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The Rajon Blog » Blog Archive » Arctic melt of sea ice second worst recorded on record

Arctic melt of sea ice second worst recorded on record

The sea ice around the north pole has again broken records but the warning signs coming out of Iceland are showing a large melt taking place of land ice in the glaciers of iceland with some measuring around 900 meters thick and losing 1 metre per year. Global warming is starting to kick in and unless drastic measures are taken it will happen faster than anticipated due to the exponential curve ratio in relation to heating verses melting ratios.

If the current calculation for these glaciers to melt completely will increase the ocean levels by 7 metres and at current rates will happen within 100 years then expect it faster as we have seen these type of calculations before and it ended up being much faster.

Ratios are variable when it comes to exponential melt.

For instance 1 degree equals say 1 year so if it then addes to say a 2 degree variation then that 2 degree increase by 1 degree becomes a 3 degree variations which supplies a 1.5 degree increase and so it goes. The 3 degrees becomes 4.5 degrees and so forth.

Current rates are speculative at best! As ratios change according to the curve.

There are any number of factors that have to be taken into account pollution increases in output from countries where they say they will reduce by 20% but the curve ratio is 35% so in actuality there is a further increase of 5% above the current level estimate in the 10 year period, you have to understand that increases are taking place due to the consistent use of fossil fuels and the burning of coal and fuel oil and emissions of other gases. Carbon trading only moves the problem about it does not stop it!

As the Methane is released due to melting of tundra etc we also see a further increase as well as releases of further carbon storage areas so the pattern keeps getting worse all it takes is for folks to run the numbers.

So unless serious thought and construction of sea defences is started asap it will happen faster than current predictions portray and cities will go under with no time for contruction of defences. Some urgent forward thinking is required.

18 Responses to “Arctic melt of sea ice second worst recorded on record”

  1. moryah4 Says:

    Australia is the world’s leading coal exporter
    About 4 per cent of the world’s coal production passes through Australian ports.
    Japan, Korea and Taiwan are Australia’s biggest customers.
    China is the world’s largest coal producer with annual production six times greater than ours.
    3 per cent of Australia’s coal exports last year went to China.
    Exporting just four per cent of the world’s annual coal production generated $24 billion in export income for Australia last year. To put that it in perspective, Australia’s coal exports were worth more than their wool, wheat, wine, copper, dairy, beef and gold exports combined.As intoxicating that cash is if you read this article describing a world wildlife report which was written five years ago you’ll see the warning bells were sounded about this path but like being stuck in a time warp Australia has done virtually nothing but introduce carbon trading and the Prime Minster is bandying the term carbon capture around as Australia’s saving grace but it is still an unproven technology.Full “carbon capture and storage” needs to burn up to 60 per cent more coal to generate the same electricity. :

    “Research shows coal fired power is Australia’s top greenhouse polluter
    06 Apr 2003

    SYDNEY: A small group of coal fired power stations is Australia’s largest source of global warming, pumping out 170 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, says a new WWF-Australia scientific report.

    The report, by Dr Mark Diesendorf, reveals that electricity generation produces one-third of Australia’s greenhouse emissions and that 97 per cent of these emissions are produced by 24 coal-fired power stations.

    “The greenhouse pollution produced by these power stations is equivalent to the annual emissions from about 40 million cars, four times Australia’s actual car fleet,” says Dr Diesendorf, Director, Sustainability Centre and formerly Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Technology, Sydney.

    “Australia is one of the world’s most coal dependent nations and needs to diversify its electricity supply by increasing the use of renewable energy and super-efficient gas. Governments should also introduce stronger energy saving regulations.”

    The WWF-Australia report also shows the Australian public is unaware of the significant role of coal fired power in contributing to global warming or Australia’s dependence on coal to generate electricity. Public surveys revealed that only 33 per cent of those surveyed knew that coal was the main fuel for producing electricity in Australia. The source most nominated was hydro.

    Figures in the report based on data from 2000/01 show that New South Wales and Victoria are the leading coal-fired greenhouse polluters.Coal-fired power stations in the Hunter Valley, Lake Macquarie and Lithgow produce about 60 megatonnes of greenhouse emissions; Victoria’s La Trobe Valley produces around 57 megatonnes, Queensland’s Stanwell, Callide, Gladstone, Collinsville, Tarong and Swanbank emit around 40 megatonnes while Western Australia accounts for 10 megatones and South Australia for 5 megatonnes.
    Launching the report, Jennifer Morgan, Director of WWF’s International Climate Change Program, said Australia needed to accelerate adoption of cleaner ,energy efficient alternatives.
    “Coal was the first fuel of the industrial era of the nineteenth century ? times and technology have moved on and Australia should change its energy investment patterns and follow the example set by other countries where reliance on coal is diminishing,” she said
    Dr Diesendorf’s report shows that the trend of increasing coal use in Australia has been more dramatic than the industrialized (OECD) country average and more than in countries like the USA, Germany and China.
    The report also voices concerns about the safety of underground storage of carbon dioxide emissions (geosequestration). Carbon dioxide is collected, compressed and transported in high-pressure pipelines to long-term storage or ’sequestration’ points. Currently, three types of storage are being researched ? underground storage or geosequestration, ocean sequestration and conversion and reuse of carbon dioxide.

    “The big question marks over all types of underground storage are the volume of carbon dioxide that can be safely stored, whether storage will be secure, gaps in scientific knowledge and the economic costs and environmental impacts,” said Dr Diesendorf.

