Philadelphia NBC10 Meteorologist Glenn ‘Hurricane’ Schwartz, probably the city’s most prominent TV weathercaster, explains his views on ‘shocking’ Arctic ice melt.
One of the most amazing and shocking records has fallen.
But it’s thousands of miles between here and the Arctic, so why should we care about it?
First, let me show you some images that have wowed scientists worldwide.
And I’m not just talking about what some people have called “climate alarmists”.
This is kind of alarming.
As you can see, sea ice peaks in March and reaches its minimum in September. That much hasn’t changed. But look at just how far below this year is compared to the average of the 2000’s. And notice that the four years with lowest ice are all since 2007! This is no coincidence. Here’s what it looks like just in August.
By the way, the area in green is considered the Arctic:
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
1. THE WORLD GETS WARMER, FASTER
While warming over most of the globe has had some ups and downs in the past 15 years, that has not [been] the case for the Arctic. It’s been warming steadily and rapidly since around 1980. More and more ice has melted, and the temperature is rising.
It’s the same reason you get hotter when wearing a black shirt rather than a white shirt on a sunny day. More heat is reflected off the white shirt. The same is true of ice. Pure, white ice reflects nearly 90% of the sun’s rays, while the darker ocean reflects much less. This reflection factor is known as “albedo”. Ice has a very high albedo.
So if we lose a lot of ice, more heat from the sun is absorbed in the ocean that has replaced the ice.
That warms the air near the ground. And that melts more ice. Which then causes more warming …..this is called “Arctic Amplification” and is the reason for more rapid changes there.
Aside from melting ice changing the albedo, look at what’s happening to some of the ice up there — in this case, in Greenland. This is ice?
Look at what’s happened to the albedo over Greenland in July:
So, whatever the cause, the lower albedo adds to the melting AND warming.
2. SEA LEVEL WILL RISE FASTER
Melting ice in the Arctic does not affect sea level. It’s the same as a melting ice cube in a glass of water doesn’t make it overflow.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that places like Greenland are seeing more and more melting due to the warming and albedo effect. And because the ice is over land, eventually, that will lead to more and more sea level rise around the world. And, of course, Greenland isn’t the only place with melting ice.
Warming oceans also cause sea level to rise due to “thermal expansion”. And look at how much ocean warming has occurred compared to recent decades:
Could it be that we’re already seeing a sharper increase in sea level?
This is important for us since we live so close to the water. Higher sea level will threaten our beaches if this trend continues. And storms that hit will cause more flooding than before due to the higher starting point. Oh, and it will flood more often.
3. MORE AND MORE EXTREME WEATHER AS PATTERNS CHANGE
I’ve already addressed our recent incredible stretch of weather extremes in the past 3 years in a previous blog:
The records include:
FROM WINTER 2009-10
- Snowiest winter ever recorded (since 1880s)
- Snowiest February ever recorded
- Snowiest month ever recorded (Feb.)
- Snowiest winter ever recorded
- 2nd and 3rd biggest snowstorms ever recorded
- Hottest summer ever recorded
- Hottest June ever recorded
- 3rd Hottest July ever recorded
- Most 90+ degree days ever recorded
- 4th Hottest Sept. ever recorded
- Wettest March ever recorded
- Hottest July ever recorded
- Wettest August ever recorded
- 3rd Wettest September ever recorded
- Wettest Aug/Sept ever recorded (any 2 months)
This doesn’t even include 2012, when, as you recall, more freakish, record weather has occurred.
There have been many heat records, rainfall records, and snowstorm records recently, and not just around here. I’m sure you’ve heard the news from many parts of the world.
Recently, more research is connecting extreme weather patterns with what has been going on in the Arctic. Click here for a good, recent explanation by a Rutgers researcher who just published a major paper on this. Feel free to look at that paper and others to see how this happens.
Now, here’s what happens as a result:
- More extremes of heat, drought, and storminess
- The extremes last longer than they used to
- Most of world warms, but extreme winter weather can hit some areas and last for a month or more (this has happened in Northern Europe in recent winters).
AND TO MAKE THIS WORSE…
No computer model or organization has come close to getting this ice melt predicted right. The IPCC, the international group that has put out regular reports on the state of the climate, has been WAAAAY too conservative in Arctic sea ice forecasts:
Notice that the current trend is MUCH lower than ANY of the IPCC models. This could also be true for their sea level rise, since their most recent report didn’t include ice melt contributions. I would expect the next IPCC report in the next year or two will have a much different forecast for ice melt and sea level rise due to this recent evidence.
The world is warming, especially in the Arctic. Ice is melting at a rapid pace. If this trend continues, a nearly ice-free Arctic in summer could be 5-15 years away (as opposed to the 2007 IPCC forecast of late in the century). Weather patterns, which have shown an increase in extremes in recent years, are likely to become even more extreme.
Reprinted with permission of NBCphiladelphia.com. See original article.