Climate Donkey

June 27, 2008

Recycled! The North Pole will be ice-free in xxx years…

Disingenuous headline and Drudge highlighting it. Exclusive: No ice at the North Pole
This story has been recycled over and over and is hardly an “exclusive”.

April 2008: Lifted quotes or new ones? from Mark Serreze…see below.

All of the stories about the North Pole being ice-free blame climate change. Well, technically that is correct, there is indeed a change in climate in the Arctic. However, to say it is simply a result of global warming is an incomplete statement. There are glimmers of understanding in some of the articles, as I shall point out, as well as some misinformation.

Loss Arctic ice would not contribute significantly to rising sea levels – one of the most feared predictions of global warming. When floating ice melts, it does not raise the water level.

But first a timeline of headlines:
Sept 20, 2006: Arctic ice melt shocks scientists

The obligatory polar bear picture from the article: sdf

But this year’s images are unprecedented, and fierce storms that fragmented and scattered already thin pack ice may be to blame, the scientists believe.

March 16, 2007: Forecast: An iceless Arctic summer
Sept 14, 2007: Satellites witness lowest Arctic ice coverage in history History means since 1978 !
Dec 12, 2007: Arctic Sea Ice Gone in Summer Within Five Years?

What happens in the Arctic has implications for the rest of the world. Faster melting there means eventual sea level rise and more immediate changes in winter weather because of less sea ice…In the United States, a weakened Arctic blast moving south to collide with moist air from the Gulf of Mexico can mean less rain and snow in some areas, including the drought-stricken Southeast, said Michael MacCracken, a former federal climate scientist who now heads the nonprofit Climate Institute.

This is nonsense. The Arctic is completely ice covered during the fall and winter months and well into the spring. It would take an orbital change of the Earth or a change in its tilt to change this fact. The drought connection is simply bad meteorology and ridiculous.

Tipping Point

NASA scientist James Hansen, the lone-wolf researcher often called the godfather of global warming, on Thursday was to tell scientists and others at the American Geophysical Union scientific in San Francisco that in some ways Earth has hit one of his so-called tipping points, based on Greenland melt data

Last year, Cecilia Bitz at the University of Washington and Marika Holland at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado startled their colleagues when they predicted an Arctic free of sea ice in just a few decades. Both say they are surprised by the dramatic melt of 2007.

Bitz, unlike others at NASA, believes that “next year we’ll be back to normal, but we’ll be seeing big anomalies again, occurring more frequently in the future.”

Everyone is always surprised.

And that normal, she said, is still a “relentless decline” in ice.
April 25, 2008: North Pole could be ice free in 2008
April 27, 2008: ABC News: North Pole Could be Ice-Free in 2008

“The set-up for this summer is disturbing,” says Mark Serreze, of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

But, this does not sound so disturbing:

Despite its news value in the media, the North Pole being ice free is not in itself significant. To scientists, Serreze points out, “this is just another point on the globe“. What is worrying, though, is the fact that multi-year ice – the stuff that doesn’t melt in the summer – is not piling up as fast as Arctic ice generally is melting.

Moreover, an atmospheric phenomenon known as the Arctic oscillation kicked into its strong, “positive”, phase this winter. This is known to generate winds which push multi-year ice out of the Arctic along the east coast of Greenland.

So, it is not global warming or what? It is ferocious storms and the Arctic oscillation climate pattern.

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