    Recently Australia has been forfeiting it’s responsibilities to it’s traditional money earning industries like farming to to supporting the needs of the coal industry.
    e.g. A bumper wheat season happened here this year but with a lot of storage areas still chocked up with what I presume was a bumper sorghum industry the farmers next option is to rail it to their buyers .But an news-report recently the trains in many areas are tied up shifting large amounts of coal so farmers are having to store the grain on their own properties and are on waiting lists for new silos.
    Also farmers are up in arms as the Queensland coal industry are eyeing up their properties in coal development areas.They feel like they are being edged out .The $$$ calls!
    I call this burning your bridges.For what so we can help pollute the atmosphere,aid the greenhouse effect and do the same at home ?

  2. moryah4 Says:

    The British Environment Agency has spoken out against building new coal-fired power plants in the UK. The agency believes that new coal plants must be built with carbon capture and storage technology; otherwise, it could lock the UK into high carbon technology. Lord Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, said, “Building a new generation of coal-fired power stations without capturing the carbon emissions would lock the UK into using high carbon technology for decades to come.” The agency goes as far as saying that it is “insufficient” to build plants that can be fitted with the technology at a later date.


    Given how much CO2 you get when you burn coal, building a coal fired power station in the middle of a climate crisis would be really stupid. Really, really, stupid. But incredibly, down at Kingsnorth that’s exactly what power company E.ON and the Government plan to do.

    Here’s our top 10 reasons for not building Kingsnorth, or burning coal or digging it up or well, doing pretty much anything with it other than leaving it in the ground. You don’t have to read them all. Any one will give you reason enough to join us this summer. A new power station at Kingsnorth really is that daft.

    1. Let’s build a coal-fired power station!
    If built, Kingsnorth will emit between 6 and 8 million tons of CO2 every year. That’s a hell of a lot of CO2, more even than the proposed third runway at Heathrow would produce. Scientists are usually a fairly reserved bunch but even they are starting to sound frantic about what’s happening with the climate. That’s not surprising given that, if we carry on treating the planet like a cheap boil in the bag dinner, we risk causing catastrophic climate change. That’s probably a bad idea. To avoid it we need to rapidly reduce emissions. So, in a world where we respect the ecology of the planet and the lives of those whose home it is, no Kingsnorth.

    2. Kingsnorth is just the beginning. Six other similar power stations are planned.
    How do you multiply stupid? We’re not sure, but that’s what the power utilities want to do. Unless there’s a big fight over Kingsnorth these companies, with the backing of Government, want to build six more atmosphere-crunching coal fired power stations in the next few years. Collectively these power stations would emit around 50 million tons of CO2 a year. It’s hard to understand such a callous disregard for your fellow humans but if you want to, start by following the money. Power stations make lots of it and, given the amount of coal around, they’re a ‘safe’ long term investment. It’s an age-old story but the ending isn’t written yet.

    Read more here…

  3. moryah4 Says:

    Jennifer W.

    I live in Michigan and there is legislation that proposes building 35 new coal fired power plants in my state. Take out the environmental ramifications because I don’t care to fight, but who wants to have a coal plant in their backyard? Michigan is surrounded by water on 3 sides…why not wind energy? We have the auto industry, why not develop fuel cell technology? What about solar? Its the pursuit of old technology that is most frustrating to me.

  4. moryah4 Says:


    Published: June 11, 2006

    New York Times

    Unless China finds a way to clean up its coal plants and the thousands of factories that burn coal, pollution will soar both at home and abroad. The increase in global-warming gases from China’s coal use will probably exceed that for all industrialized countries combined over the next 25 years, surpassing by five times the reduction in such emissions that the Kyoto Protocol seeks.
    The sulfur dioxide produced in coal combustion poses an immediate threat to the health of China’s citizens, contributing to about 400,000 premature deaths a year. It also causes acid rain that poisons lakes, rivers, forests and crops.
    The sulfur pollution is so pervasive as to have an extraordinary side effect that is helping the rest of the world, but only temporarily: It actually slows global warming. The tiny, airborne particles deflect the sun’s hot rays back into space.
    But the cooling effect from sulfur is short-lived. By contrast, the carbon dioxide emanating from Chinese coal plants will last for decades, with a cumulative warming effect that will eventually overwhelm the cooling from sulfur and deliver another large kick to global warming, climate scientists say. A warmer climate could lead to rising sea levels, the spread of tropical diseases in previously temperate climes, crop failures in some regions and the extinction of many plant and animal species, especially those in polar or alpine areas.
    Coal is indeed China’s double-edged sword — the new economy’s black gold and the fragile environment’s dark cloud.
    Already, China uses more coal than the United States, the European Union and Japan combined. And it has increased coal consumption 14 percent in each of the past two years in the broadest industrialization ever. Every week to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China that is big enough to serve all the households in Dallas or San Diego.
    To make matters worse, India is right behind China in stepping up its construction of coal-fired power plants — and has a population expected to outstrip China’s by 2030.
    Aware of the country’s growing reliance on coal and of the dangers from burning so much of it, China’s leaders have vowed to improve the nation’s energy efficiency. No one thinks that effort will be enough. To make a big improvement in emissions of global-warming gases and other pollutants, the country must install the most modern equipment — equipment that for the time being must come from other nations.
    Industrialized countries could help by providing loans or grants, as the Japanese government and the World Bank have done, or by sharing technology. But Chinese utilities have in the past preferred to buy cheap but often-antiquated equipment from well connected domestic suppliers instead of importing costlier gear from the West.
    The Chinese government has been reluctant to approve the extra spending. Asking customers to shoulder the bill would set back the government’s efforts to protect consumers from inflation and to create jobs and social stability.
    But each year China defers buying advanced technology, older equipment goes into scores of new coal-fired plants with a lifespan of up to 75 years.
    “This is the great challenge they have to face,” said David Moskovitz, an energy consultant who advises the Chinese government. “How can they continue their rapid growth without plunging the environment into the abyss?”

