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Old 10-07-2011, 09:06 PM
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Default Artic Ice Melting Opens Up Shipping Lanes Previously Impassable

Staggering Arctic map shows how impassable Northwest Passage is opening up as polar ice caps melt

By Ted Thornhill
Posted October 7, 2011

The staggering image (see first thumbnail below) shows how cracks in the ice big enough for ships to sail through have appeared across the Arctic.

The near-record summer ice melt in the region has seen shipping channels of the Northwest Passage carved open.

And scientific climate predictions have suggested that the Arctic could lose almost all of its summer ice cover by 2100 - forcing polar bears to swim more than they walk.
Melting revelation: The yellow line shows the area the polar ice caps covered 30 years ago and the red line shows the Northwest Passage shipping lanes

Melting revelation: The yellow line shows the area the polar ice caps covered 30 years ago and the red line shows the Northwest Passage shipping lanes

On September 9 the ice covering reached its lowest point this year with 1.67million square miles of snow and ice - down by 110,000sq miles on the average for September.

Joey Comiso, senior scientist at Nasa, said the continued thawing fits into the large-scale decline that scientists have watched unfold over the past three decades.

He said: ‘The sea ice is not only declining, the pace of the decline is becoming more drastic.

‘The older, thicker ice is declining faster than the rest, making for a more vulnerable perennial ice cover.’

Scientist Walt Meier explained: ‘Atmospheric and oceanic conditions were not as conducive to ice loss this year, but the melt still neared 2007 levels, which were the worst on record.

‘This probably reflects loss of multi-year ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas as well as other factors that are making the ice more vulnerable.’

The Northwest Passage connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and snakes through dozens of islands on the far north coast of North America known as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

Canada considers the route part of its territory, something that’s disputed by the U.S. and EU.

Monitoring of the Northwest Passage ice cover began in 1978.

Back then it was impassable – but the European Space Agency declared in 2007 that according to their imagery, it would be possible for a ship to sail through it during the summer months.

Over the years many lives have been lost during intrepid attempts to traverse the route, known among sailors as one of the most treacherous anywhere on the planet.

However, up until the mid-19th century, many doubted that it even existed.

British Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin, who mapped thousands of miles of the Arctic’s coastlines, was convinced it did.

Between 1845 and 48 he sent two ships, HMS Terror and Erebus, on a mission to conquer the Passage and prove it was real.

Both froze in the ice near King William Island with the loss of all 129 men on board.

Definitive proof of the Northwest Passage finally came in 1851 from Robert McClure and his ship HMS Investigator.

Although it too became stuck fast ice – and lay undiscovered until 2010 - McClure did enough exploring by sledge to show the world that the passage existed.

It was a long time before it was successfully traversed though.

The honours eventually went to Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in the Gjøa in 1905.

Now, though, the rate of melting could mean a new trade route is permanently opened up between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

In 2008 the first commercial ship sailed through the Northwest Passage and this year Scandinavian shipping firms revealed that some of their container vessels have been using the route on the opposite side of the ice cap – the Northern Sea Route – as a short cut between Norway and China.

It cuts 4,000 miles off the journey and means they can avoid pirate-infested waters near
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Old 10-07-2011, 09:15 PM
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What I find very scary about this is that now people will have an economic reason to NOT work to prevent global warming. In fact now we may have a reason to encourage it.

It seems protecting the environment is hard enough and getting even harder, especially with the global economic conditions.

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Old 10-08-2011, 08:25 AM
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Not to worry.
If the interview I heard the other night on the radio is right, in a few years the earth should enter into a cooling period. Evidently scientists expect the sun to go into a period of little sun spot activity. Who knew sun spots affected our climate. !?!
Of course given the mass of the earth, who knows how long it will take until we can expect the ice to return.
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Old 10-08-2011, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by 7Sisters View Post
What I find very scary about this is that now people will have an economic reason to NOT work to prevent global warming. In fact now we may have a reason to encourage it.

It seems protecting the environment is hard enough and getting even harder, especially with the global economic conditions.

Deep Peace
I don't worry one bit about global warming, however, there are some serious environmental concerns that get my attention, but have been eclipsed by this global warming issue.

