Archive for the tag “Arctic ice melt”

Animation shows dramatic disappearance of ice from the Arctic

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Its hot out. Everywhere. Even at the poles of the earth. We already know that 2014 was thewarmest year on record and also that sea surface temperatures reached a record high. This has meant storms, droughts, raised sea levels and heat waves and other extreme weather events that have been caused by global warming. Among the most dramatic is the fall in sea ice in the Arctic.

Last years State of the Climate report by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that the Arctic had experienced its fourth-warmest year on record and among its lowest minimum sea ice extents. The numbers themselves are easiest to see when charted out.

But there is an even simpler way to understand just how much of the Arctic ice has disappeared over just the last few years, thanks in part to global warming. US President Barack Obama made reference to it earlier this month, when he unveiled his biggest plan to tackle climate change yet. Shrinking ice caps forced National Geographic to make the biggest change in its atlas since the Soviet Union broke apart, Obama said in his speech.

The makers of the magazine and the atlases indeed confirmed Obamas words, and then put out this handy GIF, combining National Geographic Atlases from 1999 through 2014 to show just how Arctic Ice has melted over that time.

The results are clear to ice. To the untrained eye, it looks as if almost half of Arctic sea ice has disappeared over just 15 years. In a post on its website, National Geographic admitted that the maps werent entirely accurate, but nevertheless offered the best possible way to show a dynamic environment in a static format. And indeed, no one is making the claim that Arctic ice isnt disappearing.

The US National Snow & Ice Data Centre finds that this years ice is well below average for this time of the year. The centre also says that, although the numbers are higher than 2012s, one of the worst year on records, satellite imagery suggests the ice has become rather diffuse (low ice concentrations) with many large broken ice floes surrounded by open water. How soon before the race to the north pole becomes less about sledding and more about swimming?

News update

Continued destruction of Earths plant life places humans in jeopardy
Science Daily
Unless humans slow the destruction of Earths declining supply of plant life, civilization like it is now may become completely unsustainable, according to a paper published recently by University of Georgia researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. You can think of the Earth like a battery that has been charged very slowly over billions of years, said the studys lead author, John Schramski, an associate professor in UGAs College of Engineering. The suns energy is stored in plants and fossil fuels, but humans are draining energy much faster than it can be replenished.

Worlds Oceans Could Rise Higher, Sooner, Faster Than Most Thought Possible
Common Dreams
If a new scientific paper is proven accurate, the international target of limiting global temperatures to a 2°C rise this century will not be nearly enough to prevent catastrophic melting of ice sheets that would raise sea levels much higher and much faster than previously thought possible. According to the new study—which has not yet been peer-reviewed, but was written by former NASA scientist James Hansen and 16 other prominent climate researchers—current predictions do not take into account the feedback loop implications of what will occur if large sections of Greenland and the Antarctic are consumed by the worlds oceans.

Heat is Piling Up in the Depths of the Indian Ocean
Climate Central
The world’s oceans are playing a game of hot potato with the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists have zeroed in on the tropical Pacific as a major player in taking up that heat. But while it might have held that heat for a bit, new research shows that the Pacific has passed the potato to the Indian Ocean, which has seen an unprecedented rise in heat content over the past decade.

Nonlinear: New York, London, Shanghai underwater in 50 years?
Kurt Cobb
Those under the impression that climate change is advancing at a constant and predictable rate dont understand the true dynamics of the issue. The rate of increase of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, the main driver of climate change, went from 0.75 parts per million (ppm) per year in 1959 to about 1.5 ppm each year through the 1990s, to 2.1 ppm each year from 2002 to 2012, and finally to 2.9 ppm in 2013. The fear is that the ability of the oceans and plants to continue to absorb half the carbon dioxide human civilization expels into the atmosphere each year may have become impaired. That means more carbon dioxide is remaining in the atmosphere where concentrations are building at the fastest rate ever recorded in the modern era.

Climate change: world’s wealthiest understand, but only half see it as threat
The Guardian UK
People living in the world’s wealthiest nations generally understand what climate change is but in many countries just half perceive it to be a threat, new research has found. The analysis of perceptions in 119 countries found living standards and relative wealth are “poor predictors” of whether someone considers climate change to be a severe risk. While more than 75% of people in Australia, the US, UK and most of the rest of Europe were aware of climate change, far fewer considered it to be detrimental to themselves or their families.

Nine Reasons Why Low Oil Prices May “Morph” Into Something Much Worse
Gail Tverberg
It looks to me as though we are heading into a deflationary depression, because the prices of commodities are falling below the cost of extraction. We need rapidly rising wages and debt if commodity prices are to rise back to 2011 levels or higher. This isn’t happening. Instead, we are seeing commodity prices fall further and further. Let me explain some pieces of what is happening.

Hardins tragedy of the commons explained with a practical example: a tourist trap in Florence
Ugo Bardi
Garrett Hardins idea of The Tragedy of the Commons has become well known, but not always really understood. In my case, I can say that I have big troubles in having my students grasping its mechanism; that is the interplay of individual advantage versus public goods; the basic factor that leads to what we call overexploitation. So, let me propose a different example for the mechanism of overexploitation, based on a real event that happened to me. Maybe it can explain the concept better.

Resilience: A New Conservation Strategy for a Warming World
Jim Robbins, Yale Environment 360
Resilience, in a nutshell, means preserving options — no one can predict the climate future with any certainty and how the biodiversity deck will be reshuffled. So that means protecting landscapes that maintain as wide a variety of characteristics to preserve as many species as possible, in order to maintain both ecological function as the world changes and the ability to recover from disturbance.

News update

Arctic sea ice extent hits record low for winter maximum
The Guardian, UK
Arctic sea ice has hit a record low for its maximum extent in winter, which scientists said was a result of climate change and abnormal weather patterns. The US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) said on Thursday that at its peak the ice covered just over 14.5m sq km of the northern seas. This was 130,000 sq km smaller than the previous lowest maximum in 2011.

India: Machines drive 90% of power in farming, humans’ share drops to 5%
The Times of India
Silently, agriculture in India has gone through a far-reaching change in the past few decades. The share of human power available for carrying out the myriad operations in farming has shrunk to a mere 5% as has that of draught animals, the iconic oxen pulling the plough. More than 90% of the power is now drawn from mechanical sources: tractors and power tillers provide the bulk, 47%; electric motors 27% and diesel engines 16%.

Cheap Oil, Climate Change Mitigation and India
Shoibal Chakravarty, EPW
In this article, our objectives are twofold. We analyse the causes of the 2014 oil crash and its short-term impact
on the global economy. And we will complement this by considering the role that the oil crash might play in the long-term transition of the energy system that will be required to limit climate change. Finally, we discuss the outlook for India.

The Global Coal Boom Is Going Bust: Report
Mike Gaworecki, DeSmog Blog
A new report by CoalSwarm and the Sierra Club provides compelling evidence that the death knell for the global coal boom might very well have rung some time between 2010 and 2012. Based on data CoalSwarm compiled of every coal plant proposed worldwide for the past five years as part of its Global Coal Plant Tracker initiative, the report finds that for every coal plant that came online, plans for two other plants were put on hold or scrapped altogether.

Only Less Will Do
Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute
Almost nobody likes to hear about the role of scale in our global environmental crisis. That’s because if growth is our problem, then the only real solution is to shrink the economy and reduce population. Population has grown from 4.4 billion in 1980 to 7.1 billion in 2013. Per capita consumption of energy has grown from less than 70 gigajoules to nearly 80 GJ per year. And we see the results: the world’s oceans are dying; species are going extinct at a thousand times the natural rate; and the global climate is careening toward chaos as multiple self-reinforcing feedback processes (including polar melting and methane release) kick into gear.

The Global Economy’s “Impeccable Logic”
Steven Gorelick, Local Futures ISEC Blog
To suggest that conventional economic thinking lacks a moral foundation is not to say that corporate CEOs and IMF economists have no moral or ethical values: most of them probably contribute to charity, feel tender thoughts towards their children and parents, and may even be angered at certain forms of injustice. The question here is whether there’s a moral dimension to the way conventional economics regards wealth inequality.

The Science of Peak Oil
Andrew McKay, Southern Limits
Peak oilers are accused of changing the definition of what peak oil actually means, therefore the entire concept of oil production peaking is rubbish. Far from a valid criticism however, this is actually a scientific virtue. If any scientist dogmatically stuck with a rigid theory as the data repeatedly proved that theory to be incorrect then that would be cause for great concern.

Photo-feature: Climate change in the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, before and after
Rémi Chauvin, Guardian UK
In the low-lying Pacific atolls of the Marshall Islands and Kiribati rising sea levels have made every high tide a dangerous event. Regular floods wash through villages causing damage to houses, killing crops and poisoning drinking water. In December 2014, photographer Rémi Chauvin recreated a set of historical images depicting the first impacts of climate change in these countries where no one lives more than a few metres above the sea.

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