Arctic sea ice will be below average again this year

By Phil Plait | August 30, 2011 6:30 am

Geez, I hate to keep hitting this theme, but y’know what? It’s important.

Using a fleet of Earth-observing satellites, the European Space Agency is reporting that the ice in the Arctic circle is already retreating considerably, and will once again be below average in extent this summer. This has been going on for a few years now, which isn’t terribly surprising considering that global warming is real and that we keep seeing recent years tied or exceeding records as hottest years on record.

Here’s the map they made showing sea ice extent from June 1 to August 24, 2011:

Yikes. Back in 2007, the Northwest Passage became entirely navigable by sea (without using an icebreaker ship) for the first time in recorded history. It had already been thinning for years, but an icebreaker ship was still needed to get through all of it — that’s changed now.

Moreover, it’s not just that the extent — that is, the amount of area covered by the ice — has dropped, it’s also that it’s thinning, dropping in volume. The ice volume has decreased by unprecedented amounts as well recently.

What does this mean for the current Arctic summer?

"The minimum ice extent is still three to four weeks away, and a lot depends on the weather conditions over the Arctic during those weeks," says Leif Toudal Pedersen, a senior scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute. "Whether we reach an absolute minimum or not, this year again confirms that we are in a new regime with substantially less summer ice than before. The last five summers are the five minimum ice extent summers on record."

[Emphasis mine.]

Just to be clear: it’s OK to question the science of global warming. It’s OK to question any scientific findings, as long as that questioning is done with good intentions and in good faith (so to speak). While poking around the web I found denier sites trying to confuse the issue of sea ice extent — for example, some talking about the navigability of the Northwest Passage as far back as 2000, but not mentioning you needed an icebreaker to do it.

As usual, the evidence here is pretty clear: temperatures are increasing, sea ice is going away, glaciers are retreating, ocean levels are rising, and all the while we’re dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere while the spin doctors whirl away.

It’s maddening. But it will continue, as surely as the Earth itself turns.


Related posts:

- As Arctic ice shrinks, so does a denier claim
- Sea level rise has slowed… temporarily
- Dramatic glacial retreat caught by NASA satellite
- Case closed: “ClimateGate” was manufactured

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Pretty pictures, Science

Comments (68)

  1. I was under the impression that the Arctic melting – as it is just ice floating on water – didn’t effect the sea level.

    (Yes, I know about run-off from Greenland & thermal expansion & so on. Just curious about this).

  2. Chris

    @Hugo
    Yes the melting arctic ice doesn’t effect the sea level. Actually these weird winters we’ve been having, the really cold spells are partly caused by the melting arctic. “Hot” spot in the arctic, weaker jet stream, causes cold to spill out down here. So Canadian winters are warmer than average and US winters are colder than average.

    Oh for more info on arctic ice volume see
    http://psc.apl.washington.edu/wordpress/research/projects/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/
    And the latest on Arctic sea ice see
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

  3. M

    Hugo: To a first order approximation, the Arctic melting does not effect the sea level. If you are being precise, it does, a bit, because the ice cubes are fresh water and the ocean is salt water. (http://www.physorg.com/news5619.html). But that’s really a small effect compared to thermal expansion and land-ice melt.

    -M

  4. Konradius

    True, but it’s a clear indicator of global warming. That’s why news like this is important.

  5. Gonçalo Aguiar

    @3
    Not to mention fresh water temperature fluctuates easier than salt water, giving birth to more extreme weather conditions and the shutting down of the Gulf Jet Stream.

  6. Iddio E Scompiglio

    Obviously the cause of the ice retreating is undersea volcanoes. Or Polar bears snuggling together to produce thermally anomalous areas. Or the satellite is broken or its bad data or its a liberal conspiracy…anything but global warming!

  7. A few good videos online to watch about this :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wbzK4v7GsM&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=19&feature=plpp

    &

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGVgrRAyQmw&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=24&feature=plpp

    &

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MozcU7woNNQ&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=49&feature=plpp

    Oh plus the one that’s linked to my name as well which deals with how the warmer Arctic may have changed weather patterns – as (#2) Chris has already observed.

    (All from Greenman3610 on Youtube.)

  8. Yipee! New shipping lanes.

  9. Chris

    @8 Meng
    Not necessarily a good thing. Just imagine an oil tanker taking a short cut and running aground. It’d be a major disaster especially since how the heck do you get the clean up crews and equipment up there.

  10. Just to be clear: it’s OK to question the science of global warming. It’s OK to question any scientific findings, as long as that questioning is done with good intentions and in good faith (so to speak).

    Also I think its okay to question the solutions that are proposed to mitigate or fight Human Caused Global Overheating.

    Don’t agree with international treaties that are unfair and unenforceable? Sure.

    Don’t agree with the “carbon indulgences” of cap’n'trade? Fine.

    Think we should adopt more nuclear power and forget the hippy methods some recommend as too idealistic and unworkable. Fair enough.

