Tuesday, October 11, 2016
I've had all of Trump I can handle for a while, even as entertainment. So today's screed is on a more serious subject than who gets to loot America and the world for the next four years.
On October 7th, The Telegraph wrote a particularly misleading article on the continuing retreat of Arctic Ice cover, with a seriously misleading headline - Experts said Arctic sea ice would melt entirely by Sept '16... It was picked up and bandied about by Drudge, among others, as a supposed refutation of global warming.
The “experts' were actually just Peter Wadhams, an Arctic Ice expert at Cambridge University who had given interviews on the September 1st publication of A Farewell to Ice - his detailed but highly readable account of the science involved in the demise of Arctic ice and the rather nasty things that will follow. After discussing the science and the trend of Arctic Ice cover, he did not say that the ice would be gone by 2016 but that “a Blue Ocean Event may well happen earlier than the trend, e.g. in September 2017. But more likely at 2022 and certainly by 2027.”
Was the Arctic ice-free this September? No, it was tied for the second lowest extent in recorded history at 4.7 million square kilometers – just 54% of the September average in the 1980's. And the ice is now just 1.9 meters thick instead of the 3.64 meters back in 1980. So there's less of less.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center's graph of the average monthly sea ice for September, from 1978 to 2016, projects there to be no ice by about 2038. But to climate scientists, 'no Arctic ice” means less than 1 million square kilometers, and that date will certainly show up by 2030.
The Third U.S. National Climate Assessment reports that the Arctic Ocean is expected to be ice free in summer before mid-century. Models that best match historical trends project a nearly ice-free Arctic in the summer by the 2030s.
Note that the remaining ice is thin and getting thinner and will melt faster and faster and the open water is exposed longer and longer to the sun's rays, getting warmer and warmer, so an earlier date is likely.
Why have I taken the time to investigate this and then bother you with it?
Because the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report did not. The IPCC does not factor in any warming from the decreased albedo – ice and snow reflect back into space about 90% of the sun's incoming radiation, dark open ocean water reflects back only abut 20%. That change in albedo has the same effect as “adding 20 years of CO2 emissions.”
Nor does their latest report address the methane release that a warming Arctic guarantees.
Another feedback is water vapor. A warmer atmosphere carries more water vapor. Since water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas, this further accelerates warming over the Arctic.
These feedback loops will greatly increase the warming of not just the Arctic, but of the world. Quite possibly to unlivable levels, possibly long before 2100.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:45 AM