Spring is in the air. Spring Break is upon us, and the mind begins to wander… to the poles? Well, yes, because the Antarctic is calving enormous glaciers and researchers are predicting a seasonally ice-free Arctic by the year 2030. Break out the kayaks and suncreen. It’s “Wild on, Nuuk.”
The news wire is full of stories about the rapid melting of the Wilkins Ice Shelf 1000 miles south of South America. If the warming trend continues, the folks on the Patagonian coast of Argentina will be watching icebergs float off their coast just like the Kiwis in the video below. Check it out. Can Argentina “tango on the ice floe” like New Zealand does? I dunno. We’ll see…
J. Stroeve and colleagues at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at University of Colorado, Boulder report that the Arctic lost ice cover roughly equivalent to an area the size of Texas and California combined in 2007. Only half the ice cover remains from the glory days in the 1950’s and 1970’s.
Ice nearly 9 years old essentially disappeared last year. The loss is attributed to anomolous wind patterns over the Arctic Ocean and increasing sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Chukchi and East Siberian Seas. The authors called the long-term outlook for Arctic ice cover “disturbing”.
Their climate model is based on conservative estimates of climate change but the model results still indicate that 1) thin ice is more responsive to greenhouse gas than thick ice, and 2) rapid summer decay can result from albedo feedback mechanisms. That is, more heat is absorbed in the ocean, and less is reflected, once the ice cap is melted. Considering recent results, the view of the authors is “a seasonally ice free Arctic Ocean might be realized as early as 2030.”
Wow, that’s probably within my lifetime. Now I’m getting worried.
Stroeve, J., M.Serreze, S. Drobot, S. Gearheard, M. Holland, J. Maslanik, W. Meier, and T. Scambos. 2008. Arctic Sea Ice Plummets in 2007. EOS Transactions. Vol 89, No. 2, pp 1-2. January 8, 2008.
Stroeve, J., Holland, M.M., Meier, W., Scambos, T., Serreze, M. (2007). Arctic sea ice decline: Faster than forecast. Geophysical Research Letters, 34(9) DOI: 10.1029/2007GL029703
Note the citation at BPR3.org uses the doi of second reference. NA for the first.