    Come up with new ideas – move Earth outwards, offset it with nuclear winter, fund power stations in space, whatever .. ’bout time!

    But for pity’s sake to deny the actual physical reality, to deny what science is clearly saying!? Yeah, that’s not-so-good. :-(

    I wish the Republicans and others who take the “Don’t worry, this is not happening!” approach would accept the scientific reality and move on from there.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming – like gravity, like the Big Bang, like Evolution is fact. Period.

    What we choose to do about it? Well that’s another story.

  11. noen

    Even worse is the prospect that we will burn the Canadian tar sands. If they go you can pretty much kiss this planet goodbye and Hanson’s scenario of 1 or 2 billion humans barely surviving at the poles by the end of the 21st century will become reality. But at least we didn’t make corporations or the rich feel bad by asking them to chip in a little for their own survival.

  12. BOB

    Anybody know what the extent of ice was in the 12th century?, 9th, 5th B.C.?

  13. Trebuchet

    It’s probably worth mentioning that while melting sea ice doesn’t significantly increase sea levels, it does increase the Earth’s average albedo a bit — light normally reflected off ice and snow can now be absorbed by open water. It’s a vicious circle.

  14. Bill Nettles

    Not making a comment on global warming, but on your title.

    When there is an average, we better hope that sometimes things ARE below the average unless we want everything constant. The title is just plain, uh, journalisticly sensational, and panders to those who don’t understand statistical systems. Your post does expand the pertinent aspects.

    Maybe “Arctic Ice Volume Continues Sinking Trend.” That’s what this issue is about anyway, not whether this year or that is above or below average.

    Of course, all our kids are above average.

  15. Messier Tidy Upper

    @12. Trebuchet :

    It’s probably worth mentioning that while melting sea ice doesn’t significantly increase sea levels, it does increase the Earth’s average albedo a bit — light normally reflected off ice and snow can now be absorbed by open water. It’s a vicious circle.

    Indeed it is. I think the figures are that ice reflects 80% of the sunlight falling on it versus open dark ocean absorbing 80% of the light falling on it. :-(

    Throw in the other escalating feedbacks too such as melting Siberian (& other) permafrost releasing methane, dying rainforest becoming carbon dioxide sources instead of CO2 sinks, methane clathrates on the ocean floors decomposing and entering the atmosphere with increased overheating plus the thermal inertia factor and, I hate to say this, but I fear we’re boned. [As Bender would say.] :-(

    The AGW / HCGO picture is very gloomy indeed & getting worse all the time. Wish I knew what we could do and had something more hopeful to offer – but, alas, I don’t. :-(

  16. rob

    so what if the ice melts?

    think of all the luxury tropical resorts that will be built along the ice free coast of Greenland! yay!1!!11!!!

  17. chris j.

    i don’t think it’s okay to question the science of global warming, or of any science. it’s either science or santa claus, when it comes to discussing the arctic – or anything, really. what we mean to say is that it’s okay, even encouraged, to question rigorously the methodologies, observations, and predictions.

    the problem is that the english language does not offer ready distinctions between scientific skepticism and metaphysical doubt, a terminology gap that climate change deniers exploit.

  18. “I like ice also as an indicator of climate change for its political neutrality. Ice asks no questions, presents no arguments, reads no newspapers, listens to no debates. It’s not burdened by ideology and carries no political baggage as it crosses the threshold from solid to liquid. It just melts.”

    - Dr Henry Pollack, Geophysicist University of Michigan.

  19. Your Name's not Bruce?

    I figure it’s not a good sign that the Inuit are now seeing species for which there are no words in their language:

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1295/is_12_69/ai_n15981327/

  20. @1, @2, and @3: Melting ice doesn’t “effect” the sea level. Melting ice *affects* the sea level. Bad spelling distracts from otherwise worthwhile statements.

    God, I wish the deniers were right. Not looking forward to my few remaining years.

  21. Venture Free

    The second law of thermodynamics says that the big bang couldn’t have caused monkeys to turn into people, therefore global warming is obviously false. Why can’t you guys just admit that? The only logical reason that I can think of is that people who believe in global warming are part of a world wide conspiracy devoted to taking over the world by forcing people to use fewer resources, thereby choking the economy and eventually allowing them to buy out all of the world governments using their earnings from the insanely lucrative “science” industry. That’s the only reason that I can think of that makes any kind of sense.

  22. This image at the National Snow and Ice Data Center is updated daily. A good one to put in your daily links.

    @Trebuchet: yes, except you mean “decrease albedo”.

  23. Daniel J. Andrews

    It’d be a major disaster especially since how the heck do you get the clean up crews and equipment up there.

    The U.S. coast guard has been forthright in saying they’re completely unequipped to deal with a spill in the Arctic. And our Canadian coast guard isn’t even equipped to deal with spills from ships or for proper water quality monitoring.

  24. Anthropogenic Global Warming – like gravity, like the Big Bang, like Evolution is fact. Period.
    What we choose to do about it? Well that’s another story.

    I entirely second this comment from Messier Tidy Upper. It is deeply tedious to have to both struggle against this nonsense, and against the prevailing hysteria.

  25. James

    @17: Of course you should be able to question the science. The alternative is to just take it on faith that all measurements are recorded accurately or that all analysis is done correctly, etc. There is no room in science for faith. All science should be investigated, even and especially the science regarding global warming. As Phil mentions, it just needs to be done truthfully and in good faith.

  26. IMO, the only thing that is wrong with the headline is that it’s in future tense. As of today, JAXA-IJIS sea ice data has the ice extent at:

    4,896,563 km2

    That’s way below average–for the season’s minimum, which we haven’t reached yet. We *probably* won’t quite reach the record low minimum of 2007 (4,267,656 km2, on September 16, if you want to know)–but it’s not a given yet that we won’t. (We’ve had some quite large extent declines for the time of year recently.)

    I do think, though, that worse than a third-place finish–to use a sports metaphor–is extremely unlikely. And the 2nd-record minimum (2008) was only 4.707 million km2, which is well within reach.

    Like I said, we are currently WAY below average.

    As far as I can tell, all those doughty climate change denialists who were assuring me in 2008 and 2009 that the ice was recovering haven’t even had the decency to blush.

  27. Matt

    Still going with the alarmism, eh? The climate changes. It always has and always will. …but then there’s no money to be made from that.

    What we’re really talking about here is the business aspect of AGW and a scientific community that will see funding cut dramatically if the research isn’t twisted to reach a predetermined outcome. Let’s face it, there’s no such thing as “truth” when it comes to climate research these days. …only consideration for how any new set of findings might impact one’s political or financial situation. Pretty sad when you think about it.

    Didn’t NASA prove recently that most climate models are bogus because far more heat is escaping into space than previously thought? What about the recent CERN research demonstrating the impact of solar radiation on cloud formation? Why is any and all evidence discrediting AGW being swept under the rug?

    …just follow the money. It’s true that the oil companies have spent millions to fund research questioning AGW. But politicians have spent many BILLIONS more than that funding research where the only acceptable finding is for AGW to be found a credible threat. Ask yourselves who profits most from that.

  28. Douglas Watts

    I was under the impression that the Arctic melting – as it is just ice floating on water – didn’t effect the sea level.

    Which would mean, by definition, that eras when there were no polar ice cover did not have higher sea level than eras of large polar ice cover. Or … what happens to polar ice bergs floating south? Do they just raft onto Long Island and stay there?

  29. Yojimbo

    Interesting how similar the comments of Venture Free @21 are to those of Matt @27. The difference being that one of them was being silly on purpose :)

  30. Jeff

    the earth has been without ice caps in its history, but not recently.

    I would personally really hate to see them melt because I grew up in the midwest near Canada with those wonderful continental polar air masses, now I am in Florida with its tropical maritime air mass. I often miss that nice clean cool cP air mass and if it disappears from earth, what a tragedy.

  31. McWaffle

    So, anti-AGW findings are being “swept under the rug”? How, exactly, does being publicly released by two of the preeminent scientific agencies in the world count as being “swept under the rug”? I guess somebody forgot to CC NASA and CERN on the conspiracy emails, huh?

  32. Dutch Railroader

    Dear Matt,

    You have made the wonderfully reckless assertion that all climate researchers are corrupt. Please support this with real evidence (proof that funding agencies demanded a particular outcome, or terminated funding based on a negative funding, and so on). Simply feeling that this must be true doesn’t make it so.

    And with regards to truth, do you dispute that the CO2 atmospheric fraction has gone up by 40% due to fossil fuel consumption since the 1700′s, and that we are currently in a warming trend?

  33. Orozco

    Ah, interesting timing. Moments after reading Matt’s comment (#27) alleging widespread fraud by the scientific community in order to cash in on “BILLIONS” in funding, I find this article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/business/global/exxon-and-rosneft-partner-in-russian-oil-deal.html
    Exxon just gained access to Russian offshore oil resources which were previously useless because they were at sites where sea ice made resource exploitation difficult. Now those sites are losing ice…

    So, what was that you were saying about people pushing misinformation for economic benefit?

  34. Trebuchet

    @ no 22, Greg: Doh! Yes, of course I meant “decrease”.

  35. Dutch Railroader

    @28

    The sea level rise is due to ice on land (Greenland and Antarctica) flowing into the sea (either as ice flows or melt-water), adding to the volume of the oceans overall, plus a component of the overall thermal expansion of the oceans as they warm up. Melting of ice already floating in water (ice shelves and the arctic ice cap) does not increase the sea level.

    If you add an ice cube to your drink, the level in the glass goes up, but does not change further as the ice melts…

  36. Keith Bowden

    At the risk of being pedantic (which I do from time to time), water expands as it freezes, so the Arctic ice melting would slightly offset the rising ocean level from Greenland & Antarctica’s runoff, wouldn’t it? Just slightly. (AGW deniers please note this is not a valid refutation of human-induced rapid global overheating. HIRGO. A pronounceable acronym!) ;)

  37. Dutch Railroader

    @36

    Sorry, no. The amount of water displaced by ice is equal to its weight, not volume. An easy experiment is to take a glass of full of ice, and put in enough water so that it goes right up to the rim. Some of the ice will then float above the rim. As the ice melts completely, the water level will not change at all (a condition, though is that the ice must be buoyant, and not jammed in place).

  38. Keith Bowden

    I sit corrected. No need to apologize! :)

    But I still like my acronym!

  39. Steve Morrison
  40. Wzrd1

    @Matt #27, apparently, you missed the warming also creating more clouds, but also reflecting heat BACK to the Earth numbers. The runaway greenhouse effect.
    It’s been WELL MODELED. But ignored. It was ORIGINALLY modeled for when the sun goes red giant.
    But, you’re right! Pump ANYTHING into the atmosphere, it’s infinite and can absorb ANYTHING!
    Next week, we’ll try cyanide, it’ll be cool, the atmosphere can absorb ANYTHING!
    Of the ONLY debate GLOBALLY, save here, in the USSA, is HUMAN contribution. THAT debate has LONG been waning.
    ESPECIALLY when the “fraud” was found to NOT be fraud at all, but wasn’t well trumpeted here in the USSA, where money rules and facts fall by the wayside.
    But then, between having to shoot at people who were shooting at ME and my TEAM, I DID track this and a number of other things, while I was overseas and network response times on the hadjinet were far faster for Asian and European links than the USSA.
    And I’ll KEEP using that term as long as this once great nation keeps trying its best to emulate the rise of Nazi Germany, complete with torture and zero oversight on warrants for “national security letter” searches, wiretaps and renditions of citizens.
    I grew up in a great nation, with only a few sins. I departed for nearly 5 years, to return to one with more sins than good deeds. AND a “party” that threatens “second amendment options” as often as it claims that the first amendment means Christians only. I’m a Christian, but I’m a ULTRA conservative constitutionalist. The constitution is THE LAW OF THE LAND, not some God, not some book with mold all through it, not my underwear.
    And we, who disagree with some certain party ALSO have the same options that they threatened the populace with, experience with said “options” and the ability to hit you in the behind with those options you previously were threatening the good people of this land with.
    Then, take a page from Heinlein, only VETERANS can be citizens and vote. ;)
    Sorry, that idiocy brings out the spleen vent with a a Jupiter core pressures to be released…

  41. Bill

    12. BOB Says:
    August 30th, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Anybody know what the extent of ice was in the 12th century?, 9th, 5th B.C.?

    A 10,000-Year Record of Arctic Ocean Sea-Ice Variability—View from the Beach
    Funder, et al.
    Science 5 August 2011: 747-750.
    DOI:10.1126/science.1202760

  42. Wzrd1

    @ Messier #10, erm, WOW! I thought *I* had suggested the nuclear winter to counter global warming trends a few years ago.
    Did you steal my “suggestion”? Or did someone else? Or was it parallel thinking of absurd suggestions?
    Either way, LOVED it. :)
    It stops a room of people trying to out idiot each other cold, every time.
    And no, I DO NOT REALLY suggest things nuclear. I got to see the STILL classified pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some STILL give me nightmares, nearly 30 years later. Some STILL makes me want to puke.
    I’ll say one final thing about nuclear arms. The concept of MAD is an absurd one. It is the principle that one would use a hand grenade to defend one’s home against an armed intruder. Yes, it would work, but what would your HOME be worth after? After a meter diameter area of air is blurred, a massive compression wave from composition B erupted, then loads of metal fragments fly around to penetrate said home and intruder?
    Sagan, with his matches in the gasoline soaked room missed the boat, the hand grenade and explanation of effects is FAR more effective.
    NOBODY ever saw a room full of gasoline vapor go off.
    MANY are prior service and SAW hand grenades go off.
    A faulty technology one will never see a better example of. One throws a device that can kill for 25 meters around, yet can only BEST throw at 20 meters, typically 15 meters.

    OK, off tangent again. :)
    Save for the thought of one other oddity of military consideration:
    The nuclear hand grenade. It WAS ordered to be produced.
    A design was made. ONE creature could carry and use it: The Incredible Hulk. :)
    Of course, they DID come up with a nuclear mortar, but decided against deployment when they figured out that the soldiers would NOT launch the stupid things. :)
    I know, it was another tangent, a bit of pain, a bit of fatigue, but frankly, can any say it wasn’t somewhat interesting?
    There are other interesting things, but upon retirement, my security clearance was lowered, so I am no longer allowed to know what I know or something.
    Which aptly describes raising teens…

  43. Tensor

    @27 Matt. Hey Matt, if you could, exactly where in CERN did they actually form the clouds that showed that cloud formation effect. Oh, that’s right, no where. If you would bother to actually read the paper, you’ll find that at CERN, they found that cosmic rays can help aerosols form the seeds of clouds.

