Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Two Climate Change-Pole Stories

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Backup up the science that predicted such things would happen, I read two stories about climate change impacts on the poles.  A New York City-sized chunk of ice has broken off from the Wilkins Ice Shelf, following the break-down of the ice bridge stabilizing the Shelf, as this Independent article states.  Air temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula have warmed 3C in the past century, placing strain on the shelves and glaciers.  Additionally, water temperatures surrounding the continent have also warmed, melting the shelves from below.  As the floating shelves melt from both sides and break off the continent, inland glaciers have picked up speed toward the ocean.  It’s those glaciers that would translate to rising sea levels if they melt in the ocean faster than they can grow on land.

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme study relays profound changes to sea ice and permafrost, among others.  That’s the secondary lede from a Guardian article discussing some of the findings.

In the past four years, air temperatures have increased, sea ice has declined sharply, surface waters in the Arctic ocean have warmed and permafrost is in some areas rapidly thawing.  In addition, plants and trees are growing more vigorously, snow cover is decreasing 1-2% a year and glaciers are shrinking.

In Russia, the tree line has advanced up hills and mountains at 10 metres a year. Nearly all glaciers are decreasing in mass, resulting in rising sea levels as the water drains to the ocean.

The Greenland ice sheet has continued to melt in the past four years with summer temperatures consistently above the long-term average since the mid 1990s. In 2007, the area experiencing melt was 60% greater than in 1998.  Melting lasted 20 days longer than usual at sea level and 53 days longer at 2-3,000m heights.

In 2007, some ice-free areas of the Arctic were as much as 5C warmer than the long-term average.

All these observations have been made by climate forecasters for years now.  The problem is, they’ve occurred faster than predicted in every case.  That presents the exact opposite problem that climate change deniers claim.  The science has predicted effects correctly time and time again.

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