Arctic Sea Ice Melt — Like Leaving the World’s Refrigerator Door Open

Sea ice 1979 v 2012


Before the GOP climate deniers die there won’t be enough ice in the Arctic to shake a good martini in, though that will be the least of their, and our, problems.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Monday that the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.58 million square miles and is likely to melt more in the coming weeks. That breaks the old record of 1.61 million square miles set in 2007.

While melting Arctic ice, by itself, won’t significantly move sea levels -as melting Antarctic or Greenland ice, running off of landmass into the ocean, will– plenty of other problems will occupy inventive minds.  The melt, while the cause of some events,  described below, is also the result of other causes, which are having results other than ice melt.

“Why do we care?,” Abdalati, an ice scientist, asked. “This ice has been an important factor in determining the climate and weather conditions under which modern civilization has evolved.”

Scientists sometimes call the Arctic the world’s refrigerator and this is like leaving the fridge door open, Scambos said.

“This is kind of a knob on global weather,” Wagner said. “We don’t know the impact yet” of fiddling with it.

Scientists say Arctic sea ice helps moderate temperatures further south in the winter and summer. A study earlier this year in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters linked some of the factors behind Arctic sea ice loss to higher probabilities of extreme weather “such as drought, flooding, cold spells and heat waves.”

Read more at SF Gate


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