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back to article Arctic ice shrinks to ‘smallest in satellite era’ - NASA

NASA has tossed its coin into the “shrinking Arctice sea ice” kitty with images showing that on August 26, “sea ice dipped to its smallest extent ever recorded in more than three decades of satellite measurements”. Noting that the 2012 melt season could still have weeks to run, the NASA measurements compare the August 26 extent …

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Be very afraid!

Lewis Page assured me that this is much more dangerous than melted-down fission power reactor cores!

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't that 1.7% below, not 17% below?

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Anonymous Coward

Percent

How is 4.1 17% less than 4.17?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Percent

Thanks to the readers that caught the misplaced decimal point, which I have now corrected.

Richard Chirgwin

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Re: Percent

Given that the record in 2007 did not happen for a few weeks, todays ice extent, according to IARC-JAXA, is 16.5% below the same day in 2007.

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WTF?

Re: Percent

Richard, why are you reporting on north polar events ^W slow motion train wreck from the SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE? After reading that the southern pole is not melting away, I can almost hear you muttering "I'm all right Jack".

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Alert

Question is, what caused it.

No doubt there's been a thinning of the ice in the last 30 years, and in 2007 a severe storm contributed significantly to the then record low. I believe that there was another such storm this year. Secondly, I understand that there's a problem with 'soot' which is having a significant effect on Arctic melting. So it may not be *all* be caused by temperature rise due to CO2...

The ice in Greenland had large and unexpected (by the media) melt that's supposed to be part of a 150 year cycle. *If* that's the case, has this also contributed to this years Arctic sea ice melt?

Finally, if the current problems in the Arctic *are* almost entirely due to man made CO2, then we're well and truly fucked, because there's no chance that CO2 levels are going to do anything other than increase for at least the next 30 years....

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Re: Question is, what caused it.

Trade via the North East passage is likely to increase and lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions because it's shorter, no pirates either. OTOH the soot from ship's diesel causes merry hell with Arctic ice.

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Unhappy

Re: Question is, what caused it.

"Trade via the North East passage is likely to increase and lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions "

Only if trade overall doesn't increase because of the now shorter journey times.

"OTOH the soot from ship's diesel causes merry hell with Arctic ice."

CO2 aside, its about time there were some international laws drawn up about ship emissions as currently ships can burn the worst low grade fuel oil and pump yellow brown poisonous shit into the sky and there's nothing anyone can do about it. I don't understand why aircraft emissions can be regulated by ship emissions for some reason can't.

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Re: Question is, what caused it.

A stats team from Reading have just published work on human versus natural contributions to Arctic melting. They estimate 30% of melting is down to long term natural cycles in the Arctic, 70% from human emissions. Summary, video and links to the article here:

http://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/releases/PR457684.aspx

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@ Mike Richards 70% CO2

There are scientists that'll disagree with the attribution to GHGs, they maintain that a significant portion of melt is caused by 'soot' emissions. I can remember seeing photos of melt pools where the bottom of the pool was black from the soot in the melt, but can't find a link to post...

See this paper from Pielke Snr/Liston: http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/another-climate-feedback-the-influence-of-shrub-height-in-tundra-regions-on-northern-high-latitude-climate/ Ok, shrubs aren't the issue here, but the paper quantifies the effects of soot on snow/ice melting.

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Happy

Re: Question is, what caused it.

You don't really get that much soot, i.e. solid particles from a marine diesel, when you see them "blowing the tubes" most of the crap comes from the solid particles from a boiler.

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Joke

Re: Question is, what caused it.

The date stamp says August. There's ya problem. Ice melts in Summer.

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I'm no longer sure whether I'm looking at typos or sarcasm

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Not a problem

Lewis Pages is controlling ice melt.

No impact of CO2 or mankind activities (Lewis Page is god).

Nasa is a nice band of marketing teenager that never understood engineering.

And, proof above all, Curiosity has found positive temperatures on Mars, although there is no mankind activities there.

Sorry for polluting this topic.

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Megaphone

The Arctic? Look a bit further south...

Arctic ice melting is something to watch, sure, but what about Greenland's ice cap? Let its ice warm a bit and slide off into the Atlantic & it's goodbye Gulfstream. England will become roughly equal to Northern Canada.

