RealClimate logo


North Pole notes (continued)

Filed under: — gavin @ 22 August 2008

This is a continuation of the previous (and now unwieldy) post on the current Arctic situation. We’ll have a proper round up in a few weeks.


638 Responses to “North Pole notes (continued)”

  1. 101
    Timothy Chase says:

    Daryl Jones wrote in 98:

    I wanted to see the current state of affairs in the north, so I spider-searched through the links. Here’s a good one for anyone interested.

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    August 25: “Sea ice extent is declining at a fairly brisk and steady pace. Surface melt has mostly ended, but the decline will continue for two to three more weeks because of melt from the bottom and sides of the ice.”

    Walt Meier of the NSIDC had informed us that there would be an update in the next couple of days back on the 23rd of August.

    He wrote in 37:

    For any that might not be aware, there’s discussion on the ice thickness/volume, along with extent/area on our NASA-funded sea ice analysis web site:

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    Look for our next update in the next couple of days.

    It looks like you found it, and it would appear to be something people here might like — going into some depth on the difference between this year and last in terms of surface vs. bottom melt, the downloadable self-updating Google Earth kml animation of sea ice concentration, etc.

    *

    Captcha fortune cookie:
    TRAILS calendar

  2. 102
    CL says:

    Phillipe Chantreau, 99, thank you. Much appreciated !

  3. 103
    Jim Eaton says:

    Amanda, keep on pushing! The older folks may be in charge for now, but your generation will be suffering the impacts of global warming — and someday will take charge.

    The Sacramento Bee had another great article by Tom Knudson this past Sunday, “Sierra climate change puts range’s species on the run.” It looks at evidence that spans nearly a century that shows that many critters have moved up to 2,000 feet (610 meters) upslope in the Sierra Nevada in response to warming temperatures.

    http://www.sacbee.com/sierrawarming/story/1181298.html

    This may be a subscription site, so if you cannot access it, please respond and I’ll get a copy to you.

    {Capcha: “and Pleads!”}

  4. 104
    Daniel C. Goodwin says:

    I’m always at a loss when a young person asks me what to do about the state of things. With your whole life ahead of you on this planet we’ve hurt, you should be telling old folks like me what to do – just as you’re doing, only someday people might listen. Thanks, Amanda.

  5. 105
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Phew! sorry for having stirred up a hornets nest on the nuclear issue, but as Pete Best pointed out Both Jim Hansen and Jim Lovelock are on the same wavelength when it comes to the importance of nuclear in attemping to mitigate CC. It seems to me we have ‘NO’ choice in this matter. Sure we have to build 15 Nuclear power plants for 50 years, but how many coal powered or gas or diesel powered plants will that replace??
    No they are not perfect..not by a long shot..no-one is saying they are..but we have to cut CO2 emmissions to close to zero in a hurry..anyone will a better idea please put your hand up. No technology at present can deliver such huge quantities of base load power..nothing can!! Put it this way re: nuclear waste and the possibility of it being used for malicious purposes. Should we do nothing and fart around with adhoc renewables and witness the destruction of planet earth or should we take a chance with nuclear which at least can promise clean energy and a real chance at reducing CO2 to below 350ppm and the sustainability of our earth..I know what my 3y/o son would say!!

  6. 106

    Re #96

    Wayne,

    that is a very interesting set of maps! Just what I have been wanting to see, especially the wind. I had assumed that the surface water would be either flowing in or out through the Bering Strait, but in fact the wind is blowing away from there in both directions. In general, it seems that at present the Arctic is effectively isolated from both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

    Thus, the ice melt seems to be, like other aspects of the weather, rather chaotic. I feel that if one does make what turns out to be an accurate prediction then it is just luck.

    I have been following the Japanese http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm graph and downloading the data automatically into a spreadsheet.

    Using it, I am generating a running average of the daily melt over five days, and then dividing that into the amount by which today’s ice extent exceeds the historic values. I only show that if it is positive, and it gives me the days until the ice will reach that value.

    Currently, on the map dated 25-8-08, there are only 0.05 days! remaining until the ice reaches the 2005 minimum, and 15.5 days until it reaches the 2007 minimum. This is using a daily average melt of 67,000 sq km/day, but yesterday the rate was only 51,000 sq km/day, so you can see that my method is no more accurate than eye-balling ice thickness.

    NSIDC says the melt will continue for two or three weeks which brackets my 15.5 days, so I agree that it will be pretty close.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  7. 107
    Nick Gotts says:

    Lawrence Coleman,
    You are, as nuclear advocates often do, simply ignoring counter-arguments. Briefly, demand reduction, energy efficiency and renewables can all bring about major reductions in emissions faster than nuclear build. Your use of terms such as “do nothing and fart around” indicates little other than the intellectual bankruptcy of your approach.

