[Vision2020] NOAA Confirms Dramatic Sea Ice Loss

lfalen lfalen at turbonet.com
Mon Sep 10 10:52:29 PDT 2007

Look on the bright side.  A complete opening of the Northwest Passage would cut 2500 miles off of the journey from Europe to Asia.
-----Original message-----
From: "Ted Moffett" starbliss at gmail.com
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2007 13:03:41 -0700
To: "MoscowVision 2020" vision2020 at moscow.com
Subject: [Vision2020] NOAA Confirms Dramatic Sea Ice Loss

> *NOAA researchers confirm predictions of dramatic sea ice loss *
> http://www.technewsworld.com/story/A0OHya0BOvEw9B/Study-Confirms-Shrinking-Levels-of-Arctic-Sea-Ice.xhtml
> Associated Press Writer
> ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Computer predictions of a dramatic decline of sea
> ice in regions of the Arctic are confirmed by actual observations, according
> to scientists for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
> The Seattle-based researchers reviewed 20 computer scenarios of the affects
> of warming on sea ice used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
> in its assessment report released this year.
> The researchers compared those models with sea ice observations from 1979
> through 1999, rejecting about half because they did not match what
> satellites showed, said oceanographer James Overland.
> But using the most reliable models, the NOAA scientists reached the same
> unhappy conclusion: by 2050, summer sea ice in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's
> north coast likely will have diminished by 40 percent compared to the 1980s.
> The same is likely for the East Siberian-Chukchi Sea region off northwest
> Alaska and Russia. In contrast, Canada's Baffin Bay and Labrador showed
> little predicted change.
> There was less confidence for winter ice, but the models also predict a sea
> ice loss of more than 40 percent for the Bering Sea off Alaska's west coast,
> the Sea of Okhotsk east of Siberia and the Barents Sea north of Norway.
> A 40 percent loss of summer sea ice off Alaska in the Beaufort Sea could
> have profound effects on marine mammals dependent on the sea ice such as
> polar bears, now under consideration by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
> for "threatened" status under the Endangered Species Act because of changes
> in the animals' habitat from global warming.
> Overland, an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory
> in Seattle, and Muyin Wang, a meteorologist at NOAA's Joint Institute for
> the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington in
> Seattle, reviewed 20 computer models provided through the IPCC. Their
> research paper will be published Saturday in Geophysical Research Letters, a
> publication of the American Geophysical Union.
> In the 1980s, sea ice receded 30 to 50 miles each summer off the north coast
> of Alaska, Overland said.
> "Now we're talking about 300 to 500 miles north of Alaska," he said of
> projections for 2050.
> That's far past the edge of the highly productive waters over the relatively
> shallow continental shelf off Alaska's north coast, considered important
> habitat for polar bears and their main prey, ringed seals, plus other
> ice-dependent mammals such as walrus.
> Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity, who wrote the petition
> seeking federal protection for polar bears, said NOAA's retrospective of sea
> ice projections does not even take into account sea ice figures for this
> summer recorded by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. As of Tuesday, the
> center's measurement of sea ice stood at 1.70 million square miles, far
> below the previous record low for summer ice of 2.05 million square miles
> recorded Sept. 20, 2005.
> The situation is dire for polar bears, Siegel said.
> "They're going to drown, they're going to starve, they're going to resort to
> cannibalism, they're going to become extinct," she said.
> As ice recedes, many bears will get stuck on land in summer, where they have
> virtually no sustainable food source, Siegel said. Some will try and fail to
> swim to sea ice, she said. Bears that stay on sea ice will find water beyond
> the continental shelf to be less productive. Females trying to den on land
> in the fall will face a long swim.
> "It's absolutely horrifying from the polar bear perspective," she said.
> Less sea ice also will mean a changing ecosystem for commercial fishermen
> and marine mammals in the Bering Sea, Overland said.
> With sea ice present, much of the nutrients produced in the ocean feed
> simple plankton that bloom and sink to the ocean floor, providing rich
> habitat for crabs, clams and the mammals that feed off them, including gray
> whales and walrus.
> "If you don't have the ice around, the productivity stays up closer to the
> surface of the ocean," Overland said. "You actually have a change in the
> whole ecosystem from one that depends on the animals that live on the bottom
> to one that depends on the animals that live in the water column. So you
> have winners and losers."
> That could mean short-term gains for salmon and pollock, he said. But it
> also could mean that fishermen will have to travel farther north to fish in
> Alaska's productive waters, and warm-water predators might move north.
> Overland said sea ice computer models have performed well accounting for how
> ice melts from global warming and for the albedo effect - accelerated
> warming due to the presence of dark water that absorbs most of the sun's
> radiation, warming the ocean and making it harder for water to freeze, in
> contrast to ice, which reflects most of the sun's radiation.
> The models do not do as well accounting for wind and cloud patterns and
> other factors that may have contributed to recent warming, Overland said.
> But the contribution to warming by greenhouse gas emissions likely are set,
> he said. Emissions stay in the atmosphere for 40 to 50 years before being
> absorbed by the ocean. The amount put out in the last 20 years and the
> carbon dioxide put out in the next 20 will be around to influence the
> half-century mark, Overland said.
> "I'm afraid to say, a lot of the images we are going to see in the next 30
> to 40 years are pretty much already established," he said.
> ------
> Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett

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