There is no question that our climate has changed slightly compared to 20 years ago. Most of the data points to increases of temperature and the most significant (and obvious if you are in the Arctic) is the diminished amount of ice in the Arctic Ocean. While there is some question as to the cause of this melting (see my ocean currents article), there is little question that it is occurring.
This article discusses some of the observations that scientists have seen regarding the ice melt and some possible repercussions. The article is somewhat refreshing though in that it focuses on what can be observed rather than focusing on what might be causing the warming. Since it was so evenly reported, I felt it was of significant interest to my readers.
I think it is fantastic that we are sending scientists to do these real world studies. I have been a strong critic of using climate models with huge numbers of assumptions as tools to influence political conversations (as have others with better credentials than I have). What we need are real measurements that can be scientifically validated – not algorithmic extrapolations of assumptions.
Icecaps around the North and South Poles are melting faster and in a more widespread manner than expected, raising sea levels and fuelling climate change
The International Polar Year (IPY) survey found that warming in the Antarctic is “much more widespread than was thought,” while Arctic sea ice is diminishing and the melting of Greenland’s ice cover is accelerating.
Preliminary findings from the two year survey by thousands of scientists revealed new evidence that the ocean around the Antarctic has warmed more rapidly than the global average, the World Meteorological Organisation and the International Council for Science said in a statement.
Meanwhile, shifts in temperature patterns deep underwater indicated that the continent’s land ice sheet is melting faster than reckoned.
Shrinking sea ice was expected around Antarctica, while Arctic sea ice decreased to its lowest level since satellite records began.
Special IPY expeditions in the Arctic in 2007 and 2008 also found an “unprecedented rate” of floating drift ice.
Vegetation and soil were changing in the region, with shrubbery taking over grassland and tree growth shifting according to changing snowfall, while insect infestation increased and species move from lower latitudes into polar regions.
Those shifts also disrupted native animals, hunting and local livelihoods, while building was taking place in previously uninhabited areas, the scientists found.
The survey around both poles was the first of its kind for half a century, revisiting areas that have not been seen since the 1950s and mobilising 10,000 scientists around the world.
You can read the rest of the article on AFP.