  8. 108
    pete best says:

    Re #105, just not sure that we can logisically meet such a huge building program and eliminate the other 7 wedges to. Each wedge represents a vast amount of carbon. We achieve another wedge but becomming more efficient on a massive scale and another one by planting nillions of trees and another one by building 2 million 1 MW wind turbines but it all needs doing at the same time.

    This is way beyond WW2 effort I would suggest and as it takes 15 years to build a nuclear power station and another age to research 4th generation so that we do not need to dig up anymore Uranium but reprocess what we already have then I am suggesting that Uranium supplies will deplete within 100 years otherwise.

    Its all a bit scary.

  9. 109
    LG Norton says:

    Re: 106

    They just updated the IIJS graph, and we are now officially below 2005 minimun for sea ice extent.

    I am expecting the rate of decline to slow. However if you look at the NSIDC sea ice extent. The rate of decline has kept a pretty constant slope since the third week of June.

    I keep expecting the slope to change, however if things keep going the way they have been for another week, then, we will beat the 2007 ice lost in extent.

    The Cryosphere Today sea ice area has seem to flat lined, however I suspect the refreezing of melt ponds is offsetting the ice lost, and eventually the sea ice area will make another dip.

    It is still to warm for sea ice to form in the arctic (other than sheltered bays with little mixing), and the ice south of 78 North is still melting, so the bias must be due to melt ponds refreezing for the Cryosphere today results.

  10. 110
    A.C. says:

    #108–

    I don’t understand the insistence on building massive wind farms of the scale you suggest….I mean, how many back yards would have to have a 40-foot tower w/turbine in order to supply half the electricity suburban America uses?

    Anyway, I hope some day to live in a country where patriotism is expressed by how much electricity one’s flag pole produces….

  11. 111

    “Both Jim Hansen and Jim Lovelock are on the same wavelength when it comes to the importance of nuclear”

    So is Iran, Pakistan and a whole lotta goat herders.

    Good luck with that.

  12. 112
    SecularAnimist says:

    Lawrence Coleman wrote: “Both Jim Hansen and Jim Lovelock are on the same wavelength when it comes to the importance of nuclear in attemping to mitigate CC.”

    Both of them are brilliant people and genuine visionaries in their fields (climate science and ecology respectively). Neither one of them is particularly knowledgeable about energy issues. Their support for nuclear power is, frankly, based on ignorance.

    Lawrence Coleman wrote: “It seems to me we have ‘NO’ choice in this matter.”

    That is an assertion that is likewise based on ignorance. There are plenty of other choices. Full implementation of available efficiency technologies could save more electricity than is generated by all the nuclear power plants in the USA. Capturing waste heat from industrial smokestacks and using it to generate electricity could produce more electricity than is generated by all the nuclear power plants in the USA. The USA has abundant wind and solar energy resources that can be harvested using today’s technology to produce several times as much electricity as the entire country uses.

    Not only is nuclear power NOT the “only choice”, it isn’t even a very effective choice, and it is the least cost-effective choice, and is a completely unnecessary choice, for elimininating GHG emissions from electricity generation.

  13. 113
    pete best says:

    Re #111, hmmmm, Yes but they are not the world greatest energy guzzlers are they like the USA and the EU are and Iran has lots of its own oil and gas reserves and Pakistan has a small economy.

  14. 114
    pete best says:

    Re #112, I still doubt that you would tackle a single wedge cost effectively. In fact energy efficiency is a great idea and would work well at first until you realise that a BAU of 2 to 3% per annum would mean that within 15 years all of your efficiency gains would be undone.

    Maybe we need to take a look at capatalism itself?

  15. 115
    Amanda Eldridge says:

    Thank all of you for agreeing with me. well for the most part.
    When I wrote that I did not entirely mean to put all the blame on the scientist, but they need to help find something that we can do. There are some who are doing a lot but we need the help of everyone.

  16. 116
    picoallen says:

    Re the opinion that our situation is so dire that we have no choice but to go hard and fast with nuclear, along with other low emmissions technologies.

    That paper Gavin linked to above- The Nuclear Illusion by Lovins and Sheikh (27 May 2008 in draft) – makes it clear that nuclear is radically more expensive than all other electricity generation options. And that this why no one is building them in the US in spite of massive subsidies. They argue that therefore, spending money on nuclear power plants would soak up huge amounts of capital that would then not be available for other technologies that give you much more CO2 abaitment for your investment buck.

