how is the biology going to change?" ...


I just hope those words refer to something real, come 2020.

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Fri, Jun 25, 2010
from NASA:
Global Temperature Anomalies for May 2010 released
In May 2010, temperature records assembled by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) showed wide expanses of slightly above- and slightly below-normal temperatures over most of the globe, but also dramatic warmth near the North Pole.... Especially warm temperatures--close to five degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above average--occur over most of the Arctic, including the northernmost reaches of North America, northwestern Greenland, and most of the northern coast of Eurasia. Unusually warm conditions also extend southward into Eastern Europe and Siberia.... "Ongoing temperature anomalies like these are strong evidence of the Arctic amplification of global climate change," says Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The Arctic environment is very vulnerable to warming because of feedbacks that amplify the initial change. Sea ice retreat and snow melt reduce Earth's albedo, which can lead to increased warmth and further melting. Scambos explains that, although the Northern Hemisphere experienced significant snowfall in early 2010, spring melt was rapid, exposing land surfaces to sunlight sooner than usual. ...


"De Nial" is a river in the Arctic.

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Mon, Jun 14, 2010
from Science News:
Operation Icewatch 2010 gears up
...June is the time when polar scientists start to scrutinize in earnest how much ice will be left atop the Arctic Ocean after this year's summer melt season. The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., reported this week that ice extent -- a measure of total ice-covered area, including some gaps in the ice -- was, at the end of May, close to the lowest ever recorded for that time of year...there's no denying the remarkable overall decline of Arctic ice cover since satellite observations began in 1979. ...


It may be melting because we're paying attention to it!.

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Tue, Jun 8, 2010
from CBC:
Iceberg melting sinks sculpture project
Sculptures by Dutch artist Ap Verheggen are sitting under 500 metres of water, after the iceberg on which they were placed melted too quickly. Verheggen set the two sculptures Dog Sled Riders adrift on an iceberg off Greenland to draw attention to climate change. But global warming happened a little too quickly for the artist, whose project is supported by the World Wildlife Fund. The iceberg was to take several years to float down the Davis Strait to Newfoundland and Labrador, after calving from the Greenland glacier in March. But an average high temperature record for the Arctic was set in May and the iceberg collapsed in a matter of months. Last week the iceberg was seen floating off Uummannaq, a tiny island in the northwest of Greenland, but on Thursday, the iceberg collapsed.... The curvy, five-metre long sculptures depict the outline of an Inuit directing a dog sled team with a long whip, in homage to an Inuit way of life that is disappearing because of climate change. ...


Comedy, tragedy -- and irony. Mush!

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Wed, Jun 2, 2010
from AP, via CBC:
U.S. says greenhouses gases to rise by 2020
In its first major climate report to the United Nations in four years, the United States reported Tuesday that its projected climate-warming greenhouse gases will grow by four per cent through 2020. The first such report submitted under the Obama administration includes a 1.5 per cent rise in carbon dioxide emissions, the main gas from fossil fuel burning blamed for global warming. But it's the culpability of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs -- promoted worldwide to replace chemicals that harm the globe's ozone layer -- that gets a starring role. Though HFCs account for only about two per cent of the globe's climate-warming gases, their share is expected to grow by up to a third of all greenhouse gases by mid-century.... "Unless they are eliminated, HFCs and fluorinated gases will sabotage efforts to combat global warming," said Samuel LaBudde, atmospheric campaign director for the Environmental Investigation Agency, a nonprofit watchdog group in Washington. "We could and should use the Montreal Protocol to phase them out, just as it's doing for chemicals that threaten to destroy the ozone layer," he said. ...


That's making my Nunavut property look better all the time!

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Fri, May 28, 2010
from Toronto Star:
Polar bear population could fall by 30 per cent in a year: study
A mathematical analysis for the first time has uncovered the prospect of a sudden, dramatic decline among Canadian polar bears as they starve to death. "This is much, much different. This is not a gradual change," said Dr. Andrew Derocher, one of the world's leading polar bear authorities and co-author of the study. "We're looking at a decrease by 20 or 30 per cent or even much more in a year."....Scientists factored in the shrinking sea ice, which affects how many seals the bears can eat before they hibernate and how easily they can find mates. Without enough food or opportunity, mating is less successful, fewer, less robust cubs are born, and teenage bears spend longer "wandering around trying to find something to eat." ...


Sounds just like my sons.

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Fri, May 28, 2010
from Science (AAAS):
Extensive Methane Venting to the Atmosphere from Sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf
Remobilization to the atmosphere of only a small fraction of the methane held in East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) sediments could trigger abrupt climate warming, yet it is believed that sub-sea permafrost acts as a lid to keep this shallow methane reservoir in place. Here, we show that more than 5000 at-sea observations of dissolved methane demonstrates that greater than 80 percent of ESAS bottom waters and greater than 50 percent of surface waters are supersaturated with methane regarding to the atmosphere. The current atmospheric venting flux, which is composed of a diffusive component and a gradual ebullition component, is on par with previous estimates of methane venting from the entire World Ocean. Leakage of methane through shallow ESAS waters needs to be considered in interactions between the biogeosphere and a warming Arctic climate. ...


I hear Lindsay Lohan has a new gal-pal.

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Fri, May 28, 2010
from NOAA:
April 2010 warmest ever
April 2010 was characterized by very warm conditions across much of the world. Warmer-than-average conditions during April 2010 were present across much of the world's land areas. The warmest anomalies occurred in southern Asia, northern Africa, the north central and northeastern U.S., Canada, Europe, and parts of northern Russia. Although much of the world's land area was engulfed by warmer-than-average temperatures, cooler-than-average conditions prevailed across Argentina, Mongolia, eastern and southern Russia, and most of China.... Sea surface temperatures (SST) during April 2010 were the warmest on record, with an anomaly of 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average. ... Overall, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature anomaly for April 2010 was the warmest April on record since records began in 1880. The previous record was set in 1998. The combined global land and ocean temperature anomaly was 0.76°C (1.37°F) above the 20th century average. ...


April is the cruelest month.

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Wed, May 26, 2010
from BBC:
Polar bears face 'tipping point' due to climate change
Climate change will trigger a dramatic and sudden decline in the number of polar bears, a new study has concluded. The research is the first to directly model how changing climate will affect polar bear reproduction and survival. Based on what is known of polar bear physiology, behaviour and ecology, it predicts pregnancy rates will fall and fewer bears will survive fasting during longer ice-free seasons. These changes will happen suddenly as bears pass a 'tipping point'.... Male polar bears find females by wandering the ice, sniffing bear tracks they come across. If the tracks have been made by a female in mating condition, the male follows the tracks to her. The researchers modelled how this behaviour would change as warming temperatures fragment sea ice. They also modelled the impact on the bears' survival.... "In both cases, the expected changes in reproduction and survival were non-linear," explains Dr Molnar. ...


EX-cellent! That means we don't have to care until it matters!

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Sun, May 23, 2010
from Anchorage Press:
A fragile past - Archaeologists are scrambling as accelerated erosion sweeps away artifacts on Alaska's Arctic coast
The Colorado team has measured coastal erosion near the old whaling site for three years. Overeem says the area loses ground as fast as 30 meters per year, and consistently around 15 meters per year. Coastal erosion is constant everywhere the land meets the sea. But in Arctic and sub-Arctic terrain, where the bluffs are often composed of a mix of soft soil and ice, erosion has accelerated in recent years. Call it global warming or climate change or the faddish, freak storm-centered term "global weird-ing"--by any name, it spells doom for countless small artifacts like the boat in the photograph, and for old village sites, trading posts and hunting sites that link Alaskans to the past.... He says one of the problems with erosion is more contemporary. "There are not only a lot of archeological sites, but a lot of community cemeteries that are in danger," he says. He ticks off a list of communities where graves will likely be moved--Port Heiden Dillingham, Nanwhalek and Old Afognak--often the graves are unmarked and without surviving records of who is buried there. ...


Losing the past doesn't bode well for the future.

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Wed, May 19, 2010
from CBC:
Greenland's coastal areas rising
Greenland's ice is melting at such a rapid pace that the land beneath it is rising up, say U.S. researchers. The dense, two-kilometre thick icecap that covers Greenland suppresses the land, keeping its elevation in check, researchers at the University of Miami write in a new study. However, it is melting so quickly that the island's coastal areas are rising at a rate of one inch per year. The scientists predict that by 2025, that rate could be two inches a year. "What's surprising, and a bit worrisome, is that the ice is melting so fast that we can actually see the land uplift in response," said the study's principal investigator, Tim Dixon, professor of geophysics at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), in a news release. "Even more surprising, the rise seems to be accelerating, implying that melting is accelerating." ...


We knew this would happen. The earth is literally rising up.

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Thu, May 13, 2010
from AFP, via Yahoo:
Scientists stunned as grey whale sighted off Israel
The appearance of a grey whale off the coast of Israel has stunned scientists, in what was thought to be the first time the giant mammal has been seen outside the Pacific in several hundred years. The whale, which was first sighted off Herzliya in central Israel on Saturday, is believed to have travelled thousands of miles from the north Pacific after losing its way in search of food.... "What has amazed the entire marine mammal research community is there haven't been any grey whales in the Atlantic since the 18th century," he said. Scheinin said the creature, a mature whale measuring some 12 metres (39 feet) and weighing around 20 tonnes, probably reached the Atlantic through the Northwest Passage, an Arctic sea route that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and is normally covered with ice. ...


That's not quite what I was thinking when I said "save the whales."

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Tue, May 11, 2010
from DesdemonaDespair:
South pole has warmest year on record: 2009
The South Pole experienced its warmest year on record in 2009, according to newly released data from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The average temperature at the South Pole last year was still a bone-chilling minus 54.2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 47.9 degrees Celsius) in 2009, making it the warmest year on record since 1957, when temperature records began at the South Pole. The previous record high was minus 54.4 F (minus 48 C), recorded in 2002, according to Tim Markle, senior meteorologist at the South Pole Station in Antarctica. Last year was also the second warmest year on record for the planet, according to NASA measurements of global surface temperatures released earlier this year. The global record warm year, in the period of near-global instrumental measurements since the late 1800s, was 2005. ...


What good is that? We don't even need a Southwest Passage.

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Thu, Apr 29, 2010
from Geophysical Research Letters, via ScienceDaily:
Melting Icebergs in Polar Oceans Causing Sea Level Rise Globally, New Assessment Finds
Scientists have discovered that changes in the amount of ice floating in the polar oceans are causing sea levels to rise -- by a mere hair's breadth today, but possibly much more if melting trends continue.... According to Archimedes' principle, any floating object displaces its own weight of fluid. For example, an ice cube in a glass of water does not cause the glass to overflow as it melts. But because sea water is warmer and more salty than floating ice, changes in the amount of this ice are having an effect on global sea levels. The loss of floating ice is equivalent to 1.5 million Titanic-sized icebergs each year. However, the study shows that spread across the global oceans, recent losses of floating ice amount to a sea level rise of just 49 micrometers per year -- about a hair's breadth. ...


That Titanic analogy is too big to sink.

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Wed, Apr 28, 2010
from Reuters, via DesdemonaDespair:
Arctic explorers get nasty surprise: rain
In what looks to be another sign the Arctic is heating up quickly, British explorers in Canada's Far North reported on Tuesday that they had been hit by a three-minute rain shower over the weekend. The rain fell on the team's ice base off Ellef Rignes island, about 3,900 km (2,420 miles) north of the Canadian capital, Ottawa. "It's definitely a shocker ... the general feeling within the polar community is that rainfall in the high Canadian Arctic in April is a freak event," said Pen Hadow, the team's expedition director. ... The Arctic is heating up three times more quickly than the rest of the Earth. Scientists link the higher temperatures to the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.... Experts say the thick multiyear ice covering the Arctic Ocean has effectively vanished, which could make it easier to open up polar shipping routes. U.S. data shows the 2009 ice cover was the third-lowest on record, after 2007 and 2008. ...


Raindrops keep falling on my head/ that doesn't mean my world will soon be seeing red....

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Mon, Apr 26, 2010
from PhysOrg.com:
Ancient artifacts revealed as northern ice patches melt
High in the Mackenzie Mountains, scientists are finding a treasure trove of ancient hunting tools being revealed as warming temperatures melt patches of ice that have been in place for thousands of years.... Tom Andrews, an archaeologist with the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife and lead researcher on the International Polar Year Ice Patch Study, is amazed at the implements being discovered by researchers. "We're just like children opening Christmas presents. I kind of pinch myself," says Andrews. Ice patches are accumulations of annual snow that, until recently, remained frozen all year. For millennia, caribou seeking relief from summer heat and insects have made their way to ice patches where they bed down until cooler temperatures prevail. Hunters noticed caribou were, in effect, marooned on these ice islands and took advantage.... Andrews is currently in a race against time. His IPY funds have run out and he is keenly aware that each summer, the patches continue to melt. In fact, two of the eight original patches have already disappeared. "We realize that the ice patches are continuing to melt and we have an ethical obligation to collect these artifacts as they are exposed," says Andrews. ...


Worldwide climate collapse does pinch just a wee bit, doesn't it?

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Wed, Apr 21, 2010
from Scientific American (per DesdemonaDespair):
Antarctica ice sheets: 'Our models may be dramatically underestimating' danger
Withered by summer heat, Arctic sea ice has shrunk to record low coverage several times since 2005, only to rebound to within 95 percent of its long-term average extent this winter. By comparison, Antarctica, with some 90 percent of the world's glacial reserves, has generally shed ice in more stately fashion. However, emerging evidence from an Antarctic geological research drilling program known as ANDRILL suggests that the southernmost continent has had a much more dynamic history than previously suspected--one that could signal an abrupt shrinkage of its ice sheets at some unknown greenhouse gas threshold, possibly starting in this century. Especially troubling, scientists see evidence in the geological data that could mean the vast East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which holds at least four-fifths of the continent's ice, is less resistant to melting than previously thought.... According to the simulation, the East ice sheet melts only when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are at least eight times higher than preindustrial levels. The ice sheet's so-called hysteresis, or resistance to change, is now in doubt. Modeler and geologist Robert DeConto of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, says the policy implications are grim. "Our models may be dramatically underestimating how much worse it's going to get," he says, noting that many population centers worldwide are within a few meters of sea level. Looking at signs of meltwater in the early Miocene, DeConto says, "we're seeing ice retreat faster and more dramatically than any model predicts." ...


Hysteresical.

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Sat, Apr 17, 2010
from AFP, via DesdemonaDispair:
EU ban and lack of ice end Canada seal slaughter
A lack of sea ice in one of the warmest Canadian winters on record and a European boycott have ruined what was to be a banner seal hunt off Canada's Atlantic coast this month. Canada's Fisheries Minister Gail Shea last month increased by 50,000 the allowable catch of harp seals this season to 330,000, in defiance of a ban on seal products by the European Union. But most of Canada's 6000 sealers stayed home, unable to find buyers for their catch or stymied by a lack of ice floes for the first time in 60 years on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, which usually host hordes of seals birthing pups.... Fewer than 50 sealing ships launched from Newfoundland ports, down from 500 in past years. ...


Does the carbon cloud have a seal fur lining?

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Sat, Mar 27, 2010
from ENS Newswire, via DesdemonaDespair:
Worst Ice Year on Record Kills Canadian Seals Before Hunters Can
Thousands of harp seal pups are presumed dead in Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence and starving pups are being found abandoned on the beaches of Prince Edward Island, victims of the worst ice conditions ever recorded in the region. Environment Canada said March 16 that ice conditions in the Gulf were the lowest in the 41 years it has kept records. Off Newfoundland, Canada's other seal hunting ground, ice has formed only off the Northern Peninsula when, by now, it has usually extended along the island's northeast coast.... "The conditions this year are disastrous for seal pups. I've surveyed this region for nine years and have never seen anything like this," said Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with IFAW. "There is wide open water instead of the usual ice floes, and rather than the hundreds of thousands of seal pups that we normally encounter, only a handful of baby harp and hooded seals, animals that are normally found on ice, remain on the beaches," she said. ...


The Canadian government, however, knows better: it increased the quota on harp seals last week.

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Mon, Mar 22, 2010
from London Guardian:
Wind contributing to Arctic sea ice loss, study finds
Much of the record breaking loss of ice in the Arctic ocean in recent years is down to the region's swirling winds and is not a direct result of global warming, a new study reveals. Ice blown out of the region by Arctic winds can explain around one-third of the steep downward trend in sea ice extent in the region since 1979, the scientists say. The study does not question that global warming is also melting ice in the Arctic, but it could raise doubts about high-profile claims that the region has passed a climate "tipping point" that could see ice loss sharply accelerate in coming years. The new findings also help to explain the massive loss of Arctic ice seen in the summers of 2007-08, which prompted suggestions that the summertime Arctic Ocean could be ice-free withing a decade. About half of the variation in maximum ice loss each September is down to changes in wind patterns, the study says. ...


Shoo-eeee!! Maybe we can bio-engineer ourselves out of this mess after all!

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Wed, Mar 10, 2010
from CBC:
Seal pups beached -- lack of sea ice off Newfoundland
An exceptional lack of sea ice on the Gulf of St. Lawrence this winter has left seal mothers with few places to bear their young or to feed their pups. The conditions have led to numerous sightings of fuzzy, days-old critters wallowing on beaches, where many will die. Some of those seals are being born on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula.... But Mike Hammill doesn't believe the added deaths would have a major impact on the Eastern Canada seal populations, which number about seven million in total. An Environment Canada ice forecaster recently said the sea-ice levels recorded in the Gulf this winter are about as low as any readings since the 1960s. Earlier this week, Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea said poor ice conditions may cause the cancellation of this year's Gulf of St. Lawrence seal hunt. It usually begins at the end of March. ...


Operation Ice-Free Arctic is going exactly according to plan....

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Tue, Mar 9, 2010
from CBC:
Pack ice scarce off Eastern Canada
A Canadian Coast Guard official said Monday that many parts of the ocean near Newfoundland and Labrador are devoid of pack ice -- a condition that hasn't been seen in at least 40 years. "It's been an unusual year this year, to the point that there is no ice. There have been high temperatures, high winds, and as a result we have very little ice," said Dan Frampton, the Coast Guard's supervisor of ice operations. "By this time of year, pack ice is usually down to the St. John's area." Frampton said icebreakers have been idle because there's no pack ice in the Strait of Belle Isle between Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula and southern Labrador, as well as in the Gulf of St. Lawrence or further north off central Labrador. It could be a problem for harp seals that give birth to pups on the ice. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence their population can swell to a million but with next to no ice this year only 500 seals have been counted so far. "Yes, there's only water around the island. There's no ice at all around the island. There's no ice at all," said veteran mariner Jean-Claude Lapierre. "I'm 69 years old and I never saw that before. I talked to the older people and it's the first time they saw that." ...


