4 June 2010

As The Oil Slick Spreads, The Ice Keeps Melting and The Temperature Keeps Rising

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Cape Royds, Ross Island, Antarctica (Dan's Photo-ask before using please)

Yes, they are most definitely related.

I have been very busy reading lately. Books and papers. A presentation on the science underway in Antarctica is half finished, but I keep finding new things I just have to read right away. (I’m presenting at the AMS broadcast conference  in Miami in three weeks.)

There are some very interesting graphs and images I have stumbled onto and since the desktop folder (thankfully it’s a MAC desk top) is full, it is time to write a post and show them to someone besides science geeks.

Image from Nat. Snow Ice Data Center (NOAA) click for the large pretty version in colour.

Most of them are on the melting of ice. Arctic sea ice, Greenland ice and Antarctica ice.

Let’s start with the Arctic sea ice. The melt in late summer 2007 brought the lowest amounts ever seen in the High Arctic. How is 2010 shaping up? As the graph from NSIDC shows, we may very well be on track to break that record.

The areal extent is only a small part of the picture. There have been some recent publications that indicate that the real story is in the VOLUME of the Arctic sea ice.

A model has been developed that can estimate the Arctic sea ice volume. It’s called PIOMAS and was developed at the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory.

So, take a look at what it’s showing:

From Polar Science Center Univ. of Washington (U- Dub).

Unlike some people, I don’t just make this stuff up!

See citation in image. click for the HD version in living colour.

Oh, but wait, there’s more. That folder is full remember…

GRACE stands for Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. A major paper published in NATURE GEOSCIENCE late in 2009 shows that the PIOMAS models melting ice is not alone. GRACE data from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets speak for themselves.

It truly is amazing what we can do with satellites now. Remote sensing in Earth science is doing incredible things. If I wasn’t 50 years old, I’d go back and get a PhD in some field of Earth science and attempt to develop a new way of measuring our planet. I’m so jealous of the young people just entering grad. school in these fields.

Still more!

I just stumbled across this graphic on John Cook’s SKEPTICAL SCIENCE blog. It has updated GRACE data through 2009 into this year. If you do not have John’s iphone/iPad app you should get it. Then the  next time someone gives you one of those silly arguments from a junk science web site about why climate change is a hoax, you can quickly show them why there idea is full of bunk.

Is he done yet you ask? Is this the power point from hell?

No on both questions I hope.

You probably know that Dr. James Hansen is the head of NASA’s Goddard Inst. for Space Studies. He is also the nation’s premier climate expert. He just published a paper on the NASA GISS temperature  record. You can read the paper here.

DO read it!

From Hansen et. al. link to the paper in this post or click image to read it.

Here is the gist:

We conclude that global temperature continued to rise rapidly in the past decade, despite large year- to-year fluctuations associated with the El Nino-La Nina cycle of tropical ocean temperature. Record high global temperature during the period with instrumental data was reached in 2010. (Physicist Joe Romm points out that this comes at a time the sun has just passed a period of low irradiance)

Hansen’s papers are so matter of fact and easy to read, that they are always fascinating. He never tries to impress with fancy language. Just the science. This paper shows pretty conclusively that all the worry about cities “contaminating” the temperature record is pretty much history now.

Oh and one last graphic.

The satellite temperatures from U. A. Huntsville. Just a few miles from where I type this.

From John Christy, Roy Spencer's data at U. A. Huntsville.

The satellite derived lower troposphere temps. are currently at record levels too. This record of course, is much shorter than the surface temp. record compiled by NASA or the others compiled by NCDC or the Hadley Centre in the UK.

You might call all of these graphs the REAL COST OF OIL. Then again the birds on the Gulf Coast might beg to differ…


Note Sat June 5 2010:
Just came across a new paper published on Arctic sea ice. The authors are a “whos who” of paleo-climate experts. They conclude that Arctic ice is now at lowest levels in “several thousand years”. The abstract and citation are posted by me in the comments of this post.