Monday, February 01, 2016

As the ‘blue Arctic’ expands thanks to global warming, an icebreaker finds no ice to break (?)

A large excerpt below from an article by Tom Yulsman, an old Warmist from wayback.  The climategate emails shook him for a while but he soon got back on track. And as is often the case with  Greenies, what he does not say is what you need to know.  Let's start with this graph from Cryosphere Today, the Polar Research Group at the University of Illinois. It's too big to be put up legibly on this blog but you can click on the link to see it. It shows no trend in global sea ice area from 1979 to today.

But what about Tom's pretty graphs showing ice area today being much below average?  The graphs seem to be right but they are not graphs of anything remotely global.  And we are supposed to be talking about GLOBAL warming, are we not?  The graph I link to is a graph of global sea ice but Tom ignores that and puts up a graph of Arctic ice only.  Are we now expecting catastrophic warming in the Arctic only?  That seems to be where Tom is going.

Do I need to say anything more about Tom's BS?  Probably not but just one point.  Nobody seems to know why but there is substantial subsurface vulcanism at both poles.  The earth is flattened at the poles so that may be it.  The magma could well be closer to the surface there.

And the volcanoes underneath the Arctic sea ice are huge, particularly along the Gakkel ridge.   And you would melt if you had a volcano under you too.  So the melting in the Arctic is just what is to be expected from  known volcanic activity.  In the Antarctic only a small part of the area is affected by volcanoes so the Antarctic is in fact now gaining ice overall -- which balances out the loss in the Arctic.

Warmists are such crooks!

During a recent mission off the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, a Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker encountered unusual winter conditions for an area just 800 miles from the North Pole.

Open water.

At this time of year, sea ice usually closes in around Svalbard’s northern and eastern coasts. But not this year. The sturdy 340-foot-long, 6,375-ton KV Svalbard had no ice to break, reports Oddvar Larsen, the ship’s First Engineer.

I spoke with Larsen and other sailors on board the icebreaker during the kickoff event of the 10th Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, Norway on Jan. 24, 2016. This is the first post of several I have planned based on reporting I did at the conference.

Larsen told me that he has observed “big changes” in the Arctic during his nearly 25 years at sea. In addition to shrinking in extent, “most of the ice we encounter now is young — just one year old.”

In the past, thicker, multi-year ice was dominant, including old ice greater than nine years of age. Today that oldest ice is almost gone.

The lack of sea ice that Oddvar Larsen and his crewmates experienced around Svalbard this winter wasn’t just a small geographical anomaly. At 301,000 square miles below the long-term average, Arctic sea ice extent in December was the fourth lowest for the month in the satellite record.

To give you a sense of just how much below average that extent was, consider that 301,000 square miles is almost the size of California, Oregon and Washington combined.

Since December, conditions have not improved. In fact, the extent of Arctic sea ice overall now is at record low levels for this time of year:

As Oddvar Larsen’s experience suggests, the lack of sea ice that his icebreaker recently encountered around Svalbard comprises just one data point in a broader, long-term trend. Since satellite monitoring began in 1979, Arctic sea ice extent in December has declined at a rate of 3.4 percent per decade.

That’s in winter, when the region is typically gripped by polar cold. In September, when Arctic sea ice reaches it’s lowest annual extent after the relatively warm months of summer, the decline has been much more rapid: 13.4% per decade.

The shrinking geographic extent of Arctic sea ice is just one measure of the impact of human activities on Earth’s climate. Its total volume is another — and that has been declining over the long run too.

If you pay too much attention to data cherrypickers looking to cast doubt on global warming, you’ll hear a different story. But the full data record, backed up by the personal experiences of sailors like Oddvar Larsen and others (keep reading; more to come below…), show conclusively that Arctic sea ice continues to decline.

Given the heat energy building up in Earth’s natural systems from greenhouse gas emissions, we shouldn’t expect anything different. In the end, it’s really just a matter of physics.

Moreover, fully 90 percent of the heat energy our activities are generating has been going into the oceans. How much energy are we talking about?

To help Arctic Frontiers’ conferees wrap their heads around that question, a geoscientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory offered a startling comparison. Citing recent research, Peter Schlosser noted that since 1997, the heat energy going into the oceans has been equivalent to “one Hiroshima-sized atom bomb being exploded every second for 75 years.”

The result: an increasingly “blue Arctic” whose relatively dark waters (compared to white sea ice) are helping to amplify warming in the high north even further. And this, in turn, is possibly contributing to extreme events like the brutal winter weather that parts of the United States have endured in recent years.

In her own talk at the conference, NASA’s chief scientist, Ellen Stofan, explained the process this way: “As we expose more ocean, the dark water absorbs more heat, and that heat is pumped back into the climate system as added energy.” This Arctic amplification process, she added, could be implicated in “a lot of the extreme weather events that have been occurring.”

A connection between shrinking Arctic sea ice, Arctic amplification, and extreme weather is supported by research conducted by Jennifer Francis at Rutgers University, including a paper published last June.  Here’s how the connection works, at least theoretically:

The disproportionate warming experienced in the Arctic has weakened the difference in temperature between the lower and higher latitudes, causing the jet stream to become wavier for longer periods of time. The result: deep meteorological ridges and troughs that tend to be more persistent.

“As emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated, therefore, the continued amplification of Arctic warming should favor an increased occurrence of extreme events caused by prolonged weather conditions,” Francis and her colleague concluded in their recent paper.

It’s an intriguing theory. But it’s also still the subject of a robust scientific debate.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

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