Is this Canada's way of getting around that whole seal-clubbing thing?

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Sun, Mar 7, 2010
from Bard College, via Reuters and DesdemonaDespair:
Arctic melt to cost up to $24 trillion by 2050: report
Arctic ice melting could cost global agriculture, real estate and insurance anywhere from $2.4 trillion to $24 trillion by 2050 in damage from rising sea levels, floods and heat waves, according to a report released on Friday.... "The Arctic is the planet's air conditioner and it's starting to break down," he said. The loss of Arctic Sea ice and snow cover is already costing the world about $61 billion to $371 billion annually from costs associated with heat waves, flooding and other factors, the report said. The losses could grow as a warmer Arctic unlocks vast stores of methane in the permafrost. The gas has about 21 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide. Melting of Arctic sea ice is already triggering a feedback of more warming as dark water revealed by the receding ice absorbs more of the sun's energy, he said. That could lead to more melting of glaciers on land and raise global sea levels. ...


Sorry, can't repair it -- I can't find anyone who carries the parts!

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Thu, Mar 4, 2010
from National Geographic:
Arctic Sea Belching Tons of Methane
Arctic seabeds are belching massive quantities of methane, according to a new study that says ocean permafrost is a huge and largely overlooked source of the powerful greenhouse gas, which has been linked to global warming. Previous research had found methane bubbling out of melting permafrost -- frozen soil -- in Arctic wetlands and lakes. But the permafrost lining the deep, cold seas was thought to be staying frozen solid, holding in untold amounts of trapped methane. "It's not the case anymore," said study leader Natalia Shakhova, a biogeochemist at the University of Fairbanks, Alaska. "The permafrost is actually failing in its ability to preserve this leakage."... The scientists found that much of the seawater above the shelf is laden with methane, which in turn is being released into the atmosphere. What's more, the team found that current atmospheric methane levels in the Arctic are three times higher than those recorded across previous climate cycles going back 400,000 years. This phenomenon most likely isn't limited to the East Siberian Sea, the researchers note. If permafrost is melting in this part of the Arctic, all shallow areas along the Arctic shelf should be similarly affected. ...


Methane: the organic alternative to CO2!

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Sun, Feb 28, 2010
from The Economist:
The bleakest outlook in the world: the future of the Arctic
The Arctic is changing faster and more dramatically than any other environment on the planet. The ice that defines it is melting with alarming speed, taking with it life that can survive nowhere else. Oil, gas, shipping and fishing interests have been heading into the newly open water, with diplomats, lawyers, and now authors, in their wake.... Mr Anderson looks in on the extraordinary, tiny world of the tributary system within the Arctic ice, formed by trickles of briny water which gets squeezed as it freezes. But from the bear above to the microscopic wonders within, all are doomed once the summer ice goes, which is expected to happen at some point between 2013 and 2050. ...


The Arctic will only melt if we accept the theory of the greenhouse effect. Clap with me three times, and then we can fly.

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Sat, Feb 27, 2010
from New York Times:
Independent Board to Review Work of Top Climate Panel
An independent board of scientists will be appointed to review the workings of the world's top climate science panel, which has faced recriminations over inaccuracies in a 2007 report, a United Nations environmental spokesman said Friday.... The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been under fire since it was pointed out that the 2007 report included a prediction that Himalayan glaciers would vanish by 2035, although there is no scientific consensus to that effect. That brief citation -- drawn from a magazine interview with a glaciologist who says he was misquoted -- and sporadic criticism of the panel's leader have fueled skepticism in some quarters about the science underlying climate change. The climate panel's assessments are a crucial source of guidance for policy makers addressing global warming. But mainstream scientists and the United Nations have said repeatedly that the evidence that human activity is a major factor in global warming remains unshaken. Mr. Nuttall said the review body would be made up of "senior scientific figures" who could perhaps produce a report by late summer for consideration at a meeting of the climate panel in October in South Korea. ...


Scientists investigating scientists? Have they no shame?

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Sat, Feb 27, 2010
from CBC:
Massive icebergs drift from Antarctic coast
An iceberg about the size of Luxembourg that struck a glacier off Antarctica and dislodged another massive block of ice could lower the levels of oxygen in the world's oceans, Australian and French scientists said Friday. The two icebergs are now drifting together about 100 to 150 kilometres off Antarctica following the collision on Feb. 12 or 13, said Australian Antarctic division glaciologist Neal Young.... This area of water had been kept clear because of the glacier, said Steve Rintoul, a leading climate expert. With part of the glacier gone, the area could fill with sea ice, which would disrupt the ability for the dense and cold water to sink. This sinking water is what spills into ocean basins and feeds the global ocean currents with oxygen, Rintoul explained. As there are only a few areas in the world where this occurs, a slowing of the process would mean less oxygen supplied into the deep currents that feed the oceans. "There may be regions of the world's oceans that lose oxygen, and then of course most of the life there will die," said Mario Hoppema, chemical oceanographer at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany. ...


Of course.

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Fri, Feb 26, 2010
from New Scientist:
Arctic arch failure leads to sea-ice exodus
Every winter the Arctic ice cap is penned in by curved barriers of ice spanning the straits that lead out of the Arctic Ocean. Now it seems that some of these ice arches are failing to form. The resulting exodus of sea ice into the Atlantic and Pacific could affect ocean circulation and marine life.... During most years, large blocks of sea ice clump together in mid-January to build one or two arches across the strait. The arches usually persist for around six months, acting as dams to prevent the ice from floating away. Then in 2007, the warmest year on record in the Arctic, no arches formed and vast quantities of sea ice were lost. "Around 1 per cent of Arctic ice by area went down the Nares Strait that year; more than double the usual amount," says Kwok. The next year wasn't much better -- only one weak arch formed and broke down after two months. Last year provided a brief respite, but so far in 2010 there is no sign of any arches in the strait. ...


Is there some way to move the logjam in Washington up there?

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Mon, Feb 22, 2010
from USGS, via EurekAlert:
Ice shelves disappearing on Antarctic Peninsula
Ice shelves are retreating in the southern section of the Antarctic Peninsula due to climate change. This could result in glacier retreat and sea-level rise if warming continues, threatening coastal communities and low-lying islands worldwide. Research by the U.S. Geological Survey is the first to document that every ice front in the southern part of the Antarctic Peninsula has been retreating overall from 1947 to 2009, with the most dramatic changes occurring since 1990. The USGS previously documented that the majority of ice fronts on the entire Peninsula have also retreated during the late 20th century and into the early 21st century.... The Peninsula is one of Antarctica's most rapidly changing areas because it is farthest away from the South Pole, and its ice shelf loss may be a forecast of changes in other parts of Antarctica and the world if warming continues. ...


I know -- let's geobuild bookends for those shelves!

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Sat, Feb 20, 2010
from University of Miami via ScienceDaily:
Arctic Glacial Dust May Affect Climate and Health in North America and Europe
Residents of the southern United States and the Caribbean have seen it many times during the summer months -- a whitish haze in the sky that seems to hang around for days. The resulting thin film of dust on their homes and cars actually is soil from the deserts of Africa, blown across the Atlantic Ocean. Now, there is new evidence that similar dust storms in the arctic, possibly caused by receding glaciers, may be making similar deposits in northern Europe and North America...dust activity from the newly exposed glacial deposits will most likely increase in the future in Iceland and possibly from other glacial terrains in the Arctic. ...


That means I'll have to use scarce water resources to wash my car more often!

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Fri, Feb 19, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Penguins in Antarctica to be replaced by jellyfish due to global warming
The results of the largest ever survey of Antarctic marine life reveal melting sea ice is decimating krill populations, which form an integral part of penguins' diets. The six-inch-long invertebrates, also eaten by other higher Southern Ocean predators such as whales and seals, are being replaced by smaller crustaceans known as copepods. These miniscule copepods, measuring just half a millimetre long, are too small for penguins but ideal for jellyfish and other similarly tentacled predators.... Any decrease in sea ice will inevitably affect the delicate balance of the Antarctic marine food chain. For creatures such as penguins who lives on the melting sea ice, a rise in temperatures will also shrink the size of their breeding grounds. ...


How do we film "March of the Jellyfish"?

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Wed, Feb 17, 2010
from Science Daily:
Permafrost Line Recedes 130 Km in 50 Years, Canadian Study Finds
In a recent issue of the scientific journal Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, Serge Payette and Simon Thibault suggest that, if the trend continues, permafrost in the region will completely disappear in the near future.... While climate change is the most probable explanation for this phenomenon, the lack of long term climatic data for the area makes it impossible for the researchers to officially confirm this. Professor Payette notes, however, that the average annual temperature of the northern sites he has studied for over 20 years has increased by 2 degrees Celsius. ...


It doesn't sound quite so bad when you say "80 miles." Um, or does it?

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Wed, Feb 17, 2010
from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:
Team finds subtropical waters flushing through Greenland fjord
Waters from warmer latitudes -- or subtropical waters -- are reaching Greenland's glaciers, driving melting and likely triggering an acceleration of ice loss, reports a team of researchers led by Fiamma Straneo, a physical oceanographer from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). "This is the first time we've seen waters this warm in any of the fjords in Greenland," says Straneo. "The subtropical waters are flowing through the fjord very quickly, so they can transport heat and drive melting at the end of the glacier."... Deep inside the Sermilik Fjord, researchers found subtropical water as warm as 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). The team also reconstructed seasonal temperatures on the shelf using data collected by 19 hooded seals tagged with satellite-linked temperature depth-recorders. The data revealed that the shelf waters warm from July to December, and that subtropical waters are present on the shelf year round. "This is the first extensive survey of one of these fjords that shows us how these warm waters circulate and how vigorous the circulation is," says Straneo. "Changes in the large-scale ocean circulation of the North Atlantic are propagating to the glaciers very quickly -- not in a matter of years, but a matter of months. It's a very rapid communication." ...


"Subtropical" and "Greenland" should never appear together in a headline.

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Fri, Feb 12, 2010
from CBC:
Cave research suggests fast-forming and -melting glaciers
Scientists studying the history of sea levels in Spain say they've found evidence that glaciers can form and melt faster than previously thought. The research done in caves on the Spanish island of Majorca suggests that the sea level 81,000 years ago was more than a metre higher than it is today.... This finding that the sea level was higher 81,000 years ago than it is now suggests global temperatures were at least as high as they are now, if not higher, even though the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was lower then. The results, published this week in the journal Science, are at odds with conventional thinking on how fast ice sheets can form and recede. If the results are verified, they could change the way geologists think about the way ice ages come and go. ...


Thank goodness the results are unverified.

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Tue, Feb 9, 2010
from London Financial Times:
Melting ice alters way of life in Iqaluit
...The polar ice helps keep the earth cool, as snow and ice reflect sunlight while the permafrost traps methane, a potent greenhouse gas. But a new report published by the Pew Environment Group says that global warming is altering the Arctic ecosystem in a way never seen before by humans. It predicts that the Arctic, which has had sea ice for more than 800,000 years, might lose summer sea ice as soon as 2030 and estimates that the melting Arctic will lead to a 3-to-6 deg C increase in the earth's temperature over the next century. During the Ice Age, the earth's temperature changed by 4.5 deg C... "The Arctic is the planet's air conditioner, and it's starting to break down," says Eban Goodstein, a resource economist at Bard College in New York and one of the authors of the study. "Half measures to stop global warming are unlikely to succeed, and delaying action will mean future environmental costs could be overwhelmed by the massive pulse of heating from a broken air conditioner," he says. ...


Maybe we can find a giant fan instead.

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Mon, Feb 8, 2010
from Asahi Shimbun:
Seaweed beds, the 'cradle of the sea,' vanishing
... Seaweed beds are called the "cradle of the sea" because they provide fish with oxygen, as well as places to hide and lay eggs. The symbol of marine biodiversity, however, is fast disappearing from Japan's coastal regions in a phenomenon called isoyake, or denudation of rocky shores. In 1991, an Environment Agency survey found 200,000 hectares of rich seaweed beds around the nation. The Marine Ecology Research Institute in Tokyo estimates about 20 percent had been lost by 2008. The underwater deforestation is attributed to overgrazing by herbivorous fish, pollution and other factors, but the exact causes have not been determined. ...


Whose hand is rocking this cradle?

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Mon, Feb 8, 2010
from Reuters:
Blue jeans: 15000 litres/ pair
The main impact of climate change will be on water supplies and the world needs to learn from past co-operation such as over the Indus or Mekong Rivers to help avert future conflicts, experts said on Sunday. Desertification, flash floods, melting glaciers, heatwaves, cyclones or water-borne diseases such as cholera are among the impacts of global warming inextricably tied to water. And competition for supplies might cause conflicts.... "Water is a very good medium [for co-operation]. It's typically an apolitical issue that can be dealt with," said Adeel, who is also director of the UN University's Canada-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health. ...


How touching that we can all die of thirst together!

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Sat, Feb 6, 2010
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Arctic ice melt worst than 'most pessimistic' models: study
Climate change is transforming the Arctic environment faster than expected and accelerating the disappearance of sea ice, scientists said on Friday in giving their early findings from the biggest-ever study of Canada's changing north. The research project involved more than 370 scientists from 27 countries who collectively spent 15 months, starting in June 2007, aboard a research vessel above the Arctic Circle. It marked the first time a ship has stayed mobile in Canada's high Arctic for an entire winter... Models predicted only a few years ago that the Arctic would be ice-free in summer by the year 2100, but the increasing pace of climate change now suggests it could happen between 2013 and 2030... ...


So our pessimistic models were actually optimistic?

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Sat, Feb 6, 2010
from Canwest News Service:
Arctic melting to cost $2.4 trillion U.S. by 2050: Study
IQALUIT — The global cost of Arctic melting could reach $2.4 trillion U.S. by 2050 if current warming trends continue, according to a study released Friday. "The cumulative cost of the melting Arctic in the next 40 years is equivalent to the annual gross domestic products of Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom combined," according to the authors of the study prepared for the Pew Environment Group... The study notes that the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet. According to the findings, Arctic melting this year alone will be "equal to 40 per cent of all U.S. industrial emission this year or (similar to) bringing on line more than 500 large coal-burning power plants"... ...


You mean we can spend our way out of this?

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Thu, Jan 21, 2010
from Desdemona Despair:
Most of UAE to be underwater with sea level rise
Focusing on UAE only, three of the most threatening outcomes of climate change have been studied in the report -- rise in sea level, water resources and dry land ecosystems. The results say that 85 per cent of UAE's population living on the coast and more than 90 per cent of the infrastructure also lying along the seashores, the country's economy and general well-being is at risk even from a one-metre rise in sea level. Two plausible sea level rise scenarios for the years 2050 and 2100 were studied in the report. In the first case (year 2050), the sea levels may rise between one and three metres, depending on the speed of polar ice melting, while in the second, the predictions are between two and nine metres. ...


I dunno... tragic, or poetic?

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Tue, Jan 19, 2010
from New York Times:
Therapists Report Increase in Green Disputes
As awareness of environmental concerns has grown, therapists say they are seeing a rise in bickering between couples and family members over the extent to which they should change their lives to save the planet. In households across the country, green lines are being drawn between those who insist on wild salmon and those who buy farmed, those who calculate their carbon footprint and those who remain indifferent to greenhouse gases. "As the focus on climate increases in the public’s mind, it can't help but be a part of people’s planning about the future," said Thomas Joseph Doherty, a clinical psychologist in Portland, Ore., who has a practice that focuses on environmental issues. "It touches every part of how they live: what they eat, whether they want to fly, what kind of vacation they want." ...


You say eco... I say echo...

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Tue, Jan 19, 2010
from via ScienceDaily:
Tipping Point? West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Become Unstable as World Warms
A new study examines how ice sheets, such as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, could become unstable as the world warms. The team from Oxford University and Cambridge University developed a model to explore how changes in the 'grounding line' -- where an ice sheet floats free from its base of rock or sediment -- could lead to the disintegration of ice sheets and result in a significant rise in global sea level... At the moment the model -- that uniquely takes into account the three dimensional shape of ice sheets -- is still fairly simple, but the researchers hope to eventually include more detail on how ice sheets interact with their base slopes and show the behaviour of individual ice streams. ...


Once the ice sheets go, at least we'll have this fun model to play with!

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Wed, Jan 13, 2010
from NASA:
Antarctica Losing 24 cubic miles per year, and growing
Gravity data collected from space using NASA's Grace satellite show that Antarctica has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002. The latest data reveal that Antarctica is losing ice at an accelerating rate, too. How is it possible for surface melting to decrease, but for the continent to lose mass anyway? The answer boils down to the fact that ice can flow without melting.... Isabella Velicogna of JPL and the University of California, Irvine, uses Grace data to weigh the Antarctic ice sheet from space. Her work shows that the ice sheet is not only losing mass, but it is losing mass at an accelerating rate. "The important message is that it is not a linear trend. A linear trend means you have the same mass loss every year. The fact that it's above linear, this is the important idea, that ice loss is increasing with time," she says. And she points out that it isn't just the Grace data that show accelerating loss; the radar data do, too. "It isn't just one type of measurement. It's a series of independent measurements that are giving the same results, which makes it more robust." ...


I thought Antarctica was the opposite of Arctica.

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Thu, Dec 24, 2009
from Wired:
7 Tipping Points That Could Transform Earth
...when the IPCC meets in 2014, tipping points -- or tipping elements, in academic vernacular -- will get much more attention. Scientists still disagree about which planetary systems are extra-sensitive to climate shifts, but the possibility can't be ignored. "The problem with tipping elements is that if any of them tips, it will be a real catastrophe. None of them are small," said Anders Levermann, a climate physicist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. Levermann's article on potential disruptions of South Asia's monsoon cycles was featured in a series of tipping element research reviews, published December 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Also discussed were ocean circulation, polar icecaps, Amazon rainforests, seafloor methane deposits and a west African dustbowl. Each is stressed by rising planetary temperatures. Some are less likely than others to tip; some might not be able to tip at all. Ambiguities, probabilities a limited grasp of Earth's complex systems are inherent to the science. But if any tip, it will be an epic disaster. ...


Only seven? I can keep track of that!

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Sat, Dec 12, 2009
from Alaska Journal of Commerce:
Climate change eroding coast at accelerating rate, scientists find
Coastal erosion isn't the only climate-related problem confronting rural communities. Health officials now are concerned about food and water safety in northern villages as warming temperatures thaw ice cellars and melting permafrost increases the organic content in rivers, creating problems in village water treatment plants. Increased erosion is presenting problems within the petroleum reserve. Erosion has the potential to expose old oil and gas drill sites and reserve pits, where contaminants are stored. ...


The Great Thaw is going to unearth a whole lotta old shit.

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Wed, Dec 9, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Starving polar bears turn to cannibalism
The images, taken in Hudson Bay, Canada, around 200 miles north of the town of Churchill, Manitoba, show a male polar bear carrying the bloodied head of a polar bear cub it has killed for food. Polar bears usually subsist on seals, which they hunt from a platform of sea ice. But the melting of sea ice as a result of rising global temperatures has made it more difficult for polar bears to hunt seals at sea, confining the bears to land. This has led to malnourishment and starvation as polar bears are unable to build sufficient fat reserves for winter.... Manitoba Conservation normally receive one to two reports of bear cannibalisation annually, but scientists say they are aware of eight cases so far this year. ...


"Hungry as a bear" takes on new meaning.

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Wed, Dec 9, 2009
from University of Michigan, via EurekAlert:
Study reveals how Arctic food webs affect mercury in polar bears
Mercury is a naturally occurring element, but some 150 tons of it enter the environment each year from human-generated sources such as coal-burning power plants, incinerators and chlorine-producing plants. Deposited onto land or into water, mercury is picked up by microorganisms, which convert some of it to methylmercury, a highly toxic form that builds up in fish and the animals that eat them. As bigger animals eat smaller ones, the methylmercury is concentrated -- a process known as bioaccumulation. Sitting at the top of the food chain, polar bears amass high concentrations of the contaminant.... The study showed that polar bears that get most of their nutrition from phytoplankton-based food webs have greater mercury concentrations than those that participate primarily in ice algae-based webs. While it's tempting to speculate that declining sea ice, due to global warming, may force polar bears to depend more on phytoplankton-based webs, thus increasing their mercury exposure, the study doesn't directly address that issue. ...


Why, it's as if everything was interconnected!

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Mon, Dec 7, 2009
from University of Bristol, via EurekAlert:
Earth more sensitive to carbon dioxide than previously thought
In the long term, the Earth's temperature may be 30-50 percent more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide than has previously been estimated, reports a new study published in Nature Geoscience this week. The results show that components of the Earth's climate system that vary over long timescales -- such as land-ice and vegetation -- have an important effect on this temperature sensitivity, but these factors are often neglected in current climate models.... Lunt said, "We found that, given the concentrations of carbon dioxide prevailing three million years ago, the model originally predicted a significantly smaller temperature increase than that indicated by the reconstructions. This led us to review what was missing from the model." ...


All this time I thought I could slap the atmosphere around. Now I find out it's sensitive.

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Sun, Nov 29, 2009
from Environmental Research Web:
Arctic Ocean undersaturated for calcium carbonate
Shelled organisms in the Canada Basin region of the Arctic Ocean could be about to experience a double whammy. Not only did increased ice melt lead to the area's surface waters becoming undersaturated in 2008 for aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate vital for shell-building, but the retreat of sea ice away from the coast means that undersaturated waters from the depths can now upwell and affect organisms living on the sea floor of the Arctic continental shelf.... "This is the first evidence of omega aragonite undersaturation in deep basin surface waters," Fiona McLaughlin of the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Canada, told environmentalresearchweb. "In a 2009 publication models predicted that the surface waters might be undersaturated in the Arctic within a decade. We're making those observations now, because the ice has melted so fast. Essentially the papers are almost being written at the same time."... Because the Arctic food web is quite simple and short, it could be extremely vulnerable to such changes. But McLaughlin says that it takes time to see how populations are decreasing. "I think this has identified that we need to go out and make counts and do a time series so that we can see whether there are effects and what these organisms' tolerance is," she explained. ...


Aragonite is aragoing, aragoing.... Aragoodnight.

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Sun, Nov 29, 2009
from Globe and Mail (Canada):
'Permanent' Arctic sea ice has nearly vanished, expert fears
One of Canada's top northern researchers says the permanent Arctic sea ice that is home to the world's polar bears and usually survives the summer has all but disappeared. Experts around the world believed the ice was recovering because satellite images showed it expanding.... "It caught us all by surprise because we were expecting there to be multiyear sea ice -- the whole world thought it was multiyear sea ice," said Dr. Barber, who just returned from an expedition to the Beaufort Sea. "Unfortunately what we found was that the multiyear [ice] has all but disappeared. What's left is this remnant, rotten ice." ...


So seeing is believing -- but can be wrong.

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Sun, Nov 22, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
World's largest ice sheet melting faster than expected
The world's largest ice sheet has started to melt along its coastal fringes, raising fears that global sea levels will rise faster than scientists expected. The East Antarctic ice sheet, which makes up three-quarters of the continent's 14,000 sq km, is losing around 57bn tonnes of ice a year into surrounding waters, according to a satellite survey of the region. Scientists had thought the ice sheet was reasonably stable, but measurements taken from Nasa's gravity recovery and climate experiment (Grace) show that it started to lose ice steadily from 2006. The measurements suggest the polar continent could soon contribute more to global sea level rises than Greenland, which is shedding more than 250bn tonnes of ice a year, adding 0.7mm to annual sea level rises. ...


Now Greenland, don't start getting competitive, ok?

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Sat, Nov 21, 2009
from AFP:
Permafrost thaw threatens Russia oil and gas complex: study
According to the report by the environmental watchdog, up to 55 billion roubles (1.9 billion dollars) a year is spent on repairs to infrastructure and pipelines damaged by changes in the permafrost in western Siberia. "For Russia, the biggest threat of the permafrost melt is to oil and gas company infrastructure," said Vladimir Chuprov, who heads Greenpeace's energy programme in Russia.... Russia's main raw export industries are spread across the Siberian permafrost, which makes up over 60 percent of its territory and includes 20 cities and several hundred thousand people. The permafrost thaw has accelerated in recent years.... In a complex cycle, permafrost melts at the edges of lakes that previously were iced over year-round, he explained. Organic material -- the remains of rotted plants and long-dead animals -- then melt into the lake from the soil and decompose to form methane. With the thaw, the methane bubbles to the surface and is released into the atmosphere. ...


It's so sad when nomenclature leads to a death spiral. Tempofrost would have changed everything.

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Sun, Nov 15, 2009
from London Times:
Climate change catastrophe took just months
Six months is all it took to flip Europe's climate from warm and sunny into the last ice age, researchers have found. They have discovered that the northern hemisphere was plunged into a big freeze 12,800 years ago by a sudden slowdown of the Gulf Stream that allowed ice to spread hundreds of miles southwards from the Arctic.... The new description, reminiscent of the Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, emerged from one of the most painstaking studies of past climate changes yet attempted. ...


Isn't "Hollywood being right" one of the Seven Signs of the Apocalypse?

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Sat, Nov 14, 2009
from Times Online (UK):
Greenland's ice sheet is melting faster than ever, data shows
Greenland's ice sheet is melting at an accelerating pace, according to the most detailed observations to date. Until now scientists had been unable to establish whether the loss of the ice sheet had speeded up significantly since the 1990s. Using two independent measurement techniques, the latest study reveals that the melting accelerated rapidly over the period 2000-2008. If the acceleration of melting continues at the same rate, the sea level from Greenland's ice alone would rise by 40cm by the end of the century. If the melting continues at a steady pace -- the best-case scenario according to Met Office predictions -- Greenland ice will contribute an 18cm rise in sea level. The Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to cause a global sea level rise of seven metres. ...


And the rate of acceleration? Is it accelerating?

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Tue, Nov 10, 2009
from Science Daily:
Antarctica Glacier Retreat Creates New Carbon Dioxide Store; Has Beneficial Impact On Climate Change
Large blooms of tiny marine plants called phytoplankton are flourishing in areas of open water left exposed by the recent and rapid melting of ice shelves and glaciers around the Antarctic Peninsula. This remarkable colonisation is having a beneficial impact on climate change. As the blooms die back phytoplankton sinks to the sea-bed where it can store carbon for thousands or millions of years. Reporting recently in the journal Global Change Biology, scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) estimate that this new natural 'sink' is taking an estimated 3.5 million tonnes* of carbon from the ocean and atmosphere each year.... *The 3.5 million tonnes of carbon taken from the ocean and atmosphere is equivalent to 12.8 million tonnes of CO2. Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and land use change reached 8.7 billion tonnes of carbon in 2007. ...


That's just Nature's way of buying us an extra day or two!

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Tue, Nov 10, 2009
from RealClimate:
Is Pine Island Glacier the Weak Underbelly of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?
... the 1978 publication by the late John Mercer, Ohio State U., who argued that a major deglaciation of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) may be in progress within 50 years. This conclusion was based on the fact that the WAIS margin was ringed with stabilizing ice shelves, and that much of the ice sheet is grounded below sea level. The loss of ice shelves -- Mercer proposed -- would allow the ice sheet to thin, grounding lines to retreat and the ice sheet to disintegrate via calving. This is a much faster means of losing mass than melting in place. Mercer further commented that the loss of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula, as has since been observed, would be an indicator that this process of ice sheet loss due to global warming was underway.... The increase from 2006 to 2007 was 6.4 percent at 55 km from the terminus and 4.1 percent at 171 km inland.... A separate data set, radar based was used by Rignot (2008) to identify a 42 percent acceleration of PIG between 1996 and 2007 accompanied by most of its ice plain becoming ungrounded.... Scott and others (2009) pointed out that the greater thinning toward the grounding line and terminus increased the surface slope and the gravitational driving stress, further promoting acceleration. Then Wingham and others (2009) reported that the 5400 km2 central trunk of the glacier had experienced a quadrupling in the average rate of volume loss quadrupled from 2.6 km3 a year in 1995 to 10.1 km3 a year in 2006. ...


It's all going to melt anyway -- let's pipe this "frozen aquifer" to Australia!

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Tue, Nov 3, 2009
from London Guardian:
Global warming could create 150 million 'climate refugees' by 2050
Global warming will force up to 150 million "climate refugees" to move to other countries in the next 40 years, a new report from the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) warns. In 2008 alone, more than 20 million people were displaced by climate-related natural disasters, including 800,000 people by cyclone Nargis in Asia, and almost 80,000 by heavy floods and rains in Brazil, the NGO said. President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, who presented testimony to the EJF, said people in his country did not want to "trade a paradise for a climate refugee camp". He warned rich countries taking part in UN climate talks this week in Barcelona "not to be stupid" in negotiating a climate treaty in Copenhagen this December.... Last month, the president held a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to the plight of his country. ...


We're gonna need a lot more portajohns.

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Thu, Oct 29, 2009
from University of Pennsylvania via ScienceDaily:
North Carolina Sea Levels Rising Three Times Faster Than In Previous 500 Years
An international team of environmental scientists led by the University of Pennsylvania has shown that sea-level rise, at least in North Carolina, is accelerating. Researchers found 20th-century sea-level rise to be three times higher than the rate of sea-level rise during the last 500 years. In addition, this jump appears to occur between 1879 and 1915, a time of industrial change that may provide a direct link to human-induced climate change....the acceleration appears consistent with other studies from the Atlantic coast, though the magnitude of the acceleration in North Carolina is larger than at sites farther north along the U.S. and Canadian Atlantic coast and may be indicative of a latitudinal trend related to the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. ...


The shore sure is shortening.

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Thu, Oct 15, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Arctic will be ice-free in a decade, according to Pen Hadow
The explorer trekked more than 269 miles towards the North Pole this winter in temperatures below -40 degrees C to measure the depth of the ice. The average thickness of ice floes was 1.8 metres, suggesting the ice sheet is now largely made up of first year ice rather than "multiyear" ice that will have built up over time.... An analysis by Cambridge University has concluded that the Arctic is now melting at such a rate that it will be largely ice free within ten years, allowing ships to cross the Arctic Ocean. Further analysis by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned that the "irreversible trend" will cause dangerous feedback because water absorbs more heat from the sun than ice, therefore further speeding up the global warming process. The melting of the ice could also trigger extreme weather patterns as the ocean currents change and release even more greenhouse gases stored under the ice. ...


Whoo-ee! We are kicking Nature's ass!

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Sat, Oct 10, 2009
from BBC (UK):
'Scary' climate message from past
A new historical record of carbon dioxide levels suggests current political targets on climate may be "playing with fire", scientists say. Researchers used ocean sediments to plot CO2 levels back 20 million years. Levels similar to those now commonly regarded as adequate to tackle climate change were associated with sea levels 25-40m (80-130 ft) higher than today.... In the intervening millennia, CO2 concentrations have been much lower; in the last few million years they cycled between 180ppm and 280ppm in rhythm with the sequence of ice ages and warmer interglacial periods. Now, humanity's emissions of greenhouse gases are pushing towards the 400ppm range, which will very likely be reached within a decade.... "This is yet another paper that makes the future look more scary than previously thought by many," said the University of Arizona scientist. ...


Lucky for me, I just watch television, where there are no papers to read.

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Tue, Oct 6, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Is the Arctic ready to give up its treasures?
For all the talk among world leaders of the perils of climate change, many are scenting an opportunity. As the Arctic ice retreats, surrounding nations are looking to plunder those natural resources under the surface, estimated by the US Geological Survey to constitute as much as 13 per cent of the world's undiscovered oil and 30 per cent of its undiscovered natural gas -- as well as precious metals including iron ore, gold, zinc and nickel. There is the prospect of a dramatic new shortcut between Europe and Asia, slashing journey times by as much as a third. Last month, two German ships completed their journey along the Russian coast from South Korea to Bremen without any icebreaker escort. There are also hopes that Canada's Northwest Passage could offer a viable alternative to the Suez and Panama canals. The claim-staking and posturing has started: last year, Russia sent a submarine to plant its flag beneath the North Pole; next spring, it plans to drop paratroopers there. ...


It's not climate collapse -- it's an opportunity!

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Mon, Oct 5, 2009
from Reuters:
Unstoppable sea level rise
A rise of at least two metres in the world's sea levels is now almost unstoppable, experts told a climate conference at Oxford University on Tuesday. "The crux of the sea level issue is that it starts very slowly but once it gets going it is practically unstoppable," said Stefan Rahmstorf, a scientist at Germany's Potsdam Institute and a widely recognised sea level expert. "There is no way I can see to stop this rise, even if we have gone to zero emissions..." Rahmstorf estimated that if the world limited warming to 1.5 degrees then it would still see two metres sea level rise over centuries, which would see some island nations disappear. His best guess was a one metre rise this century, assuming three degrees warming, and up to five metres over the next 300 years. ...


Think of all the great goodbye parties for islands!

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Sun, Oct 4, 2009
from London Guardian:
Arctic seas turn to acid, putting vital food chain at risk
Carbon-dioxide emissions are turning the waters of the Arctic Ocean into acid at an unprecedented rate, scientists have discovered. Research carried out in the archipelago of Svalbard has shown in many regions around the north pole seawater is likely to reach corrosive levels within 10 years. The water will then start to dissolve the shells of mussels and other shellfish and cause major disruption to the food chain. By the end of the century, the entire Arctic Ocean will be corrosively acidic....About a quarter of the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by factories, power stations and cars now ends up being absorbed by the oceans. That represents more than six million tonnes of carbon a day. This carbon dioxide dissolves and is turned into carbonic acid, causing the oceans to become more acidic. "We knew the Arctic would be particularly badly affected when we started our studies but I did not anticipate the extent of the problem," said Gattuso. ...


Oy. Speaking of acid, my stomach is killing me!

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Fri, Sep 25, 2009
from AP News:
Planned emission cuts still mean far hotter Earth
Earth's temperature is likely to jump nearly 6 degrees between now and the end of the century even if every country cuts greenhouse gas emissions as proposed, according to a United Nations update. Scientists looked at emission plans from 192 nations and calculated what would happen to global warming. The projections take into account 80 percent pollution cuts from the U.S. and Europe by 2050, which are not sure things.... "We are headed toward very serious changes in our planet," said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N.'s environment program, which issued the update on Thursday. Even if the developed world cuts its emissions by 80 percent and the developing world cuts theirs in half by 2050, as some experts propose, the world is still facing a 3-degree (1.7 degree Celsius) increase by the end of the century, said Robert Corell, a prominent U.S. climate scientist who helped oversee the update. ...


And when next year's UNEP update comes in....?

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Wed, Sep 23, 2009
from CBC News (Canada):
Polar ice sheets melting into sea: study
The massive ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica are thinning rapidly, say British researchers who have analyzed 50 million laser measurements from a NASA satellite. Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and the University of Bristol said the most dramatic loss of ice was the result of glaciers flowing into the sea at a faster rate. "We think that warm ocean currents reaching the coast and melting the glacier front is the most likely cause of faster glacier flow," Hamish Pritchard of the British Antarctic Survey said in a statement.... "We were surprised to see such a strong pattern of thinning glaciers across such large areas of coastline," said Pritchard. "It's widespread and in some cases thinning extends hundreds of kilometres inland." ...


Of course it's thinning: isn't that what saunas are supposed to do?

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Fri, Sep 18, 2009
from Associated Press:
Scores of walrus carcasses found on Arctic coast
Up to 200 dead walruses have been spotted on the shore of Chukchi Sea on Alaska's northwest coast... Environmental groups calling for measures to slow greenhouse gas emissions say walruses on shore are evidence that global warming is altering the Arctic and forcing major changes in wildlife behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to list walruses as a threatened or endangered species because of the threat from sea ice loss, and the agency has opened a 60-day public comment period. Retreating sea ice might have taken away some of the platforms walrus use to hunt and rest, pushing to walrus to shore. ...


The canaries just keep getting bigger and bigger...

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Thu, Sep 17, 2009
from BBC:
Warming Arctic 'halts migration' of sea goose
Milder winters in the Arctic region have led to fewer Pacific brants, a species of sea goose, migrating southwards, say researchers. A study by the US Geological Survey (USGS) found that as many as 30 percent of the birds were overwintering in Alaska rather than migrating to Mexico. Until recently, more than 90 percent of the species were estimated to head south. Writing in the journal Arctic, the team said the shift coincides with warming in the North Pacific and Bering Sea. "This suggests that environmental conditions have changed for one of the northernmost wintering populations of geese," said lead author David Ward, a USGS researcher at the Alaska Science Center. ...


More food for those grolar bears!

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Wed, Sep 16, 2009
from New Scientist:
Hungry polar bears run riot as ice melts
As climate change causes sea ice to shrink, the number of "problem" polar bears appears to be increasing. "Hungry bears don't just lie down -- they go looking for an alternate food source," says zoologist Ian Stirling at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. "In many cases this brings them into human settlements and hunting camps." Stirling's team found that around the town of Churchill on the shores of Hudson Bay –- the "polar bear capital of the world" –- the number of bears reported as attacking humans, homes and hunting camps more than tripled between 1970 and 2005, from 20 to 90 per year. The shorter the sea ice season, the greater the reports of problem bear activity. This increase in problem bears comes despite a 22 per cent decline in the west Hudson Bay polar bear population since the late 1980s. Sea ice in Hudson Bay now melts three weeks earlier than it did in the 1970s. ...