I don't even think that the politicians that run on the GW platform care. Why didn't they make that the number one priority when they had complete control?

Not a partisan question; I have many problems with the other side as well, but you can't argue that they didn't even focus on the issue. And now, as you point out, it's even harder to focus on environmental concerns.
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Old 02-09-2012, 07:26 PM
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/environmen...iers-mountains

The Himalayas and nearby peaks have lost no ice in past 10 years, study shows


The world's greatest snow-capped peaks, which run in a chain from the Himalayas to Tian Shan on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, have lost no ice over the last decade, new research shows.

The discovery has stunned scientists, who had believed that around 50bn tonnes of mel water were being shed each year and not being replaced by new snowfall.

The study is the first to survey all the world's icecaps and glaciers and was made possible by the use of satellite data. Overall, the contribution of melting ice outside the two largest caps – Greenland and Antarctica – is much less than previously estimated, with the lack of ice loss in the Himalayas and the other high peaks of Asia responsible for most of the discrepancy.

Bristol University glaciologist Prof Jonathan Bamber, who was not part of the research team, said: "The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero."

The melting of Himalayan glaciers caused controversy in 2009 when a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change mistakenly stated that they would disappear by 2035, instead of 2350. However, the scientist who led the new work is clear that while greater uncertainty has been discovered in Asia's highest mountains, the melting of ice caps and glaciers around the world remains a serious concern.

"Our results and those of everyone else show we are losing a huge amount of water into the oceans every year," said Prof John Wahr of the University of Colorado. "People should be just as worried about the melting of the world's ice as they were before."

His team's study, published in the journal Nature, concludes that between 443-629bn tonnes of melt water overall are added to the world's oceans each year. This is raising sea level by about 1.5mm a year, the team reports, in addition to the 2mm a year caused by expansion of the warming ocean.

The scientists are careful to point out that lower-altitude glaciers in the Asian mountain ranges – sometimes dubbed the "third pole" – are definitely melting. Satellite images and reports confirm this. But over the study period from 2003-10 enough ice was added to the peaks to compensate.

The impact on predictions for future sea level rise is yet to be fully studied but Bamber said: "The projections for sea level rise by 2100 will not change by much, say 5cm or so, so we are talking about a very small modification." Existing estimates range from 30cm to 1m.

Wahr warned that while crucial to a better understanding of ice melting, the eight years of data is a relatively short time period and that variable monsoons mean year-to-year changes in ice mass of hundreds of billions of tonnes. "It is awfully dangerous to take an eight-year record and predict even the next eight years, let alone the next century," he said.

The reason for the radical reappraisal of ice melting in Asia is the different ways in which the current and previous studies were conducted. Until now, estimates of melt water loss for all the world's 200,000 glaciers were based on extrapolations of data from a few hundred monitored on the ground. Those glaciers at lower altitudes are much easier for scientists to get to and so were more frequently included, but they were also more prone to melting.

The bias was particularly strong in Asia, said Wahr: "There extrapolation is really tough as only a handful of lower-altitude glaciers are monitored and there are thousands there very high up."

The new study used a pair of satellites, called Grace, which measure tiny changes in the Earth's gravitational pull. When ice is lost, the gravitational pull weakens and is detected by the orbiting spacecraft. "They fly at 500km, so they see everything," said Wahr, including the hard-to-reach, high-altitude glaciers.

"I believe this data is the most reliable estimate of global glacier mass balance that has been produced to date," said Bamber. He noted that 1.4 billion people depend on the rivers that flow from the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau: "That is a compelling reason to try to understand what is happening there better."

He added: "The new data does not mean that concerns about climate change are overblown in any way. It means there is a much larger uncertainty in high mountain Asia than we thought. Taken globally all the observations of the Earth's ice – permafrost, Arctic sea ice, snow cover and glaciers – are going in the same direction."

Grace launched in 2002 and continues to monitor the planet, but it has passed its expected mission span and its batteries are beginning to weaken. A replacement mission has been approved by the US and German space agencies and could launch in 2016.

