Saturday, June 28, 2008

Arctic ice may be liquid by September 2008 at North Pole


According to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A., the Earth’s Arctic seawater around the North Pole may be ice-free by the end of summer.

[Addition by author] Is this a claim to global warming? Or not? Maybe a bit of both? Some media reports are even claiming that Mark Serreze was misquoted. Please read on.

Mark Serreze, a senior scientist at NSIDC, says, �We kind of have an informal betting pool going around in our center and that betting pool is 'does the North Pole melt out this summer?' and it may well.� [CNN: "North Pole could be ice-free this summer, scientists say"]

Serreze remarks there is an even chance�50-50 chance�that the thin ice on the Arctic Sea will be completely melted away at the geographic North Pole (90 degrees north latitude) by September 2008.

The trend over the past several decades, about thirty years, has seen less and less ice in the summers and, thus, less and less ice reforming in the winters.

Serreze states, �What we've seen through the past few decades is the Arctic sea ice cover is becoming thinner and thinner as the system warms up.� [CNN]

The summer of 2007 saw sea ice still at the North Pole but the boundary between solid ice-water and liquid-water in the Arctic Ocean extended as far as 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) from the geographic North Pole.

Now, with less ice forming during the past winter, the summer of 2008 may see all liquid water at the North Pole if the right amount of winds and temperatures occur to melt the remaining ice at a rapid rate.

Serreze also states, �From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water.� [The Independent: �Exclusive: No ice at the North Pole�]

Serreze says that some scientists suggest that the Arctic melting is just a cycle of nature.

However, Serreze states, "It's not cyclical at this point. I think we understand the physics behind this pretty well. We've known for at least 30 years, from our earliest climate models, that it's the Arctic where we'd see the first signs of global warming.” [CNN]

Serreze and other scientists point to global warming as the cause of the ice break up at the North Pole. If the Arctic Ocean is completely ice free in September 2008, it will be the first time in recorded history that such an event has occurred.

The opening of the Arctic Ocean at the North Pole is not without its advantages. Ships will be able to sail over the top of the Earth, a route that is normally forbidden due to the ice. And, with liquid water in the Arctic Ocean, oil exploration will be easier to conduct.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is an organization within the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The NSIDC supports research into the frozen parts of Earth: the ice, glaciers, snow, frozen ground, and climate interactions that make up its cryosphere (frozen parts of Earth).

Please note....

Another contributing factor to the break up of ice in the Arctic Ocean could be active undersea volcanoes. Please read about the story at the website “Study finds Arctic seabed afire with lava-spewing volcanoes.”


A New York Times article, "What’s Really Up With North Pole Sea Ice?", states, "... the “shock claim” in the (UK) Independent that the sea ice that normally persists year-round at the North Pole ... will be replaced by open water later this summer."

And, "Given the unpredictable short-term dynamics up there, which make the ice subject to vagaries of Siberian winds and a mix of currents, a lot of polar ice experts tell me it’s pretty much impossible to make such a prediction with high confidence. In fact, the Independent’s story — the opening sentences and headline at least — go way beyond what Mark Serreze of the National Snow and Ice Data Center tells the reporter."

"Many foes of greenhouse-gas restrictions and skeptics on the strength of climate science have pointed out that the world’s total sea-ice area hasn’t changed appreciably when you add up the ice in the Arctic and the sheath of sea ice that annually forms in winter around Antarctica (but disappears in austral summers). The Antarctic sea ice (distinct from the massive ice shelves fringing the continent and ice sheets inland) has, in fact, been expanding in recent years. You can compare the differences by clicking here for Arctic and Antarctic trends."

Please read The New York Times story. As always, there is always more sides to a story than one....

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