I know! Let's just cover the Hudson Bay with white plastic fake-ice platforms!

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Sun, Sep 13, 2009
from Desdemona Despair:
Temperature Anomalies for 113 Arctic Stations, 1880-2009
Several things are abundantly clear: * The "sudden recent warming" is right there. For every grid. Just open your eyes. * For every grid the last decade is the warmest. * Over the last 3 decades, 108 out of 113 individual stations indicate warming, 48 of 113 are significant at 95 percent confidence, none show significant cooling. * Oft-repeated claims that "it was warmer in the 1930s" or "it was warmer in the 1940s" are wrong. For every grid. * The idea that present arctic temperatures are about equal to their 1958 values is "not even wrong." For every grid. ...


This only proves warming if you believe in facts.

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Thu, Sep 10, 2009
from Associated Press:
Effects of Arctic warming seen as widespread
Arctic warming is affecting plants, birds, animals and insects as ice melts and the growing season changes, scientists report in a new review of the many impacts climate change is having on the far north. As the global climate changes, the Arctic Circle has been warming faster than other regions and scientists have documented a series of affects on wildlife in the region... "The Arctic as we know it may soon be a thing of the past," Eric Post, an associate professor of biology at Penn State University, said in a statement. ...


Arctic... tock...tic...tock...

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Thu, Sep 10, 2009
from Oxford University Press, David W. Orr:
Book -- Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse
...the hardest tests for our Constitution and democracy are just ahead and have to do with the relationship between governance, politics, and the dramatic changes in Earth systems now under way. Human actions have set in motion a radical disruption of the biophysical systems of the planet that will undermine the human prospect, perhaps for centuries. The crucial issues will be decided by how and how well we conduct the public business in the decades and centuries ahead, and now on a planetary scale. Of the hard realities of governance ahead, five stand out.... ...


Right... like we're going to confront it. We'll just keep on confirming the theory.

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Sun, Sep 6, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Climate change: melting ice will trigger wave of natural disasters
Scientists are to outline dramatic evidence that global warming threatens the planet in a new and unexpected way – by triggering earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches and volcanic eruptions.... Melting glaciers will set off avalanches, floods and mud flows in the Alps and other mountain ranges; torrential rainfall in the UK is likely to cause widespread erosion; while disappearing Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets threaten to let loose underwater landslides, triggering tsunamis that could even strike the seas around Britain. At the same time the disappearance of ice caps will change the pressures acting on the Earth's crust and set off volcanic eruptions across the globe. Life on Earth faces a warm future -- and a fiery one. ...


Hey, maybe the smoke from all those volcanoes will cool the globe!

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Fri, Sep 4, 2009
from Science, via BBC:
Arctic 'warmest in 2000 years'
Changes to the Earth's orbit drove centuries of cooling, but temperatures rose fast in the last 100 years as human greenhouse gas emissions rose. Scientists took evidence from ice cores, tree rings and lake sediments.... "The 20th Century stands out in strong contrast to the cooling that should have continued. The last half-century was the warmest of the 2,000-year temperature record, and the last 10 years have been especially dramatic," he told BBC News. ...


Coincidence? Or just a fluke?

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Tue, Sep 1, 2009
from London Guardian:
The Sermilik fjord in Greenland: a chilling view of a warming world
It is calving season in the Arctic. A flotilla of icebergs, some as jagged as fairytale castles and others as smooth as dinosaur eggs, calve from the ice sheet that smothers Greenland and sail down the fjords. The journey of these sculptures of ice from glaciers to ocean is eerily beautiful and utterly terrifying. The wall of ice that rises behind Sermilik fjord stretches for 1,500 miles (2,400km) from north to south and smothers 80 percent of this country. It has been frozen for 3m years. Now it is melting, far faster than the climate models predicted and far more decisively than any political action to combat our changing climate. If the Greenland ice sheet disappeared sea levels around the world would rise by seven metres, as 10 percent of the world's fresh water is currently frozen here. ...


Sounds to me like we are fjucked.

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Mon, Aug 31, 2009
from Associated Press:
Climate trouble may be bubbling up in Far North
...Pure methane, gas bubbling up from underwater vents, escaping into northern skies, adds to the global-warming gases accumulating in the atmosphere. And pure methane escaping in the massive amounts known to be locked in the Arctic permafrost and seabed would spell a catastrophe. Is such an unlocking under way? Researchers say air temperatures in northwest Canada, in Siberia and elsewhere in the Arctic have risen more than 2.5 C (4.5 F) since 1970 — much faster than the global average. The summer thaw is reaching deeper into the frozen soil, at a rate of 4 centimeters (1.5 inches) a year, and a further 7 C (13 F) temperature rise is possible this century... ...


How many carbons does it burn up to have to add Fahrenheit equivalencies!

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Tue, Aug 25, 2009
from COP15:
North-East Passage opens for commercial vessels
A German shipping company is the first non-Russian enterprise to send commercial vessels through the North-East Passage. Beluga Shipping GmbH just got its permit from Russian authorities to do the 4,000 nautical miles across Russia's northern shore without the help of icebreakers. On Friday, the "Beluga Fraternity" and "Beluga Foresight" left the Russian port of Vladivostok with cargo picked up in South Korea bound for Holland.... "Global warming is obviously a development with negative effects. However, the melting ice in the North-East Passage and the possibility to transit through it has positive effects, too...." ...


"Positive effects" like new shorelines, new warlords, no more third world obesity problems.... opportunity in threat's clothing!

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Mon, Aug 17, 2009
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Kindling For Climate Change
The word "Arctic" tends to conjure images of glaciers, polar bears, icy waters, and frozen tundra. And indeed, all of those are common features of Alaska's North Slope. But as climate change alters the atmosphere and landscape in the Arctic, another image might need to be added to that list: fire... But as the temperature in the Arctic has risen, the number of lightning strikes has increased 20-fold. Because the area is so cold and wet, a strike generally has trouble causing much trouble. In July 2007, lightning hit an area north of camp, near the Anaktuvuk River, starting a fire that smoldered for several ...


Lightning in the Arctic? That's surely one of the signs of the Apocalypse!

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Sat, Aug 15, 2009
from Canwest News:
Experts: Arctic ice experiencing severe summer retreat
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads north next week for what's become his annual summer visit to the Arctic, he will encounter a world scientists believe is in the midst of an unprecedented and irreversible transformation, where retreating sea ice and related environmental changes are radically reshaping the region's future.... In the upcoming days, researchers from around the world will reassess the state of the Arctic Ocean ice cover and gauge whether this summer's retreat -- already viewed as another "extreme" thaw -- will surpass the 2007 meltdown that shocked even veteran observers of the polar realm.... [T]he biggest floes now jamming the fabled Arctic shipping corridor are southward-floating, orphaned chunks of the thickest, oldest "multi-year" ice mass that has been steadily disintegrating -- in North America, Europe and Asia -- along the edges of the central Arctic Ocean.... The region is, Howell told Canwest News Service, "past the 'tipping-point,'" when increasing expanses of darker, open water absorb ever more heat and the diminished ice cover -- normally able to reflect sunlight because of its lighter surface -- melts more quickly. ...


It's freakin' chemistry and physics, you idiot deniers!

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Fri, Aug 14, 2009
from University of Leeds, via EurekAlert:
Antarctic glacier thinning at alarming rate
The thinning of a gigantic glacier in Antarctica is accelerating, scientists warned today. The Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica, which is around twice the size of Scotland, is losing ice four times as fast as it was a decade ago. The research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, also reveals that ice thinning is now occurring much further inland. At this rate scientists estimate that the main section of the glacier will have disappeared in just 100 years, six times sooner than was previously thought.... "Because the Pine Island Glacier contains enough ice to almost double the IPCC's best estimate of 21st century sea level rise, the manner in which the glacier will respond to the accelerated thinning is a matter of great concern," says Professor Shepherd. ...


"Great concern" is only one of the things I'm feeling!

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Sun, Aug 9, 2009
from Associated Press:
Vast expanses of Arctic ice melt in summer heat
The Arctic Ocean has given up tens of thousands more square miles (square kilometers) of ice on Sunday in a relentless summer of melt, with scientists watching through satellite eyes for a possible record low polar ice cap... As of Thursday, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center reported, the polar ice cap extended over 2.61 million square miles (6.75 million square kilometers) after having shrunk an average 41,000 square miles (106,000 square kilometers) a day in July -- equivalent to one Indiana or three Belgiums daily. The rate of melt was similar to that of July 2007, the year when the ice cap dwindled to a record low minimum extent of 1.7 million square miles (4.3 million square kilometers) in September. ...


Can't we take some ice cubes up there?!?

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Thu, Aug 6, 2009
from CBC:
'Balmy' High Arctic broke heat record in July
Temperatures soared to record highs in the High Arctic in July, stunning Environment Canada's senior climatologist. David Phillips said a heat record was broken last month in Eureka on Ellesmere Island. A similar record was almost broken further up the island at Alert, Canada's most northerly place. "Boy, there are some real head-shakers. I look at Eureka -- I mean, it is probably almost as far north as you can get -- and we saw temperatures of, you know, up to almost 21 C [70 F]," Phillips told CBC News. "It's been just absolutely balmy." Phillips said Eureka went up to 20.9 C on July 14, breaking the record of 20.7 C from July 23, 2007. Environment Canada started recording weather at the Eureka weather station in 1947. ...


How can I get in on the coming boom in far-north summer cottages?

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Thu, Aug 6, 2009
from New Scientist:
Arctic Ocean may be polluted soup by 2070
Within 60 years the Arctic Ocean could be a stagnant, polluted soup. Without drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions, the Transpolar Drift, one of the Arctic's most powerful currents and a key disperser of pollutants, is likely to disappear because of global warming. The Transpolar Drift is a cold surface current that travels right across the Arctic Ocean from central Siberia to Greenland, and eventually out into the Atlantic. It was first discovered in 1893 by the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who tried unsuccessfully to use the current to sail to the North Pole. Together with the Beaufort Gyre, the Transpolar Drift keeps Arctic waters well mixed and ensures that pollution never lingers there for long.... In a "business-as-usual" scenario, in which atmospheric carbon dioxide levels double by 2070, Johannessen and his colleagues found that the Transpolar Drift stops and the Beaufort Gyre, Greenland Current and Gulf Stream weaken considerably.... One reason for this sluggish behaviour is a change in wind patterns driven by global warming and rapid melting of the Arctic sea ice. As a result, pollution takes much longer to disperse in this scenario. Much of this pollution would congregate along the non-European coastlines of the Arctic Ocean, the model suggests. ...


Maybe the jellyfish and algae would just eat up all the pollution in that Arctic soup.

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Sun, Aug 2, 2009
from Edinburgh Scotsman:
Scientists claim planet is heading for 'irreversible' climate change by 2040
Carbon dioxide levels are rising at a faster rate than the worst-case scenario envisaged by United Nations experts, with the planet heading for "catastrophic" and "irreversible" climate change by 2040, a new report claims. The rise of greenhouse gases will trigger an unprecedented rate of global warming that will result in the loss of the ice-covered polar seas by 2020, much of our coral reefs by 2040 and see a 1.4-metre rise in the sea level by 2100. The apocalyptic vision has been outlined in a paper by Andrew Brierley of St Andrews University, which is likely to influence the views of UN experts gathering in Copenhagen this December to establish a new protocol that will attempt to halt global warming. ...


"Apocalyptic"? Where are the plagues of locusts?

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Mon, Jul 27, 2009
from Environmental Health News:
Polar bears on thinner ice
Longer ice-free seasons in the Canadian Arctic are leading to diet changes and increased contaminants in polar bears. Hudson Bay's polar bears are more contaminated with some pollutants now than in the past due to warmer temperatures that are melting ice sooner in the spring and forcing the bears to eat different food.... Fatty acid fingerprints revealed that the bears now eat more harbor and harp seals and fewer bearded seals than before. This shift in diet resulted in higher levels of PCBs and flame retardants (but not the pesticides DDT or chlordane) in their tissues. ...


I'll bet the bearded seals don't mind this change at all!

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Sun, Jul 26, 2009
from London Observer:
Revealed: the secret evidence of global warming Bush tried to hide
Graphic images that reveal the devastating impact of global warming in the Arctic have been released by the US military. The photographs, taken by spy satellites over the past decade, confirm that in recent years vast areas in high latitudes have lost their ice cover in summer months. The pictures, kept secret by Washington during the presidency of George W Bush, were declassified by the White House last week. President Barack Obama is currently trying to galvanise Congress and the American public to take action to halt catastrophic climate change caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere... The photographs demonstrate starkly how global warming is changing the Arctic. More than a million square kilometres of sea ice - a record loss - were missing in the summer of 2007 compared with the previous year. Nor has this loss shown any sign of recovery. Ice cover for 2008 was almost as bad as for 2007, and this year levels look equally sparse. ...


While Bush fiddled, Rome melted.

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Fri, Jul 24, 2009
from Newsweek:
Climate-Change Calculus: Why it's even worse than we feared.
Among the phrases you really, really do not want to hear from climate scientists are: "that really shocked us," "we had no idea how bad it was," and "reality is well ahead of the climate models." Yet in speaking to researchers who focus on the Arctic, you hear comments like these so regularly they begin to sound like the thumping refrain from Jaws: annoying harbingers of something that you really, really wish would go away.... The loss of Arctic sea ice "is well ahead of" what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast, largely because emissions of carbon dioxide have topped what the panel—which foolishly expected nations to care enough about global warming to do something about it—projected. "The models just aren't keeping up" with the reality of CO2 emissions, says the IPY's David Carlson. Although policymakers hoped climate models would prove to be alarmist, the opposite is true, particularly in the Arctic.... But estimates of how much carbon is locked into Arctic permafrost were, it turns out, woefully off. "It's about three times as much as was thought, about 1.6 trillion metric tons, which has surprised a lot of people," says Edward Schuur of the University of Florida. ...


Stop it! Hasn't Brangelina done something recently?

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Fri, Jul 17, 2009
from Reuters:
U.S. releases unclassified spy images of Arctic ice
The United States released more than a thousand intelligence images of Arctic ice to help scientists study the impact of climate change, within hours of a recommendation by the National Academy of Sciences. In an unusually fast move by a U.S. government agency, the Interior Department made the images public on Wednesday. The academy's report urging this action was released at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Some 700 images show swatches of sea ice from six sites around the Arctic Ocean, with an additional 500 images of 22 sites in the United States. The images can be seen online at gfl.usgs.gov/. ...


Government helping scientists? Whoa! Maybe there is some hope!

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Wed, Jul 15, 2009
from National Academy of Sciences, via EurekAlert:
Arctic sea ice images derived from classified data should be made public
Hundreds of images derived from classified data that could be used to better understand rapid loss and transformation of Arctic sea ice should be immediately released and disseminated to the scientific research community, says a new report from the National Research Council. The committee that wrote the report emphasized that these Arctic images show detailed melting and freezing processes and also provide information at scales, locations, and time periods that are important for studying effects of climate change on sea ice and habitat -- data that are not available elsewhere. "To prepare for a possibly ice-free Arctic and its subsequent effects on the environment, economy, and national security, it is critical to have accurate projections of changes over the next several decades," said committee chair Stephanie Pfirman, professor and chair of the department of environmental science at Barnard College, New York City. "Forecasts of regional sea-ice conditions can help officials plan for and adapt to the impact of climate change and minimize environmental risks." ...


But National Security! GWOT! Terrorists could... oh, wait, we're talking world security, aren't we?

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Thu, Jul 9, 2009
from Bloomberg News:
Arctic Ocean's Ice Layer Thins 'Dramatically,' Study Concludes
The layer of ice over the Arctic Ocean has thinned "dramatically" this decade, with its thin seasonal blanket for the first time making up a bigger portion of the total ice than the thicker, older coat, a study said. Scientists from NASA and the University of Washington in Seattle surveyed the ocean's ice sheet from 2003 through 2008 using observations from the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat, to make the first estimate of its thickness and volume.... The researchers found that the Arctic Ocean's ice layer thinned by about 2.2 feet over four winters, or about 7 inches a year, while the area covered by older, thicker ice shrank by about 42 percent, or 595,000 square miles -- almost the land area of Alaska. In 2003, 62 percent of the ocean's ice cover was older, thicker ice, with 38 percent in seasonal layers, the researchers found. Five years later, 68 percent of the ice cap was made up of seasonal ice. ...


Good thing that it's natural variation, and that we're not responsible. What a coincidence that unprecedented change is happening at this time in history!

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Mon, Jul 6, 2009
from 3news (New Zealand):
Antarctica melting faster than expected
Antarctica is melting faster than expected, a conference was told earlier this week. Professor Peter Barrett of Victoria University's Antarctic Research Centre told the Annual Antarctic Conference in Auckland that the rate of ice loss was up 75 percent since 1996, and was increasing quickly.... Research centre director Professor Tim Naish, led a team of researchers who drilled deep into the Antarctic rock and discovered ancient records from the last time atmospheric CO2 reached the level it was now approaching. They found that 3 million to 5 million years ago, seas were warm enough to melt a large chunk of Antarctica's ice when atmospheric CO2 was only slightly higher than today. ...


Surely Antarctica would be the antithesis of what the Arctic is doing, right?

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Thu, Jul 2, 2009
from G Magazine:
Frozen carbon stores pose big warming danger
There is double the amount of carbon stored in frozen soils than previously thought, new research has found, which could significantly increase global temperatures by the end of this century if released. "Massive amounts of carbon stored in frozen soils at high latitudes are increasingly vulnerable to exposure to the atmosphere," said Pep Canadell, from the CSIRO's Global Carbon Project. "The [newest] research shows that the amount of carbon stored in soils surrounding the North Pole has been hugely underestimated."... Canadell and colleagues have revealed that frozen high-latitude soils have the potential to release vast quantities of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, and subsequently influence carbon-climate feedbacks. ...


But if we didn't know it before, it can't be true now, can it? Can it?

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Mon, Jun 29, 2009
from Miami Herald (FL):
Keys ill-prepared for rising sea
"South Florida is on the front line against sea-level rise in the United States, and the Florida Keys are ground zero," said Evan Flugman, who co-authored a Florida International University report on the importance of Monroe County tackling the issue now. By 2100, under the best-case predictions of a seven-inch sea-level rise by an international climate panel, the Keys would lose about 59,000 acres of real estate worth $11 billion, according to the nonprofit Nature Conservancy. Under the panel's worst-case projection of ocean waters rising 23.2 inches, about 75 percent of the Keys 154,000 acres and nearly 50 percent of its $43 billion property value could become submerged. Consequences also include the loss of habitat for many endangered plants and species, including Key deer. And the panel's predictions are conservative in comparison to some scientists' calculations. The eye-opening projections were presented at a June meeting in Marathon to urge Monroe County Mayor George Neugent, other Keys leaders and residents to develop long-term plans to deal with climate change. Unlike Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the Keys do not have a climate change task force. ...


What about DisneyWorld??

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Mon, Jun 22, 2009
from University of Buffalo, via EurekAlert:
Ice sheets can retreat 'in a geologic instant,' study of prehistoric glacier shows
Modern glaciers, such as those making up the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, are capable of undergoing periods of rapid shrinkage or retreat, according to new findings by paleoclimatologists at the University at Buffalo. The paper, published on June 21 in Nature Geoscience, describes fieldwork demonstrating that a prehistoric glacier in the Canadian Arctic rapidly retreated in just a few hundred years. The proof of such rapid retreat of ice sheets provides one of the few explicit confirmations that this phenomenon occurs. Should the same conditions recur today, which the UB scientists say is very possible, they would result in sharply rising global sea levels, which would threaten coastal populations. "A lot of glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland are characteristic of the one we studied in the Canadian Arctic," said Jason Briner, Ph.D., assistant professor of geology in the UB College of Arts and Sciences and lead author on the paper. "Based on our findings, they, too, could retreat in a geologic instant." ...


And that studied glacier didn't even have coal plant spewage to deal with!

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Thu, Jun 18, 2009
from Scientific American:
The Arctic Thaw Could Make Global Warming Worse
...In a complete Arctic thaw, these lakes could discharge a whopping 50 billion tons of methane: 10 times the amount already helping to heat the planet. Whether a total or more moderate release is in store is still anyone's guess. But pound for pound, methane in the atmosphere traps 25 times more of the sun's heat than CO2 does. Consequently, even a modest thaw of the perennially frozen soil that lies under these ephemeral lakes and caps the dry land around them could trigger a vicious cycle: warming releases methane and creates lakes, which thaw permafrost and liberate more gas, which intensifies warming, which creates more lakes, and so on. Some Arctic lakes are growing larger, and researchers are eyeing them suspiciously as a reason why global methane concentrations shot up in 2007 and have stayed high ever since. Other signs indicate that permafrost thawing on the Arctic seafloor may be loosening the cap on large pockets of methane stored deeper down. ...


Please put this in terms I can understand: how many Babe the Blue Ox farts is that?

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Fri, Jun 12, 2009
from University of Alaska Fairbanks via ScienceDaily:
Greenland Ice Sheet Melting Faster Than Expected; Larger Contributor To Sea-level Rise Than Thought
The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than expected, according to a new study led by a University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher and published in the journal Hydrological Processes. Study results indicate that the ice sheet may be responsible for nearly 25 percent of global sea rise in the past 13 years. The study also shows that seas now are rising by more than 3 millimeters a year--more than 50 percent faster than the average for the 20th century.... Ice melt from a warming Arctic has two major effects on the ocean. First, increased water contributes to global sea-level rise, which in turn affects coastlines across the globe. Second, fresh water from melting ice changes the salinity of the world’s oceans, which can affect ocean ecosystems and deep water mixing. ...


It's scuba time!

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Thu, May 28, 2009
from Reuters:
Greenland ice could fuel severe U.S. sea level rise
New York, Boston and other cities on North America's northeast coast could face a rise in sea level this century that would exceed forecasts for the rest of the planet if Greenland's ice sheet keeps melting as fast as it is now, researchers said on Wednesday. Sea levels off the northeast coast of North America could rise by 12 to 20 inches more than other coastal areas if the Greenland glacier-melt continues to accelerate at its present pace, the researchers reported. This is because the current rate of ice-melting in Greenland could send so much fresh water into the salty north Atlantic Ocean that it could change the vast ocean circulation pattern sometimes called the conveyor belt. Scientists call this pattern the meridional overturning circulation. ...


Whateva ya call it, I'm bringing my snorkel!

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Thu, May 28, 2009
from NSF, via EurekAlert:
Sea-level rise may pose greatest threat to Northeast US, Canada
The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet this century may drive more water than previously thought toward the already threatened coastlines of New York, Boston, Halifax and other cities in the northeastern United States and Canada, according to new research.... They considered three scenarios: the melt rate continuing to increase by 7 percent a year, as has been the case in recent years, or the melt rate slowing down to an increase of either 1 or 3 percent a year. If Greenland's melt rate slows down to a 3 percent annual increase, the study team's computer simulations indicate that the runoff from its ice sheet could alter ocean circulation in a way that would direct about a foot of water toward the northeast coast of North America by 2100. This would be on top of the average global sea level rise expected as a result of global warming. Although the study team did not try to estimate that mean global sea level rise, their simulations indicated that melt from Greenland alone under the 3 percent scenario could raise sea levels by an average of 53 centimeters (21 inches). If the annual increase in the melt rate dropped to 1 percent, the runoff would not raise northeastern sea levels by more than the 8 inches found in the earlier study in Nature Geoscience. But if the melt rate continued at its present 7 percent increase per year through 2050 and then leveled off, the study suggests that the northeast coast could see as much as 51 centimeters (20 inches) of sea level rise above a global average that could be several feet. ...


Red Sox: soggy. Mets: sodden.

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Mon, May 18, 2009
from University of Texas, via EurekAlert:
Arctic river deltas may hold clues to future global climate
Mead Allison, senior research scientist at The University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences and co-author of the study, said Arctic river deltas have been neglected as records of past climate because the far north is a challenging and expensive environment to work in and it only came to be seen as a bellwether for climate change in the last decade or so.... Scientists don't know whether large river deltas are a net source or a net sink of carbon. Do they store more carbon than they produce? That's a critical question because carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas. Large river deltas are the interface between the land and the oceans and they deliver large amounts of carbon carried along in sediments. As humans alter river systems by adding nutrients from fertilizers, damming water for power and diverting water for drinking and farming, they may be shifting the ability of those systems to fix, burn and store carbon. "It's a glaring gap in our understanding of the global carbon cycle," Allison said. "It's a potential gotcha in the global climate models. Each river system is different, but we have to get a handle on the net effects." Arctic river deltas are critical to explore, the researchers reason, because the largest changes in climate are projected for the Arctic. Large amounts of carbon are stored in Arctic permafrost. As those soils thaw, rivers will transport much of their organic carbon to the oceans. As global warming speeds up the melting of shorefast ice (ice attached to the shore), it will likely accelerate coastal erosion from storms, providing a further supply of organic carbon to the coastal zone. ...


As if there might be feedback systems we didn't already understand. Using the past as prologue? A waste of resources.

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Mon, May 18, 2009
from New York Times:
As Alaska Glaciers Melt, It's Land That's Rising
As the glaciers here melt, the land is rising, causing the sea to retreat.... The geology is complex, but it boils down to this: Relieved of billions of tons of glacial weight, the land has risen much as a cushion regains its shape after someone gets up from a couch. The land is ascending so fast that the rising seas -- a ubiquitous byproduct of global warming -- cannot keep pace. As a result, the relative sea level is falling, at a rate "among the highest ever recorded," according to a 2007 report by a panel of experts convened by Mayor Bruce Botelho of Juneau.... As a result, the region faces unusual environmental challenges. As the sea level falls relative to the land, water tables fall, too, and streams and wetlands dry out. Land is emerging from the water to replace the lost wetlands, shifting property boundaries and causing people to argue about who owns the acreage and how it should be used. And meltwater carries the sediment scoured long ago by the glaciers to the coast, where it clouds the water and silts up once-navigable channels. ...


Is this an example of the earth rising up to defend itself?

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Fri, May 8, 2009
from Associated Press:
Gov't sticks with Bush polar bear rule
The Interior Department is letting stand a Bush administration regulation that limits protection of polar bears from global warming, three people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce on Friday that he will not rescind the Bush rule, although Congress gave him authority to do so. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to pre-empt the secretary's announcement. ...


Once again... leaving the polar bears high and dry!

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Tue, May 5, 2009
from CBC News (Canada):
Researchers flag increasing levels of fresh water in Labrador Sea
Melting Arctic ice that flows into the Labrador Sea could affect the climate along the Labrador coast, and elsewhere in the North Atlantic, new research suggests.... "We see this small trend towards fresher waters coming out, but we're not certain if it's a large-scale trend yet," said oceanographer Craig Lee, who headed the research project. Lee said more fresh water would slow down the Labrador Current, which flows south along the Labrador coast. Water density changes in the Labrador Sea could also affect the Gulf Stream, a transatlantic current that brings warm temperatures to northern Europe.... Anderson said people in Nain are already living with effects. For example, he said the "rattles" -- places that don't freeze over in the winter because of the movement of currents -- are getting smaller. ...


The perimeter fresh water freezes better. Will we end up with Arctic fringe baldness? How do we do a comb-over?

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Sun, May 3, 2009
from Canada.com:
Arctic research centre scrambles to survive
The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory in Nunavut gives Canadian researchers a unique window on the polar atmosphere. But the facility known as PEARL, which at 1,500 kilometres above the Arctic Circle is about as far north as you can get and still be on dry land, faces a precarious future despite the stated commitment to Arctic science by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government. Two key sources of federal money that keep the lab and its science going are drying up, says Drummond, who leads the work at PEARL.... The Harper government also restated it's committed in the budget to building a "world-class, High Arctic research station." The station, expected to take about a decade to construct, is to serve as a "hub" for Arctic science activity. But observers say there is a danger that the know-how and expertise needed to optimize use of the new station will be lost if existing Arctic research programs such as PEARL are neglected or phased out. ...


After all, why should we know about what we fear?

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Thu, Apr 30, 2009
from Canadian Press:
Soot may be major cause of rapid Arctic warming
Greenhouse gases may not be the only reason the Arctic is thawing so rapidly. A report released Wednesday at an international meeting in Norway says scientists have discovered a new factor behind the surprisingly rapid meltdown -- so-called "black carbon," otherwise known as soot... Scientists have been puzzled for years about why Arctic sea ice is melting faster than climate models predict.... Research in the report shows that tiny particles of soot can reach the Arctic through air currents in just a few days. Some of those particles hang around in the atmosphere, absorbing sunlight and warming the air. The rest fall to the ground, where their darker colour speeds the melting of snow and ice. ...


Soot? Seriously? What are we, trapped in a Dickens novel??

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Sat, Apr 25, 2009
from Scripps Institution of Oceanography / UC San Diego via ScienceDaily:
No 'Burp' Accelerating Climate Change?...
An expansion of wetlands and not a large-scale melting of frozen methane deposits is the likely cause of a spike in atmospheric methane gas that took place some 11,600 years ago, according to an international research team led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego... "This is good news for global warming because it suggests that methane clathrates do not respond to warming by releasing large amounts of methane into the atmosphere," said Vasilii Petrenko, a postdoctoral fellow at University of Colorado, Boulder, who led the analysis while a graduate student at Scripps.... "This study is important because it confirms that wetlands and moisture availability change dramatically along with abrupt climate change," said [co-author Jeff] Severinghaus. "This highlights in a general way the fact that the largest impacts of future climate change may be on water resources and drought, rather than temperature per se." ...


What a relief: We'll die of thirst, not heat!

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Mon, Apr 20, 2009
from Reuters:
Aborigine, Inuit tradition can fight climate change
Alaskan Inuits, Australian aborigines and Pygmies from Cameroon have a message for a warming world: native traditions can be a potent weapon against climate change. At a summit starting Monday in Anchorage, Alaska, some 400 indigenous people from 80 nations are gathering to hone this message in the hope that it can be a key part of international climate negotiations.... The summit is taking place about 500 miles from the Alaskan village of Newtok, where intensifying river flow and melting permafrost are forcing 320 residents to resettle on a higher site some 9 miles away in a new consequence of climate change, known as climigration. Newtok is the first official Arctic casualty of climate change. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study indicates 26 other Alaskan villages are in immediate danger, with an additional 60 considered under threat in the next decade... ...


Climate change... this time it's personal!

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Thu, Apr 9, 2009
from BBC:
Americas on alert for sea level rise
Climate change experts in North and South America are increasingly worried by the potentially devastating implications of higher estimates for possible sea level rises. The Americas have until now been seen as less vulnerable than other parts of the world like low-lying Pacific islands, Vietnam or Bangladesh. But the increase in the ranges for anticipated sea level rises presented at a meeting of scientists in Copenhagen in March has alarmed observers in the region. Parts of the Caribbean, Mexico and Ecuador are seen as most at risk. New York City and southern parts of Florida are also thought to be particularly vulnerable. ...


Great news for the snorkeling business!

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Tue, Apr 7, 2009
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Arctic ice getting thinner, fading fast
Ice in the ocean surrounding the Arctic is thinner than it's been in 30 years, and there's much less of it, say scientists who are monitoring the effects of climate change. At the same time, another team of climate scientists is predicting from earlier data that the Arctic's ice cover has been melting so rapidly over the past few years that much of it could be gone within another three decades. ...


Ice getting thinner... Humans getting fatter.... Is there a connection here?

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Sun, Apr 5, 2009
from Associated Press:
Climate change threatens Channel Islands artifacts
...Around the globe, climate change is erasing the archaeological record, already under assault from development, grave robbers and illegal trade. Most at risk are prehistoric burials entombed in ice and ancient settlements hugging ever-shrinking coastlines. A warming planet is speeding the melting of polar ice, threatening to expose frozen remains like Scythian warrior mummies in Mongolia. Thawing permafrost is causing the ground to slump on Canada's Herschel Island, damaging caskets dating to the whaling heyday. Accelerated glacial melting may flood pre-Incan temples and tombs in the northern Andean highlands of Peru...."There are whole civilizations that we risk losing completely," said C. Brian Rose, president of the Archaeological Institute of America. "History is disintegrating before our very eyes." ...


...there's a certain sad symmetry to erasing history as we're ruining the future...

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Sat, Apr 4, 2009
from Reuters:
Wordie Ice Shelf has disappeared: scientists
One Antarctic ice shelf has quickly vanished, another is disappearing and glaciers are melting faster than anyone thought due to climate change, U.S. and British government researchers reported on Friday. They said the Wordie Ice Shelf, which had been disintegrating since the 1960s, is gone and the northern part of the Larsen Ice Shelf no longer exists. More than 3,200 square miles (8,300 square km) have broken off from the Larsen shelf since 1986. Climate change is to blame, according to the report from the U.S. Geological Survey and the British Antarctic Survey, available at pubs.usgs.gov/imap/2600/B. "The rapid retreat of glaciers there demonstrates once again the profound effects our planet is already experiencing -- more rapidly than previously known -- as a consequence of climate change," U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement. ...


Wordie up! Wordie... down...

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Fri, Apr 3, 2009
from Associated Press:
Arctic sea ice is melting faster than expected, study shows
Arctic sea ice is melting so fast that most of it could be gone in 30 years. A new analysis of changing conditions in the region, using complex computer models of weather and climate, says conditions that had been forecast for the end of the century could occur much sooner. A change in the amount of ice is important because the white surface reflects sunlight back into space. When ice is replaced by dark ocean water, the sunlight can be absorbed, warming the water and increasing the warming of the planet. ...


Thirty years? That's all the time in the world.

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Thu, Mar 26, 2009
from New Scientist:
Arctic meltdown is a threat to humanity
"I AM shocked, truly shocked," says Katey Walter, an ecologist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. "I was in Siberia a few weeks ago, and I am now just back in from the field in Alaska. The permafrost is melting fast all over the Arctic, lakes are forming everywhere and methane is bubbling up out of them." Back in 2006, in a paper in Nature, Walter warned that as the permafrost in Siberia melted, growing methane emissions could accelerate climate change. But even she was not expecting such a rapid change. "Lakes in Siberia are five times bigger than when I measured them in 2006. It's unprecedented. This is a global event now, and the inertia for more permafrost melt is increasing." ...What is certain is that the Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth. While the average global temperature has risen by less than 1 degree C over the past three decades, there has been warming over much of the Arctic Ocean of around 3 degrees C. In some areas where the ice has been lost, temperatures have risen by 5 degrees C. ...


She's just being ... emotional.

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Tue, Mar 24, 2009
from Nature:
Pancake ice takes over the Arctic
... In the past, Arctic waters have been dominated by thick slabs of sea ice that last from one year to the next. But sea-ice cover is diminishing and thick ice that lasts for several years is disappearing fast, with researchers seeing a greater proportion of thin, newly formed ice.... Under these conditions, globs of ice crystals tossed about in the water combine to form first a soupy mixture called 'grease ice', and then 'pancakes' of thin ice a metre or two in diameter. This can have all sorts of knock-on effects. Because the pancakes are round, for example, they have areas of open water between them when joined up, making the surface darker overall. This could have a warming effect as a result of less of the Sun's radiation being reflected. Water also slops up from these holes over the ice so that falling snow melts rather than settling, keeping the surface darker. ...


I'm more of a waffle man myself.

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Sun, Mar 22, 2009
from Palm Beach Daily News:
Rubber ducks dropped into Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier to track ice flow
To keep track of climate change, scientists around the world employ some of the most sophisticated devices and machines found in the 21st century. Advanced theoretical models run on huge number-crunching computers, while thousands of miles up in space complex satellites examine every nook and cranny of our atmosphere. Still, sometimes scientists just need a rubber ducky. At least, that's what Alberto Behar, a researcher from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, used recently to try to figure out what's going on inside the world's fastest-moving glacier. Behar dropped 90 rubber ducks inside the Jakobshavn Glacier, not far from Greenland, last September to try to determine why glaciers speed up in the summer months during their annual march to the sea. Behar says the Jakobshavn Glacier discharges around 7 percent of all the ice that comes off of Greenland each year. Thanks to global warming, scientists believe its melting ice sheet could help raise ocean levels in the coming years. ...


This idea was hatched at the Ernie Institute.

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Thu, Mar 19, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Global warming leaving its mark on polar bears
Potentially fatal to the polar bear, global warming has already left its mark on the species with smaller, less robust bears that are increasingly showing cannibalistic tendencies. Top experts who gathered this week in Tromsoe in northern Norway to discuss ways of protecting the species sounded alarm bells over the dramatic consequences of the melting ice... The primary observation is that as the sea ice shrinks away, so are the polar bears -- they're not growing as big as they used to. In Canada's Hudson Bay, home to a large polar bear population, the ice season is now three weeks shorter than it was 30 years ago, chipping away at the bears' opportunity to hunt seals, their primary source of food and an essential source of fat needed for their long summer fast. ...


Climate chaos ... may make cannibals of us all.

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Wed, Mar 18, 2009
from NSF, via EurekAlert:
Andrill demonstrates climate warming affects Antarctic ice sheet stability
"The sedimentary record indicates that under global warming conditions that were similar to those projected to occur over the next century, protective ice shelves could shrink or even disappear and the [West Antarctic Ice Sheet] would become vulnerable to melting," Powell said. "If the current warm period persists, the ice sheet could diminish substantially or even disappear over time. This would result in a potentially significant rise in sea levels." ... "It also appears that when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations reached 400 parts per million around four million years ago, the associated global warming amplified the effect of the Earth's axial tilt on the stability of the ice sheet," he said. ...