    Here’s the problem, the ingredients created did not form enough particles to account for the number of clouds formed in the atmosphere. What was found was that the number of particles formed, could only account for a tenth to a thousandth of the rate that’s observed.

    So, the climate deniers grasp at the fact that the CERN experiment produced particles. But, totally ignore the second part of the requirement. Enough particles to produce the observed number of clouds.

  44. Cynthia

    Global warming is the cause.

  45. Wzrd1

    @Tensor, CERN produced the black hole that destroyed the Earth and we’re all dead and in hell.
    Note the difference?
    Neither did I.
    Guess those idiots ARE idiots, as I initially postulated.
    NOW, if they could produce a HIGGS BOSON, I’ll be REALLY happy. :)
    Oh! wait! I’m dead, right? We’re ALL inside of the black hole or something…
    Oh well, screw it. Where is the Higgs Boson?
    No? Crapmuffins! Try again, add some energy… :D

  46. Wzrd1

    @Cynthia #45, I farted, THAT is the cause. I offer the same evidence YOU offered.
    NONE.
    EVIDENCE, THEORY. ANYTHING OTHER THAN PROCLAMATION!
    Or admit that *I* am God.
    And THEN, we’d be screwed, as God, I’d be an atheist.
    Or at least agnostic.
    Lacking faith in myself, the universe would cease to exist.
    Or something.

  47. Co2 is plant food. It’s vital to plants. Plants love Co2.
    Water is plant food. It’s vital to plants. Plants love water.

    (…..pause for effect…..)

    Now let’s talk about the little known scientific concept of….”flooding”. :(
    Climate denier talking points: If you think about them logically for more than half a second, they self-destruct all on their own.

  48. Nigel Depledge

    Bob (12) said:

    Anybody know what the extent of ice was in the 12th century?, 9th, 5th B.C.?

    Which part of “on record” did you not understand?

    Besides, the mean sea level and extent of Arctic sea ice were next to irrelevant when the human population of the entire planet was a handful of millions (less than 50 million in the 12th century, IIUC). People had the option to migrate when conditions got bad for them (well, except for serfs, who were forbidden from leaving their lord’s land but if there was no-one there to enforce this law, they would move), plus they had very little infrastructure to worry about.

    Now, things are completely different. We have several huge cities that lie close to mean-sea-level (London and New York being just two examples), and we have very little room to relocate these sorts of numbers of people. Add to this the amount of arable land that is within a few metres of sea level and the rising sea levels alone are a potential disaster. AGW is also predicted to cause major shifts in rainfall patterns, which would cause continent-wide famines as crops fail on a hitherto-unprecedented scale.

    Next time you feel like commenting, please think about what you want to say before you post it.

  49. Nigel Depledge

    @ Wzrd1 (46, 47) -
    Wow, you’re completely incoherent!

    Did you have something you wanted to say?

  50. Nigel Depledge

    Zucchi (20) said:

    @1, @2, and @3: Melting ice doesn’t “effect” the sea level. Melting ice *affects* the sea level. Bad spelling distracts from otherwise worthwhile statements.

    Ooh, good catch, I didn’t even spot that; and I’m usually the biggest grammar-nazi here!

  51. Messier Tidy Upper

    @36. Keith Bowden :

    (AGW deniers please note this is not a valid refutation of human-induced rapid global overheating. HIRGO. A pronounceable acronym!)

    I like that acronmyn and will – if that’s okay with you adopt it for future use. May its meme take off. :-)

    @48. Cedric Katesby :

    Co2 is plant food. It’s vital to plants. Plants love Co2.
    Water is plant food. It’s vital to plants. Plants love water.
    (…..pause for effect…..)
    Now let’s talk about the little known scientific concept of….”flooding”.
    Climate denier talking points: If you think about them logically for more than half a second, they self-destruct all on their own.

    Yup. That does happen so often for so many of their talking points – well put. :-)

    Flogging a dead horse but I’ll add that “plants” include weeds as well as crops.

    @43. Wzrd1 :

    @ Messier #10, erm, WOW! I thought *I* had suggested the nuclear winter to counter global warming trends a few years ago.
    Did you steal my “suggestion”? Or did someone else? Or was it parallel thinking of absurd suggestions?

    Independent invention I think. I don’t recall seeing anyone else mention the idea before – was a weird and gallows humour notion which I mentioned a long time ago in another thread on this. Not that it matters.

  52. @22. greg :

    This image at the National Snow and Ice Data Center is updated daily. A good one to put in your daily links.

    Thanks. I’ve bookmarked that. :-)

    @8. Meng Bomin : “Yipee! New shipping lanes.”

    &

    @ 9. Chris :

    @8 Meng : Not necessarily a good thing. Just imagine an oil tanker taking a short cut and running aground. It’d be a major disaster especially since how the heck do you get the clean up crews and equipment up there.

