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BY GEORGE: The Arctic Ocean ice melt accelerating
Submitted by George Elliott on Sat, 08/24/2013 - 6:17am.
Even more evidence is in, and it’s solid science, from numerous agencies, and from all political persuasions. The Arctic Ocean expansive ice shield is shrinking, and shrinking extremely fast. The summer ice melt is progressing more rapidly, the winters are shorter, and the time between freezing periods and melting again as shrunk to record short periods. And since this is frozen freshwater (not like the ice burgs that float in the oceans or like ice cubes in a glass of soda, for example), melting of such raises sea levels and changes the salinity of the oceans, both of which have major impacts on climate, the oceans circulatory system, lifestyles, and marine life.
It is now abundantly clear the sea ice is shrinking more quickly almost every year, and it’s been going on for quite a while now. Global warming (regardless of why the globe is warming…the FACT is, the globe is warming), as well as human pollutants not necessarily directly related to the warming planet, as the culprits. This is a clear sign of how rapidly the Earth is warming over the past 20-30 years, and how quickly the potential impact is increasing. We already know it’s has changed life in the region drastically. The native Inuit, whom have inhabited the region for thousands of years, report for the first time the lack of ice, the crumbling of their homes into the water, and the extreme danger of falling through thin ice (which has already cost lives). Additionally, vast deep sea oil and gas reserves are being unlocked, and methane is now more easily popping out of the sea (methane gas bubbles). Methane is over 20 times more impactful on global warming than carbon dioxide on a pound to pound ratio.
Over the past three decades, the summer Arctic sea ice extent has declined roughly 40 percent, and the ice has lost significant volume according to data from the Polar Science Center. If this continues on pace, this region could very well be ice free by around 2030. The profound worldwide impact from climate and weather to energy and food resources, let alone sea levels, cannot be imagined.
A new study in this month’s Environmental Research Letters concludes that between 70 and 95 percent of the Arctic melt since 1979 has been caused by human activity. Man-made global warming has rapidly heated up the Arctic — the region has been warming about twice as fast as the global average. What’s more, soot and other pollutants from smokestacks in Europe and Asia have traveled up to the Arctic. When those dark particles settle onto the snow and ice, they absorb sunlight and start warming.
Greenland’s ice sheet is 1.9 miles thick and contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by about 25 feet. As a result, a recent study by the U.S. Jet Propulsion Laboratory predicted that sea levels are on pace to rise at least a foot by 2050, and possibly three feet by century’s end.
Regarding weather patterns, the first thing that appears to be happening as a result of the shrinking ice shield is the west-to-east jet stream appears to be slowing down, which allows weather patterns to persist in certain areas for longer than usual. This could help account for the onslaught of snowstorms in the United States and Europe in 2009 and 2010, as well as prolonged heat waves like the one that hit Moscow in 2010. Arctic amplification can also increase the "waviness" of the jet stream surrounding the polar region. That could allow more frequent blasts of cold Arctic air to escape down into North America or Europe, leading to frigid winters.
No one knows for sure, but the weather extremes observed over the past few years could very well be linked to long-term climate change, which is highly likely linked to changes in the arctic region. It is not new science that we know the intricate balance of global circulations over arctic regions and the rest of the planet. One thing that has occurred in this country, beyond a doubt, is the western states have been in a long-term change to drier and drier weather. The drought in some areas of the west has been ongoing for over ten years. Some scientists believe that the trend will continue, leaving the west in a perpetual pattern of dryness for decades, mirroring climate regimes of the past in that area.
By: George Elliott