• This article was amended on 9 February 2012. The original sub-heading read "Melting ice from Asia's peaks is much less then previously estimated" as did the photo caption and text: "Melting ice outside the two largest caps - Greenland and Antarctica - is much less then previously estimated". These have all been corrected.
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Old 05-25-2012, 08:39 AM
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More "bad news" for those that worry about AGW.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/busine...imU_story.html

UN climate talks deadlocked in Bonn as divisions between rich and poor reopen


BONN, Germany — The advances made in U.N. climate talks last year appeared at risk Thursday as a rift between rich and poor countries reopened in negotiations aimed at crafting a global pact to stop the planet from overheating.

The session in Bonn was meant to build on a deal struck in Durban, South Africa, in December, but the talks were faltering heading into the penultimate day amid disputes over what, exactly, was agreed on last year.

Delegates were struggling to reach consensus on the agenda for future talks under the new Durban Platform, with China and others reluctant to close existing negotiating tracks that make clear distinctions between the responsibilities of developed and developing nations.

“There is distrust and there is frustration in the atmosphere,” Seyni Nafo, spokesman for a group of African countries, told The Associated Press.

The two-decade-old negotiations have had limited success in creating a global regime to rein in the emissions of heat-trapping gases which a big majority of climate scientists say are warming the Earth, with potentially devastating consequences for poor countries ill-prepared to deal rising sea levels, floods and other effects of a changing climate.

Actions taken and pledged so far fall well short of what the U.N. experts say is needed to achieve the stated goal of preventing global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius) above current levels by the end of this century.

The only existing binding treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, was shunned by the U.S. because it doesn’t impose any emissions targets on China, thus leaving out the two biggest carbon emitters on the globe. After Canada, Japan and Russia dropped out, the treaty’s second commitment period covers only about 15 percent of global emissions.

After painstaking negotiations in Durban, countries agreed to create a new pact by 2015 that would take effect five years later and include both developed and developing countries.

But the European Union said that package of decisions was at risk of unraveling because of the bickering at the conference in Bonn, which is supposed to lay the groundwork for a bigger climate summit in Qatar, at the end of the year.

“We are very concerned that the spirit of cooperation that prevailed in Durban has not carried over into this session,” EU delegate Christian Pilgaard Zinglersen told the conference Wednesday.

The EU claims China and other developing countries are backsliding on commitments made in Durban to conduct future talks on emissions cuts within the new platform.

Developing countries accuse the U.S., EU and other industrialized nations of trying to evade commitments made under previous negotiating tracks and shift responsibilities for tackling climate change to the developing world.






.
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7Sisters View Post
Staggering Arctic map shows how impassable Northwest Passage is opening up as polar ice caps melt

By Ted Thornhill
Posted October 7, 2011

The staggering image (see first thumbnail below) shows how cracks in the ice big enough for ships to sail through have appeared across the Arctic.

The near-record summer ice melt in the region has seen shipping channels of the Northwest Passage carved open.

And scientific climate predictions have suggested that the Arctic could lose almost all of its summer ice cover by 2100 - forcing polar bears to swim more than they walk.
All this alarmism about the climate only works in the short term. But it's always proven false in the long term. Polar bears was the rallying cry for the alarmists, but people are starting to see that it was not based on fact, as is the case in so many other instances.

BTW, there's an audio version of this story if you open the link. http://www.npr.org/2013/02/02/170779...ut-polar-bears







The Inconvenient Truth About Polar Bears


In 2008, reports of polar bears' inevitable march toward extinction gripped headlines. Stories of thinning Arctic ice and even polar bear cannibalism combined to make these predators into a powerful symbol in the debate about climate change.

The headlines caught Zac Unger's attention, and he decided to write a book about the bears.

Unger made a plan to move to Churchill, Manitoba, a flat, gray place on the Hudson Bay in northern Canada accessible only by train or plane. For a few months out of the year, as the bay starts to freeze, tiny Churchill boasts as many polar bears as it does people.

Unger packed up his wife and three small kids, and set out with a big bold idea. He wanted to write the quintessential requiem of how human-caused climate change was killing off these magnificent beasts.