In China, in their Northern region, there's a city called Ha'erbin (Harbin). In winter, it gets down to -30 degrees or worse. And it's further south than the UK...

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FAIL

Re: The Arctic? Look a bit further south...

That'll be Harbin that's hundreds of miles from the sea, then?

I agree that were the Gulfstream to switch off it would have a huge impact on our climate but it wouldn't stop the UK being an island.

Continental climate != island climate.

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Re: The Arctic? Look a bit further south...

"Let its ice warm a bit and slide off into the Atlantic & it's goodbye Gulfstream. England will become roughly equal to Northern Canada."

Thus accumulating all the ice that was lost!.

I cant see how people can't see that a long time-delayed negative feedback path - ice melt /gulf stream stops/ arctic gets much colder/ ice forms... is not an entirely natural event that will, from time to time, cause massive fluctuations in northern climates and ice extents.

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Coat

Re: The Arctic? Look a bit further south...

The polar ice is melting

Suits me fine

We go to the beach

On the Northern Line

We watch the sea

Comin' up the street

Under the sun

Under the sun

- Under the Sun by Marillion

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Re: The Arctic? Look a bit further south...

"I agree that were the Gulfstream to switch off it would have a huge impact on our climate but it wouldn't stop the UK being an island."

Only if the English Channel and the North Sea didn't freeze over, which would be a likely outcome of "a huge impact".

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Boffin

don't worry the cold over the next 15 yrs will make up for all the lost ice ..i dare say it will tripple in size ..

minor solar max = very cold next 15 yrs ...

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Anonymous Coward

@flearider

Hopefully they stop lying and start to use the correct tools, shame they are still using a compass in an era of GPS but who am I to question the consensus.

Google MAISE @ NSIDC if you only listen to consensus.

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FAIL

A modest query...

"...Discussing the data, Joey Comiso at Goddard says the Arctice temperatures this summer are cooler than when the 2007 record was set..."

Umm.

The variation in Arctic ice is often taken as a proxy for 'Global Warming'. The belief is that increases in CO2 concentration increase the air temperature by various mechanisms.

If Arctic ice is shrinking, but the air temperature is actually cooler, this indicates that whatever is causing the ice extent to shrink, it's not air temperature, and hence CO2 concentration. My understanding is that sea ice, like that in the Arctic, is influenced strongly by warm ocean currents and storm winds packing it into a smaller area.

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Re: A modest query...

it's getting thinner. Less heat is needed now than in 2007 to reach the same point.

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Standfirst: "And winter’s not yet over"

Summer??

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...yeah, yeah, yeah...

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OH KNOWS!

1.7% in 30 years! We're all gonna DIE!!!111!1one!!!!11eleven!!111!!!!!

In other news, I believe the USS Skate submarine surfaced at the North Pole in 1959ish ... and didn't the US and Soviet Union surface subs in open water at the North Pole simultaneously in 1972ish?

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Re: OH KNOWS!

Skate surfaced in an Arctic with much thicker ice than exists now

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Re: OH KNOWS!

Actually the extent of summer ice has decreased by more than 75% over the last 33 years (see eg. http://jcmooreonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Arctic-Ice-Volume2.jpg). If this trend continues there will be no ice in the summer by about 2025.

Note submarines can punch through several metres thick ice, so a submarine surfacing is nothing special. Obviously they'd prefer to surface through cracks in the ice whenever possible.

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It is all irrelevant.

The water cycle (rain) is the carbon dump, takes the CO2 out the atmosphere the quickest and puts it in the sea. So it is slowly becoming carbonic acid, very slight acidity which will infect and kill most life that can't adapt over the coming years.

As the biggest source of O2 on this planet is sea algae, and not the amazon rain forest. We are all f00ked if that algae can't adapt to save us.

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Mushroom

Re: It is all irrelevant.

"We're all doomed."

Well, in reality some of us might be, but the majority will adapt and find ways to live just outwith our means as we have always done. Necessity is the mother of invention.

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Re: It is all irrelevant.

Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14.

Alarmists say this equates to a 30% increase in acidity.