  5. moryah4 Says:


    | 21.03.2007

    European Union states agreed earlier this month on a binding 20 percent cut in CO2 emissions by 2020. Yet over 20 coal-fired power plants — major producers of greenhouse gases — are planned for Germany.
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said measures for protecting the environment are a top priority during her six-month European Union presidency.
    Germany and other EU-member states agreed on a binding reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. The EU also proposed a 30-percent cut if other nations followed suit.
    There’s a hitch, though, for Germany, said Reinhard Loske, a member of the German parliament and climate expert for the Green party parliamentary group: Currently, up to 26 coal-fired power plants — which would burn either hard (anthracite) or brown (lignite) coal — are either being built right now or are in the planning stages in Germany.
    “If all of those plants end up being installed, there is no way we can reach our climate protection goals for reducing emissions,” Loske said.
    Coal-fired power plants are one of the biggest producers of greenhouses gases, which scientists have said are primarily responsible for global warming.,2144,2396828,00.html

  6. moryah4 Says:

    Desert Rock coal-fired energy plant is designed for northwest New Mexico, roughly 20 miles south of Shiprock. The Navajo Nation covers 27,000 square miles, extending into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Pollution from the prospective plant could affect communities in this entire Four Corners area. The $3-billion project is a partnership between Dine Power Authority, an enterprise of the Navajo Nation, and Sithe Global Energy. The location is a contentious issue among Navajo citizens, for the plant would be near the Four Corners Power Plant and the San Juan Generating Station.
    Local citizens’ groups are fighting Desert Rock and the environmental problems they say it could bring. Many Navajos say they are worried that the plant will harm the local environment, add to global warming and increase already high rates of respiratory illnesses and other health problems linked to the burning of coal. Desert Rock promoters say, however, that the plant will have stricter emissions regulations than any other coal plant.
    The Navajo government commissioned the project to bring revenue and create jobs. The Shirley administration says Desert Rock will generate 1,000 temporary construction jobs, 300 full-time operation jobs and $50 million a year for the Navajo Nation. The proposed plant will generate 1,500 megawatts of energy—though buyers have yet to be determined.
    But Navajo citizens are not convinced this is enough to outweigh the damages the plant could cause to the local environment and to public health. The grass-roots group Dine Citizens Against Ruining our Environment, or Dine CARE, has released a 168-page report discussing the perceived dangers. In “Energy and Economic Alternatives to the Desert Rock Energy Project,” Dine CARE also examines the feasibility of large-scale renewable energy projects. The report is part of a strong local effort to fight Desert Rock.
    In July 2007, the Bureau of Indian Affairs held public hearings on the project’s environmental impact statement. Navajo citizens submitted 54,000 comments against building the plant. In addition, the EPA received 1,000 letters during its public comment period. This large number of comments may be one reason the agency has taken so long to rule. “It is typical for the majority of comments on a proposed permit to be negative,” said Arcaute.
    Sithe Global insists that the plant will be the cleanest the country has yet seen. “The air permit,” said the Sithe representative, Frank Maisano, “is one of the strictest air permits the EPA will ever issue. Because some local people had concerns about additional regional haze—because of other power plants in the region—we have offered to write into an additional agreement with the Navajo Nation stricter limits and offsets for emissions.”
    Maisano says the plant’s supercritical, or high heat, boiler will increase efficiency—significantly reducing emissions. The technology will capture 98 percent of particulate matter, reduce sulfur and NOx emissions by 95 percent, reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent, Maisano says, and reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent compared to older plants. As a result, the Sithe Global spokesman says, Desert Rock won’t present the health risks other plants do. “The regional haze pollution that causes health issues will be virtually nonexistent,” said Maisano. By haze pollution, he means particulate matter, mercury and other aerosols.
    But a leading climatologist James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says the plant will most certainly cause damages to public health, as well as to the local and global environment. “Despite the grievous problems that pollutants such as mercury and particulates cause for individuals,” said Hansen, “the most damaging pollutant for humans and other species, by far, is carbon dioxide. [Desert Rock is] not capturing that pollutant at all—by 20 percent reduction, they mean that the efficiency has been improved, so more energy is obtained per unit fuel. But all of the CO2 in the coal is being released to the air.”
    Mark Chandler, a climatologist who is also at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, points out that Desert Rock’s attempts to limit health risks for the Navajo community will ultimately make the situation worse for global warming. “The classic problem in cleaning up coal plants,” said Chandler, “is that coal has a lot of bad things that we don’t want in our backyard [like] particulates and mercury…[Eliminating those] is great in terms of cleaning up some of the most obnoxious issues. But it’s harmful for the climate change issue. Aerosols in the atmosphere—a lot of which come from coal burning—have slowed global warming because aerosols actually reflect some of the sunlight coming to the earth and tend to cool the atmosphere.” So, Chandler says, Desert Rock’s effort to curb global warming by reducing CO2 emissions will be counteracted by its reduction of other emissions.

    As for potential health problems, says Chandler, not just the local community should be concerned. In fact, he said, people living close to a coal plant may not even be affected if they live upwind. But those living thousands of miles away could feel the effects—if they live downwind. “To give a sense,” said Chandler, “of how non-local it is, a lot of pollution in the U.S. is coming from China.”
    And, said Dine CARE treasurer Lori Goodman, “It’s not just what’s going up in the air, it’s what they’re dumping. There’s all the coal combustion waste. It’s not even regulated by EPA.”

    Contaminated water from coal combustion wastes has already been a problem for people [living] near the Four Corners and San Juan plants, says Dine CARE spokesman Dialan Long. “Some of the people that I’ve spoke to,” said Long, “have said that they’ve lost cattle, so a lot of them have stopped taking their livestock to Chaco Wash [the tributary of San Juan river]…It’s really easy to point to coal combustion waste because it’s the only thing that’s there.”

    Read more…

  7. moryah4 Says:

    Global warming continues to take toll in Arctic regions
    NEW REPORT: Ocean warmer, and the sea is less salty as ice melts.

    The Associated Press
    Published: October 17th, 2008

    WASHINGTON — Autumn temperatures in the Arctic are at record levels, the Arctic Ocean is getting warmer and less salty as sea ice melts, and reindeer herds appear to be declining, researchers reported Thursday.”Obviously, the planet is interconnected, so what happens in the Arctic does matter” to the rest of the world, Jackie Richter-Menge of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., said in releasing the third annual Arctic Report Card.
    The report, compiled by 46 scientists from 10 countries, looks at a variety of conditions in the Arctic.
    The region has long been expected to be among the first areas to show impacts from global warming, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is largely a result of human activities adding carbon dioxide and other gases to the atmosphere.
    “Changes in the Arctic show a domino effect from multiple causes more clearly than in other regions,” said James Overland, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. “It’s a sensitive system and often reflects changes in relatively fast and dramatic ways.”
    For example, autumn air temperatures in the Arctic are at a record 9 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.The report noted that 2007 was the warmest year on record for the Arctic, leading to a record loss of sea ice. This year’s sea ice melt was second only to 2007.
    Rising temperatures help melt the ice, which in turn allows more solar heating of the ocean. That warming of the air and ocean affects land and marine life, and reduces the amount of winter sea ice that lasts into the following summer.
    The study also noted a warming trend on Arctic land and increase in greenness as shrubs move north into areas that were formerly permafrost.

    (

  8. moryah4 Says:

    “Global sea level rise could more than double from the IPCC’s estimate of 0.59m by the end of the century.”

    Climate change is happening much faster than the world’s best scientists predicted and will wreak havoc unless action is taken on a global scale, a new report warns.

    By Paul Eccleston
    20 Oct 2008

    “..As an example it says the first ‘tipping point’ may have already been reached in the Arctic, where sea ice is disappearing up to 30 years ahead of IPCC predictions and may be gone completely within five years - something that hasn’t occurred for a million years.

  9. moryah4 Says:


    Arctic scientists discover new global warming threat as melting permafrost releases millions of tons of a gas 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide

    By Steve Connor, Science Editor
    Tuesday, 23 September 2008

    The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists.

    The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.

    Underground stores of methane are important because scientists believe their sudden release has in the past been responsible for rapid increases in global temperatures, dramatic changes to the climate, and even the mass extinction of species. Scientists aboard a research ship that has sailed the entire length of Russia’s northern coast have discovered intense concentrations of methane – sometimes at up to 100 times background levels – over several areas covering thousands of square miles of the Siberian continental shelf.

    In the past few days, the researchers have seen areas of sea foaming with gas bubbling up through “methane chimneys” rising from the sea floor. They believe that the sub-sea layer of permafrost, which has acted like a “lid” to prevent the gas from escaping, has melted away to allow methane to rise from underground deposits formed before the last ice age.

    They have warned that this is likely to be linked with the rapid warming that the region has experienced in recent years.

    Methane is about 20 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and many scientists fear that its release could accelerate global warming in a giant positive feedback where more atmospheric methane causes higher temperatures, leading to further permafrost melting and the release of yet more methane.

    The amount of methane stored beneath the Arctic is calculated to be greater than the total amount of carbon locked up in global coal reserves so there is intense interest in the stability of these deposits as the region warms at a faster rate than other places on earth.

    Orjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University in Sweden, one of the leaders of the expedition, described the scale of the methane emissions in an email exchange sent from the Russian research ship Jacob Smirnitskyi.

    “We had a hectic finishing of the sampling programme yesterday and this past night,” said Dr Gustafsson. “An extensive area of intense methane release was found. At earlier sites we had found elevated levels of dissolved methane. Yesterday, for the first time, we documented a field where the release was so intense that the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface. These ‘methane chimneys’ were documented on echo sounder and with seismic [instruments].”

    At some locations, methane concentrations reached 100 times background levels. These anomalies have been seen in the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea, covering several tens of thousands of square kilometres, amounting to millions of tons of methane, said Dr Gustafsson. “This may be of the same magnitude as presently estimated from the global ocean,” he said. “Nobody knows how many more such areas exist on the extensive East Siberian continental shelves.

    “The conventional thought has been that the permafrost ‘lid’ on the sub-sea sediments on the Siberian shelf should cap and hold the massive reservoirs of shallow methane deposits in place. The growing evidence for release of methane in this inaccessible region may suggest that the permafrost lid is starting to get perforated and thus leak methane… The permafrost now has small holes. We have found elevated levels of methane above the water surface and even more in the water just below. It is obvious that the source is the seabed.”

    The preliminary findings of the International Siberian Shelf Study 2008, being prepared for publication by the American Geophysical Union, are being overseen by Igor Semiletov of the Far-Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Since 1994, he has led about 10 expeditions in the Laptev Sea but during the 1990s he did not detect any elevated levels of methane. However, since 2003 he reported a rising number of methane “hotspots”, which have now been confirmed using more sensitive instruments on board the Jacob Smirnitskyi.

    Dr Semiletov has suggested several possible reasons why methane is now being released from the Arctic, including the rising volume of relatively warmer water being discharged from Siberia’s rivers due to the melting of the permafrost on the land.

    The Arctic region as a whole has seen a 4C rise in average temperatures over recent decades and a dramatic decline in the area of the Arctic Ocean covered by summer sea ice. Many scientists fear that the loss of sea ice could accelerate the warming trend because open ocean soaks up more heat from the sun than the reflective surface of an ice-covered sea.

  10. moryah4 Says:

    Late last year Zarlen made this prediction:

    9th October 2007.