    Three words : Exxon & Valdez & spill. Click on my name for the wikipage. Imagine that happening even further north and even less accessible. :-(

  53. Nigel Depledge

    OK, I’ve not yet read all the comments, but I’m gonna play kick-the-troll anyway, even though these points have probably already been addressed.

    Matt (27) said:

    Still going with the alarmism, eh? The climate changes. It always has and always will.

    And this is relevant how?

    A significant contributing factor to the rise of modern human civilisation is the relative stability of the climate over the last 10,000 years.

    Even then, the present rate of warming is – as far as anyone can tell – unprecedented. Oh, and how does nature normally deal with substantial changes of climate? Oh yeah, mass extinctions. There’s a real possibility that human activity has already started a mass extinction, and AGW is likely only to make that worse. And that’s a completely separate issue from the impact that AGW will have on our civilisation.

    …but then there’s no money to be made from that.

    WTF? Seriously, are you still clinging on to the “climate scientists have fabricated the whole thing to get more grant money” lie?

    Climatology – as an “industry” – is probably less profitable than selling hand-made carpets (or any other handicraft you care to mention). There isn’t big money to be made from science unless you discover a new wonder-drug or invent the successor to the silicon chip. Certainly, climatologists don’t make more than a modest living from their profession. If scientists were in it for the money, they’d all have become doctors or lawyers instead of scientists.

    Your insinuation really is too tiresome.

    What we’re really talking about here is the business aspect of AGW and a scientific community that will see funding cut dramatically if the research isn’t twisted to reach a predetermined outcome. Let’s face it, there’s no such thing as “truth” when it comes to climate research these days. …only consideration for how any new set of findings might impact one’s political or financial situation. Pretty sad when you think about it.

    What’s sad is that you have such a low opinion of scientists as people, and that you have allowed yourself to reach a conclusion based on nothing more than wishful thinking and political hot air. All of the climate data indicate that AGW is real, and the models all indicate that its impact will be bad for us. Exactly how bad varies from model to model, but even the most optimistic ones suggest that it would be a good idea to do our best to mitigate the impact of AGW.

    Didn’t NASA prove recently that most climate models are bogus because far more heat is escaping into space than previously thought?

    No.

    What about the recent CERN research demonstrating the impact of solar radiation on cloud formation?

    What about it?

    A greater understanding of cloud formation does not change the fact that mean global temperatures are rising, nor does it change the fact that it is mostly our fault. Unless we can make enough clouds to reflect a substantial proportion of insolation back to space, this is irrelevant.

    Why is any and all evidence discrediting AGW being swept under the rug?

    Erm … it’s not. It simply doesn’t mean what you wish it did mean.

    To some extent, I sympathise. I don’t want fuel prices to carry on rising (petrol proces in the UK are now in the vicinity of US$8 per US gallon). I don’t want my car tax to continue to rise year-on-year unless I change my car for a hybrid or a small-engined diesel car. And so on.

    20 years ago, I did not accept AGW. The evidence I have seen reported in the science press since then has convinced me. There are glaciers in the Alps that are several hundred metres shorter than they were 80 or 90 years ago. Antarctic glaciers are moving faster than ever previously recorded. Arctic sea ice is setting new records for minimum summer extent. Sea level is on a rising trend. And so on.

    …just follow the money. It’s true that the oil companies have spent millions to fund research questioning AGW.

    Erm … that’s probably an order-of-magnitude underestimate. When your profits are in the billions or tens of billions, you can spend tens or hundreds of millions annually on “research” and PR campaigns and not really feel the pinch.

    But politicians have spent many BILLIONS more than that funding research where the only acceptable finding is for AGW to be found a credible threat.

    What utter rubbish!

    Sure, it might amount to billions over the last 20 years, but on an annual basis, it’s almost certainly no more than a few hundred million dollars globally. And most of that would, I imagine, go on equipment and travel (plus, of course, the fee that a university charges its staff for lab space and utilities, which can often amount to more than a quarter of a research grant). Certainly, the amount of money from each grant that goes to the actual researchers as salary or living stipend (for a student) is a pretty small proportion of the grant as a whole.

    The amount of money that tenured climatologists actually take home is not even small change compared to the oil-company execs; similarly, the scientist-on-the-ground would earn far more working for an oil company than they ever will at a university.

    Ask yourselves who profits most from that.

    No, why don’t you ask yourself who profits from it? But, instead of your fantasies, take on some realistic ideas about what happens to a research grant. Rather than just imagine where the money goes, why don’t you actually go and find out where it goes?

  54. Nigel Depledge

    Douglas Watts (28) said:

    Which would mean, by definition, that eras when there were no polar ice cover did not have higher sea level than eras of large polar ice cover.

    Not really. Antarctic ice cover (or lack thereof) has a direct effect on sea level.

    Similarly, the amount of snow and ice on high mountain ranges will affect sea level.