  17. 117
    Andrew says:

    Hate to go further off topic, but it should be pointed out that solar power is not exactly carbon emission free.

    Silicon based photovoltaic cells are expensive because they require large amounts of electric power to refine silica into pure silicon. That electric power is produced primarily from Coal fired plants.

    So, solar power actually contributes to CO2 emissions and deploying solar panels in some locations with low solar potential may result in a net electric consumption. That is, solar panels may not produce more power than what is consumed in their manufacture and installation.

  18. 118
    Hank Roberts says:

    > solar panels may not produce more power …
    Andrew, what’s your source for this statement?
    It needs a time frame to be meaningful. Where do you get the statement and what time span is it describing?

    I put your phrase into Google and did not find any support for your claim, unless you are talking about very short time spans, far shorter than the lifetime service available from the panels. Pointer please?

  19. 119
    Mark says:

    Andrew, #117, anyone whose played a RTS like Sim City or X:BtF knows that you create an energy plant AND a silicon plant right next to each other. The energy plant uses silicon wafers to create power from solar and the silicon plant uses energy from the energy plant and raw silicon to create a silicon wafer. Which goes into an energy plant that creates power that goes to ….

    Energy payback of solar panels DOES get worse as you go to places not suited but the payback time is still much shorter than the lifetime of the cells.

    Which would lend us to the idea that we should prioritise the solar power plants but that would have all the power generation where the people don’t like to live.

    And so a compromise is reached.

  20. 120
    tarmov says:

    On topic developments,
    sea ice extent is now below 2005 minimum
    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

    -195000 km2 in two days.

    and today’s Bremen picture looks scary near the Beaufort Sea (I hope I am not mistaken):
    http://www.iup.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr/arctic_AMSRE_nic.png

    And the East Siberian pocket is also advancing towards the pole.
    Looks like the melt is still going strong.

  21. 121
    SecularAnimist says:

    Andrew wrote: “solar panels may not produce more power than what is consumed in their manufacture and installation.”

    That is just plain false. According to the US Department of Energy:

    Typically, the energy payback time (i.e., the time it takes for a PV system to generate the same amount of energy that it took to manufacture the system) for PV systems is 2 to 5 years. Since a well-designed and maintained PV system will operate for more than 20 years, and a system without moving parts will operate for close to 30 years, PV systems produce far more energy over their useful life than we use to manufacture them.

    This is true of PV panels built from crystalline silicon, the most expensive and resource-intensive of today’s PV technologies. Thin-film PV is much less expensive and requires much less resources and energy to manufacture so the energy payback time is even less.

    It is certainly possible to generate enough electricity from PV to power a factory that manufactures PV panels, in which case the manufacturing process is emissions-free. And in any case, once the panels are operational the generation of electricity is 100 percent emissions-free, which is not true of the nuclear fuel cycle.

    And again, PV is not the only clean renewable source of electricity: we also have wind turbines and concentrating solar thermal technologies, both of which are already in mainstream use and growing rapidly.

    There is no need for nuclear power to address global warming, period.

  22. 122
    CL says:

    Amanda Eldridge, 115

    Here’s something people can do, that is good fun AND good for the planet

    http://www.simondale.net/house/

    (See my post on Bridging the Divide thread, sorry to be off topic )

  23. 123
    Hank Roberts says:

    > below 2005
    > http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

    Yeek! and trending down. Well, I’m just looking at red pixels on that chart there, has anyone looked at the data file availalble?

    ______________
    ReCaptcha: earth’s Shrinkers

  24. 124
    R. Gates says:

    First, regarding this years sea ice summer melt in the N. Hemisphere:

    The total volume of ice loss is the greatest ever, if you take the winter maximum extent from March 08 and subtract where we are now (late August), the N. Hemisphere lost more sea ice in total volume than ever…

    This year would have been far worse if not for two things:

    1) The now fading La Nina event cooled the N. Pacific, and kept the temperatures somewhat moderated, thereby decreasing the early summer melt. Had we been in a El Nino year, you could expect that we would have had a much more severe melt even than we did.

    2) While not discussed at much length, the current Solar Minimum for sun spots is having some net cooling effect (as all minimum sunspots cycles do).

    It will be quite interesting to see how the approaching Solar Cycle 24, combined with a resurging El Nino in the next few years will play out on the arctic ice melt. I think 2013 prediction for an ice free summer arctic will be close…

    Finally, on the issue of a rapid move to nuclear…too late for that…should have started 20 years ago. Too much carbon dioxide forcing already in the system…and when the n. sea ice is gone, the postiive feedback loop for warming will really be unleashed…even without the massive methane that already is being released around the arctic.