    “For years we have been saying that both ice conditions as well as the global warming effect would exponentially increase due to numerous factors and that we only have a few years not decades
    Each year it gets worse because many governments do not do enough to stop global warming.”

    (Then on 22nd November 2007

    “Sea ice holds the land based ice back if we see a dramatic reduction of sea ice mass then each year it reduces further so then we have less mass holding the land ice back plus the fact that air temps are on a dramatic rise so melts are also on the increase. Thus ocean levels rise, extra moisture in the atmosphere as oceans rise causes compression values in the atmosphere to also rise thus larger more violent storms.
    Just a few thoughts to consider guys and gals!So I shall say it again global conditions are about to get nasty! Ice will continue to melt at an accelerated rate and so to will rain fall in different areas. Temps in seasonal times will be higher than normal so more records broken and so the situation continues all for the sake of the mighty dollar.
    Time to worry those politicians out there who do not GET IT YET! Stop listening to those scientists who walk about with their eyes shut. Get real and get aware about what is really going on around the planet right now!
    Profit and economic views aside the survival of humanity I would have thought was far more important. After all what happens to the economy when climates change to the point of creating an unbalanced climate…
    Let’s think about the future and realize that if you have an unsettled planet that is fast becoming unstable then so too will the economic states or all world governments. Millions will die because they failed to act enough!

  11. moryah4 Says:


    As ministers and officials gather in Poznan one year ahead of the Copenhagen summit on global warming, the second part of a major series looks at the crucial issue of targets

    David Adam

    The Guardian, Tuesday 9 December 2008

    At a high-level academic conference on global warming at Exeter University this summer, climate scientist Kevin Anderson stood before his expert audience and contemplated a strange feeling. He wanted to be wrong. Many of those in the room who knew what he was about to say felt the same. His conclusions had already caused a stir in scientific and political circles. Even committed green campaigners said the implications left them terrified.

    Anderson, an expert at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Manchester University, was about to send the gloomiest dispatch yet from the frontline of the war against climate change.

    Despite the political rhetoric, the scientific warnings, the media headlines and the corporate promises, he would say, carbon emissions were soaring way out of control - far above even the bleak scenarios considered by last year’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Stern review. The battle against dangerous climate change had been lost, and the world needed to prepare for things to get very, very bad.

    “As an academic I wanted to be told that it was a very good piece of work and that the conclusions were sound,” Anderson said. “But as a human being I desperately wanted someone to point out a mistake, and to tell me we had got it completely wrong.”

    Nobody did. The cream of the UK climate science community sat in stunned silence as Anderson pointed out that carbon emissions since 2000 have risen much faster than anyone thought possible, driven mainly by the coal-fuelled economic boom in the developing world. So much extra pollution is being pumped out, he said, that most of the climate targets debated by politicians and campaigners are fanciful at best, and “dangerously misguided” at worst.

    In the jargon used to count the steady accumulation of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s thin layer of atmosphere, he said it was “improbable” that levels could now be restricted to 650 parts per million (ppm).

    The CO2 level is currently over 380ppm, up from 280ppm at the time of the industrial revolution, and it rises by more than 2ppm each year. The government’s official position is that the world should aim to cap this rise at 450ppm.

    The science is fuzzy, but experts say that could offer an even-money chance of limiting the eventual temperature rise above pre-industrial times to 2C, which the EU defines as dangerous. (We have had 0.7C of that already and an estimated extra 0.5C is guaranteed because of emissions to date.)

    The graphs on the large screens behind Anderson’s head at Exeter told a different story. Line after line, representing the fumes that belch from chimneys, exhausts and jet engines, that should have bent in a rapid curve towards the ground, were heading for the ceiling instead.

    At 650ppm, the same fuzzy science says the world would face a catastrophic 4C average rise. And even that bleak future, Anderson said, could only be achieved if rich countries adopted “draconian emission reductions within a decade”. Only an unprecedented “planned economic recession” might be enough. The current financial woes would not come close.

    Lost cause
    Anderson is not the only expert to voice concerns that current targets are hopelessly optimistic. Many scientists, politicians and campaigners privately admit that 2C is a lost cause. Ask for projections around the dinner table after a few bottles of wine and more vote for 650ppm than 450ppm as the more likely outcome.

    Bob Watson, chief scientist at the Environment Department and a former head of the IPCC, warned this year that the world needed to prepare for a 4C rise, which would wipe out hundreds of species, bring extreme food and water shortages in vulnerable countries and cause floods that would displace hundreds of millions of people. Warming would be much more severe towards the poles, which could accelerate melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets.

    Watson said: “We must alert everybody that at the moment we’re at the very top end of the worst case [emissions] scenario. I think we should be striving for 450 [ppm] but I think we should be prepared that 550 [ppm] is a more likely outcome.” Hitting the 450ppm target, he said, would be “unbelievably difficult”.

    Read more…

  12. moryah4 Says:

    (From the ‘Above Top Secret’ website)

    “The escalating scale of human emissions could not have come at a worst time, as scientists have discovered that the Earth’s forests and oceans could be losing their ability to soak up carbon pollution.”

    and this:-

    “The region, the largest frozen peat bog in the world, had begun to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago. Scientists believe the bog could begin to release billions of tonnes of methane locked up in the soils”

    and this:-

    “The Southern Ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide has weakened by about 15% a decade since 1981, while in the North Atlantic, scientists at the University of East Anglia also found a dramatic decline in the CO2 sink between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s.”

  13. moryah4 Says:


    National Geographic

    The East Siberian Sea is bubbling with methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, being released from underwater reserves, according to a recent expedition by a Russian team.

    This could be a sign that global warming is thawing underwater permafrost, which is releasing methane that has been locked away for many thousands of years.