Normal people say this is a tiny change, and obviously, the ocean is not becoming 'carbonic acid'!

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Facepalm

Re: It is all irrelevant.

It is a 30% increase in acidity indeed as the pH is a logarithmic scale. The pH change is most definitely relevant as it proves huge amounts of CO2 are being absorbed from the atmosphere (around 50% of all CO2 ends up in the oceans). Also organisms may not be able to adapt to large pH changes: human blood levels are regulated to be within a 0.1 range, go outside that and you get ill, about 0.4 over the limit and you're dead.

So yes, it's a significant change and it matters to all ocean life.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It is all irrelevant.

Less alkaline perhaps?

IIRC Acidity is at 7, right?

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Re: It is all irrelevant. because

the oceans contain over 50 TIMES as much CO2 as the atmosphere - that is therefore a maximum of 2% increase IF AND ONLY IF the oceans absorbed ALL the atmospheric CO2. If they did that we'd all be dead (we need CO2 to breathe; plants need CO2 to photo synthesize).

Also - it is always worth remembering that as water warms it gases off dissolved CO2; yup thats right; warm water contains less CO2 then cold water. mmm; one wonders if the theoretical 800 year LAG between temperature and CO2 is caused by the out-gassing; and that part of the increase we see now in atmospheric CO2 is due to the global Middle Ages Warm period ?

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WTF?

Re: It is all irrelevant. because

Wrong, we don't need CO2 to breathe. In fact too much CO2 kills you even if there is more than enough oxygen in the air. And the oceans can't absorb all CO2 as they are in equilibrium with the atmosphere.

Still trying to deny that burning oil causes an increase CO2? As CO2 concentration rises, oceans will heat up, thus absorbing less of the CO2 we are emitting and thus atmospheric CO2 will rise even faster.

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Re: It is all irrelevant.

"Less alkaline perhaps?"

Perhaps, but isn't that just another way of saying more acidic. Whatever you call it, it's not good is it?

"IIRC Acidity is at 7, right?"

Wrong. pH 7 is neutral. Actually, I'm not sure what your point is.

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FAIL

Re: It is all irrelevant. because Wilco1 gets it wrong

oh dear

http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/239465

partial quote

In addition to the cold temperatures, other factors make Vostok one of the most difficult places on Earth for human habitation:

*An almost complete lack of moisture in the air.

*An average windspeed of 5 m/s (18 km/h), sometimes rising to as high as 27 m/s (97 km/h).

*An acute lack of oxygen because of the high 3,488-meter (11,444 ft) altitude. Accounting for the fact that oxygen density gets lower as one approaches the poles, it is estimated that the oxygen density at Vostok is equivalent to that of a mountain over 5,000 meters (16,400 ft) tall at more temperate latitudes.

*A higher ionization of the air.

*A partial pressure of gases that is different from that which most humans are used to.

*A lack of carbon dioxide in the air, which leads to irregularities in a person's breathing mechanism.

*A polar night that lasts three months of the year.

Note this bit

*A lack of carbon dioxide in the air, which leads to irregularities in a person's breathing mechanism.

with reports of people waking up 'not breathing' due to the low CO2 partial pressure.

and then go here : http://www.ivhhn.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=84

Exposure limits

(% in air)

Health Effects

2-3 Unnoticed at rest, but on exertion there may be marked shortness of breath

3 Breathing becomes noticeably deeper and more frequent at rest

3-5 Breathing rhythm accelerates. Repeated exposure provokes headaches

5 Breathing becomes extremely laboured, headaches, sweating and bounding pulse

7.5 Rapid breathing, increased heart rate, headaches, sweating, dizziness, shortness of breath, muscular weakness, loss of mental abilities, drowsiness, and ringing in the ears

Note that it isn't until 7.5 parts per hundred (not PARTS PER MILLION) that we see 'loss of mental abilities.

At 2 to 3 PARTS PER HUNDRED the effects of extremely high CO2 concentration is not even noticed.

390 parts per million 390/1000000 as against 2/100 or 20000 parts per million ( I don't think I've dropped an extra zero here - check it yourself) and you can work out how many times that is larger....

You really want to worry about 390 ppm when we don't have any problems until we get 20000 ppm ????

Next

What on earth are you on about quote you :

Still trying to deny that burning oil causes an increase CO2?

end quote

NO. what an stupid comment - I have NEVER denied burning oil or coal or methane or ethane etc etc doesn't give of CO2. I suppose you are one of those people who keep telling me I deny the climate changes ? Well; I have news for you; the climate has ALWAYS changed. ALWAYS

So - how much CO2 is given of by the earth's non-human reactions ? And how much is added by the human use of burning things ? Given we do not even know how much CO2 is given off by sub-sea volcanic action - except it can be estimated in Giga tons per annum

Amongst other important thing PLANTS STOP PHOTO SYNTHESIZING below about 150 ppm CO2; and plants do really really well at 5000ppm. Why have plants evolved to bloom in 'high' CO2 concentrations ? Why do commercial green house gardeners run their green houses with >1000ppm of CO2 -- because plants are better adapted to high levels of CO2

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Re: It is all irrelevant.

Or not.

If Earth goes the way of Venus or Mars, I doubt human kind will be able to adapt.

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Headmaster

Re: It is all irrelevant.

No, it is NOT "...just another way of saying more acidic"

Neutral (7) is the tipping point between acid/alkaline - not quite but essentially a binary state change.

Things are essentially either/or, not both. So something becomes acid at any value below 7 (my statement was not precise before) and becomes alkaline at values above 7.

So the possible statements about state changes at different pH levels are

pH < 7 => increasing/decreasing acidity

pH = 7 => neutral

pH >7 => increasing/decreasing alkalinity

An alkaline substance does not increase in acidity. That is nonsense.

It is just a way of saying something in a manner to scare people, because Joe Average understands "acidic" as dangerous. Alkaline is also dangerous, but Joe Average is not as likely aware of it.

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Re: It is all irrelevant.

@Philip Lewis

You can invent your own terminology if you want to but there is nothing wrong in saying that an alkaline substance that moves towards pH 7 is becoming more acidic. It is similar to saying that -2 is more positive than -3. Look up the definition of pH if you don't believe me.

But anyway, you are missing the point, as amply illustrated by your last sentence:

"It is just a way of saying something in a manner to scare people, because Joe Average understands "acidic" as dangerous. Alkaline is also dangerous, but Joe Average is not as likely aware of it."

You can argue about terminology all day but it is the change in pH that is the important thing. No one is using the term acidic in this context to imply 'dangerous' as in something that would burn you. The danger is in the degree of change and the implications it has for the eco system.

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Antarctic is the opposite

And yes while sea ice has melted this summer at the top of the planet, the bottom of the planet is experiencing ice pack growth.

Let's keep things in perspective, shall we?

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Trollface

Re: Antarctic is the opposite

That kind of makes sense as the heat rises to the top of the planet, but as the ice floats I'd expect that to float up there too...

Science is hard

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Re: Antarctic is the opposite

It happens to be winter overthere, big surprise. Overall Antartic sea ice has been steady, not growing, not receding. Quite unlike the arctic where sea ice loss is dramatic. Only a few weeks ago predictions that the arctic will be ice free in the summer within this decade were ridiculed by Lewis, but now it looks like we're well on our way to achieve exactly that...

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Joke

Re: Antarctic is the opposite

What, you expect balance?

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FAIL

Big Storm

No mention of the storm that hit the area and contributed by breaking up the surface ice?

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Re: Big Storm

There certainly was a big storm which contributed significantly, but only because the ice is much thinner nowadays.

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Re: Big Storm

The Satellite's in question don't work that well measuring broken up ice due to the storm, the ice is always thinner in Summer and it is only a 30 year record.

This big headline story is the equivelent of claiming that the recent flooding in Yorkshire was caused by rising sea levels and you would have to be a conspiracy nut to make any connection to the North Atlantic jet stream and rainfall.

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Re: Big Storm

The satellite does accurately measure ice coverage, even for broken up ice. No accurate measurements exist before 1979, so no surprise it "is only a 30 year record"... But the fact that ice coverage has been declining fast since the measurements started is telling. This year only 25% of the ice that existed in 1979 is left, and it is declining on a yearly basis.

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