Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Even More About the Arctic Ocean Ice Cap

As you can see from the photo, at the end of this Summer, the ice cap had melted a lot (look at the photo on the left--the sea ice is purple). Indeed, the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was at a minimum since we could see the thing from space. Now the area of concern, near the pole, is 100% back. Check out the graph below. So was last Summer a case of 'No harm, no foul'? Or was it a harbinger of a blue ocean Arctic in Summer in the semi-near future?



Isn't the question how thick is the ice? The fact that the area of ice is equvalent to other winters is not as relevant as the thickness of the ice. i.e Thinner ice melts in th esummer and thick ice does not.

I am also hearing reports that the permafrost is melting.

Due to the insulating effect of water, sea ice only gets so thick because about 4 feet down, the water is almost always above 32 degrees. So, no, the thickness of the ice doesn't really enter into it. Pressure ridges can stack the ice up out of the water, so there is 'old' sea ice, but your worry about thin, easily melted sea ice is misplaced.
I hear too that permafrost in Alaska is indeed melting. I believe that is mainly because the northern hemisphere has gotten a little warmer this past 150 years. No word on Siberia or Canada, however. Not a bad thing in my book, but my knowledge is limited.

Once you get far enough north for permafrost, you need it as much infrastructure is built directly on it under the supposition that it is stable.

I heard on Pulse of the Planet during the last week that melting permafrost releases tremendous amount sof carbon into the atmosphere.
Why would old ice hold large amounts of CO2 if the concentration in the atmosphere now is so much higher? If they mean that swampy unfrozen ground give off CO2, OK, agreed; but only during the summer when there is a lot of plant growth soaking up the CO2. Still not worried.
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