Artic Sea Ice On The Rebound

| October 15, 2008

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Over the summer the news was that troops of environmental activists were parading through the northwest passage to draw attention to the fact that it was ice free. This was supposed to imply that that run away, man made global warming was wrecking the arctic.

In reality most of these expeditions ended locked in the ice and withdrawing in failure, though you would not know it via the press releases.

In fact, the reduction in sea ice in the arctic was more likely caused by an unusual wind pattern during the early parts of 2008 that shoved the floating ice pack around, opening up some gaps that the global warming pharisees mistook for a sign.

Thanks to a number of factors, including reduced solar output, the northern hemisphere is stepping up for a good old fashioned cold winter. To kick things off, the sea ice in the arctic is growing rapidy. From wattsupwiththat.com:

Arctic sea ice now 28.7% higher than this date last year – still climbing

10/14/2008 7,064,219 square kilometers
10/14/2007 5,487,656 square kilometers

A difference of: 1,576,563 square kilometers, now in fairness, 2008 was a leap year, so to avoid that criticism, the value of 6,857,188 square kilometers can be used which is the 10/13/08 value, for a difference of 1,369,532 sq km. Still not too shabby at 24.9 %. The one day gain between 10/13/08 and 10/14/08 of 3.8% is also quite impressive.

Meanwhile, the anemic sun decided to finally toss up a small sunspot cluster, labeled 1005 of the new cycle 24. This might be a signal that our local star is coming off vacation and might start putting out the energy we need to keep warm.

The sea is not the only place where the quiet sun is having an impact. From the Alaska Daily News, Bad weather was good for Alaska glaciers:

Two hundred years of glacial shrinkage in Alaska, and then came the winter and summer of 2007-2008. Unusually large amounts of winter snow were followed by unusually chill temperatures in June, July and August.

“In mid-June, I was surprised to see snow still at sea level in Prince William Sound,” said U.S. Geological Survey glaciologist Bruce Molnia. “On the Juneau Icefield, there was still 20 feet of new snow on the surface of the Taku Glacier in late July. At Bering Glacier, a landslide I am studying, located at about 1,500 feet elevation, did not become snow free until early August. “In general, the weather this summer was the worst I have seen in at least 20 years.”

Never before in the history of a research project dating back to 1946 had the Juneau Icefield witnessed the kind of snow buildup that came this year. It was similar on a lot of other glaciers too.

So while the current theme is that the earth is warming up, I think the more credible concern might be that we are cooling off. For most of humanity, being a bit warmer is actually welcome, where as the kind of chill that has happened in the past could be very dangerous for crops and food production.

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One thing is for sure, this year’s version of “Deadliest Catch” should be a good one to watch. Some of my favorite segments include ice breaking on ships like F/V Northwestern.

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Category: Climate Change, Main, Science

About the Author ()

Bruce Henderson is a former Marine who focuses custom data mining and visualization technologies on the economy and other disasters.

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