WunderBlog Archive » Dr. Ricky Rood's Climate Change Blog

Category 6 has moved! See the latest from Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson here.

Nobel, Stories, Sea Ice North (The End)

By: Dr. Ricky Rood, 10:04 PM GMT on October 14, 2007

Nobel, Stories, Sea Ice North – The End

First I will finish the northern sea ice, then below, I have a question that I need help with, and I can’t ignore the Nobel Prize.

The last two blogs have been about the sea ice in the northern and southern oceans. I started down the path because of the discussion in earlier blog comments that suggested the observations of sea ice stability and growth in the southern hemisphere challenged the basic ideas of global warming. This will be the last blog on the North, and I think I’ll wait awhile for the South. The carry away points – the summer trend of melting in the northern summer is strongly correlated with increased infrared radiation, which is associated with more moisture in the air, and warmer temperatures. Other points were how the balance of sea ice and sea water were related to more than just air temperature. The links to the old blogs are at the end.

This blog is a little more about the idea of whether or not there is a tipping point. One significant event would be if the sea is warmed enough in the summer that ice formation in the winter was reduced. Then spring and summer would see less ice, more water would be exposed, and because water absorbs more solar radiation than ice, the sea warms. Going into the winter the sea water is warmer, ice formation is delayed, and there is less ice in the winter. Because the ocean is good at holding heat, it would take a long time to recover from this. As reported by Walter Meier, Julienne Stroeve, Florence Fetterer, and Ken Knowles, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, in the September 9, 2005, EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, there is, recently, a trend in the winter sea ice. They also report that the wintertime ice reductions occur in the entire Arctic basin, on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides. The occurrence of the reductions throughout the basin is a piece of evidence that the reductions are not due to some sort of atmospheric circulation anomaly, such as the Arctic Oscillation. (Yes, 2007 was not another winter record low, but it would be hard to say it started a recovery. See here.)

Figure 1: Wintertime Growth of Arctic Sea Ice

There is substantial evidence that the decrease of the Arctic sea ice is due to a systematic warming of the northern high latitudes. Because the northern pole is covered with water, not land, it is especially sensitive to global warming. Both the ocean and the atmosphere are able to carry heat to the pole. This balance of sea ice and sea water is complex, and it is susceptible of change. Once the balance is shifted away from ice towards water, sea water absorbs heat that sea ice would reflect and the warming is further accelerated. The fact that the north pole is, first and foremost, a maritime environment explains the large difference in the predictions for the north and the south. It also means that to think of the north and south as analogues to be compared for consistency is not a justified assumption.

Changing Subjects:
I have this idea that I have been promoting and getting some traction. Climate Stories. It is a collection of personal stories, perhaps, oral histories. This is a nuance of the traditional folk history, because rather than looking to the past at something that is disappearing, we are acting on a prediction of big changes. And – at the same time our parents, grandparents, and we have lived through a heap of CO2 increase and temperature increase. We have a lot to talk about. I need some test stories for the person developing the collection software. The farther away and the more remote, the better. Hoping to find a few through the blog here. Don’t be shy.

Nobel Prize: Everyone has talked about the Nobel Prize – and you know I don’t usually talk about what everyone is talking about. A couple of things. Almost exactly two years ago, I spent some time with Al Gore. What struck me was his true passion about climate change, the environment in general, and his sense of humor. Every one walked out of the room thinking this was a different man than the one we saw campaigning. He and his organization consume information from all aspects of climate science and climate change. They do a good job of turning it in the material that they produce. People with such passion are a marvel to me. As for the IPCC, in my earliest blogs I talked about the breadth and the rigor of the IPCC. Yes, the Nobel Prizes often make a statement. They are always made with merit. This is more than a significant honor.

The Sea Ice Blog Collection

Sea Ice in the North

Sea Ice North and South

Links to some relevant old blogs
The End of Ice
Fast Ice 1
Warm Snow

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.