Funny you should ask. That is the title of an analysis published this month in Geophysical Research Letters (subs. req’d) by four scientists from the Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle. What did they conclude?
A model study has been conducted of the unprecedented retreat of arctic sea ice in the summer of 2007. It is found that preconditioning, anomalous winds, and ice-albedo feedback are mainly responsible for the retreat. Arctic sea ice in 2007 was preconditioned to radical changes after years of shrinking and thinning in a warm climate. During summer 2007 atmospheric changes strengthened the transpolar drift of sea ice, causing more ice to move out of the Pacific sector and the central Arctic Ocean where the reduction in ice thickness due to ice advection is up to 1.5 m more than usual. Some of the ice exited Fram Strait and some piled up in part of the Canada Basin and along the coast of northern Greenland, leaving behind an unusually large area of thin ice and open water. Thin ice and open water allow more surface solar heating because of a much reduced surface albedo, leading to amplified ice melting. The Arctic Ocean lost additional 10% of its total ice mass in which 70% is due directly to the amplified melting and 30% to the unusual ice advection, causing the unprecedented ice retreat. Arctic sea ice has entered a state of being particularly vulnerable to anomalous atmospheric forcing.
In short, Santa Claus and Superman need to find a new home. Next stop for them — East Antarctica, which is probably good for another century or two.
… on the prospects for and impact of an ice-free North Pole. Or at least that is the plan!
Too bad Shepard Smith wasn’t hosting — he wouldn’t have wasted time on the global cooling nonsense!
Remember, Shepard thinks global warming deniers are a “little crazy” like some guy who got stuck in the toilet (see QUIZ: Who said, “People who deny the whole global warming thing. They’re just a little crazy.”)
I have previously debunked this absurd claim we have somehow cooled in the last year back to levels of a century ago (or even two decades ago), see Media enable denier spin 1: A (sort of) cold January doesn’t mean climate stopped warming and Breaking News: The Great Ice Age of 2008 is finally over — next stop Venus!
For another perspective, News Hounds wrote up this encounter here, “To This Day, Fox is Feeding its Audience “Proof” That Global Warming Doesn’t Exist.” I may blog on this again.
In a parting shot at the competition for its fossil fuels supporters, the uber-lame (duck) Bush administration “has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.”
- Drilling for oil and gas, even in pristine areas — hey, we’re former oil company executives.
- Leveling mountains in beautiful West Virginia — we’re all for it.
- Toxic metals from mining — bring ‘em on!
- Logging old-growth forests — what so you think forests are for?
But solar power on publicly owned desert land? We need to study that for two years. Wouldn’t want to risk a rush to clean energy. As Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, this is “the wrong signal to send to solar power developers, and to Nevadans and Westerners who need and want clean, affordable sun-powered electricity soon.”
The only upside of this lame last-minute attack on renewables is that it can be overturned on January 21.
The McKinsey Global Institute has published another terrific piece of analysis, “The carbon productivity challenge: curbing climate change and sustaining economic growth.”
MGI is best known for its comprehensive cost curve for global greenhouse gas reduction measures (reprinted below), which came to the stunning conclusion that the measures needed to stabilize emissions at 450 ppm have a net cost near zero. The new report has its own stunning conclusion:
In fact, depending on how new low-carbon infrastructure is financed, the transition to a low-carbon economy may increase annual GDP growth in many countries.
The new analysis explains that “at a global, macroeconomic level, the costs of transitioning to a low-carbon economy are not, in an economic ‘welfare’ sense, all that daunting — even with currently known technologies.” Indeed, 70% of the total 2030 emissions reduction potential (below $60 a ton of CO2 equivalent) is “not dependent on new technology.”
The final reality is perhaps the most important: