12 December 2007

New Study on Arctic Sea Ice

Posted by Dan Satterfield

I talked a lot about the disappearing Arctic ice pack in the North of 60 special. When we put it together, there was talk of the summer ice disappearing by the middle part of this century! This is well ahead of even the most aggressive climate models a few years ago.

This week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in California there was a stunning presentation about the ice. Professor Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Post Graduate School informed the meeting that the climate models were underestimating the heat being brought into the Arctic from ocean currents. He showed new projections that estimated the ice may disappear in less than 10 years!

Is he right? Dr. Mark Serraze of the Snow and Ice Data Center is an expert on the ice and he thinks these new projections are a bit fast, according to an interview with the BBC. Still, he also thinks that models forecast may not be off by much. The climate models have severely underestimated the rate of loss, and this new paper may have hit on the reason why. The ramifications may be that we do not have the time we thought we had to fix our greenhouse gas problem before we make serious changes to our climate. NASA Scientist Dr. Robert Hansen (One of the smartest climate scientists on the planet) says we could be at the tipping point. Not a point of no return, but a point at which we are going to suffer some dramatic changes. Changes that will occur no matter what we do in the future.