  55. A Chivers

    I now know where all that cold air shifted to this summer – Western Europe, in particular the Atlantic fringes with a large pool of cold water circulating in the Atlantic leading to the coolest summer since 1993 . http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14721082

    The jet stream has sent a succession of low pressure cells scudding across the north of the UK, bringing cool cloudy and often windy weather to the UK, Scandinavia France and Germany.
    So forgive the 200 million who live in Western Europe of not taking a particular interest in the heating up of the Artic at the moment unlike our American cousins who have been frying (except on the west coast of course). In fact many in the UK have been turning on their central heating as ground frosts threaten at night – all adding to global warming of course.

  56. C.B.

    So – it’s okay to question scientific theories, but those who question this one are “deniers”?

  57. noen

    It is ok to question scientific theories but if you question that the Earth revolves around the sun, yes, you are either a denier of heliocentrism or a four year old.

  58. Brian Too

    Regarding the ice coverage movie: It’s striking how rapidly and completely the ice disappears from Baffin Bay/Davis Straight and Hudson’s Bay.

    Of course at this time of year they are getting round the clock sunshine (or near enough), and an Arctic summer is quite warm.

  59. John Sandlin

    noen @ 58 as further thought, you can question Global Warming to your heart’s content. Once you are done questioning listen to the answers. All the AGW Skeptical questions have been covered fairly completely and the questions no longer are valid. It’s time to get some new questions or realize that version of the “Truth” and the reality of truth are not the same.

    The questions asked are trivially easy to find answers for with a few simple Google (maybe even Bing) queries and a willingness to read and understand the answers. Global Warming is a guaranteed fact. Anthropogenic Global Warming (often called Climate Change) is nearly guaranteed (as in 99.999% sure). The questions should no longer be, “Is it happening?” They should be, “What can we do?”

    Go ahead and keep questioning the science, but as long as we can tell skeptics aren’t listening to the answers, we won’t take them seriously.

    jbs

  60. A Chivers

    Hey brian
    ‘Regarding the ice coverage movie: It’s striking how rapidly and completely the ice disappears from Baffin Bay/Davis Straight and Hudson’s Bay.

    Of course at this time of year they are getting round the clock sunshine (or near enough), and an Arctic summer is quite warm’.

    True The sun still shines for roughly 14-15 hours a day now on the artic circle but they are losing 10 minutes every day the suns angle is dropping , by the autumn/fall equinox it will be 12 hours and then its all downhill. At the same time the suns angle is dropping, the shadows are lengthening and producing very little heat , you then rely on the sea continuing to melt the ice from below or warm winds blowing up from Canada or Asia to give a temporary shot.
    The minimum artic ice extent has occurred as early as September 3, and as late as September 22. The average date is September 10th so not long! .

  61. Nigel Depledge

    C.B. (57) said:

    So – it’s okay to question scientific theories, but those who question this one are “deniers”?

    Wrong. This is a strawman.

    Since you are apparently hard-of-thinking, let me explain:

    It is indeed OK to question the methodology, the statistical analyses and the conclusions of the world’s climatologists, provided this is done from a position of informed understanding and honest enquiry.

    The denialist camp, however, is using the dishonest pretence of questioning the science to delay the taking of any action to combat AGW. Either the questioners do understand the science and have some agenda of their own (e.g. anyone who is sufficiently remunerated by the fossil-fuel industries), or they do not understand the science and are simply manufacturing doubt (or propagating doubt manufactured by others) to preserve the status quo.

    Since (very roughly) 2000, the case that AGW is real has been so strong that it is no longer rational to doubt it.

  62. Orsonne Brown

    Aug 2011 Sea Ice Extent ends ABOVE 2007 level both for the average of the month AND at the End of the month. Funny how for the past few years there have been more ice than 2007 but that is swept under the glacier.

    Also swept under the glacier is the undisputed fact that the Antarctic Sea Ice is not just stable but has been expanding since 1979…

  63. Orsonne Brown

    Aug 2011 Sea Ice Extent ends ABOVE 2007 level both for the average of the month AND at the End of the month. Funny how for the past few years there have been more ice than 2007 but that is swept under the glacier.

    Also swept under the glacier is the undisputed fact that the Antarctic Sea Ice is not just stable but has been expanding since 1979…

    BTW even if humans are changing the climate by “greenhouse gas emissions” it’s a runaway train and the world is not going to reduce the emissions if anything the emissions are going to expand for the forseeable decades as the rest of world prospers and the population expands.

    So deal with it.