In the end, he came away with something totally different, Unger tells NPR's Laura Sullivan.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Interview Highlights

On wanting to write the next great environmental tract


"My humble plan was to become a hero of the environmental movement. I was going to go up to the Canadian Arctic, I was going to write this mournful elegy for the polar bears, at which point I'd be hailed as the next coming of John Muir and borne aloft on the shoulders of my environmental compatriots ...

"So when I got up there, I started realizing polar bears were not in as bad a shape as the conventional wisdom had led me to believe, which was actually very heartening, but didn't fit well with the book I'd been planning to write.

"... There are far more polar bears alive today than there were 40 years ago. ... In 1973, there was a global hunting ban. So once hunting was dramatically reduced, the population exploded. This is not to say that global warming is not real or is not a problem for the polar bears. But polar bear populations are large, and the truth is that we can't look at it as a monolithic population that is all going one way or another."

On moving his family to "Polar Bear Capital of the World"

"We were in this town in northern Manitoba where polar bears literally will walk down Main Street. There are polar bears in this town. People will leave their cars and houses unlocked, and it's perfectly good form just to duck into any open door you can find when there's a polar bear chasing you.

"People use what they call Churchill welcome mats, which is a piece of plywood laid down in front of the door or leaned up against the door with hundreds of nails sticking out so that when the polar bear comes up to pad across your porch, he's going to get a paw full of sharp nails."

On Churchill's strategies for living among bears

"There are definitely polar bears that come into town; there are definitely polar bears that will eat people's dogs. But Churchill has developed an innovative polar bear alert program. The way it works is you dial a phone number — 675-BEAR — if you see a bear, and a bunch of wildlife conservation officers will come by in a truck with a bunch of guns. And they try really hard not to harm the bears, and they kind of scare the bears out of town. They have a progression that they use: First, they will fire firecracker shells; then they move up to rubber bullets; and as a last resort, they'll move up to real bullets.

"They don't want to do that. These are conservation officers so their job is to keep bears safe. Churchill also has a polar bear jail. These are for bears who keep coming into town and can't be hazed out of town. And what they'll do is they will trap these bears and put them in the polar bear jail, which is just a great big decommissioned military building. And they will give them no food, and they're given only snow to drink and then they wait until the bay freezes up. And when the bay freezes up, these bears can be released to go back out on the ice.

"[The bears] don't want to be in town, they're just waiting for the ice to freeze. But if they're a hassle in town, put them in jail, give them a short sentence, and the problem is solved."

On trick-or-treating when polar bears might be lurking around the corner

"Halloween is when you're supposed to go up with lots of food and run around with your kids. So we were up there for Halloween ... and so what they do is when you go out trick-or-treating you go out with somebody who has a gun — whether it's a police officer, or a volunteer or someone from the military.

They all come out and they help you go trick-or-treating. Now, they have one rule, which is that kids can't dress in anything white — no princesses, no ghosts — because you don't want to be dressed as something white in the darkness when there's a bunch of guys with guns looking for polar bears."
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:33 AM
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I remember when global warming was becoming a popular topic, predictions were for sea levels to rise so much that the island I live on would almost be fully underwater. Well, I still don't own water front property, and the levels around here haven't changed any perceptable amount. I don't put much stock in global warming, or even global climate change as espoused by politicians or other talking heads. The climate has always been in a state of change as evidensed by past ice ages, and the disappearance there of. In my estimation the whole subject is more complex than we realize and even scientists don't have a firm grasp on how the whole climate works. Besides, the eruption of one large volcano, which we have no control over, throws off their entire climate models. So, before I climb down off my soap box let me say.........(couldn't think of anything pithy to end with)
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:03 PM
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Read Michael Crichton's State of Fear. A work of fiction but many good footnotes
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Old 03-02-2013, 10:05 AM
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Read Michael Crichton's State of Fear. A work of fiction but many good footnotes
I've heard of this book, but have yet to read it, just don't read fiction very often. I'll have to check it out.

On the plus side I think the fear is subsiding. One day we'll all look back on these days as a new way to look at science, so it's instructional.

In other words, it's probably a good thing we experienced this mass hysteria
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