Is the Arctic gone?

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Offline yor_on

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Is the Arctic gone?
« on: 15/09/2012 14:42:34 »
Haven't wrote about environment in a while. I'm sort of feeling that just a very few still doubt a man-made warming those days, although those changing their minds much would prefer it not to be talked about :) A very human reaction if I may add, I felt the same ways on occasions.

"A trip to Japan gave me an opportunity to talk to another Arctic researcher, Koji Shimada. I met him at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, down by the shore and tucked up against a Nissan car factory. His lab runs a famous oceanographic research vessel called the Mirai, but that day all the ships in harbor were slab-sided, gray, windowless monsters built to export Nissan's cars. We sat around a table in his office and he explained his own views on the ice, occasionally punctuated with the expression, "Many people do not agree with me." Shimada is well known for following his own views ("Imagination is the most important thing in science," he told me), so I wasn't surprised to hear that his childhood hero had been Naomi Uemura, the great Japanese explorer who walked alone to the North Pole.

Shimada had made a totally up-to-date, post–2007-crash version of the Arctic ice movie. He had used images from AMSR-E, a Japanese microwave sensor that can see the ice from space, even in the polar night. His film was much scarier. He projected it on the wall of his office and I sat there, feeling as though I were watching a true horror movie. As the days sped by in seconds, the whole of the Arctic's ice turned into a living organism that, in a fit of madness, was tearing itself apart.

Vast areas of ice whirled around the pole and were flung out past Iceland and down into the Atlantic. A steady torrent roared down the Nares Strait between Greenland and Ellesmere Island. Huge expanses of ice that had been locked hard to the Canadian islands were suddenly fractured and smashed to pieces, then sucked into an enormous whirlpool of moving ice hundreds of miles across. This was not a "big melt." I was not watching ice gradually turn into water, but a frozen ocean rip itself to bits as a result of forces I did not understand. I asked Shimada to play the movie again, and again. "This is not variation like we have seen in the past," Shimada said to me. "This is now catastrophe." " From What Happens To Polar Bears As Arctic Ice Shrinks?

I think what we're seeing in the Arctic will have great impacts on the climate, all over the globe, so, is the Arctic gone? If so, what will the melt water do to the oceans, what will the added humidity do to the atmospheric cycle, what will the added non reflecting areas do the suns warming a Earth, will the circulating atmospheric paths (and streams) taken change? Will storms become worse?

And most of all, what do you think of the depletion of natural resources we will see, as earths gene pool, will it make a difference to how we view ourselves? Still conquerors and masters of Earth, or? The fact is that we share this world with a lot of other species, as we change our environment we change their habitats, creating genocides.

And please, don't drag politics into it.
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Offline CliffordK

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Re: Is the Arctic gone?
« Reply #1 on: 16/09/2012 09:07:03 »
A while ago, I had thought that one could put buoys and drag chains in the Fram strait between Greenland and Svalbard to slow down the flushing of ice out of the Arctic.  I started worrying that doing such a project might have unforeseen impacts in the Atlantic temperatures, as well as the Greenland temperatures.  And perhaps even on migratory species.  Thus, I haven't pursued the line of thought further.  But, with the diminishing ice, perhaps such an approach would be helpful, especially if it would help reduce the arctic solar albedo, and thus overall cool the arctic sea temperatures in the summer.

I do find it interesting that the Antarctic sea ice extent has been generally above average for all of 2012, and is currently running nearly a million sq km above average, at the same time the Arctic sea ice extent is hitting record lows.  Looking at the current (and recent past) sea surface temperatures there appears to be a large North/South disparity.  This would indicate that a portion of what we are seeing in the North may be related to temporary phases such as the currently positive phase of the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO)

Even if there are natural cyclical components to what we are seeing in the Arctic, the net result is so striking that it would be difficult to deny there likely is also a human caused aspect to the sea ice loss.

Is the ice loss unprecedented?  Indications are that the early Holocene, and the early Eemian interglacial periods had higher temperatures than today, and potentially had lower summer sea ice extent.   And the polar bears survived those periods. 

The polar bears' biggest problem is that they are ineffective with summer hunting, and especially hunting from land. 

The dynamics of the North will prevent the bears from sitting on the North Pole on a shrinking island of ice.  Those on the Russian side can move off the ice onto land in Russia.  Ocean currents will continue to push ice masses against the Canadian archipelago, thus the polar bears will always be able to escape from the ice into Canada or Greenland.

And, the ice always starts coming back around the fall equinox.  It just gets too cold for the ice not to form.

Anyway, I think it would be too early to consider the polar bear's extinction.

What would it take to drive the species to evolve to become more aquatic?