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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Northern sea ice growth a fluke, not end of climate change: researcher

source of image: Columbia University
"Arctic sea ice is nearly back to average global levels for the first time in at least a decade after years of spectacular declines.
The surprise growth at a time of year when ice is normally melting has triggered a blizzard of I-told-you-sos among online climate change skeptics.
But the man whose data is behind the furor says a few weeks of cold weather in one part of the Arctic - not the end of climate change - has skewed the numbers.
"It is not the end of global warming," said Mark Serreze of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., which publishes monthly sea-ice updates on its website.
On Wednesday, the center posted a new graph showing that the extent of ice-covered Arctic Ocean has nearly returned to the 1979-2000 average.
The graph was a significant surprise.

Data from the last eight years shows that September sea ice was 22 per cent below that 20-year average. And until the beginning of March, this year's sea ice was on pace to match 2007's record low.
What happened?
It's called freaky Arctic weather."

Here is a link to a very interesting and very informative article which explains how sea ice forms and decays:

According to the website

"Arctic sea ice extent averaged for February 2010 was 14.58 million square kilometers (5.63 million square miles). This was 1.06 million square kilometers (409,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for February, but 220,000 square kilometers (85,000 square miles) above the record low for the month, which occurred in February 2005."

"Ice extent was above normal in the Bering Sea, but remained below normal over much of the Atlantic sector of the Arctic, including the Barents Sea, part of the East Greenland Sea, and in the Davis Strait."
You may ask why are the levels of Arctic sea ice important? The following text explains why:
"Sea ice in Antarctica is a critical component of the Earth's climate system. Not surprisingly sea ice is formed from frozen sea water although once formed snow can fall on the sea ice and increase the thickness. The area covered by sea ice in the Antarctic varies enormously over an annual cycle and also between years. The area covered by sea ice varies between (approximately) 2 and 20 km2 (Zwally et al, 2002).

"Sea ice reflects the Sun's radiation more compared with open water and also acts like a lid on the ocean trapping heat. How much radiation is reflected depends on a number of factors including the thickness of ice, whether there is snow on the ice and the topography of the ice.

As sea ice is formed salt is rejected leaving behind cold, salty (dense) water that sinks and helps drive global ocean circulation. Conversely when sea ice melt it freshens the underlying water (becomes less salty)."

Here is a video which explains why sea ice levels are important: source: Dr. Cameron Wake  is a glaciologist:

"Glaciologists are ice experts involved in the scientific study of glaciers and their effects on the landscape and our climate."

"Glaciology is the study of snow and ice and their physical properties. A glacier is an accumulation of ice, air, water, and rock debris or sediment. It is a large enough quantity of ice to flow with gravity due to its own mass. A glaciologist's work focuses on ice -- from glaciers to permafrost to polar ice caps -- in order to determine whether ice sheets are growing or shrinking. Consequently, their research will help us understand the global sea level and climate changes."

"A glaciologist's research involves collecting ice, studying it and designing experiments. This work relates to weather and climate change, to earth sciences and exploration, and to the research of the Earth's history. Similar to mountaineers that summit great peaks like Mt. Everest, glaciologists work only on clear days due to the danger involved in the work."

"Glaciologists use different techniques to measure how the ice sheets are changing. Some involve monitoring ice movement and changes in elevation on satellite images, using remote sensing techniques. Others entail measuring changes in the position of markers in the ice to get detailed information about a particular glacier or ice drainage system. Some other methods involve taking ice cores to analyze the annual growth layers. Therefore projects can range from a tiny ice cap to a glacier the size of a continent (hence, Antarctica), in order to properly obtain results about how ice sheets are changing."

"Glaciologists work with professional ice and glacier mountaineers. These professionals know how to work the ropes and stay safe in heavily crevassed regions. Many glaciologists work in teams of five, with each team member performing a particular task. Glaciologists must wear proper safety equipment, including crash helmets and full body harnesses, which are tied to heavy ropes, and to each member of the trekking team; therefore if someone falls, they can be stopped by the ropes before they reach the bottom of the crevasse. If someone were to fall into a deep crevice, their body heat would cause the ice to melt and they would become trapped. Therefore, it is imperative that all work is done with the highest safety standards."

"With global warming trends heating up in the past few decades, there is a great deal of work to be done in terms of studying ice formations and understanding their effects on the environment and climate. Glaciologists warn that if all ice on Earth were to melt, the sea would rise over two hundred feet! Call in Noah ahead of time for another potential flood in the making."


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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.