  25. 125
    Food Tube says:

    @post 112 – ‘Capturing waste heat from industrial smokestacks and using it to generate electricity could produce more electricity than is generated by all the nuclear power plants in the USA.’

    What fuels those industrial smokestacks? Sounds like a perpetual motion scheme;)

  26. 126
    pat n says:

    Re #95

    CL, I’m interested in learning more about how you lost your job for speaking out. I’m at npat1hotmail.com

  27. 127

    Re #123

    Hank,

    I have been downloading the data recently, and reported my findings at #106. Since then I have discovered that the data is updated twice a day, and that report is now 12 hiurs out of date.

    Note also that the daily melt is not constant. During the last ten days it was: 73k, 69k, 77k, 80k, 27k, 45k, 56k, 55k, 73k & 122k sq km/day. So it was constant at around 75k, dropped to 27k, then slowly recover back to 73k, then jumped to 122k. I reckon it is anyone’s guess what it will do next. Looking at the maps it could continue to increase or it could tail off as we go into Septmber and the days get shorter.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  28. 128
    Hank Roberts says:

    Jim Cross Says:
    > 25 August 2008 at 9:25 PM
    > When I go to Cryosphere Today … sea ice seems
    > to form … and dissipate

    Jim, I suspect you’re watching the change from 100 percent (white) to slightly less than 100 percent (blue). Look at the color chart on the page, and look up what “percent” they’re talking about to interpret the animation.

  29. 129
    John Mashey says:

    regarding solar cell payback periods [this is all off-topic, but since the moderators allow].

    I’s sitting in the Hot Chips Conference at Stanford, at which the keynote talk an hour ago was by Richard Swanson, CTO of Sunpower. I’m sure there are references, but this is as recent as it gets:

    Someone asked that exact question. He said:

    1)That (the idea that solar cells never pay back energy cost) seems to derive from a ~1975 article in Scientific American, but he sees it pop up in policy documents and articles to this day. It may have been true then, but not so for a good while.

    2) He says the current energy payback time is ~2 years.

    3) It will get better [he showed slides of Silicon Valley companies doing interesting things to reduce cost and energy, such as Solaicx.]

    4) Solar companies warrant modules for 25 years. The Rancho Seco PV farm has been there for 30 years and still going fine, and the packaging techniques are similar, and failure modes have been wells-studied by NREL for decades.

    5) Since ~2000, Sunpower has reduced silicon use from 15gram/W to 6 g/Watt [and energy to create the silicon is a big piece.]

    6) All of this is still fairly early in applying volume chip manufacturing expertise to solar cell expertise, and in people actually designing for solar-grade silicon, as opposed to solar using “left-over” supplies and equipment.

    7) Half the installed $ cost now is in installation; they’re working hard to reduce that, with preconfiguration, and of course with shingles/BIPV.
    =====
    SO: if energy breakeven is 2 years on warranty of 25, that’s an EROI = 12.5:1, or if they last as long as Rancho Seco so far, that’s already 15:1. Solaicz thinks they can grow crystals up to 5X more efficiently, but that remains to be seen. Still, Sunpower is a serious company, and I’ve heard Swanson before and he’s serious. So are the people at Applied Materials, so when these folks talk about expected cost curves, they have track records.

    As a swag, I don’t see why one can’t expect to get EROI = 20-40 in another decade or two.

  30. 130

    #106 Alastair, A follow up on your reasoning with respect to the melt and salinity. I think that this year will be different, because a lot of 1st year ice has melted, saltier first year ice, I dont think anyone knows how much fresh water was dumped from old ice, but I suspect that a vaster saltier 1st year melt will delay the freeze up and increase this years melt late in the season, just as a huge fresh water melt in 2007 has caused a greater freeze up. On CT the gap between 2007 and 2008 extent is vanishing more and more every day. Despite again, not so favorable conditions. I suspect some warmer air than measured at 2 meters a factor in this years melt. The physics of ice and air interactions needs very close scrutiny, if warmer air is responsible, as I think so, we have to find it.

    #126 Pat is a hero. As those who know heroes, they dont always have it easy in life, I hope our admiration to his resolute stance, incorruptable opinion, makes him feel a little better,……….

