Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Retreating Arctic Sea Ice Signals Increased Warming

The retreat of Arctic Sea Ice continues to be confirmed and tracked by various independent sources and methods

This was reported last month in the Independent newspaper.

This year has seen one of the most rapid rates of sea ice melting, which began in spring after one of the most disappointing winters for ice formation. "Unless something unusual happens we're definitely on track for a record loss of sea ice. We're on track to shatter all records," said Mark Serreze, an Arctic specialist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre at Colorado University in Denver. "The rates of sea ice loss this year are really rather remarkable. Some of the daily rates of loss are the biggest we've ever seen. Things are happening really fast," Dr Serreze said.

Last month the evidence came from US satellites that have been tracking the seasonal ebb and flow of sea ice since 1979. The evidence showed the overall area of sea ice graually shrinking. Yesterday the scientists involved made a further statement, which according to the Guardian was to the effect that the records were indeed dramatically broken as Mark Serreze suggested they would be in August:

The Arctic ice cap has collapsed at an unprecedented rate this summer and levels of sea ice in the region now stand at a record low, scientists said last night. Experts said they were "stunned" by the loss of ice, with an area almost twice as big as Britain disappearing in the last week alone. So much ice has melted this summer that the north-west passage across the top of Canada is fully navigable, and observers say the north-east passage along Russia's Arctic coast could open later this month. If the increased rate of melting continues, the summertime Arctic could be totally free of ice by 2030

The loss of sea ice is a disaster for arctic wildlife like Polar Bears, and the risk is that the effect will be to further speed up warming as open sea is less reflective than ice and snow. The danger then is that land based ice sheets such as in Greenland will melt leading to catastrophic rises in sea levels.

All good reasons to start preparing now for the next actions in the campaign against climate change such as the Global Day of Action on December 8th and the London demonstration then. The Campaign Against Climate Change holds its' AGM and a planning day for the December events on October 6th in Oxford with Mark Lynas and George Marshall speaking.

As ever, a good source for stories and discussion on the hard science of climate change is the Real Climate site. Here is their "Arctic sea ice watch" page, which has links to various other useful resources on this topic.

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