[Vision2020] NOAA Confirms Dramatic Sea Ice Loss

Mark Solomon msolomon at moscow.com
Mon Sep 10 15:24:13 PDT 2007

Speaking of birds blown by storms: after Katrina disrupted the 
Mississippi Flyway, literally hundreds of prairie falcons which are 
extremely rare in these parts, were hanging around Moscow Mountain 
for a week or so trying (I'm guessing) to figure out just where they 

"Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."


At 3:16 PM -0700 9/10/07, Kai Eiselein, editor wrote:
>I know, and Yuma would be much better looking with a beachfront. I 
>grew up in and around Nogales, which is about 140 miles inland from 
>the Sea of Cortez. Yuma is about 40 miles inland, if I recall 
>On a side note, it was a strange juxtapostion to see pelicans 
>hanging around stock tanks in the Sonoran Desert after they'd been 
>blown inland from storms.
>Remember to stop by "Kaktus Kai's Surf and Snak Shoppe" on the Yuma 
>waterfront.  Home of the best fish tacos this side of Atlantis.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: <mailto:msolomon at moscow.com>Mark Solomon
>To: <mailto:starbliss at gmail.com>Ted Moffett
>Cc: <mailto:lfalen at turbonet.com>lfalen ; 
><mailto:vision2020 at moscow.com>MoscowVision 2020 ; 
><mailto:editor at lataheagle.com>Kai Eiselein, editor
>Sent: Monday, September 10, 2007 2:54 PM
>Subject: Re: [Vision2020] NOAA Confirms Dramatic Sea Ice Loss
>Watch out, Kai: Yuma is at elevation 138' above sea level.
>At 2:48 PM -0700 9/10/07, Ted Moffett wrote:
>The NOAA study I referenced focused on Arctic sea ice loss, which, 
>while a great environmental and ecosystem disaster, associated with 
>problems caused by global warming that are planetary wide, will not 
>cause sea levels to rise.  Most of the Arctic ice is floating on the 
>ocean, so it is displacing its weight in liquid water.  The main 
>sources of ice melt that will cause sea levels to rise dramatically 
>are Greenland and Antarctica, where the ice is on land above water. 
>The potential is for sea level rise of over 150 feet.  There are 
>verified measurements that both Greenland and Antarctic ice is 
>threatening ocean level rise.  A skeptic might argue that snow fall 
>will replace the ice as fast as it melts, even assuming global 
>warming is occurring.  The increased atmospheric moisture caused by 
>global warming will cause an increase in snow fall over Greenland or 
>Antarctica.  But with profound global warming of, let's say, 5 C. 
>average global temperatures, it is very doubtful the melting could 
>be offset by increasing snow fall.
>The Arctic ice is melting extremely fast due to the effects of 
>albedo (a term for the reflectivity of a body of surface).  Ice or 
>snow reflects a large amount of solar radiation.  When it melts and 
>exposes the ocean, as in Arctic ice, the darker water absorbs more 
>energy and stores it, increasing the rate of the melting of ice.  A 
>snow ball effect, no pun intended.  When or if land areas on 
>Greenland or Antarctica become more exposed as ice melts, this will 
>also increase albedo, accelerating the melting, though perhaps not 
>as fast as in the case of the Arctic ice over water.  Antarctica has 
>already has massive ice sheets break apart on the edges of this 
>continent, sheets that have been stable for thousands of years, 
>increasing the rate of movement of glaciers that dump into the 
>ocean, exposing warmer water to the edges of Antarctica, increasing 
>melt rate in this area.
>Some scientists think snow fall replacement in the interior of 
>Antarctica is increasing, helping to offset melting of glaciers on 
>the edges.
>Ted Moffett 
>On 9/10/07, Mark Solomon 
><<mailto:msolomon at moscow.com>msolomon at moscow.com> wrote:
>Hard to look on the bright side when rising sea levels caused by
>melting ice threaten millions of people in low lying areas of Asia,
>Europe, the US and the rest of the world.
>At 10:52 AM -0700 9/10/07, lfalen wrote:
>>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" <mailto:starbliss at gmail.com>starbliss at gmail.com
>>Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2007 13:03:41 -0700
>>To: "MoscowVision 2020" <mailto:vision2020 at moscow.com>vision2020 at moscow.com
>>Subject: [Vision2020] NOAA Confirms Dramatic Sea Ice Loss
>>>  *NOAA researchers confirm predictions of dramatic sea ice loss *
>>>  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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