... gliding down the highway
When the sheets are slip slidin' away.


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Thu, Mar 12, 2009
from New Scientist:
Global warming reaches the Antarctic abyss
Even the deepest, darkest reaches of the Antarctic abyss are feeling the heat, according to new results presented at the climate change congress in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Tuesday. Gregory Johnson, of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, says even he was surprised by the findings. He says the changes could be responsible for up to 20 percent of the observed global sea-level rise.... On average, over the last decade, water at the surface of the oceans has gained 0.35 watts per square metre -- a measure of the amount of heat absorbed from the warming atmosphere. Johnson's measurements in the abyss are, in some regions, nearly three times that. ...


This makes me feel abyssmal.

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Thu, Feb 26, 2009
from Nature:
International Polar Year: In from the Cold
...It might seem that, as so often in the past, science reigns supreme at the planet's poles. But as climate change opens up vast parts of the Arctic to commerce, nations are starting to exert their influence in the region more purposefully, and long-simmering political tensions might soon boil over.... Warming in the Arctic, and the retreat of summertime sea ice, is opening up the region to interests such as mineral exploitation, shipping, fishing and tourism. Some researchers fear that the commercial potential could shift international interactions from mainly scientific collaboration to hard-nosed politics. Environmental groups such as Greenpeace have proposed a 50-year moratorium on all exploitation in the Arctic, but this is unlikely to gain much support. The shift towards economic and geopolitical competition poses a new threat for vulnerable Arctic environments, which should prompt scientists to speak out... ...


Me, I want to open the first Anthropologie!

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Wed, Feb 25, 2009
from International Council for Science:
Polar research reveals new evidence of global environmental change
The wide-ranging IPY findings result from more than 160 endorsed science projects assembled from researchers in more than 60 countries. Launched in March 2007, the [International Polar Year] covers a two-year period to March 2009 to allow for observations during the alternate seasons in both polar regions.... [R]esearch vessels ... have confirmed above-global-average warming in the Southern Ocean. A freshening of the bottom water near Antarctica is consistent with increased ice melt from Antarctica and could affect ocean circulation. Global warming is thus affecting Antarctica in ways not previously identified. [International Polar Year] research has also identified large pools of carbon stored as methane in permafrost. Thawing permafrost threatens to destabilize the stored methane -- a greenhouse gas -- and send it into the atmosphere. Indeed, IPY researchers along the Siberian coast observed substantial emissions of methane from ocean sediments. ...


Focused climate research always seems to discover things we wish we didn't have to discover.

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Wed, Feb 25, 2009
from NASA, via EurekAlert:
2008 was Earth's coolest year since 2000
Climatologists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City have found that 2008 was the coolest year since 2000. The GISS analysis also showed that 2008 is the ninth warmest year since continuous instrumental records were started in 1880. The ten warmest years on record have all occurred between 1997 and 2008. The GISS analysis found that the global average surface air temperature was 0.44 deg C (0.79 deg F) above the global mean for 1951 to 1980, the baseline period for the study. Most of the world was either near normal or warmer in 2008 than the norm. Eurasia, the Arctic, and the Antarctic Peninsula were exceptionally warm (see figures), while much of the Pacific Ocean was cooler than the long-term average. ...


I thought this was going to be a good news story!

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Sun, Feb 22, 2009
from London Daily Telegraph:
Scientists capture dramatic footage of Arctic glaciers melting in hours
Glaciologist Jason Box has been testing a Moulin, a shaft that allows water to travel from the glacier's surface to its bottom, in a glacier on the Greenland ice cap to find out how fast it is melting. Dr Box said: "The Moulin is the epicentre of our concern because all the water is running down at this one point. "It's just bottomless, no light escapes." Balanced on the edge of an ice sheet the team used a flow meter to measure the water speed.... The team found that in just one day 42 million litres fresh water drained down this one Moulin. Dr Box thinks there are hundreds, possibly thousands more Moulins across the Greenland ice cap. Greenland is losing enough water each year to cover Germany a metre deep. Dr Box, from Ohio State University, thinks the way to combat melting glaciers is to cover them with blankets that will reflect the sun's rays. ...


Blankets... now that's thinking outside the Dr. Box!

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Sat, Feb 21, 2009
from Science:
Arctic Coastal Erosion Doubles in 50 Years
As if record-breaking losses of sea ice and thawing permafrost weren't enough, climate change is also sweeping parts of the Arctic out to sea. New research in Geophysical Research Letters reports that the rate of erosion along a stretch of Alaska's northeastern coastline has doubled over the past 52 years. Such deterioration of arctic coastlines is likely to have significant impacts on local ecosystems, communities living in the Arctic, and oil and gas development. Arctic shorelines are especially susceptible to erosion because their sediments are often held together by nothing more than ice. Scientists have been concerned about these fragile coasts, because they will be pounded harder by waves as the sea ice disappears and storms intensify. Warmer water and rising sea levels make matters even worse. Ground zero might well be the coastline along the Beaufort Sea in northeastern Alaska, where the sediments are particularly ice-rich and the shore unprotected. ...


If I can't see this from my window it doesn't exist!

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Sat, Feb 21, 2009
from Los Angeles Times:
Bubbles of warming, beneath the ice
As permafrost thaws in the Arctic, huge pockets of methane -- a potent greenhouse gas -- could be released into the atmosphere. Experts are only beginning to understand how disastrous that could be.... International experts are alarmed. "Methane release due to thawing permafrost in the Arctic is a global warming wild card," warned a report by the United Nations Environment Programme last year. Large amounts entering the atmosphere, it concluded, could lead to "abrupt changes in the climate that would likely be irreversible." Methane (CH4) has at least 20 times the heat-trapping effect of an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2). As warmer air thaws Arctic soils, as much as 50 billion metric tons of methane could be released from beneath Siberian lakes alone, according to Walter’s research. That would amount to 10 times the amount currently in the atmosphere. ...


Methane bubbles ... that's almost a stripper name!

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Fri, Feb 20, 2009
from London Guardian:
Melt-pools 'accelerating Arctic ice loss'
New research has revealed that melt-water pooling on the Arctic sea ice is causing it to melt at a faster rate than computer models had previously predicted. Scientists have been struggling to understand why the northern sea ice has been retreating at a faster rate than estimated by the most recent assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in 2007. The IPCC's computer models had simulated an average loss of 2.5 percent in sea ice extent per decade from 1953 to 2006. But in reality the Arctic sea ice had declined at a rate of about 7.8 percent per decade. Arctic sea ice has retreated so much that in September 2007 it covered an all-time low area of 4.14m km sq, surpassing by 23 percent the previous all-time record set in September 2005. And during the summer of 2008, the north-west and north-east passages - the sea routes running along the Arctic coastlines of northern America and northern Russia, normally perilously clogged with thick ice – were ice-free for the first time since records began in 1972. Part of the reasons for the discrepancy has to do with melt ponds, which are pools of melted ice and snow that form on the sea ice when it is warmed in spring and summer. As they are darker than ice and snow, they absorb solar radiation rather than reflect it, which accelerates the melting process. ...


As Homer Simpson would say: Albe-d'oh!

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Thu, Feb 19, 2009
from Science Daily (US):
Permafrost Is Thawing In Northern Sweden
"At one of our sites, permafrost has completely disappeared from the greater part of the mire during the last decade," she says. In areas where permafrost is thawing the ground becomes unstable and can collapse. This can be a local and regional problem in areas with cities and infrastructure. Moreover, the thaw can cause increased emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane from the ground. Roughly 25 percent of all land surface in the northern hemisphere are underlain by permafrost. The thawing of permafrost that occurs today is likely to continue, in Margareta Johansson's view. She regards it as probable that there will be no permafrost in lowland areas around Abisko in 50 years. ...


Thank goodness it's only happening in Sweden!


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Thu, Feb 19, 2009
from New Scientist:
Arctic's personal greenhouse turns up the heat
The warming of the Arctic has been explained before as being due to a positive feedback loop: as the ice cap melts and disappears, more of the dark ocean is exposed: the Arctic's reflectivity, or albedo, decreases. This means less energy is reflected back out into space and the region warms still further. But that infamous arctic albedo feedback is only a small part of the problem.... [L]ess ice means more exposed sea, and a larger surface from which water can evaporate. Since water vapour is a strong greenhouse gas, the evaporation effectively creates an Arctic energy trap.... All this means the shrinking ice cap is playing a triple role in warming the Arctic. The ice is reflecting less energy, the open water is storing more energy, and is also supplying greenhouse gas to the atmosphere in the form of water vapour. Those three factors combine to produce a strong regional greenhouse over the Arctic. ...


Who's the god of feedback loops that I can pray to?

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Tue, Feb 17, 2009
from New Scientist:
North Atlantic is world's 'climate superpower'
IF EVER there was a superpower of the oceans, the North Atlantic, with its ability to control global weather systems, is it. The bad news is that this region also happens to be especially sensitive to the effects of climate change, so what is happening there could affect the world. The planet's climate goes through periodic convulsions that affect every region simultaneously. The most recent were in the early 1940s and mid-1970s. The latter coincided with the start of more frequent El Nino events in the Pacific and a strong global warming trend.... But the findings will leave most climate scientists more worried. Today's climate is changing most dramatically in the far North Atlantic, with record warming and ice loss in recent years. If the climate's "tipping point" resides in these waters, then nature's synchronised chaos could unleash unexpectedly sudden and severe consequences. ...


Why does Science always give us bad news? Can't reality fit our desires?

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Sun, Feb 15, 2009
from New Scientist:
Burp of Arctic laughing gas is no joke
It seems the Arctic['s melting permafrost] is belching out nitrous oxide -- commonly known as laughing gas. Unfortunately, the punchline is that it is a powerful greenhouse gas. Previously, emissions of N2O were thought to enter the atmosphere mainly from tropical forests and intensively managed farmland, with only a negligible amount from northerly environments.... Although this means N2O remains a small contributor to the greenhouse effect, compared with methane and carbon dioxide, the gas persists unaltered in the atmosphere for over 110 years, compared with around 10 years for methane -- which is also periodically released by the tundra. ...


Yo! Permafrost! We're doing the punchlines around here!

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Sun, Feb 15, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Global warming 'underestimated'
The severity of global warming over the next century will be much worse than previously believed, a leading climate scientist has warned. Professor Chris Field, an author of a 2007 landmark report on climate change, said future temperatures "will be beyond anything" predicted. Prof Field said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report had underestimated the rate of change. He said warming is likely to cause more environmental damage than forecast.... "We are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we've considered seriously in climate policy," he said. ...


Underestimated?! Even by the ApocaDocs?

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Tue, Feb 10, 2009
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Cedarburg native wants to make it to both poles, Everest in one year
Arctic explorer Eric Larsen, a Cedarburg native, intends to be the first person ever to reach the South and North poles and the summit of Mount Everest within one year. The three-legged expedition to what Larsen calls "the top, bottom and roof of the world" is scheduled to begin in November in Antarctica. Travel across the Arctic to the North Pole would come second, beginning in February 2010. The push to Everest's summit - the world's highest at 29,029 feet above sea level - might start in September 2010.... Larsen plans to reach the three destinations in quick succession to draw public attention to the impact of global warming on each of these remote places. The name of the proposed expedition: Save the Poles. ...


Mush, Eric, MUSH!

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Mon, Feb 9, 2009
from Times Online (UK):
Polar ice caps melting faster
THE ice caps are melting so fast that the world's oceans are rising more than twice as fast as they were in the 1970s, scientists have found. They have used satellites to track how the oceans are responding as billions of gallons of water reach them from melting ice sheets and glaciers. The effect is compounded by thermal expansion, in which water expands as it warms, according to the study by Anny Cazenave of the National Centre for Space Studies in France. These findings come at the same time as a warning from an American academic whose research suggests Labour's policies to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 are doomed. ...


Can't we just turn back the clock?

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Fri, Feb 6, 2009
from Scientific American:
U.S. Arctic May Close to Fishing
All U.S. waters north of the Bering Strait may soon be closed to commercial fishing. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council—the government body charged with administering Alaskan waters—voted unanimously in Seattle today to close 196,000 square miles (150,000 square nautical miles) of ocean to any fishing. "This will close the Arctic to all commercial fishing," says Jim Ayers, vice president for Pacific and Arctic affairs at Oceana, based in Juneau, who testified before the vote. "This is the beginning of a concept of large protected marine areas." ... While this is good news for fish, it does not mean that the Arctic is free from industrial threats. The Bush administration sold leases for oil and gas exploration in the Chukchi Sea to Shell and global warming is wreaking havoc by melting sea ice, softening permafrost and even eroding villages and towns. That prompted towns like Shishmaref to file a lawsuit requiring a reduction in greenhouse gases to preserve their traditional way of life. ...


No complacency, now. Before you know it, the Arctic will be the new bonanzaland for fish, as the rest is heated and acidified...

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Mon, Feb 2, 2009
from Wired News:
Melting Arctic Prompts Calls for 'National Park' on Ice
With arctic sea ice melting like ice cubes in soda, scientists want to protect a region they say will someday be the sole remaining frozen bastion of a disappearing world. Spanning the northern Canadian archipelago and western Greenland, it would be the first area formally protected in response to climate change, and a last-ditch effort to save polar bears and other animals. "All the indications are of huge change, and a huge response is needed if you want to have polar bears beyond 2050," said Peter Ewins, the World Wildlife Fund's Director of Species Conservation. National Parks have proven to be one of the most important ways to protect and preserve natural areas and wildlife. First established in the United States in 1872, national parks have since been adopted internationally. But protecting an area outside of a single country's borders could prove to be difficult. ...


So... why don't we name earth itself a national park?

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Fri, Jan 30, 2009
from Alaska Dispatch:
Northern life endures a midwinter's thaw
[The] thermometer at KJNP radio station in North Pole registered a low of minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit on Jan. 3 ... On Jan. 16, the same thermometer read plus 55 degrees. In Anchorage, temperatures varied from minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit at Campbell Creek Science Center Jan. 7 to plus 52 degrees at Merrill Field Jan. 16.... In areas where the warm wind was a real snow-eater, leaving the ground bare, red-backed voles lost their network of tunnels under the snow where they live, eat, and sometimes even breed in midwinter when times are good. "It can be 10-to-15 degrees warmer under the snowpack," said Ian van Tets, a biology professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. "For a little furry animal those 10-to-15 degrees can make a big difference. "I think this is going to be a bad winter for voles and lemmings," he said. "There's probably going to be a lot of die-off." ...


Voles and lemmings are key prey for raptors, wolves, foxes... a bad year for...
Wait -- did you say 55 degrees at the North Pole? In January!?

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Tue, Jan 27, 2009
from NPR:
Global Warming Is Irreversible, Study Says
"People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide that the climate would go back to normal in 100 years or 200 years. What we're showing here is that's not right. It's essentially an irreversible change that will last for more than a thousand years," Solomon says. This is because the oceans are currently soaking up a lot of the planet's excess heat -- and a lot of the carbon dioxide put into the air. The carbon dioxide and heat will eventually start coming out of the ocean. And that will take place for many hundreds of years.... The answer, he says, is sooner rather than later. Scientists have been trying to advise politicians about finding an acceptable level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The new study suggests that it's even more important to aim low. If we overshoot, the damage can't be easily undone. Oppenheimer feels more urgency than ever to deal with climate change, but he says that in the end, setting acceptable limits for carbon dioxide is a judgment call. ...


I'll get back to ya.

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Tue, Jan 27, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Emperor penguins face extinction
Based on predictions of sea ice extent from climate change models, the penguins are likely to see their numbers plummet by 95 percent by 2100. That corresponds to a decline to just 600 breeding pairs in the world.... What is more, the extent of sea ice cover influences the abundance of krill and the fish species that eat them -- both food sources for the penguins.... "Unlike some other Antarctic bird species that have altered their life cycles, penguins don't catch on so quickly," she said. "They are long-lived organisms, so they adapt slowly. This is a problem because the climate is changing very fast." ...


If the Emperor is in trouble, what about us peons?

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Sun, Jan 25, 2009
from London Guardian:
Living on thin ice
...Based on occasional submarine journeys and more recently satellite data, charts of the total area of Arctic sea ice have shown a gradual decline over the past 40 years. Then, in 2007, the line on the chart appeared to drop off a cliff, plunging below 5,000,000 sq km a full three decades ahead of forecasts. The dramatic events of two summers ago, when a Russian submarine rushed to plant a flag under the pole and Canadian and European governments tersely laid rival claims to sovereignty, led many scientists to warn that the Arctic sea ice could disappear entirely during the summer months much sooner than had been feared. Most experts agree on the impact this will have on 5m Arctic inhabitants and the rest of the world - from the loss of the unique habitat that exists under the ice to rising global sea levels and possible changes to the ocean circulation and the weather patterns of the whole planet. Yet forecasts for when this will happen range from just four years to the end of the century. The reason is that very little is understood about the depth and density of the sea ice, and therefore the total volume of water frozen at the top of the world. This is what Hadow's Catlin Arctic Survey - appropriately sponsored by an insurance company - hopes to put right by providing the much-needed data about how much ice is left, and so help work out how much time we have to prepare for what is probably the most immediate, truly global threat of climate change. ...


Of all the climate tipping points, the Arctic melt may be the tippiest point of all.

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Wed, Jan 21, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Scientists solve enigma of Antarctic 'cooling'
Scientists have solved the enigma of the Antarctic apparently getting cooler, while the rest of the world heats up. New research shows that while some parts of the frozen continent have been getting slightly colder over the last few decades, the average temperature across the continent has been rising for at least the last 50 years. In the remote and inaccessible West Antarctic region the new research, based on ground measurements and satellite data, show that the region has warmed rapidly, by 0.17C each decade since 1957. "We had no idea what was happening there," said Professor Eric Steig, at the University of Washington, Seattle, and who led the research published in Nature. This outweighs the cooling seen in East Antarctica, so that, overall, the continent has warmed by 0.12C each decade over the same period. This matches the warming of the southern hemisphere as a whole and removes the apparent contradiction. ...


Take that, skeptics!!
Uh, wait, maybe this isn't such good news...

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Sun, Jan 18, 2009
from Canwest News Service:
Climate warming 'highly unusual' says new study
A major U.S. government report on Arctic climate, prepared with information from eight Canadian scientists, has concluded that the recent rapid warming of polar temperatures and shrinking of multi-year Arctic sea ice are "highly unusual compared to events from previous thousands of years." The findings, released Friday, counter suggestions from skeptics that such recent events as the opening of the Northwest Passage and collapse of ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic are predictable phenomena that can be explained as part of a natural climate cycle rather than being driven by elevated carbon emissions from human activity. A summary of the report -- described as "the first comprehensive analysis of the real data we have on past climate conditions in the Arctic," by U.S. Geological Survey director Mark Myers -- warns that "sustained warming of at least a few degrees" is probably enough "to cause the nearly complete, eventual disappearance of the Greenland ice sheet, which would raise sea level by several metres." ...


The CO2 emissions from skeptics straining to explain away global warming just went up a couple ppm.

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Thu, Jan 1, 2009
from New Scientist:
More polar bears going hungry
The number of undernourished bears has tripled in a 20-year period.... In 1985 and 1986 the proportion of bears fasting was 9.6 and 10.5 per cent respectively. By 2005 and 2006 this had risen to 21.4 and 29.3 per cent... "If the ice continues to contract, which seems inevitable, polar bears will become even more nutritionally disadvantaged. The study proves polar bears are in serious trouble," says Rick Steiner, a marine conservationist at the University of Alaska in Anchorage. ...


"Nutritionally disadvantaged"? Should we be considering the polar bear just "collateral damage"?

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Thu, Dec 18, 2008
from Science Daily (US):
Scientists Find Increased Methane Levels In Arctic Ocean
A team led by International Arctic Research Center scientist Igor Semiletov has found data to suggest that the carbon pool beneath the Arctic Ocean is leaking.... Geophysical measurements showed methane bubbles coming out of chimneys on the seafloor. "The concentrations of the methane were the highest ever measured in the summertime in the Arctic Ocean," Semiletov said. "We have found methane bubble clouds above the gas-charged sediment and above the chimneys going through the sediment."... The new data indicates the underwater permafrost is thawing and therefore releasing methane.... Methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, is thought to be an important factor in global climate change. ...


Said the Permafrost to his mother: "I can't hold it in any longer!"

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Thu, Dec 18, 2008
from BBC:
Changes 'amplify Arctic warming'
...Theory predicts that as ice is lost in the Arctic, more of the ocean's surface will be exposed to solar radiation and will warm up. When the autumn comes and the Sun goes down on the Arctic, that warmth should be released back into the atmosphere, delaying the fall in air temperatures. Ultimately, this feedback process should result in Arctic temperatures rising faster than the global mean. Dr [Julienne] Stroeve and colleagues have now analysed Arctic autumn (September, October, November) air temperatures for the period 2004-2008 and compared them to the long term average (1979 to 2008). The results, they believe, are evidence of the predicted amplification effect. "You see this large warming over the Arctic ocean of around 3C in these last four years compared to the long-term mean," explained Dr Stroeve. ...


Sing with me: Tiiiiiimmmeee.... is NOT on our side....

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Wed, Dec 17, 2008
from Oregon State University, via EurekAlert:
Some climate impacts happening faster than anticipated
A report released today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union provides new insights on the potential for abrupt climate change and the effects it could have on the United States, identifying key concerns that include faster-than-expected loss of sea ice, rising sea levels and a possibly permanent state of drought in the American Southwest.... While concluding that some projections of the impact of climate change have actually been too conservative -- as in the case of glacier and ice sheets that are moving and decaying faster than predicted -- others may not pose as immediate a threat as some scenarios had projected, such as the rapid releases of methane or dramatic shifts in the ocean current patterns that help keep Europe warm.... The "overarching" recommendation of the report is the need for committed and sustained monitoring of these climatic forces that could trigger abrupt climate change, the researchers concluded. ...


"Sustained monitoring" is all well and good -- but let's also do some "sustained remediation," shall we?

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Tue, Dec 16, 2008
from AP News:
More than 2 trillion tons of ice melted in Arctic since '03
More than 2 trillion tons of land ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted since 2003, according to new NASA satellite data that show the latest signs of what scientists say is global warming. More than half of the loss of landlocked ice in the past five years has occurred in Greenland, based on measurements of ice weight by NASA's GRACE satellite, said NASA geophysicist Scott Luthcke. The water melting from Greenland in the past five years would fill up about 11 Chesapeake Bays, he said, and the Greenland melt seems to be accelerating.... A second study suggests even larger amounts of frozen methane are trapped in lakebeds and sea bottoms around Siberia and they are starting to bubble to the surface in some spots in alarming amounts, said Igor Semiletov, a professor at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. In late summer, Semiletov found methane bubbling up from parts of the East Siberian Sea and Laptev Sea at levels that were 10 times higher than they were in the mid-1990s, he said based on a study this summer. ...


Don'tcha hate it when they use numbers you can't understand? I mean, who can get their mind around "eleven Chesapeake bays"?

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Mon, Dec 15, 2008
from Ohio State University, via EurekAlert:
Greenland's glaciers losing ice faster this year than last year, which was record-setting itself
Researchers watching the loss of ice flowing out from the giant island of Greenland say that the amount of ice lost this summer is nearly three times what was lost one year ago.... [T]he loss of ice since the year 2000 is 355.4 square miles (920.5 square kilometers), or more than 10 times the size of Manhattan. "We now know that the climate doesn't have to warm any more for Greenland to continue losing ice," Box said. "It has probably passed the point where it could maintain the mass of ice that we remember. "But that doesn't mean that Greenland's ice will all disappear. It's likely that it will probably adjust to a new 'equilibrium' but before it reaches the equilibrium, it will shed a lot more ice. ...


Equilibria have no natural state -- they only equilibrate in relation to a static environment. Which we no longer have.

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Sun, Dec 14, 2008
from Indo-Asian News Service:
Get ready for worse climate change impacts: expert
Poznan (Poland), Dec 14 (IANS) An extra billion people will face water shortage, cereal production in developing countries will drop and coastal regions will face more damage from floods and storms because of delay in combating climate change, says a leading expert. The world should be prepared to face far worse effects of global warming than it is facing now, Martin Parry, a professor at the Imperial College in London, said in the backdrop of little substantial progress at the Dec 1-12 climate summit here. ...


Parry, from what I hear, teaches in the Duh!-partment of the Obvious.

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Fri, Dec 12, 2008
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Scientists predict seasonal ice-free Arctic by 2015
QUEBEC -- Ice in the Canadian Arctic is melting at such an alarming pace due to climate change that the North will be seasonally ice free in six years, according to a study released yesterday from a groundbreaking scientific expedition. The dawning of a seasonal ice-free Canadian Arctic is upon us, said David Barber, one of the leading scientists on the 15-month expedition, adding the consequences for Inuit communities, the wildlife and the entire northern ecosystem are unpredictable. And it is happening much faster than anyone anticipated, he said, noting that only two years ago a seasonal ice-free Arctic was predicted by 2030. "I now believe that the Arctic will be out of multiyear ice in the summertime as early as 2015; it is coming very quickly," Dr. Barber said. "The whole system is in a very rapid rate of change. ... The Arctic is telling us that climate change is coming quicker and stronger." ...


Quick! Someone distract me with a story about Amy Winehouse or Britney Spears.

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Mon, Dec 8, 2008
from AP News:
Native Hunters -- Climate is thinning caribou herds
Chief Bill Erasmus of the Dene nation in northern Canada brought a stark warning about the climate crisis: The once abundant herds of caribou are dwindling, rivers are running lower and the ice is too thin to hunt on. Erasmus raised his concerns in recent days on the sidelines of a U.N. climate conference, seeking to ensure that North America's indigenous peoples are not left out in the cold when it comes to any global warming negotiations. Erasmus, the 54-year-old elected leader of 30,000 native Americans in Canada, and representatives of other indigenous peoples met with the U.N.'s top climate official, Yvo de Boer, and have lobbied national delegations to recognize them as an "expert group" that can participate in the talks like other nongovernment organizations. "We bring our traditional knowledge to the table that other people don't have," he said. ...


What, listen to those who have experience and ground-level knowledge? What planet is he from?

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Fri, Dec 5, 2008
from Der Spiegel:
Point of No Return for the Arctic Climate?
...A new study completed by a team of US, Norwegian and German researchers may now provide some clues. Published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters in November, the study posits that a dramatic change in atmospheric circulation patterns has taken place since the beginning of the decade, with centers of high pressure in winter shifting toward the north-east....Behind the complex language and impenetrable calculations upon which the study is based, however, is a frightening possibility: climate change in the Arctic could already have reached the point of no return. ... "In the case of Arctic Sea ice, we have already reached the point of no return," says the prominent American climate researcher James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA. ...


The tipping point .... hath done toppled.

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Thu, Dec 4, 2008
from Associated Press:
Conservation group sues to protect walrus
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A conservation group went to court Wednesday to force the federal government to consider adding Pacific walrus to the list of threatened species. The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne for failing to act on a petition seeking protection for walrus under the Endangered Species Act. Walrus are threatened by global warming that melts Arctic sea ice, according to the group, which was one of the parties that successfully petitioned to list polar bears as threatened. The group also has filed petitions to protect Arctic seals. ...


goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob!

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Sun, Nov 30, 2008
from Agence France-Presse:
Climate change gathers steam, say scientists
PARIS (AFP)-- Earth's climate appears to be changing more quickly and deeply than a benchmark UN report for policymakers predicted, top scientists said ahead of international climate talks starting Monday in Poland. Evidence published since the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change's (IPCC) February 2007 report suggests that future global warming may be driven not just by things over which humans have a degree of control, such as burning fossil fuels or destroying forest, a half-dozen climate experts told AFP. Even without additional drivers, the IPCC has warned that current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, if unchecked, would unleash devastating droughts, floods and huge increases in human misery by century's end. But the new studies, they say, indicate that human activity may be triggering powerful natural forces that would be nearly impossible to reverse and that could push temperatures up even further. At the top of the list for virtually all of the scientists canvassed was the rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap. ...


Those IPCC findings ... are sooooo yesterday.

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Tue, Nov 25, 2008
from Canwest News:
WARMING TO GLOBAL WARMING
...a group of global-warming experts, made up mainly of university economists and anthropologists, is pushing the notion that global warming might not be an unmitigated disaster, especially for certain northerly regions, such as Canada, Russia and Scandinavia. Leading the charge is Robert Mendelsohn, an economics professor at Yale University, who says the benefits of global warming for Canada - from a longer growing season to the opening up of shipping through the Northwest Passage - will outweigh the negative effects. "You're lucky because you're a northern-latitude country, Mendelsohn says. "If you add it all up, it's a good thing for Canada." ...


It would appear this economics prof can't do the true math that everything is connected.

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Thu, Nov 20, 2008
from Bloomberg News:
October Temperatures Are Second-Warmest Since 1880
Global temperatures last month were the second-warmest since recordkeeping began while Arctic sea ice fell to its third-lowest level, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. The combined land and ocean surface temperature for October was 58.23 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.13 degrees above the 20th century average, said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The warmest October since 1880 occurred in 2003.... Arctic sea ice extended 3.24 million square miles last month, almost 10 percent below the 1979-2000 average. Sea ice has been declining by an average of 5.4 percent a decade over the past 30 years. ...


Why did they have to name it NOAA?

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Fri, Oct 31, 2008
from BBC:
Polar warming 'caused by humans'
In 2007, the UN's climate change body presented strong scientific evidence the rise in average global temperature is mostly due to human activities. This contradicted ideas that it was not a result of natural processes such as an increase in the Sun's intensity. At the time, there was not sufficient evidence to say this for sure about the Arctic and Antarctic. Now that gap in research has been plugged, according to scientists who carried out a detailed analysis of temperature variations at both poles. Their study indicates that humans have indeed contributed to warming in both regions. ...


Sometimes science is just the science of the obvious!

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Fri, Oct 17, 2008
from NOAA, via Mongabay:
NOAA offers 'dramatic evidence' of Arctic warming
Fall air temperatures 9 degrees F (5 degrees C) above normal, the second lowest-ever extent of summer sea ice, and the melting of surface ice in Greenland are signs of continued warming in the Arctic, according to the Arctic Report Card, an annual review of Arctic conditions by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its partners. "Changes in the Arctic show a domino effect from multiple causes more clearly than in other regions," said James Overland, an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle and a lead author of the report. "It's a sensitive system and often reflects changes in relatively fast and dramatic ways." ...


I wish I could transfer the icy chill I'm feeling in my spine to the Arctic.

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Fri, Oct 10, 2008
from U.S. News and World Report:
Global Warming Triggers an International Race for the Arctic
A new epoch is beginning at the top of the Earth, where the historic melting of the vast Arctic ice cap is opening a forbidding, beautiful, and neglected swath of the planet. Already, there is talk that potentially huge oil and natural gas deposits lie under the Arctic waters, rendered more accessible by the shrinking of ice cover. Valuable minerals, too. Sea lanes over the top of the world will dramatically cut shipping times and costs. Fisheries and tourism will shift northward. In short, the frozen, fragile north will never be the same. ...


And all this racing around will just accelerate further climate chaos!

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Sun, Oct 5, 2008
from European Space Agency via ScienceDaily:
Arctic Sea Ice Annual Freeze-up Underway
After reaching the second-lowest extent ever recorded last month, sea ice in the Arctic has begun to refreeze in the face of autumn temperatures, closing both the Northern Sea Route and the direct route through the Northwest Passage. This year marked the first time since satellite measurements began in the 1970s that the Northern Sea Route, also known as the Northeast Passage, and the Northwest Passage were both open at the same time for a few weeks. ...


The circumnavigable North Pole... AKA the Apocalypse!

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Sun, Sep 28, 2008
from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center via ScienceDaily:
Arctic Saw Fastest August Sea Ice Retreat On Record, NASA Data Show
Following a record-breaking season of arctic sea ice decline in 2007, NASA scientists have kept a close watch on the 2008 melt season. Although the melt season did not break the record for ice loss, NASA data are showing that for a four-week period in August 2008, sea ice melted faster during that period than ever before. ...


I scream... You scream... We all scream for ice's retreat.

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Tue, Sep 16, 2008
from Science Daily (US):
Arctic Sea Ice At Lowest Recorded Level Ever
Final figures on minimum ice coverage for 2008 are expected in a matter of days, but they are already flirting with last year's record low of 1.59 million square miles, or 4.13 million square kilometres. "If you take reduced ice thickness into account, there is probably less ice overall in the Arctic this year than in any other year since monitoring began," said Martin Sommerkorn, WWF International Arctic Programme's Senior Climate Change Advisor. ...


We're not just skating on thin ice, our skates are red hot.

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Sat, Sep 13, 2008
from New Scientist:
Antarctic sea ice increases despite warming
The amount of sea ice around Antarctica has grown in recent Septembers in what could be an unusual side-effect of global warming, experts say... "The Antarctic wintertime ice extent increased...at a rate of 0.6 percent per decade" from 1979 to 2006, says Donald Cavalieri, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. ...


Why, that might be enough ice to last long enough to inspire nostalgia in postApoc survivors!

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Tue, Sep 9, 2008
from Center for Biological Diversity:
Penguins Marching Toward Endangered Species Act Protection
A federal judge today approved a settlement between the Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the fate of 10 penguin species imperiled by global warming. Under the settlement, the Service must by December 19th complete its overdue finding on whether the penguins should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The finding is due on the emperor, southern rockhopper, northern rockhopper, Fiordland crested, erect-crested, macaroni, white-flippered, yellow-eyed, African, and Humboldt penguins. ...


Don't get cold feet!

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Wed, Sep 3, 2008
from Associated Press:
19-square-mile ice sheet breaks loose in Canada
"A chunk of ice shelf nearly the size of Manhattan has broken away from Ellesmere Island in Canada's northern Arctic, another dramatic indication of how warmer temperatures are changing the polar frontier, scientists said Wednesday." ...


We ... are falling to pieces.

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Tue, Sep 2, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Global warming: Sea level rises may accelerate due to melting ice sheet
The vast Greenland ice sheet could begin to melt more rapidly than expected towards the end of the century, accelerating the rise in sea levels as a result of global warming, scientists warned yesterday. Water running off the ice sheet could triple the current rate of sea level rise to around 9mm a year, leading to a global rise of almost 1 metre per century, the researchers found.... There are signs that the Greenland ice sheet, which covers 1.7 million square kilometres of land, has already begun to melt faster than expected. The reason is thought to be surface water on the ice sheet trickling down through fissures to the underlying bedrock, making the ice sheet less stable, and the loss of buttressing ice shelves along the coastline. ...


Uh-oh. "Faster than expected" has, thus far, preceded "holy shit" by only a year or two.

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Mon, Sep 1, 2008
from Edinburgh Scotsman:
Temperature rises 'will be double the safe limit' for global warming
"IT IS "improbable" global warming will be kept below 4C -- double the rise considered safe to avoid climate catastrophe -- according to an influential new report. Internationally, it has long been agreed governments should be aiming to keep a global temperature rise below 2C, to avoid climate change spiralling out of control. However, a bleak new study by scientists at the Tyndall Centre, a leading organisation for climate change research at the University of Manchester, now suggests we should be adjusting our expectations towards far higher rises." ...


"Double the safe limit" will mean quadruple the trouble!

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Sun, Aug 31, 2008
from London Independent:
For the first time in human history, the North Pole can be circumnavigated
"Open water now stretches all the way round the Arctic, making it possible for the first time in human history to circumnavigate the North Pole, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. New satellite images, taken only two days ago, show that melting ice last week opened up both the fabled North-west and North-east passages, in the most important geographical landmark to date to signal the unexpectedly rapid progress of global warming." ...


But really, this does not mean the polar bears are threatened, right?

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Thu, Aug 28, 2008
from eFlux Media:
Unstoppable Thawing in the Arctic Sea
The disturbing truth is that the ice level is headed down a declining path and the Arctic region is doomed to see the day when, during the summer, it will be only water. And if this had already been foreseen by scientists, who claimed that by the year 2080, the Arctic sea would be ice-free, the more recent predictions are a lot bleaker: some say by 2050, some by 2030 and some reckon it will occur within as little as 5 years.... Any way one might look at it, the picture looks really grim and leaves almost no room to hope for improvement or change. No ice on the Arctic sea could mean a torturous rite of passage for the Earth as we know it now. And it will not overcome it unscarred. ...


Wonder how we'll move all those polar bears and penguins and seals to the Antarctic. I mean, we would, wouldn't we?

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Wed, Aug 27, 2008
from World Wildlife Fund, via ScienceDaily:
Polar Bears Found Swimming Miles From Alaskan Coast
An aerial survey by government scientists in Alaska's Chukchi Sea has recently found at least nine polar bears swimming in open water -- with one at least 60 miles from shore -- raising concern among wildlife experts about their survival.... "As climate change continues to dramatically disrupt the Arctic, polar bears and their cubs are being forced to swim longer distances to find food and habitat."... Satellite images indicate that ice was absent in most of the region where the bears were found on August 16, 2008, and some experts predict this year's sea ice loss could meet or exceed the record set last year. ...


At least the water they're swimming in
is warm.

