Arctic sea ice shrinks to third lowest area on record
Canada to become global power thanks to climate change :hail::canada:
Arctic sea ice shrinks to third lowest area on record
By Karin Zeitvogel (AFP) – Setember 15, 2010
WASHINGTON — Arctic sea ice melted over the summer to cover the third smallest area on record, US researchers said Wednesday, warning global warming could leave the region ice free in the month of September 2030.
Last week, at the end of the spring and summer "melt season" in the Arctic, sea ice covered 4.76 million square kilometers (1.84 million square miles), the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center said in an annual report.
"This is only the third time in the satellite record that ice extent has fallen below five million square kilometers (1.93 million square miles), and all those occurrences have been within the past four years," the report said.
A separate report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that in August, too, Arctic sea ice coverage was down sharply, covering an average of six million square kilometers (2.3 million square miles), or 22 percent below the average extent from 1979 to 2000.
The August coverage was the second lowest for Arctic sea ice since records began in 1979. Only 2007 saw a smaller area of the northern sea covered in ice in August, NOAA said.
The record low for Arctic sea ice cover at the end of the spring and summer "melt season" in September, was also in 2007, when ice covered just 4.13 million square kilometers (1.595 million square miles).
Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC, said climate-change skeptics might seize the fact that Arctic sea ice did not hit a record-low extent this year, but said they would be barking up the wrong tree if they claimed the shrinkage had been stopped.
"Only the third lowest? It didn't set a new record? Well, right. It didn't set a new record but we're still headed down. We're not looking at any kind of recovery here," he told AFP.
In fact, Serreze said, Arctic sea ice cover is shrinking year-round, with more ice melting in the spring and summer months and less ice forming in the fall and winter.
"The Arctic, like the globe as a whole, is warming up and warming up quickly, and we're starting to see the sea ice respond to that. Really, in all months, the sea ice cover is shrinking -- there's an overall downward trend," Serreze told AFP.
"The extent of Arctic ice is dropping at something like 11 percent per decade -- very quickly, in other words.
"Our thinking is that by 2030 or so, if you went out to the Arctic on the first of September, you probably won't see any ice at all. It will look like a blue ocean, we're losing it that quickly," he said.
Losing sea ice cover in the Arctic would affect everything from the obvious, such as people who live in the far north and polar bears, to global weather patterns, said Serreze.
"The Arctic acts as a sort of refrigerator of the northern hemisphere. As we lose the ice cover, we start to change the nature of that refrigerator, and what happens up there affects what happens down here in the middle latitudes," he said.
"We might have less cold outbreaks, which you might say is a good thing, but it's not such a good thing in regions that depend on snowfall for their water supply."
NOAA noted in its report that the first eight months of 2010 were in equal first place with the same period in 1998 for the warmest combined land and ocean surface temperatures on record worldwide, and the summer months were the second warmest on record globally, after 1998.
and rolling onward :bowl:
Canada to become global power thanks to climate change
By Randy Boswell, Postmedia News September 15, 2010
Photograph by: Darren Francey, Calgary Herald, and MCT, Postmedia News
A top U.S. geographer says Canada will emerge as a major world power within 40 years as part of a climate-driven transformation of global trade, agriculture and geopolitics highlighted by the rise of the "Northern Rim" nations.
UCLA scientist Laurence Smith, whose previous studies have documented the toll that climate change is taking on Arctic ecosystems and communities, examines the full range of effects of global warming -- many of them positive for places such as Canada -- in his new book The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future, to be released next week.
Along with climate change, Smith identifies population growth, looming resource scarcity and global economic integration as the key forces shaping the planet's immediate future.
"In many ways, the New North is well positioned for the coming century even as its unique ecosystem is threatened by the linked forces of hydrocarbon development and amplifi ed climate change," states Smith, who describes in a UCLA-issued summary of his book how climate field research in Arctic communities exposed him to both the costs and benefits of a rapidly changing northern environment.
The book, to be released Sept. 23, suggests Canada and the other "NORCs" -- Northern Rim Countries -- are poised to become polar tigers similar to how several smaller Asian countries emerged in recent decades as powerhouse Pacific Rim economies.
Arctic oil and gas deposits are seen as key to catapulting Canada into a higher income bracket in the global community.
Projected population growth is also seen as central to the rise of his "New North" on the world stage.
"As worldwide population increases by 40 per cent over the next 40 years, sparsely populated Canada, Scandinavia, Russia and the northern United States will become formidable economic powers and migration magnets," states the UCLA summary of Smith's vision.
"While wreaking havoc on the environment, global warming will liberate a treasure trove of oil, gas, water and other natural resources previously locked in the frozen North, enriching residents and attracting newcomers."
Those resources will become available "precisely at a time when natural resources elsewhere are becoming critically depleted, making them all the more valuable."
Smith, a professor of geography and earth sciences, gained recognition in 2005 when he led a scientific study documenting the late-20th-century depletion or disappearance of hundreds of Arctic and sub-Arctic lakes around the world, a result of warming global temperatures and rapidly changing hydrological conditions in northern countries.
But Smith contends that countries in southern climes will have to contend with far greater pressures on scarce water resources and will face a host of other wrenching, climate-driven social changes that northern nations will largely escape.
"In many ways, the stresses that will be very apparent in other parts of the world by 2050 -- like coastal inundation, water scarcity, heat waves and violent cities -- will be easing or unapparent in northern places," Smith states. "The cities that are rising in these NORC countries are amazingly globalized, livable and peaceful."