  31. 131
    Chris says:

    #124
    “The total volume of ice loss is the greatest ever”
    This is an assumption that many are making, but it’s far from proven. 2007 certainly involved the greatest volume loss in recent years: no one can dispute that large areas of multiyear ice melted away, and other areas thinned significantly. As I understand it, NASA measurements showed that average ice thickness went down to ~1.5m, from ~2-2.5m in previous years.
    But in 2008, much of the new ice was thin “first-year” ice, especially at the March 2008 maximum extent. Thus it was very low volume, and you have to take this account when assuming volume reductions. In terms of the ice now remaining, it is relatively high concentration (compared with last year) at >80 degrees north, and it’s not clear at all there’s been a further reduction in thickness in much of this area. Have a look at what the buoys say about thickness http://www.crrel.usace.army.mil/sid/IMB/newdata.htm
    Apart from the one which has drifted into open water in the Beaufort Sea, they show higher thicknesses than you would probably expect (half of them show a thickness of ~3m)

    “The now fading La Nina event cooled the N. Pacific, and kept the temperatures somewhat moderated, thereby decreasing the early summer melt”
    The La Nina event also caused the briefly high late winter ice extent on which your claim about record volume loss depends.
    Also to be technical the La Nina event is currently on a short term trend towards a comeback http://www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au/SeasonalClimateOutlook/SouthernOscillationIndex/30DaySOIValues/ (I’m *not* saying that the short term trend will necessarily continue, just a point of interest. Also bear in mind that if the PDO has really shifted into “cool” phase, we ought to see more/stronger La Ninas and fewer/weaker El Ninos)

    “Had we been in a El Nino year, you could expect that we would have had a much more severe melt even than we did”
    Perhaps, but the complete lack of any discernible effect of the 97/8 El Nino would make me less than certain of this http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.jpg

    “the current Solar Minimum for sun spots is having some net cooling effect”
    It quite likely is (by now at any event), however it didn’t prevent far northern Canada having record heatwaves in July (hence Beaufort Sea melt, following winter break-up of ice) and far northern Siberia having record heatwaves in August (hence melt in Siberian seas caused by persistent warm southerlies). In other words, it’s possible for the areas most relevant to Arctic summer ice melt to have bucked the averages on this occasion while not representing an exceptional warmth at higher latitudes taken as a whole. (Indeed MSU satellites show the area north of ~60N (“NoPol”) to have had its coldest June/July combined average since 2000 – narrowly “beating” 2004)

  32. 132

    A tad off-topic, but amusing in an if-I-don’t-laugh-I’ll-cry sort of way.

    A letter-writer in Nanaimo, B.C. (Vancouver suburb) just wrote his local paper to say that British scientists were projecting 2008 to be “the coolest in 100 years,” and wasn’t this warming swindle a bunch of hokum?

    Turns out the original BBC story was headlined “coolest this century”–meaning, of course, the 21st. So we expect to see the coolest year since–2000!

    Here’s paragraph 4 of the original: “Even so, 2008 is set to be about the 10th warmest year since 1850, and Met Office scientists say temperatures will rise again as La Nina conditions ease.” I guess our bold skeptic didn’t read that far.

    I wrote the paper to note the correction; I wonder if they will bother! As Oberon said to Puck,
    “still thou mistakest, Or else committ’st thy knaveries wilfully.”

    [Response: You will see lots of this kind of willful confusion. We should count the numbers of times various players use 'century' versus 'in the last 8 years' or 'since 2000' (or various permutations depending on how much of a stickler you are for arithmetic). I would not be at all surprised to see a number of similar 'confusions' arise. - gavin]

  33. 133
    Chris says:

    #127 “the daily melt”
    I know this is just shorthand, but you need to be careful here. Sea ice extent as I understand it measures the total area with >15% sea ice. Obviously this is affected by the compaction or otherwise of ice floes by the wind.
    Area is much better for measuring “melt” since it is, as I understand it, essentially extent times concentration. And area reduction (see Cryosphere today) in the last few days has slowed substantially, with even a couple of days of area gain, such that the average daily reduction for the last week has been ~20k. Not to mention it is still ~23% above the 2007 minimum (3.58MM vs 2.92MM) and 2007 was already at ~3.00 by this point last year. (Area tends to bottom out earlier than extent because re-freeze starts around this time close to the North Pole while compaction of ice continues for several weeks on the ice periphery)

    #130 “…I suspect that a vaster saltier 1st year melt will delay the freeze up and increase this years melt late in the season, just as a huge fresh water melt in 2007 has caused a greater freeze up…”
    Does salinity really have such a big effect? It seems to me that the greater freeze up in winter 2007/8 was caused by the colder far north Pacific SSTs, amongst other things.
    If you compare SST anomalies in the Arctic circle now compared with a year ago, they are significantly lower on average, and I would have thought this will dwarf any effects of salinity, such that (net) freeze-up starts earlier this year, rather than later.

  34. 134
    Chris says:

    #131 (My earlier post)
    “As I understand it, NASA measurements showed that average ice thickness went down to ~1.5m, from ~2-2.5m in previous years.”
    I couldn’t remember the exact figures, have now looked them up and I was slightly off: in 2007 the average thickness went down to 1.3m, from 2.3-2.6m in previous years

  35. 135

    #133, Chris. “If you compare SST anomalies in the Arctic circle now compared with a year ago, they are significantly lower on average, and I would have thought this will dwarf any effects of salinity, such that (net) freeze-up starts earlier this year, rather than later. ‘

    That is even more facinating, if true, this years melt is even more a mystery than I previously thought, but sst’s seem warmish:

    http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/climo&hot.html

    Also Ice extent spread out everywhere else last winter, not only near the Pacific, Alastair’s point still makes sense. We need to wait and see what effect this years melt has on the feeze up.

  36. 136
    R. Gates says:

    Regarding #124:

    To follow up on the approaching Solar Max event of 2012 combined with an El Nino event about the same time, has anyone seen any data (backtesting perhaps) to show the relationship between Solar Max events, El Nino events, and global temperatures? Certainly we know there is some relationship between sunspots and global temperatures (at least for the N. Hemisphere).

    This would be interesting to see…

    R. Gates

  37. 137

    Re: comment #132

    Dear Kevin,

    That was not the only thing wrong with that BBC article – I wrote to the author about the “decade of cooling” mistake and about how the “cooling” predicted was only for a small region of the Northern Hemisphere, and also about how confusing it was to write “coolest of the century,” etc.

    Never heard back from him, of course.

  38. 138
  39. 139
    Hank Roberts says:

    Maybe of interest:
    http://climatespin.blogspot.com/

    Monday, August 25, 2008
    Known unknowns on ice
    This time last week I was at Los Alamos National Laboratory for a meeting that discussed building a Community Ice Sheet Model, inspired by the success of the Community Climate System Model. (Eventually CISM will be part of CCSM). ….

  40. 140
    Hank Roberts says:

    Can we hope for more from Dr. Bitz soon?
    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~bitz/PSC_weekend.jpg

  41. 141
    Timothy Chase says:

    Chris wrote in 133:

    If you compare SST anomalies in the Arctic circle now compared with a year ago, they are significantly lower on average, and I would have thought this will dwarf any effects of salinity, such that (net) freeze-up starts earlier this year, rather than later.

    Wayne Davidson responded in 135:

    That is even more facinating, if true, this years melt is even more a mystery than I previously thought, but sst’s seem warmish:

    http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/PSB/EPS/SST/climo&hot.html

    True — but in most areas it appears that surface melt has been greater than bottom melt due to warm ocean, whereas bottom melt dominated last year.

    Please see:

    The buoy data have indicated increased amounts of melt on the underside of the ice cover in recent years; bottom melt last year was particularly extreme.

    The pattern for 2008 has been more mixed. The ice at some buoy locations has thinned by more than a meter through the melt season because of strong melt both on the surface and the underside of the ice. Other locations show strong thinning caused by surface melt, while only modest thinning is apparent in others.

    August 25, 2008
    Arctic shortcuts open up; decline pace steady
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2008/082508.html

    Wayne Davidson wrote in 135:

    Also Ice extent spread out everywhere else last winter, not only near the Pacific, Alastair’s point still makes sense. We need to wait and see what effect this years melt has on the freeze up.

    Well, personally I think Alastair’s point holds some water.

    The freezing point of sea water is about -2 C.

    Please see:

    Ask A Scientist
    General Science Archive
    Freezing point of sea water
    http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen99/gen99263.htm

    We could be two degrees cooler and still see pretty much the same given this year’s vs last year’s ice. And currently nearly all of the melting taking place is bottom melt due to warm ocean, not surface melt.

    Please see:

    Surface melt has mostly ended, but the decline will continue for two to three more weeks because of melt from the bottom and sides of the ice.

    August 25, 2008
    Arctic shortcuts open up; decline pace steady
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2008/082508.html

    Also, if numbers are correct — see what tarmov pointed to in 120:

    On topic developments,
    sea ice extent is now below 2005 minimum
    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

    -195000 km2 in two days.

    … then it would appear that the melt has been picking up for several days now. And I have noticed we have a new hurricane building by Cuba.

    Please see:

    ZCZC MIATCMAT2 ALL
    TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM
    HURRICANE GUSTAV FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 5
    NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072008
    0900 UTC TUE AUG 26 2008
    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2008/al07/al072008.fstadv.005.shtml?

    … from:

    Hurricane GUSTAV Advisory Archive
    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2008/GUSTAV.shtml?

    A number of recent papers have been implicating hurricanes as a major engine of oceanic poleward advection.

    For example:

    Here we calculate the effect of tropical cyclones on surface ocean temperatures by comparing surface temperatures before and after storm passage, and use these results to calculate the vertical mixing induced by tropical cyclone activity. Our results indicate that tropical cyclones are responsible for significant cooling and vertical mixing of the surface ocean in tropical regions. Assuming that all the heat that is mixed downwards is balanced by heat transport towards the poles, we calculate that approximately 15 per cent of peak ocean heat transport may be associated with the vertical mixing induced by tropical cyclones.

    Letters: Observational evidence for an ocean heat pump induced by tropical cyclones
    Ryan L. Sriver & Matthew Huber
    Vol 447| 31 May 2007| doi:10.1038/nature05785

    See also:

    Investigating tropical cyclone-climate feedbacks using the TRMM
    Microwave Imager (TMI) and the Quick Scatterometer (QuikScat)
    Ryan L. Sriver, Matthew Huber, and Jesse Nusbaumer
    Revised Draft, April 27, 2008
    http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~huberm/2007GC001842-pip.pdf

    Tropical Cyclone–Induced Upper-Ocean Mixing and Climate: Application to Equable Climates
    Robert L. Korty, Kerry A. Emanuel, AND Jeffry R. Scott
    15 FEBRUARY 2008
    Journal of Climate, Vol 21

  42. 142
    Shelama says:

    Another $0.02

    I’m increasingly persuaded that Pielke, Sr. is probably going to turn out to be closer to the truth concerning global warming, climate science, and probably legitimate concerns/criticisms of the IPCC and the global warming “concensus.”

    On the other hand, I believe that considering the risks and uncertainties involved that it is prudent to press for vigorous action regarding fossil fuels and the rising CO2.

  43. 143
    Steve L says:

    New update (Aug 26) at NSIDC website, with more numbers coming tomorrow. Now beyond the 2005 minimum. Odd (and neat) to get two updates on sequential days. Possibly because there’s been an increase in the number of people visiting the website?

  44. 144
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Re: 115 Amanda Eldridge
    All scientists, all the credible ones with no vested interests or the ones that haven’t been bought out by the coal and oil companies want a solution to climate change ASAP. You’re 13..you’ve got a whole life in front of you, my son’s 3y/o. I would do anything to ensure that he receives just as good if not a better life than mine, that is why all this governmental (almost all governments) dithering on this subject drives me nuts. They want conclusive proof of this and that, more studies done.., more committees, more concrete evidence that climate change actually is happening, and the more time that passes the less chance we have of fixing this dilemma. What you can do Amanda is write to your local government member like you’ve done to us and explain your concern..make these insensitive bureaucrats wake up and listen to a voice of the future of this wonderful planet..yours!!

  45. 145
    Chris says:

    #135 Wayne
    “That is even more facinating, if true, this years melt is even more a mystery than I previously thought, but sst’s seem warmish…”
    Yes I agree the sst’s are warmish in the Arctic, but if you want evidence they are significantly cooler than last year here’s a site where you can compare:
    http://sharaku.eorc.jaxa.jp/cgi-bin/amsr/polar_sst/polar_sst.cgi?lang=e
    (Note: map for Aug 08 is only up to 26th, but it seems pretty clear the difference is already established; in any event, you only need to look at the way that subzero temperatures have spread in the Arctic recently to see that the SST anomalies are not going to come close to those of 2007)
    To me there’s little mystery: 2008′s strong melt was caused by a combination of particularly thin peripheral ice and localised warm winds. At the same time, temperatures overall have been significantly lower than in 2007 (almost 1C less on average north of ~60N for June/July according to the MSU satellite “NoPol” figures) and the seas on average in the Arctic are significantly cooler. Since as you go into September, any continued melt is increasingly by the sea rather than the winds/sun, I would be surprised if the net refreeze starts later. (I say “net” because there is already evidence of refreeze recently in the Arctic Basin http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/recent365.anom.region.1.html and this isn’t just due to melt ponds refreezing, as temperatures were down to -5 to -8C for several days at the North Pole. I find the following site particularly useful to get this kind of meteorological info by the way http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/analysis/ )

  46. 146
    Chris says:

    Just a further note, here’s the link to the MSU data by region:
    http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt
    I didn’t want to make too much of it, after all remember it’s for the lower troposphere as opposed to surface, and there’s a lack of clarity over what NoPol represents – though I think it’s from 60N to 82.5N (beyond which the satellite doesn’t cover). It was just the best evidence I had to hand to illustrate my point that temperatures overall at high northern latitudes appear to have been lower this summer than last.

  47. 147

    Lawrence Coleman writes:

    No technology at present can deliver such huge quantities of base load power..nothing can!!

    Geothermal. It’s available 24/7.

    Put it this way re: nuclear waste and the possibility of it being used for malicious purposes. Should we do nothing and fart around with adhoc renewables and witness the destruction of planet earth or should we take a chance with nuclear which at least can promise clean energy and a real chance at reducing CO2 to below 350ppm and the sustainability of our earth..

    Fallacy of bifurcation and fallacy of complex question both in the same sentence! Nice going.

    I know what my 3y/o son would say!!

    I’m sure he’s echoed by three-year-olds around the world.

  48. 148

    Andrew writes:

    Silicon based photovoltaic cells are expensive because they require large amounts of electric power to refine silica into pure silicon. That electric power is produced primarily from Coal fired plants.

    That problem is self-correcting. The more PV cells produced, the more the electricity will be coming from them and not from coal plants.

  49. 149

    Re #133 where Chris wrote:

    #127 “the daily melt”
    I know this is just shorthand, but you need to be careful here. Sea ice extent as I understand it measures the total area with >15% sea ice.Obviously this is affected by the compaction or otherwise of ice floes by the wind.
    Area is much better for measuring “melt” since it is, as I understand it, essentially extent times concentration.

    You are correct. “Melt” is just a shorthand for the “difference in the daily ice extent shown on the IARC-JAXA Information system”. Other systems may give different values for ice extent, or may quote ice area. But none gives ice volume on a daily basis, which would yield a true melt value.

    When the ice is less concentrated it will be thinner. This is shown by the low concentration around the edge of the ice pack where the ice is melting. Thus a better indication of ice volume than the area, calculated by multiplying extent by concentration, would be to multiply extent by the square of the concentration, but that would still not be exact.

    However, when the ice extent reaches zero so will the ice volume, and there will be an exact correlation.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  50. 150
    CL says:

    John Mashey, at 129, wrote :

    “regarding solar cell payback periods [this is all off-topic, but since the moderators allow].”

    Hmmm. What about what this guy says ? Is it way off the mark ?

    “The current favorite for alternative energy is solar power, but proponents must close their eyes to all questions of scale. According to Gerhard Knies, the world’s deserts have an area of 36 million km2, and the solar energy they receive is equivalent to 300 ZJ (1 ZJ = 1021 joules), which at an 11% electrical-conversion rate would result in 33 ZJ. The EIA’s “World Consumption of Primary Energy” tells us that total energy consumption in 2005 was approximately 0.5 ZJ.

    To meet the world’s present energy needs by using solar power, therefore, we would need an array (or an equivalent number of smaller ones) with a size of 0.5/33 x 36 million km2, which is 360,000 km2 (140,400 square miles) — a machine the size of Germany. The production and maintenance of this array would require vast quantities of hydrocarbons, metals, and other materials — a self-defeating process.”

    quoted from http://sorrynogas.blogspot.com/

    Seems to me that if USA could reduce it’s dependence on oil, it could spend some of the 40% of tax dollars, currently going to the military, on research and development of better ways of doing things, hopefully before we all get into such a mess that nothing sensible can be organized, because we get overwhelmed by critical emergencies, the chaos of multiplying wars, refugees, famines, etc.

    “In fact, the purpose of our overseas bases is to maintain US dominance in the world, and to reinforce what military analyst Charles Maier calls our “empire of consumption.” The United States possesses less than 5 percent of global population but consumes about one-quarter of all global resources, including petroleum. Our empire exists so we can exploit a much greater share of the world’s wealth than we are entitled to, and to prevent other nations from combining against us to take their rightful share.” from

    http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2008/09/chalmers-johnson-on-pentagon.html

    I’m not anti-American. Europe is just as bad, not to mention Russia, China, etc. Once one nation goes all-out to grab diminishing resources, likely we’re all sucked into a negative free-for-all, a desperate feeding frenzy, that’ll be impossible to restrain. It’s here already, some will say, but it could get much, much worse.

    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2008/08/26/manufactured-famine/


Switch to our mobile site