    If these methane emissions from the Arctic speed up, it could cause “really serious climate consequences,” said study leader Igor Semiletov of the Pacific Oceanological Institute in Vladivostok, Russia.

    (Related: “Global Warming Feedback Loop Caused by Methane, Scientists Say” [August 29, 2006].)

    Semiletov and colleagues have traveled along the Siberian coast—this year they covered 13,000 miles (22,000 kilometers)—while monitoring methane concentrations in the air and observing the seas.

    “According to our data, more than 50 percent of the Arctic Siberian shelf is serving as a source of methane to the atmosphere,” Semiletov said.

    This vast shelf is about 750,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers)—about the same size as Greenland or Mexico—and about 80 percent of it is covered with permafrost, Semiletov said.

    He presented the findings from his group at an American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco this week.

    Not-So-Permanent Permafrost

    Permafrost is basically dirt that’s been permanently frozen for hundreds or thousands of years, much of it since the last ice age.

    Sea levels back then near the Siberian coast were about 325 feet (100 meters) lower than today, and the exposed ground froze solid down to 1,600 to 2,300 feet (500 to 700 meters) deep.

    Over the past 10,000 years, sea levels rose to cover some of this permafrost, and in recent years those seas have seen increases in average temperatures.

    “As a result, sub-sea permafrost has warmed up to minus 1 degree Celsius [30 degrees Fahrenheit],” Semiletov said. “It’s very, very close to the thawing point.”

    Underneath the permafrost are stores of methane, the same as the natural gas people use for cooking and heating.

    There are also methane hydrates, a solid that forms when methane and water mix in cold temperatures. The hydrates release gas as they warm.

    “It was assumed that these stores of methane have not been leaking, because the sub-sea permafrost served as a lid keeping hydrates and natural gas in place,” Semiletov said.

    But now global warming may be starting to release these stores of methane into the atmosphere.

    Drastic Increase

    Regions farther from the Equator generally are experiencing more warming, and the Arctic is warming fastest of all.

    “Springtime air temperatures on the East Siberian Arctic shelf [have] increased up to 5 degrees Celsius [9 degrees Fahrenheit],” Semiletov said. “It’s a hot spot.”

    In comparison, the world as a whole has warmed about 1.25 degrees Fahrenheit (0.7 degrees Celsius) since pre-industrial times.

    If abrupt methane release became widespread, it could create a feedback loop that would lead to even more drastic global warming.

    “Our early observations in 1994 to 1999 didn’t reveal a widespread enhanced dissolved methane concentration” along the Siberian coast, Semiletov said.

    “With this newly obtained data, we suggest an increase of methane release from the East Siberian Arctic shelf,” he said.

    “We have obtained a drastic increase of air methane in some sites—sometimes up to four times higher than the background [global average].”

    Vladimir Romanovsky, a permafrost expert at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, says the study is worrying.

    “It has very serious implications for changes in greenhouse gases,” Romanovsky said, and the releases described should be monitored more closely.

    “It could be very important, but we still need some numbers to see how big [of a problem] it is.”

  14. moryah4 Says:


    New Scientist

    Though scientists tend to agree that summer ice at the North Pole will eventually disappear, they haven’t settled on a date. And one group now claims to have evidence that Santa may have to start swimming much sooner than we thought.

    US researchers claim to have found evidence that accelerated melting has crossed a “tipping point” from which there is no going back.

    The amount of summer ice at the North Pole has steadily declined since 1979, according to satellite images. Computer models predict that this trend will continue, leaving the Arctic completely ice-free during the summersMovie Camera as early as 2030.

    In 2007, though, the ice surprised everyone by contracting far more rapidly than the models predicted. A particularly warm summer left only 4.28 million square kilometres by September - a record 23% below the previous minimum.
    Accelerated ice loss

    At the time, researchers including Mark Serreze of National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado claimed that the Arctic had reached a “tipping point” - a dramatic and irreversible slide towards ice-free conditions.

    As the summer melting season finished up this year, they waited with bated breath to see how much, if any, ice would survive.

    4.67 million square kilometres remained at the end of September. A positive interpretation says that the Arctic defied the apocalyptic prophecies by recovering slightly, thanks to a pattern of colder and windier weather.

    But Serreze is sticking to the idea that we have reached a point of no return.

    “If you look over the past five years, you see an acceleration of ice loss,” says Serreze. Though 2008 did not beat the record set by 2007, it is still the second-lowest amount on record, below the record lows of 2002 and 2005.

    He and his colleagues, speaking at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco this week, presented new evidence for a mechanism driving this acceleration.
    Dramatic changes

    During the summer, as ice melts, it is replaced by dark ocean waters that absorb heat. When the cooler winter weather arrives, the oceans release this warmth, creating a pocket of higher temperatures above the Arctic that slows down the regrowth of sea ice during the winter.

    By measuring the air temperature directly over the Arctic after the end of the summer melt, Serreze found a large amount of released heat. Temperatures in areas losing ice were as much as 5 °C higher over the last four years as compared to the historic average.

    The computer models predict this “Arctic acceleration,” says Serreze but 20 years into the future. “The models are giving us the big picture of what is going on, but it’s all happening much faster than expected,” he says.

    This change may already be irreversible, as the extra heat creates a runaway thinning of ice that will soon be unable to survive in the summer Sun. If it disappears entirely during the summers, the ramifications would be global.

    “The Arctic is the heat sink of the Northern hemisphere; the circulation patterns of the oceans could change dramatically,” says Serreze.

    What’s more, the effects from this rush of heat seem to already be bleeding out into neighbouring Alaska and Siberia.
    Balmy spell?

    Katey Walter of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, presented data at the AGU suggesting that lakes and permafrost are thawing in these regions. These changes release methane - a greenhouse gas with 21 times the warming power of carbon dioxide.

