Cold at the Top
Posted by Exile on March 29, 2009
I wondered why it had been so cold lately. Now I think I have found the culprit. See, the ice mass that is the Arctic has grown in area over the last two years. Yep. It grew. Didn’t melt away. Got larger. Which means that the global warming is really doing its stuff as everyone predicted two years ago, when they promised us an ice free north pole by 2010, or whatever.
This is of grave concern to the greenies, what with the global climate conference about to get under way in Copenhagen later this year. I mean, it doesn’t really serve their purposes does it? Or the fact that the earth has been cooling down for the last decade. Who wants to bet, that doesn’t even get a mention in the new taxability talks that will go on.
Of course, they will argue that the ice is thinning. It is "less than normal", whatever that may be, because normal is a flighty number to set and we have only been watching the ice by satellite for thirty one years. As opposed to the millions of years where the ice has managed to come and go as it saw fit without us even noticing. Who’s to say we didn’t start monitoring while the ice was at a peak? Well then, that has to be "normal". Any downward shift in the amount of ice would then be a clear indicator of the dreaded messianic global warming. The opposite scenario will be happily, and necessarily for them, discarded.
I did find a little information on the arctic ice cover but, as it too, can only be supported by the said thirty one years of data, one has to take it as it comes.
The Arctic Ocean, and sea ice.
Most of the Arctic Ocean is over 1000 m deep and is continuously covered with ice whose thickness varies between 1-10 m. About one third of the Arctic Ocean is shallow, i.e. continental shelf. Over these shelf areas, ice is absent at least part of the year, but ice is found year-round over the deep ocean. Therefore the seasonal variation of the area of sea ice is smaller in the Arctic than around Antarctica. In the Arctic, the sea-ice area ranges between 9 and 12 x 10 mill. sq. km (as opposed to 4 and 19 x 10 mill. sq. km around Antarctica). As a comparison, the contiguous USA is about 9 x 10 mill. sq. km in size. Much of the Arctic seasonal variation in ice cover can be found in the Bering Sea (mainly adjacent to the continents, and south to the Aleutian Islands), and in the Sea of Okhotsk, as far south as 42 deg. N, near Hokkaido, Japan. Yet even in winter the area between Norway and Svalbard is ice-free, notwithstanding its high latitude (about 77 deg. N), on account of the Gulf Stream.
There is some evidence that the Arctic sea-ice cover has decreased about 6% during the last two decades, and that the mean ice thickness has decreased as well. The sea-ice cover must have been thicker during the last Ice Age (esp. between 26 – 13 kaBP), because there is no sediment of atmospheric dirt of that age on the seabed. The amount of sea ice is rather sensitive to climate change: meltwater ponding, for instance, dramatically increases the albedo of sea ice, leading to enhanced ice melt.
OK. The ice is between 9 and 12 million square kilometers. Even that then is a top and bottom figure. So where is "normal"? Take then, the norm. That would be 10,5 million square kilometers. Losing six percent of that is a bit like ripping the Florida peninsula off the United States. Hardly worrying, unless one lives in Miami, when compared to the rest of the mass. And, unlike Florida, the ice can grow back.
Which brings me back to where we came from. The Arctic ice grew. It has done so for the last two years. I’ve never seen ice being formed in a heated saucepan.
One final note: the Arctic winter temperature for December through February is a chilling minus thirty degrees centigrade. Sea water freezes at minus one point eight.
Talk about being on thin ice.