Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Arctic Melting-Tipping Point That Should Matter To All Of Us
NOAA illustration of Arctic ice melt 2012. This is not normal.
For anyone who lives on planet Earth and hasn't been spending the last decade just watching reality TV it should come as no surprise that what we are seeing taking place in the Arctic is a portent of a world that we should not be taking for granted. And yet, we see nothing of this astonishing melt in the MSM. We do not see it discussed in the US presidential campaigns of any candidate save one (the Green party) and it is basically relegated to backburner status on most websites too enthralled by political soundbites.
Nevertheless that does not in any way diminish the urgency of this news. And it is news that must be shared and explained because millions of people, other species and ecosystems are at risk from its residual feedbacks that are and will now surely come in response to it.
Half The Polar Ice Cap Is Missing
"Extraordinary melting of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has shattered the all-time low sea ice extent record set in September 2007, and sea ice continues to decline far below what has ever been observed. The new sea ice record was set on August 26, a full three weeks before the usual end of the melting season, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Every major scientific institution that tracks Arctic sea ice agrees that new records for low ice area, extent, and volume have been set. These organizations include the University of Washington Polar Science Center (a new record for low ice volume), the Nansen Environmental & Remote Sensing Center in Norway, and the University of Illinois Cryosphere Today. A comprehensive collection of sea ice graphs shows the full story. Satellite records of sea ice extent date back to 1979, though a 2011 study by Kinnard et al. shows that the Arctic hasn't seen a melt like this for at least 1,450 years (see a more detailed article on this over at skepticalscience.com.) The latest September 5, 2012 extent of 3.5 million square kilometers is approximately a 50% reduction in the area of Arctic covered by sea ice, compared to the average from 1979 - 2000. The ice continues to melt, and has not reached the low for this year yet."
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The Arctic acts as a mirror to reflect the infrared rays of the sun that infiltate the lower atmosphere from space. In a world where all is working well and is balanced the amount of energy entering the atmosphere is balanced with the amount of energy leaving it leaving us within a comfortable envelope. In the case of this extreme unprecedented melting however which is the result of an increased concentration of greenhouse gases (water vapor being most prevalent due to increases in CO2 (which is the most dominant radiative forcing) due to fossil fuel burning and deforestation and other CO2 releasing behaviors) more energy is being retained in the lower atmosphere than is escaping back to space thus causing more warming melting more ice as the surface of the water then absorbs more rays thus melting more ice even below the surface. This positive feedback loop then results in an excelerating cycle of melting that decreases reflectivity (albedo) affecting the jet stream and our weather.
Evidence is presented in this video showing a physical mechanism connecting Arctic Amplification (enhanced warming in high northern latitudes relative to the northern hemisphere) with the frequency and intensity of several types of extreme weather events in mid-latitudes, such as droughts, floods, heat waves, and cold spells. This directly affects the lives of millions of people who are now seeing the effects of a protracted extreme drought in the lower 48 United States. This is essential knowledge in connecting the dots between our burning of fossil fuels and other land management/ agricultural abuses that culminate in increasing the CO2 that is trapping more heat in the lower atmosphere thus producing more moisture in the atmosphere which then produces more heat which leads to more melting in the Arctic - positive feedbacks - jet stream changes - extreme weather. This has a direct effect on the hydrologic cycle...
Climate Change Has Intensified The Global Hydrologic Cycle.
"Climate scientists have been saying for years that one of the many downsides of a warming planet is that both droughts and torrential rains are both likely to get worse. That’s what climate models predict, and that’s what observers have noted, most recently in the IPCC’s report on extreme weather, released last month. It makes physical sense, too. A warmer atmosphere can absorb more water vapor, and what goes up must come down — and thanks to prevailing winds, it won’t come down in the same place."
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This is not something far flung that is going to happen in 50 years. This is happening now and it is affecting real people globally. Floods, droughts, glacier melt- all catastrophes that are now heightened in scope, severity and frequency causing hunger, food price spikes, water scarcity, degradation and erosion and already forcing hundreds of thousands of people from their lands in search of a place where climate change has not walked.
So please, if you are reading this pass it on. It is blatantly immoral to see this happening and ignore it. We are changing this planet in ways we are not prepared to deal with. If that isn't front page news I don't know what is!