Oceanography

Around The Arctic June 2013


The Arctic is currently primed for rapid and extensive ice loss, unless we see some very unusual weather conditions this Summer.

The state of the ice can be seen in the following series of satellite images from NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System - EOSDIS.  EOSDIS produces near real-time data and makes images such as the Arctic mosaic and the Near Real Time (Orbit Swath) Images available on the web.
Glacier Changes in NE Greenland


Substantial cracks in the Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier ice tongue appear to be growing in extent and number.  While not as spectacular as the 2010 calving of the Peterman Ice Island, it is more closely linked to global warming than

Otherwise known as 79 North, Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier is a floating outlet glacier, about 60 km long and 20 km wide located at 79°30'N, 22° W, draining a large area of the northeast Greenland ice sheet.


Jellyfish Blooms

Newspapers are currently reporting a surge in jellyfish numbers in the Mediterranean. 

Along with the surge in jellyfish numbers, or bloom, is a surge in bad reporting about global warming.  This is one occasion when I am on the side of the 'natural cycles' folks: jellyfish have a 20 year boom and bust natural cycle.

Reductions in Arctic sea ice levels may nfluence patterns of atmospheric circulation both within and beyond the Arctic, according to a simulation using  2007 ice conditions, the second lowest Arctic sea ice extent in the satellite era. 

Two 30-year simulations, one using the sea ice levels of 2007 and another using sea ice levels at the end of the 20th century, were used to access the impact of ice free seas. The results showed a significant response to the anomalous open water of 2007.


Before the Oligocene epoch some 33.6 million years ago, the Earth was a warm place with a tropical climate. In this region, plankton diversity was high until glaciation - the Antarctic continental ice cap - reduced the populations leaving only those capable of surviving in the new climate.

Since that time, we have had seasonal primary productivity of plankton communities. This ice-cap is associated with the ice-pack, the frozen part that disappears and reappears as a function of seasonal climate changes. This phenomenon, still active today, influences global food webs, according to a paper in Science which used information contained in ice sediments from different depths.
Arctic 2013

Arctic 2013

May 24 2013 | 12 comment(s)

Arctic Ice 2013

Some people believe the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a small, unified body composed of the best scientists who make proclamations on lots of things.

That isn't really true. The actual IPCC is a tiny UN group, around a dozen people, but the bulk of the data is compiled by unpaid (well, unpaid by the UN) scientists who participate in working groups that argue over the science - it is not without some flaws. They use geographical and gender parameters for participation so a working group may not have the best scientists in the world, some will have been chosen because they needed to meet a cultural quota - and they still get to be heard. 

The climate just got a little more complex. 

Researchers have found that sunlit snow is a major source of atmospheric bromine in the Arctic and that the surface snowpack above Arctic sea ice plays a previously unknown role in the bromine cycle. Bromine is key to chemical reactions that purge pollutants and destroy ozone.

This means, concludes researchers, that loss of sea ice, which been occurring more rapidly in recent years, has previously unknown and extremely disruptive effects in the balance of atmospheric chemistry in high latitudes. The team's findings suggest the rapidly changing Arctic climate, where surface temperatures are rising three times faster than the global average, could dramatically change its atmospheric chemistry.


 Average sea level changes have averaged about 3 millimeters annually in recent years, leading the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report to estimate that sea levels could rise between 18 and 59 centimeters (7 to 23 inches) this century.  

The potential impact of rising oceans on populated areas is one of the most pressing concerns. Many of the world's major cities, such as New York, Miami, Amsterdam, Mumbai and Tokyo, are located in low-lying areas near the water.


Rising temperatures will lead to a "greening" of the Arctic by mid-century, according to a new numerical model. 

The greening not only will have effects on plant life, the researchers noted, but also on the wildlife that depends on vegetation for cover. The greening could also have a multiplier effect on warming, as dark vegetation absorbs more solar radiation than ice, which reflects sunlight.

In the paper, scientists detail their new computer projections stating that wooded areas in the Arctic could increase by as much as 50 percent over the coming decades. The researchers also show that this dramatic greening will accelerate climate warming at a rate greater than previously expected.