Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Facts are stubborn things.

Since we're getting to the time of year when global warming denialists insist that the continued existence of things like 'cold' and 'winter' disproves the entire science of climate change* (see the comment section of this LJ entry, for instance), it's important to keep things in perspective.

Here's a reality check-
More than 2 trillion tons of land ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted since 2003, according to new NASA satellite data that show the latest signs of what scientists say is global warming...

..."It's not getting better; it's continuing to show strong signs of warming and amplification," [NASA ice scientist Jay] Zwally said. "There's no reversal taking place."

Scientists studying sea ice will announce that parts of the Arctic north of Alaska were 9 to 10 degrees warmer this past fall, a strong early indication of what researchers call the Arctic amplification effect. That's when the Arctic warms faster than predicted, and warming there is accelerating faster than elsewhere on the globe.

As sea ice melts, the Arctic waters absorb more heat in the summer, having lost the reflective powers of vast packs of white ice. That absorbed heat is released into the air in the fall. That has led to autumn temperatures in the last several years that are six to 10 degrees warmer than they were in the 1980s, said research scientist Julienne Stroeve at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.


A second study suggests even larger amounts of frozen methane are trapped in lakebeds and sea bottoms around Siberia and they are starting to bubble to the surface in some spots in alarming amounts, said Igor Semiletov, a professor at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. In late summer, Semiletov found methane bubbling up from parts of the East Siberian Sea and Laptev Sea at levels that were 10 times higher than they were in the mid-1990s, he said based on a study this summer.

The amounts of methane in the region could dramatically increase global warming if they get released, he said.

That, Semiletov said, "should alarm people."

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... Oh, I'm sorry, were you saying something?

[*I'd add that, here in NYC, it was around 60 degrees on Monday. The following day, we had snow showers. If this is considered to be normal northeast winter activity, consider me confused.]


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