Sunday, October 21, 2007

Defrosting the icebox, warming the planet

I've been following the saga of climate change since I was an undergraduate and studied both global warming (IR absorption by CO2, CH4, NOx, etc) and ozone depletion. I find it a sad irony that most people are just now discovering the problem when the scientists have known about the imminent problems for decades. In fact, Al Gore's book came out long before he became VP in the Clinton Administration, but to the degree that anybody was paying attention it was the whacko right wing who screeched that he is a psychopath.

(I am not making this up. I have a friend who while supposedly being an environmental scientist and engineer, he is much more strongly a radical neoconservative Republican and far right conservative. He ranted wildly about Gore before that election, and to this day 15 years later still rants wildly about Gore as a "psychopath". He's not the only rational person I know who gets wildly irrational when attempting to confront Gore and the scientific fact of Global Warming Climate Change, GWCC.)

NASA has recently released their mid-September satellite imagery of the minimum extent of the Arctic sea ice. The pictures are scribed with the extent of the ice pack for 1979-2000, for 2005, and then for 2007. The shrinking of the ice is shocking to see, but it is simply the end result of what we have known and expected for decades.

It is worth reading the entire description of the picture (see the link), but here is the final sentence.

In 2007, all Arctic sea ice records were broken by August, more than a month before the end of melt season.
Note that in the (approx.) six months of melt season from spring to autumn, the ice had melted back to its previous minimum more than a month before solar insolation fell past a seasonal level where melting begins to reverse. So there was another whole month of melting, thus setting a new record. We can expect 2008 to be worse.

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