Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Arctic Sea Ice Is Rapidly Disappearing
Look at the chart above, compiled from the latest data from the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington. It shows the minimum volume of the Arctic sea ice in all the years from 1979 through 2012, and the results are pretty shocking. Note that the volume in 2012 (just this last summer) was half of what it was in 2009 -- just three years ago. And it was more than five times less than it was in 1979.
And the process seems to be accelerating. Michael Mann, one of the world's leading climate scientists, says the world's ice sheets are melting much faster than was expected. Scientists had expected it to take several decades for the rise in ocean level caused by the melting to seriously affect islands and low-lying coastal areas. They now believe it will happen much faster, perhaps in the next 10 years. Mann told The Guardian newspaper:
We know Arctic sea ice is declining faster than the models predict. When you look at the major Greenland and the west Antarctic ice sheets, which are critical from the standpoint of sea level rise, once they begin to melt we really start to see sea level rises accelerate.
The models have typically predicted that will not happen for decades but the measurements that are coming in tell us it is already happening so once again we are decades ahead of schedule.
Island nations that have considered the possibility of evacuation at some point, like Tuvalu, may have to be contending those sort of decisions within the matter of a decade or so.
It seems that we are already running out of time. Have we already reached the tipping point (beyond which the disastrous effects can be averted)? If not, it sounds like we are approaching that point much faster than was expected. This means something must be done now. Our politicians (and those of other nations) must quit squabbling and delaying, and take some action. Otherwise we may hand our grandchildren a world much less inhabitable than the one we inherited, and that would be inexcusable.