Sept 21, 2010
Even within Mark Serreze’s own head, is there any consensus?
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 20, 2010 (IPS) – The carbon dioxide emissions from burning such fossil fuels have now melted the Arctic sea ice to its lowest volume since before the rise of human civilisation and dangerously upsetting the energy balance of the entire planet, climate scientists are reporting.
“The Arctic sea ice has reached its four lowest summer extents (area covered) in the last four years,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the U.S. city of Boulder, Colorado.
The volume – extent and thickness – of ice left in the Arctic likely reached the lowest ever level this month, Serreze told IPS.
“I stand by my previous statements that the Arctic summer sea ice cover is in a death spiral. It’s not going to recover,” he said.
If the global average temperature increases from the present 0.8 C to two degrees C, as seems likely, the entire Arctic region will warm at least four to six degrees and possibly eight degrees due to a series of processes and feedbacks called Arctic amplification.
A similar feverish rise in our body temperatures would put us in hospital if it didn’t kill us outright.
“I hate to say it but I think we are committed to a four- to six-degree warmer Arctic,” Serreze said.
[June 2010] The “screaming death spiral” scientist now admits he might have overstated the matter.
In a piece published this week on Wired.com, Serreze acknowledges that Mother Nature is a complicated gal. “The sea ice system surprises us,” he says. Here are a few paragraphs from the story:
In 2007, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic declined rapidly. The drop from the previous year was so precipitous that it garnered worldwide attention and media coverage. In the last couple of years, the extent of sea ice in the Arctic…has recovered. This series of events, which underscored the year-to-year variability of the measurement, has made researchers cautious about describing events in the Arctic. [bold added]
“In hindsight, probably too much was read into 2007, and I would take some blame for that,” Serreze said. “There were so many of us that were astounded by what happened, and maybe we read too much into it.”
In particular, we do not observe the large surface warming trends predicted by models; indeed, we detect significant surface cooling trends over the western Arctic Ocean during winter and autumn. This discrepancy suggests that present climate models do not adequately incorporate the physical processes that affect the polar regions.
This article was posted: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 4:03 am