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Sat, Aug 16, 2008
from Globe and Mail (Canada):
As the ice melts, control ebbs in the Arctic
The Northwest Passage may be ice-free this summer, for only the second time in recorded history. The Canadian Arctic is being fundamentally transformed. As the ice diminishes, new actors and interests will arrive. Who is coming? What will they do? What does it mean for Canada? Many people expect international shippers to take advantage of the shorter distances between Europe and Asia to carry goods through an increasingly ice-free Passage. Most shipping experts, however, think that will happen only in the medium term. Before the larger companies commit themselves to Arctic voyages, they will need longer, and much more certain, times of open water. The increased use of the Arctic for other economic activities is much more likely. In particular, the huge oil and gas resources in and around the Northwest Passage may be best brought to market by ship rather than by pipeline.... Our Coast Guard's icebreaking fleet is small and aging; our search-and-rescue capability is based in the south; our navy has a very limited ability to go north; we require industry to provide for their own rescue capability; and we maintain almost no oil-spill response equipment in the North. In short, we are not prepared for any shipping, let alone for large tanker traffic. ...


Hmm. So an open Northwest Passage isn't all good?

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Tue, Aug 12, 2008
from National Center for Atmospheric Research, via EurekAlert:
Antarctic Climate: Short-Term Spikes, Long-Term Warming Linked to Tropical Pacific
Dramatic year-to-year temperature swings and a century-long warming trend across West Antarctica are linked to conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean, according to a new analysis of ice cores conducted by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Washington (UW). The findings show the connection of the world's coldest continent to global warming, as well as to periodic events such as El Nińo. ...


It makes you almost think that everything is connected to everything else -- like a system. Quelle surprise!

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Sun, Aug 10, 2008
from CanWest News Service:
Arctic meltdown could set new record
The Arctic Ocean ice cover, which appeared earlier this summer to be headed for a moderate recovery after last year's record-setting retreat, has begun disintegrating so rapidly in recent weeks that experts now say the ice loss by mid-September could exceed even 2007's history-making meltdown. The Canadian Ice Service is reporting an "unprecedented" opening of waters in the Beaufort Sea north of the Yukon-Alaska border... "We've never seen any kind of opening like this in history," CIS senior ice forecaster Luc Desjardins said of the Beaufort's exceptional loss of ice this summer. "It is not only record-setting, it's unprecedented. It doesn't resemble anything that we've observed before."... Desjardins says there's also a "very good likelihood" that the best-known route of the Northwest Passage -- from north of Baffin Island to the Beaufort Sea south of Victoria Island -- will soon become fully navigable for the third consecutive summer, a year after the fabled shipping conduit drew global attention by opening more completely than ever. ...


That "theory" called climate change is kicking the Arctic's ass.

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Tue, Jul 29, 2008
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Huge chunk snaps off storied Arctic ice shelf
"A four-square-kilometre chunk has broken off Ward Hunt Ice Shelf - the largest remaining ice shelf in the Arctic - threatening the future of the giant frozen mass that northern explorers have used for years as the starting point for their treks. Scientists say the break, the largest on record since 2005, is the latest indication that climate change is forcing the drastic reshaping of the Arctic coastline, where 9,000 square kilometres of ice have been whittled down to less than 1,000 over the past century, and are only showing signs of decreasing further." ...


This is what happens when you play mumblety peg with a planet.

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Mon, Jul 28, 2008
from Kansas City Star:
Researchers investigate tundra's steady awakening
"TOOLIK LAKE, Alaska ... Ground here that for tens of thousands of years was frozen solid is terra firma no more. Across the tundra and coast of the Arctic Ocean, land is caving in. Soils loosed by freshly thawed earth set off a new era of rot, and of bloom -- dumping a bonanza of nutrients into a top-of-the-world environment that swirls from months of midnight sun to deep-freeze dark." ...


This no-more-terra-firma is makin' us terra-squirma!

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Sun, Jul 27, 2008
from Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
Change in the land of frozen ground, fish and hardy trees
"Alaska is changing, and not just in the booming suburbs or shrinking villages, but in the trees on the hillsides, the fish in the oceans, and the climate itself -- the very things that make Alaska what it is. The spruce and birch of the boreal forest are struggling with warm summers, and shrubs are moving into the tundra. Grizzly bear, moose, and king salmon are showing up in places they haven't been seen before, and subtropical fish are taking fishermen's bait in the Gulf of Alaska." ...


Seward's Icebox has come unplugged.

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Thu, Jul 10, 2008
from Associated Press:
Antarctic ice shelf 'hanging by thread': European scientists
"New evidence has emerged that a large plate of floating ice shelf attached to Antarctica is breaking up, in a troubling sign of global warming, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Thursday. Images taken by its Envisat remote-sensing satellite show that Wilkins Ice Shelf is "hanging by its last thread" to Charcot Island, one of the plate's key anchors to the Antarctic peninsula, ESA said in a press release. ...


I don't suppose duct tape would be any help, would it?

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Sun, Jun 29, 2008
from Times Online (UK):
Meltdown: how long does the Arctic have?
"Now we are wondering if that is what is happening now. If it is, then the summertime ice cap may never recover and by 2013, or sometime soon after, it could be gone." If Holland is right, then the destruction of the Arctic ice cap could become the first great global warming disaster. Why is it happening so fast? And how will it affect the rest of the world? ... Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, has been watching this process for two decades, making trips under the polar ice cap in a Royal Navy submarine equipped with radar that can measure the thickness of the ice. Over that period the average thickness has fallen by 40 percent. ...


We are, indeed, on thin ice.

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Sat, Jun 28, 2008
from CNN:
North Pole could be ice-free this summer, scientists say
The North Pole may be briefly ice-free by September as global warming melts away Arctic sea ice, according to scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.... The brief lack of ice at the top of the globe will not bring any immediate consequences, he said. "From the viewpoint of the science, the North Pole is just another point in the globe, but it does have this symbolic meaning," Serreze said. "There's supposed to be ice at the North Pole. The fact that we may not have any by the end of this summer could be quite a symbolic change." ...


That cliff we're stepping off of?
It only has symbolic meaning.

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Sun, Jun 15, 2008
from European Space Agency via ScienceDaily:
Even The Antarctic Winter Cannot Protect Wilkins Ice Shelf
"Wilkins Ice Shelf has experienced further break-up with an area of about 160 km breaking off from 30 May to 31 May 2008. Envisat satellite captured the event -- the first ever-documented episode to occur in winter... New images highlight the rapidly dwindling strip of ice that is protecting thousands of kilometres of the ice shelf from further break-up." ...


Even if we can't do anything about this ... well at least we can watch!

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Thu, Jun 12, 2008
from University of Alaska:
Freshwater runoff from the Greenland Ice Sheet 'faster than previously calculated'
"The Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance is changing as a response to the altered climatic state," said Mernild. "This is faster than expected. This affects freshwater runoff input to the North Atlantic Ocean, and plays an important role in determining the global sea level rise and global ocean thermohaline circulation." ...


Unfortunately, the more we calculate, the faster it goes.

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Wed, Jun 4, 2008
from Times Online (UK):
Wasps on the rise in Alaska as climate warms
Wasps used to be an uncommon sight in Fairbanks until two years ago. Then huge numbers of them swarmed on the city, ten times more than normal. The number of stings grew so bad that outdoor school events were cancelled, 178 patients were treated in hospital for stings and two people died. A study now reveals that wasp stings across northern Alaska have increased sevenfold over the past few years. ...


This kind of biodiversity is not what we want.

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Wed, May 28, 2008
from American Chemical Society via ScienceDaily:
Melting Glaciers May Release DDT And Contaminate Antarctic Environment
"In an unexpected consequence of climate change, scientists are raising the possibility that glacial melting is releasing large amounts of the banned pesticide DDT, which is contaminating the environment in Antarctica." ...


Sounds like someday we'll all be eating DDT for breakfast.

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Sat, May 24, 2008
from BBC:
Vast cracks appear in Arctic ice
"Scientists travelling with the troops found major new fractures during an assessment of the state of giant ice shelves in Canada's far north. The team found a network of cracks that stretched for more than 10 miles (16km) on Ward Hunt, the area's largest shelf... One of the expedition's scientists, Derek Mueller of Trent University, Ontario, [explained]: "It means the ice shelf is disintegrating, the pieces are pinned together like a jigsaw but could float away." ...


The jigsaw metaphor is great, but wouldn't Humpty Dumpty be even more to the point?

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Thu, May 8, 2008
from Sacramento Bee:
Law firm vows to sue if U.S. links climate to polar bear
"A Sacramento law firm known for its conservative advocacy is poised to join the political melee over the fate of the polar bear, vowing Wednesday to sue the government if global warming is cited as a threat to the species. The Pacific Legal Foundation's warning comes in response to a much-anticipated decision next week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on whether to protect Alaskan polar bears under the Endangered Species Act. The service faces a court-ordered deadline of May 15 for that ruling.... Reed Hopper, a foundation attorney, claimed polar bears are thriving and already adequately protected." ...


Thriving? Howzabout Reed Hopper goes and gets some polar bear facts from, say, http://www.wwf.ca/?

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Wed, May 7, 2008
from Times of India:
Arctic ice melt could see rise of "Grolar bear"
"Scientists have suggested that due to the adverse effects of Arctic ice melting, the hybrid of a polar bear and grizzly bear - dubbed the 'grolar bear', might rise in numbers. According to a report in The Sun , the effects of climate change means that the hybrid bears could become more common as their habitats increasingly overlap due to global warming." ...


Just so we also get an increase of ligers.

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Sat, May 3, 2008
from The Associated Press:
Major Arctic sea ice melt is expected this summer
"The Arctic will remain on thinning ice, and climate warming is expected to begin affecting the Antarctic also, scientists said Friday." ...


At least it's symmetrical.

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Wed, Apr 30, 2008
from University of Colorado at Boulder:
Researchers forecast 3-in-5 chance of record low Arctic sea ice in 2008
The forecast by researchers at CU-Boulder's Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research is based on satellite data and temperature records and indicates there is a 59 percent chance the annual minimum sea ice record will be broken this fall for the third time in five years. Arctic sea ice declined by roughly 10 percent in the past decade, culminating in a record 2007 minimum ice cover of 1.59 million square miles. That broke the 2005 record by 460,000 miles -- an area the size of Texas and California combined. "The current Arctic ice cover is thinner and younger than at any previous time in our recorded history, and this sets the stage for rapid melt and a new record low," said Research Associate Sheldon Drobot, who leads CCAR's Arctic Regional Ice Forecasting System group in CU-Boulder's aerospace engineering sciences department. Overall, 63 percent of the Arctic ice cover is younger than average, and only 2 percent is older than average, according to Drobot. ...


That Northwest Passage is looking better all the time!

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Tue, Apr 22, 2008
from Toronto Star:
Arctic ice melting fast in summer sun
"New Arctic sea ice is now so perilously thin on average that it melts under the sunshine of clear summer skies it once could survive, American researchers conclude in a study published today. Using modern satellite imagery, the scientists from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research linked last summer's record loss of sea ice to unusual cloudless weather in June and July that allowed the sun to relentlessly beat down on first-year ice formed over the previous winter. ...


Figures that rookie ice can't be depended upon -- we need some veteran ice to step in!

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Thu, Apr 17, 2008
from Der Spiegel:
A Storehouse of Greenhouse Gases Is Opening in Siberia
"Researchers have found alarming evidence that the frozen Arctic floor has started to thaw and release long-stored methane gas. The results could be a catastrophic warming of the earth, since methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But can the methane also be used as fuel? ... In the permafrost bottom of the 200-meter-deep sea, enormous stores of gas hydrates lie dormant in mighty frozen layers of sediment. The carbon content of the ice-and-methane mixture here is estimated at 540 billion tons. ...


It's so tempting -- and it's not very likely anything could go wrong...

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Sat, Apr 12, 2008
from The Canadian Press:
New cracks suggest largest remaining Arctic ice shelf destined to disappear
"WARD HUNT ISLAND, Nunavut -- New cracks in the largest remaining Arctic ice shelf suggest another polar landmark seems destined to break up and disappear. Scientists discovered the extensive new cracks in the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf earlier this year and a patrol of Canadian Rangers got an up-close look at them last week." ...


All these cracks leave me joke-less.

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Tue, Mar 25, 2008
from LiveScience.com:
Vast Antarctic Ice Shelf on Verge of Collapse
A vast ice shelf hanging on by a thin strip looks to be the next chunk to break off from the Antarctic Peninsula, the latest sign of global warming’s impact on Earth's southernmost continent. Scientists are shocked by the rapid change of events. Scambos alerted colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that it looked like the entire ice shelf — about 6,180 square miles (16,000 square kilometers — about the size of Northern Ireland)— was at risk of collapsing. ...


The size of "Northern Ireland." A new way to think about "The Troubles."

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Tue, Mar 25, 2008
from The Sault Star:
Arctic ice refreezes 4 percent, not enough, scientists say
"U.S. scientists say critical Arctic sea ice has made a tenuous partial recovery this winter, following last summer's record melt. But that is an illusion - like a Hollywood movie set - says scientist Walter Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Washington. The ice is very thin and vulnerable to heavy melting again this summer. Overall, Arctic sea ice has shrunk precipitously in the past decade and scientists blame global warming caused by humans. Last summer, Arctic ice shrank to an area that was 27 per cent smaller than the previous record. This winter, it recovered to a maximum of 15 million square kilometres. That's up four per cent and the most since 2003, NASA ice scientist Josefino Comiso said. It is still a bit below the long-term average level for this time of year." ...


Is it fair to say that... this new ice is skating on thin ice?

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Sat, Mar 22, 2008
from DailyKos Diary:
Early look at 2008 Arctic sea ice levels
In December a scientist on an icebreaker there described it as "styrofoam in a bath tub." The big unknown is whether atmospheric conditions (reduced cloudiness and increased air temps) will aid the melting as they did in 2007. If they do, expect a big melt beyond last year's. I hesitate to say that a complete loss is possible, but based on the present conditions we could well see the main pack split in two for the first time. ...


Hoo-ee! How soon before cruise ships are going from Halifax to Alaska?
Don't miss NASA's images to accompany the teleconference call.

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Wed, Mar 19, 2008
from The Washington Post (US):
Perennial Arctic Ice Cover Diminishing, Officials Say
"The amount of long-lasting sea ice in the Arctic -- thick enough to survive for as much as a decade -- declined sharply in the past year, even though the region had a cold winter and the thinner one-year ice cover grew substantially, federal officials said yesterday.... The surprising drop in perennial ice makes the fast-changing region more unstable, because the thinner seasonal ice melts readily in summer." ...


Makes the cliche "skating on thin ice" particularly appropriate.

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Sat, Mar 15, 2008
from National Geographic News:
Melting Ice Sheets Can Cause Earthquakes, Study Finds
"As ice sheets melt, they can release pent-up energy and trigger massive earthquakes, according to new study. Global warming may already be triggering such earthquakes and may cause more in the future as ice continues to melt worldwide, the researchers say....Now a new study, the first to use sophisticated computer models to simulate how ice sheets would affect the crust in the region, bolsters this scenario. The study showed that earthquakes are "suppressed in presence of the ice and promoted during melting of the ice," said study leader Andrea Hampel of the Ruhr University Bochum in Germany. ...


It's kinda sweet, ain't it, how these massive natural -- and not so natural -- disasters as so intimately connected?

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Sat, Mar 1, 2008
from Campus Press:
CU researchers examine trends in Arctic Sea ice
"Arctic Ocean ice is at a tipping point and what happens in the next five to six years determines whether the Arctic Ocean will be mostly ice-free in the summer," he said.... The research stresses that the old ice, which has melted and the new ice that has taken its place are fundamentally different. As ice ages, its thickness, surface topography, strength, and albedo (amount of light reflectivity) change dramatically. As older and thicker ice melts, it gives way to newer, thinner ice. These conditions make the region more susceptible to rapid change and a snowball affect ensues: the more ice that is lost, the more rapidly it continues to dissipate." ...


Just think of the savings, and the tourism opportunities, of the Northwest Passage trips!

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Sun, Feb 10, 2008
from Toronto Star:
The alarming redefinition of 'glacial'
"The Athabasca Glacier, remnant of ice sheets that once enveloped the Canadian Rockies and most of Canada, draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year who catch a glimpse of what much of North America and Europe probably looked like some 10,000 years ago, the twilight of the last Ice Age...the Athabasca is melting at a faster-than-glacial pace. During the last Ice Age, the Athabasca Glacier -- a river of ice six kilometres long, one kilometre wide, and as deep as 300 metres -- was much deeper and stretched down the valley ... one sign predicts the glacier's disappearance in 100 years." ...


It's the newest form of entertainment for the Apocalypse-savvy: watching glaciers retreat.

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Thu, Jan 17, 2008
from Reuters:
Greenland thaw biggest in 50 years
"OSLO: Climate change has caused the greatest thaw of Greenland's ice in half a century, perhaps heralding a wider meltdown that would quicken a rise in world sea levels, scientists said on Tuesday. "We attribute significantly increased Greenland summer warmth and ice melt since 1990 to global warming," a group of researchers wrote in the Journal of Climate, adding to recent evidence of faster Antarctic and Arctic thaws. "The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be highly susceptible to ongoing global warming," they said. Greenland contains enough ice to raise world sea levels by seven metres, although the process would take centuries if it were to start." ...


ApocHaiku:
We would shed tears but
it would only add to the
rising sea levels

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Sun, Jan 13, 2008
from Globe and Mail (Canada):
Antarctic ice sheet shrinking at faster rate
But a new study released today, based on some of the most extensive measurements to date of the continent's ice mass, presents a worrisome development: Antarctica's ice sheet is shrinking, at a rate that increased dramatically from 1996 to 2006.... "Over the time period of our survey, the ice sheet as a whole was certainly losing mass, and the mass loss increased by 75 per cent in 10 years," the study said. ...


Wait... ANTarctica too!? I was just getting my head around the Arctic cap melting down....

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Fri, Dec 14, 2007
from American Geophysical Union, by way of Reuters:
Carbon cuts a must to halt warming -- US scientists
"We're a lot closer to climate tipping points than we thought we were," said James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "If we are to have any chance in avoiding the points of no return, we're going to have to make some changes." .... "In the summer of 1980, the North Pole was covered by an ice sheet about the size of the continental United States, but this year the ice would not have covered the states west of the Mississippi River." ...


Makes Bali and Kyoto sound like
spitting at a fire to put it out.

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Tue, Dec 11, 2007
from AP News:
Ominous Arctic melt worries experts
"An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer, a warning sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years. Greenland's ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer's end was half what it was just four years earlier, according to new NASA satellite data obtained by The Associated Press." ...


One of the scientists quoted in the story says: "The Arctic is screaming." We can hear that scream all the way 'round the world.

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