Saturday, December 15, 2007

Scientists warn of rapid Arctic melt due to global warming

E-Flux Media: The Arctic ice is threatening to become open water in an extremely short time due to global warming, which this year has passed an ominous “tipping point,” scientists reported. “The Arctic is screaming,” said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government’s snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colo.

Moreover, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally predicted that the Arctic Ocean would be “nearly ice-free” by the end of summer 2012, which is much faster than what other specialists predicted last year, when they said the Arctic sea was melting so rapidly that it could disappear by the summer of 2040.

The warnings were made public at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in San Francisco, one of the largest scientific conferences in the world. The data about Arctic’s melting became worrisome when, for the first time in recorded history, ships were able to pass through an ice-free Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic for five weeks in August and September, officials of the World Meteorological Organization said.

In September, the ice pack was 23 percent smaller than anytime since measurements began, with 1.6 million square kilometers more open water than in the previous record melt of 2005, scientist warned. Both water and air temperatures have registered extremely high levels in the past five years. "We have a consistent picture that we've really moved into record territory in the past four or five years," said John D. Walsh, Professor of Global Climate Change at the International Arctic Research Center for the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the UN agency, warned that recent core samples from polar glaciers and data from recording stations around the world reveal that the world has passed through its warmest period in the past 1,000 and 3,000 years. Such warming appears to lead to climate disasters such as recent cyclones in Bangladesh and Oman, wildfires in southern Europe and flooding in Africa and Mexico. Scientists blamed the exceeding global warming on carbon emission and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. They warned that there was a high amount of carbon in Earth’s atmosphere to ensure that sea levels would rise several feet in coming decades and ice would totally vanish from the North Pole during summer time.

People must cut current carbon emissions but also remove some carbon that has collected in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, scientists said Thursday. They also suggested that the only way to prevent the existing ice from melting was “considerable and persistent atmospheric cooling, but with the warming trend so high, everything is working in concert toward a bluer or totally blue Arctic Ocean," said Josefino Comiso, a senior researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

No comments: