Sea ice in the Arctic reached a record low this summer, accelerating a melting trend evident for a quarter-century, US government scientists have reported.
The extent of Arctic sea ice typically reaches a minimum in September each year. And between 16 and 21 September this year, there were just 5.3 million square kilometres, 20% less than the average since 1978.
Hmmm, sound pretty bad.
The figure is probably the lowest for at least a century, says Julienne Stroeve of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) of the University of Colorado at Boulder, which collated satellite data supplied by NASA since 1978.
Ok, now I'm a bit confused. What happened a century ago that caused this? Or, if we don't know what it was a century ago but expect this much variation then why is this a problem? Of course the article doesn't say and blithely proceeds with:
The data reveal that the rate of disappearance of ice has now risen to an average of 8% per decade. The figures reinforce previous forecasts that the Arctic is likely to be free of ice during most summers by about 2080.
So we apparently have some degree of natural variation in the past, but are predicting a straight line in the future. Ok...
The researchers say that, after four years of record low sea ice, the trend can no longer be dismissed as a result of short-term variability. 'The one common thread is that Arctic temperatures have increased in recent decades,' said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado.
So far this year, the Arctic has been 2 to 3°C warmer than the 50-year average. And spring melting this year began 17 days earlier than usual.
How much variation is there against that average? Guess that's a secret that we don't need to know about. Of course their couldn't be any other explanations out there though.
There remains a question mark over whether the warming is tied to some natural long-term cycle, such as the Arctic Oscillation, which brings warmer air across much of the Arctic. But while the oscillation is currently in a warm phase, this has not increased during the past four years and the suspicion is growing that climate change caused by human activities is to blame.
Ok, because the oscillation has stayed in a warm phase for the past four years we can safely discount it as being the cause of this? Huh? I would think that four years of being in the warmer oscillation phase would lead to increasingly warm temperatures, but perhaps that is just my foolishness.
This is exactly the sort of thing that frustrates me about global warming and the reporting about it. Almost every article I read assumes that I am an idiot. I will freely admit that I'd don't understand global climate. I will agree that their could be reasons that the things that are reported that don't seem to make any sense are in fact accurate. Could any of these reports at least try to explain it however?
My basic beliefs on global warming remain unchanged. The scientific evidence that I have seen seems to pretty clearly indicate that the global climate is changing and the we are in a warming trend.
How warm it will get and what the effects of that warming will be seem to me to be entirely unknown.
The hypothesis that this is human caused, while not non-sensical, seems to be much weaker to me.
Lastly, even if those who claim it is human caused, and that the effects will be dire indeed, are correct we don't know enough to begin to address how to combat this. Kyoto wouldn't do anything at all, (except hurt us economically) even if it was politically feasible.
That doesn't mean research is a bad idea though. I think human control over global climate would be a great thing, something we should strive toward whether global warming is a problem or not.