    Cecelia Bitz of the University of Washington in Seattle, who helped to create one of the more widely accepted climate models, agrees that an ice-free Arctic ocean is inevitable at this point.

    She suspects, though, that the rapid sea-ice loss of recent years may simply be a fluke of the weather that will soon return to the longer trend. “I can’t predict the short-term weather, but I do have a good idea about the long-term climate,” says Bitz.

    Her latest simulations, also presented at the AGU meeting, offer a message of tentative hope for recovery. At constant greenhouse gas emissions fixed to projected 2020 levels, sea ice retreats slowly, not precipitously. And when greenhouse gases are removed entirely from the model, sea ice regrows, even in future scenarios in which global warming has stripped the Arctic of ice year-round.

  15. moryah4 Says:

    Report (Yale Enviroment 360)


    Scientists have long believed that thawing permafrost in Arctic soils could release huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Now they are watching with increasing concern as methane begins to bubble up from the bottom of the fast-melting Arctic Ocean.

    by Susan Q. Stranahan

    For the past 15 years, scientists from Russia and other nations have ventured into the ice-bound and little-studied Arctic Ocean above Siberia to monitor the temperature and chemistry of the sea, including levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Their scientific cruises on the shallow continental shelf occurred as sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was rapidly melting and as northern Siberia was earning the distinction — along with the North American Arctic and the western Antarctic Peninsula —of warming faster than any place on Earth.

    Until 2003, concentrations of methane had remained relatively stable in the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere north of Siberia. But then they began to rise. This summer, scientists taking part in the six-week International Siberian Shelf Study discovered numerous areas, spread over thousands of square miles, where large quantities of methane — a gas with 20-times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide — rose from the once-frozen seabed floor.

    These “methane chimneys” sometimes contained concentrations of the gas 100 times higher than background levels and were so large that clouds of gas bubbles were detected “rising up through the water column,” Orjan Gustafsson of the Department of Applied Environmental Science at Stockholm University and the co-leader of the expedition, said in an interview. There was no doubt, he said, that the methane was coming from sub-sea permafrost, indicating that the sea bottom might be melting and freeing up this potent greenhouse gas.

    Gustafsson said he makes no claims that the methane release “is necessarily driven by global warming..” but a growing body of data showing that more methane is emanating from the rapidly thawing Arctic Ocean has caught the attention of many climate scientists. Could this be the beginning, they wonder, of the release of vast quantities of sub-sea Arctic methane long trapped by a permafrost layer that is starting to thaw?
    In recent years, climate scientists have been concerned about a so-called “methane time bomb” on land, which would be detonated when warming Arctic temperatures melt permafrost and cause frozen vegetation in peat bogs and other areas to decay, releasing methane and carbon dioxide. Now come fears of a methane time bomb, part two, this one bursting from the sea floor of the shallow Arctic continental shelf. The Arctic sea floor contains a rich, decayed layer of vegetation from earlier eras when the continental shelf was not underwater.

    So little data is available from the Arctic Ocean that no scientists dare say with certainty whether the world is watching the fuse being lit on a marine methane time bomb. But researchers such as Natalia Shakhova —a visiting scientist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and a participant in some of the Siberian Shelf scientific cruises — are concerned that the undersea permafrost layer has become unstable and is leaking methane long locked in ice crystals, known as methane hydrates.

    One thing is certain: the shallow Siberian Shelf alone covers more than 1.5 million square kilometers (580,000 square miles), an area larger than France, Germany, and Spain combined. Should its permafrost layer thaw, an amount of methane equal to 12 times the current level in the atmosphere could be released, according to Shakhova. Such a release would cause “catastrophic global warming,” she recently wrote in Geophysical Research Abstracts. Among the many unanswered questions is how quickly — over years? centuries? — methane releases might occur.

    “Now come fears of a methane time bomb, part two, this one bursting from the sea floor of the shallow Arctic continental shelf.”

    Said Gustafsson, “The conventional view is that the permafrost is holding these large methane reservoirs in place. That is a view that we need to rethink and revise.”

    What concerns some scientists is evidence from past geological eras that sudden releases of methane have triggered runaway cycles of climate upheaval. Martin Kennedy, a geologist at the University of California at Riverside and lead author of a paper published in Nature in June, speaks in near-doomsday terms, warning that rising methane emissions — from land and sea — threaten to radically destabilize the climate. Ice core studies in Greenland and Antarctica have shown that Earth’s climate can change abruptly, more like flipping a switch than slowly turning a dial.

    “I’m very concerned that we’re near the threshold and we’re going to see the tipping point in 20 years,” Kennedy warns. Temperature increases in the Arctic of a just few degrees could unleash the huge storehouse of methane, which some have estimated would be comparable to burning all recoverable stocks of coal, oil, and natural gas.

    Kennedy’s Nature article bases his warnings on a long-ago event.
    Sediment samples gathered in south Australia led Kennedy’s team to theorize that a catastrophic era of global warming was triggered some 635 million years ago by a gradual — and then abrupt — release of methane from frozen soils, bringing an end to “Snowball Earth,” when the entire planet was encrusted in ice. He sees similarities in the mounting threats of thawing terrestrial and marine permafrost today. The question, he asks, is what will set the process in motion and when.

    “Do we have a substantial risk of crossing one of these thresholds?” he asked in an interview. “I would say yes. I have absolutely no doubt that at the current rate of [greenhouse gas emissions] we can cross a tipping point, and when that occurs it’s too late to do anything about it.”

    “What concerns some scientists is evidence from past geological eras that sudden releases of methane have triggered runaway cycles of climate upheaval.”

    As with much climate research, the science is complex and opinions can vary dramatically. David Lawrence of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, is concerned, but not alarmed. Lawrence was lead author of a paper in Geophysical Research Letters, also published in June, that documented the consequences of the record loss of Arctic sea ice in 2007. Based on climate models, Lawrence and his team theorized that during periods of rapid sea-ice loss, temperatures could increase as far as 900 miles inland, accelerating the rate of terrestrial permafrost thaw. From August to October of 2007, they reported, temperatures over land in the western Arctic rose more than 4° F above the 1978-2006 average.

    “If you give it [the land] a pulse of warming like that it could lead to increased degradation of permafrost,” Lawrence said in an interview. “It’s not quite a runaway situation, but it does accelerate once it starts to thaw and accumulates heat.”

    Arctic soils hold nearly one-third of the world’s supply of carbon, remnants of an era when even the northern latitudes were covered with lush foliage and mammoths ranged over grassy steppes. Scientists estimate that the Siberian tundra contains as much buried organic matter as the world’s tropical rain forests.

    Disappearing Arctic sea ice — summer ice extent was at its lowest level in recorded history in 2007 and almost hit that level in 2008 — also will warm the Arctic Ocean, since a dark, ice-free sea absorbs more solar radiation than a white, ice-covered one. In addition, warmer waters are pouring in from rivers in rapidly warming land regions of Alaska, Canada, and Russia, also increasing sea temperatures.

    Rising ocean and air temperatures mean not only the continuing disappearance of Arctic sea ice — many scientists now think the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer within two decades — Scientists are stepping up their monitoring of the land and the sea in the Arctic.but also mean that permafrost on the sea floor could thaw more quickly. Scientists are unsure how rapidly the subsurface permafrost is thawing, or the exact causes. One possible cause could be geothermal heat seeping through fault zones. In any case, scientists agree that Arctic sub-sea permafrost — with a temperature of 29° F to 30° F— is closer to thawing than terrestrial permafrost, whose temperature can drop as low as 9.5° F.

    At this point, scientists are stepping up their monitoring of the land and the sea in the Arctic, watching to see if either time bomb — terrestrial or marine — is showing signs of going off. So far, data are scarce and monitoring networks don’t exist. “That makes it very difficult to understand and evaluate the future,” Lawrence said. Although scientists know that methane has been released in the region’s water for eons, they are unsure if the new findings represent a short-term spike or long-term trend.

    Pending more research, Orjan Gustafsson shares Lawrence’s caution. When he was asked how close Earth may be to a tipping point of irreversible climate change, he replied: “Everyone would like to know the answer to that. I don’t think anyone can say.”

  16. moryah4 Says:


    (17 Dec 2008)

    A U.S. scientist has found that the rapid disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic is sharply increasing temperatures in the region because the exposed ocean is absorbing large amounts of heat. Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center says that in the last four years, autumn air temperatures in Arctic regions that have lost significant amounts of sea ice have increased by 3 C (5.4 F) compared with long-term average temperatures. In some places, autumn air temperatures in the last four years have been 5 C (9 F) warmer than the 1979 to 2008 average. Stroeve’s findings, presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, confirm what climate scientists have long predicted — that the loss of Arctic sea ice would mean that solar radiation once reflected back into space by ice is now being absorbed by the dark surface of the ocean, significantly boosting air and sea temperatures. Warmer temperatures then lead to the loss of more ice, which in turn causes more warming, creating a feedback loop that amplifies warming. Stroeve called an ice-covered Arctic “the air conditioner of the Northern Hemisphere” and said ice loss could eventually affect global climate

  17. moryah4 Says:


    (Graham Readfearn)

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 11:03am

    EACH year the World Glacier Monitoring Service combines data from scores of glaciers across the world and the latest analysis for 2005 to 2007 doesn’t look good.
    Over the two years the 30 glaciers which the service uses for reference lost 1.8 metres in water thickness. Melting glaciers are regarded as the second most important factor in rising sea levels, behind thermal expansion of the oceans due to warmer temperatures.

    Speaking to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, director of the service Prof Wilfried Haeberli said because the majority of the world’s glaciers were small they may never recover.

    If the climate is not really cooling dramatically, they’ll retreat and disintegrate. This means many will simply be lost in the next decades - 10, 20, 30, 40 years.

    If you have a realistic, mid-warming scenario, then there’s no hope for the small glaciers - in the Pyrenees, in Africa, in the Andes or Rocky mountains. The large glaciers in Alaska and the Himalayas will take longer, but even those very large glaciers will change completely; they will be much, much smaller, and many of them will disintegrate, forming lakes in many cases.

    Less than 10 per cent of the glaciers monitored are in the southern hemisphere. This graph shows

    reduction in mass balance of glaciers since 1980. To see this bigger, go here.

    New Zealand’s Brewster glacier actually gained 20 cm of water thickness from 2005 to 2007. Antarctica’s Bahia del Diablo glacier lost 66 cm. Argentina’s Martial Este lost 51 cm in 2006 with no data available yet for 2007.

    Authors of a new paper published in the Annals of Glaciology said:

    The available data from the six decades indicate a strong ice loss as early as the 1940s and 1950s followed by a moderate mass loss until the end of the 1970s and a subsequent acceleration that has lasted until now, culminating in a mean overall ice loss of over 20 metres water equivalent for the period 1946–2006.

  18. moryah4 Says:


    TOKYO: Japan has launched the first satellite to monitor greenhouse gases worldwide,helping scientists to judge where global warming emissions are coming from and how much is being absorbed by the oceans and forests.
    The orbiter,named Ibuki,together with a US satellite to be launched soon,will boost data available on carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere,now drawn from scattered ground stations.
    Ibuki will circle the globe every 100 minutes,measuring refelcted light to determine the density of the two gases.

    (”The Sunday Telegraph”,25th January,2009)

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