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Why is Arctic ice melting 50 years too fast?

HowStuffWorks

This is an excellent article to give you some background on the recent announcement about the increasing speed of Arctic ice melting.  In August, a survey of scientists funded by Japan announced that the Arctic is melting much faster than current climate models indicate that they should.

Many people that read this site know that I am very critical of climate models and their inaccuracies.  I have discussed them many times before and have called for more funding to better understand this science. I have received complaints before on this subject accusing me of siding with the oil industry and nothing could be farther from the truth. My basic tenet for this site is that we simply do not understand what is going and we need to spend time reading more and our scientists need to spend time working harder to figure all of this out.  The climate is a very complicated thing and I would bet money that we don’t understand more than 20% of all its intricacies. I am confident that in 100 years, our great-grandchildren will read about our limited capability in this area and be amazed at how antiquated we are.

There is one blatant misunderstanding in the article that I must point out.  Since sea-ice is floating, the melting of it will not and cannot raise the level of water significantly since it is floating. Floating ice must displace less than its own weight in water (or else it doesn’t float).

I said above that I have written about other problems with climate models.  Here is a reading list:
THE CHANGING ARCTIC: A RESPONSE TO FREEMAN DYSON?S “HERETICAL THOUGHTS”
Simple model for Global Warming
Global warming forecast predicts rise in 2014
Smog may speed up global warming
Rising temperatures “will stunt rainforest growth”
Statistics needed

On Aug. 19, 2007, a joint survey by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency revealed that Arctic ice was melting at a far quicker rate than anticipated. What’s particularly alarming about this discovery is that the United Nations‘ scientific models anticipated that the ice levels measured by the Japanese team would not be reached until after 2040 — and possibly not until 2050.


The Arctic saw another milestone in the summer of 2007. In August, the Northwest Passage had almost no floating ice. It was the first time the Passage had been completely open to shipping since people started keeping records in 1972. Scientists say that the lack of ice represents clear proof that the planet is warming. The now-open sea lane means that someone could sail from New York to Korea without encountering any ice, though bad weather is always possible. In comparison, the first explorer to navigate the Northwest Passage successfully, Roald Amundsen, took three years to get through the waterway’s thick ice.


This record pace of Arctic ice melt has scientists concerned about rising sea levels, diminished habitats for polar bears and other animals and an impending rush for fossil fuels in the region.


Sea ice plays an important role in keeping temperatures down around the world. Whereas sea ice reflects 80 percent of sunlight back into the atmosphere, ocean water absorbs 90 percent of sunlight [source: National Snow and Ice Data Center]. As melting ice exposes more ocean to direct sunlight, scientists expect water temperatures to rise, accelerating the ice melt.

Read the rest of this excellent article here.

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