Tag Archives: Arctic

Cryosat has released its first seasonal variation map, tracking the growth of the Arctic icecap for the winter of 2010-2011.

Cryosat has released its first seasonal variation map, tracking the growth of the Arctic icecap for the winter of 2010-2011.

The video at the link is quite interesting to watch. Note however that the press information says nothing about whether the icecap was larger or smaller than expected, something that probably is not surprising. It will probably take decades of further work to get the true context of these results.

The new Arctic ozone hole

An interesting and very informative paper was published by the American Geophysical Union this past Saturday, entitled “Arctic winter 2010/2011 at the brink of an ozone hole.” The first paragraph of the introduction essentially summed up the paper’s key points:

Large losses of Arctic stratospheric ozone have been observed during winter 2010/2011, exceeding observed losses during cold winters over the past decades, characterized as the first Arctic Ozone Hole. Although in general Arctic ozone is expected to recover because of the reductions in ozone depleting substances as a result of the Montreal Protocol and its amendments, the observation that apparently the cold Arctic winters in the stratosphere have been getting colder over the past decades raises some concern that Arctic ozone depletion may worsen over the next decades if the cooling trend continues while concentrations of ozone depleting substances remain sufficiently high. [emphasis mine]

Two important take-aways:
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Two climate papers of interest

When I appear on radio and am talking about climate change, I often get the same questions over and over.

  • Is the climate warming?
  • If so, is human behavior an important factor for causing that warming?
  • How much does the sun influence climate change?
  • Is the ozone hole linked to climate change?

The truth is that, right now, no one can really answer any of these questions with any certainty. While a large majority of climate scientists might be convinced the Earth is warming and that human activity is causing this warming, the public has great doubts about these claims, partly because of the untrustworthy behavior of many of these climate scientists and partly because the science itself is often confusing.

We simply don’t yet have enough data. Worse, much of the data we do have is tainted, unreliable because of the misconduct and political activism of the very climate scientists who are trying to prove the case for man-made global warming.

Two new papers, published today in Geophysical Research Letters, add some interesting but small data points to this whole subject.
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Arctic ozone loss at record level

The ozone levels over the Arctic this past year were the lowest on record, caused by unusually cold temperatures.

No records for low temperature were set this year, but the air remained at its coldest for an unusually long period of time, and covered an unusually large area. In addition, the polar vortex was stronger than usual. Here, winds circulate around the edge of the Arctic region, somewhat isolating it from the main world weather systems.

“Why [all this] occurred will take years of detailed study,” said Dr. [Michelle] Santee [from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory]. “It was continuously cold from December through April, and that has never happened before in the Arctic in the instrumental record.”

Wither the Arctic Icecap?

In a paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters, climate scientists have estimated the distribution and trends for the Arctic icecap from 1980 through March 2011. What they have found is a significant decline in older ice on top of an overall declining trend that showed a strong but partial recovery since 2008. The graph below, from the paper, illustrates clearly these trends.

Arctic Ice, 1980 - 2011

What this means for the icecap itself remains unclear. As the scientists themselves note in their conclusion:
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Lost British ship found in Arctic after almost 150 years

Using sonar equipment Canadian archeologists have detected the underwater remains of the British ship Investigator, abandoned in the Canadian archipelago of islands by Captain Robert McClure and his crew in 1853. McClure had been sent out to both find the Northwest Passage as well as locate the missing Franklin expedition. As winter had set in in September 1851, however, McClure had anchored the ship for refuge in a bay he named Mercy Bay on the coast of Banks Island. As Pierre Berton noted in his wonderful history of the exploration of the Arctic in the 1800s, The Arctic Grail, Mercy Bay was not a refuge but “a cul-de-sac in which the crew would be confined for the next two years and from which the ship itself would never be freed.” Now, that ship has been rediscovered after almost 150 years.