    For example in 2010 the following vehicles were produced: Cars: 60,343,756 LCV: 13,370,432 HCV: 3,510,681 Heavy Bus: 518,993

    China ALONE manufactured more than 18 MILLION vehicles worldwide production was almost 78 MILLION

    China’s dramatic air travel expansion:

    China is home of the world’s fastest-growing aviation market. By one estimate, air passenger traffic in China is projected to expand by nearly 8 percent annually for the next 20 years. The country plans to build 70 airports by 2020. [Source: David Pierson, Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2010]

    In 2009, China became the world’s largest purchaser of passenger jetliners, spending twice as much as the U.S. did on passenger planes. Until then China was the world’s second largest aviation market after the United States. The number of air travelers rose from 3.4 million in 1980 to 16 million in 1990 to nearly 50 million in 1995 to 67.2 million in 2000 to 85.9 million in 2002 to 120 million in 2004 to 160 million in 2006 (compared to 658 million in the United States). In 1988, 95 percent of the air passenger in China were foreigners. Today 95 percent are Chinese.

  64. Nigel Depledge

    Orsonne Brown (63) said:

    Aug 2011 Sea Ice Extent ends ABOVE 2007 level both for the average of the month AND at the End of the month. Funny how for the past few years there have been more ice than 2007 but that is swept under the glacier.

    And every year since 2007 has still had less Arctic ice than every year before 2006. Why do you think your statement might mean something?

    Does the concept of the record low in 2007 escape your understanding?

    Also swept under the glacier is the undisputed fact that the Antarctic Sea Ice is not just stable but has been expanding since 1979…

    Antarctic Sea Ice? What, like the Ross Ice Shelf that lost at least a third of its area a few years back?

    That “Antarctic sea ice is expanding” is the very opposite of an undisputed fact – it is a lie.

  65. Nigel Depledge

    Orsonne Brown (64) said:

    BTW even if humans are changing the climate by “greenhouse gas emissions” it’s a runaway train and the world is not going to reduce the emissions if anything the emissions are going to expand for the forseeable decades as the rest of world prospers and the population expands.

    So deal with it.

    OK, where do you suggest the entire population of Bangladesh relocate to? Where do you suggest we relocate London to? Or Manhatten? Or New Orleans? Or, come to think of it, any of the dozens of other coastal cities that are very close to the current sea level?

    Where do you suggest the UK relocates the entire population of East Anglia? We’re already the second- or third- most densely-populated country in the world. We don’t have any spare land on which to build houses and grow crops, so what is your proposed solution?

    BTW, even if GW isn’t caused by human activity, it still makes more sense to address it and do something about it than not.

  66. Messier Tidy Upper

    @63. Orsonne Brown :

    Aug 2011 Sea Ice Extent ends ABOVE 2007 level both for the average of the month AND at the End of the month. Funny how for the past few years there have been more ice than 2007 but that is swept under the glacier.

    That’s not quite right. Ice area may have been slightly more – note the emphasis upon “slightly” there – but the volume of ice was less.

    See :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nruCRcbnY0&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=60&feature=plpp

    & also :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Has-Arctic-sea-ice-recovered.htm

    for more info and explanation of this.

    Also swept under the glacier is the undisputed fact that the Antarctic Sea Ice is not just stable but has been expanding since 1979…

    Where did you hear that? Unfortunately, that’s just NOT the case – see :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice.htm

    Aside from the collapse of several ice sheets – as (#65.) Nigel Depledge has mentioned earlier; Antartica is losing ice mass on land too. :-(

  67. Messier Tidy Upper

    On the direct topic here -and how it’s already been debunked see :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/cosmic-rays-and-global-warming.htm

    Which notes among other things :

    ..a comparison of neutron monitor measurements, Beryllium 10 and Carbon 14 isotopes (both proxies for cosmic radiation) with global temperatures found that cosmic rays “have been in the opposite direction to that required to explain the observed rise in global mean temperatures” (Lockwood 2007). Regardless of whether cosmic rays help form clouds, the trend in cosmic radiation is opposite to that required to cause warming.

    See also this Youtube clip by Potholer54 :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoSVoxwYrKI&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLA4F0994AFB057BB8

    with the cosmic ray section starting at about the 6 minute 40 seconds mark.

    @64. Orsonne Brown :

    BTW even if humans are changing the climate by “greenhouse gas emissions” it’s a runaway train and the world is not going to reduce the emissions if anything the emissions are going to expand for the forseeable decades as the rest of world prospers and the population expands.
    So deal with it.

    How do you suggest we – the world – deal with it exactly?

    Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating (HIRGO) has some pretty appalling consquences as far as prosperity and population growth go. The poorest nations will be among the worst effected and the least able to cope.

    There’s a videoclip I’d advise you to watch on that too :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NJEouqefis&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=46&feature=plpp

    A world that’s been artificially overheated that has more severe droughts, more famines, less stable and reliable water supplies, rising seas, diseases such as maleria spreading to new areas and populations, worse storms and soon will likely be a world with lots more wars and human suffering too. :-(

    How do we deal with that?

    Well, the first step is understanding what’s happening, accepting the reality rather than pretending it’s just not happening and then thinking ahead and preparing accordingly. Doing that may well save lives and prosperity or at least mean our economies suffer less and fewer people die.

    Please seriously consider that for a while.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »