Saturday, September 15, 2007

Globe Warming Much Faster Than Predicted

I'm stealing this observation from... I can't remember, so sorry.

But if the globe is warming so much more quickly than expected, doesn't it suggest we don't really understand climate change as well as we are being told that we do?

About 40 percent of the floating ice that normally blankets the top of the world during the summer will be gone by 2050, says James Overland, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. Earlier studies had predicted it would be nearly a century before that much ice vanished.

"This is a major change," Overland said. "This is actually moving the threshold up."

The finding, to be published Saturday in Geophysical Research Letters, adds to a growing body of evidence that the ecosystem around the North Pole is rapidly transforming, says Mark Serreze, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. He goes even further than Overland, predicting the Arctic Ocean will be completely ice-free in summer by 2030.

"If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have said it wouldn't happen until 2070 or 2100," said Serreze, who was not involved in Overland's project.

The article notes that shipping could become much more efficient with the opening of a northwest passage. So Henry Hudson was on the right track; he just needed to wait a few hundred years.

Update: Lest you think I treat this too cavalierly, note the less-reported story: the South Pole ice cap has reached its expanse since measures began in 1979.

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