DRAMATIC new evidence showing that ice cover on the Arctic Ocean has fallen to its lowest level recorded proves the area is “locked into a spiral of decline”, a Welsh scientist said last night.
Bangor University Oceanographer Dr Tom Rippeth, who has a team doing research in Arctic, says the polar ice cap has shrunk by almost a third compared with its size this time last year.
Research from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) reveals that at 4.2m sq km the cap has shrunk by an area about seven times larger than the UK.
When compared to the typical September ice coverage for the 1960s and 70s the change is even greater, as the cap has shrunk to about half the size it was then.
Over the past 10 years the polar ice cap has never been observed to shrink by more than 0.2m square km, but this year has fallen by more than 1m square km.
Dr Rippeth insists the magnitude of the fall is clear evidence of how global warming is changing the planet.
He said, “The magnitude of the decline in arctic ice cover has taken everyone by surprise. It’s far too big to be a result of natural variability and tends to suggest that we are actually locked into a spiral of decline.”
“Night-shining” clouds are bringing a mystery that NASA has now made a mission to study- these hauntingly beautiful noctilucent clouds were previously restricted to the poles but are now being seen over Colorado. This photograph here was taken over the Juneau, Alaska, ice field in 1998.
‘Night-shining’ clouds, also known as ‘noctilucent’ clouds were discovered 120 years ago - the strangely luminescent clouds have been moving slowly toward the equator and also appear to be getting brighter and more numerous, too, said David Rusch, a University of Colorado atmospheric scientist.
NASA launched a $110 million AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) mission to measure noctilucent clouds and the circumstances in which they form - which may be linked to climate change. The AIM satellite will measure air temperature and pressure, moisture content and cloud dimensions.
Noctilucent clouds appear only at night at an altitude of 50 miles up in the atmosphere; a position which lets them catch sunlight no longer visible from Earth’s surface. Normal clouds are less than 10 miles up in the atmosphere. James Russell, an atmospheric scientist at Hampton University in Virginia, the NASA mission’s principal investigator reported that:
“They’re very beautiful, they look very mysterious, but aside from all that, these clouds are changing in ways we don’t understand … Observed increases in water vapor in the atmosphere - a consequence of warming - may also make it easier for the clouds to form”
Scott Bailey, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia said:
“Methane, another powerful greenhouse gas, may also be involved … Methane’s presence can increase the amount of water in the upper atmosphere, through a complicated chemical dance”
Researchers have many ideas about why noctilucent clouds are going through these changes and developments and most of them are related to global warming. NASA hopes to get answers with the AIM mission.
An international global warming conference has approved a report on the impacts of climate change after a contentious marathon session.
The environmental organisation WWF Switzerland warned that the Alps could be hit by heatwaves and droughts, and called for a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst consequences.
On Friday more than 100 nations belonging to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agreed a final text in Brussels after all night disputes.
The report, the second of three being published by the IPCC, lists numerous consequences on people, the climate and ecosystems. It will guide policy in coming years on issues such as extending the UN’s Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.
A warming world will place hundreds of millions of extra people at greater risk of food and water shortages and threaten the survival of thousands of species of plants and animals, the scientists said.
The long-term stability of the massive ice sheets of Antarctica, which have the potential to raise sea levels by hundreds of metres, has been called into question with the discovery of fast-moving rivers of water sliding beneath their base.
Scientists analysing satellite data were astonished to discover the size of the vast lakes and river systems flowing beneath the Antarctic ice sheets, which may lubricate the movement of these glaciers as they flow into the surrounding sea.
The discovery raises fresh questions about the speed at which sea levels might rise in a warmer world due to the rate at which parts of the ice sheets slide from the land into the ocean, scientists said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.
“We didn’t realise that the water under these ice streams was moving in such large quantities, and on such short time scales. We thought these changes took place over years and decades, but we are seeing large changes over months. The detected motions are astonishing in magnitude, dynamic nature and spatial extent,” Dr Fricker said.
31 December 2006, ondurag @ 7:43 am
In response to all those who commented on Marc Fischer’s “The Tyranny of Smoke-Free Living” Article; let me say one thing; if all the persons who are so much up in arms about smoke-free, they should work far harder at getting their governments and states to pass even harder laws on air pollution - not the joke laws that President Bush is making or rather, taking away; which, if they didn’t notice, is causing respiratory problems and even death especially in the very young and old.
Read where the US government said that Ground Zero posed no health problems whatsoever and now a large number of those fire officers and others who worked on the scene are now suffering serious lung illnesses:
As the report stated:
“In a series of public statements issued after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assured the people of New York that the air around ground zero was safe to breathe. Unfortunately, the agency lacked authoritative information on which to base these claims, and internal agency data conflicting with this reassuring public posture were ignored. The EPA’s press releases and public statements after 9/11 were vetted by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, suggesting that the White House placed politics over science when communicating about ground zero’s air quality. Tragically, the impact of this public deception continues to be felt by thousands of rescue workers now plagued by chronic and crippling lung ailments.”
I not only conclude this but draw attention to the fact that this approach is the same general approach that is used in all matters concerning health and pollution. I acknowledge that since the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, the government does however, seem to be doing something about the problem of climate change. Cheers for that.