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Earth Science

The Arctic Sets Yet Another Record Low Maximum Extent (nsidc.org) 245

Layzej writes: Arctic sea ice was at a record low maximum extent for the second straight year, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA. This year's maximum extent is 1.12 million square kilometers below the 1981 to 2010 average of 15.64 million square kilometers. Ice extent increases through autumn and winter, and the maximum typically occurs in mid-March. Sea ice then retreats through spring and summer and shrinks to its smallest or minimum extent typically by mid-September. Ice melt in the region is reducing the transport of warm southern waters brought north by the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). "Some studies suggest that decreased heat flux of warm Atlantic waters could lead to a recovery of all Arctic sea ice in the near future," said NSIDC senior research scientist Julienne Stroeve. "I think it will have more of a winter impact and could lead to a temporary recovery of winter ice extent in the Barents and Kara seas."
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The Arctic Sets Yet Another Record Low Maximum Extent

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  • by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @12:06PM (#51800385)

    It really doesn't matter how much compelling evidence continues to pile up that global warming is an imminent threat, deniers will continue to deny. If I believed in an afterlife, I would sincerely hope that those choosing inaction would spend eternity hearing the cries of the billions who will suffer as a consequence. But there will be no such luck.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      It really doesn't matter how much compelling evidence continues to pile up that global warming is an imminent threat, deniers will continue to deny. If I believed in an afterlife, I would sincerely hope that those choosing inaction would spend eternity hearing the cries of the billions who will suffer as a consequence. But there will be no such luck.

      "Some studies suggest that decreased heat flux of warm Atlantic waters could lead to a recovery of all Arctic sea ice in the near future," said NSIDC senior research scientist Julienne Stroeve.

      Ice very well may come back, and soon. Spare us the hysterics.

      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @12:21PM (#51800485) Journal

        Ice very well may come back, and soon. Spare us the hysterics.

        Sure and Jesus very well may come back, and soon. But that's not exactly a strategy, is it?

      • by Layzej ( 1976930 )
        If winter sea ice does recover due to a slowdown in the AMOC that may not be such a good thing. "This “overturning circulation” (AMOC) plays a major role in the climate because it brings warm water northward, thereby helping to warm Europe’s climate, and also sends cold water back towards the tropics"
    • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @12:18PM (#51800471) Journal
      The problem isn't the science behind warming it's the ridiculous solutions that are being proposed.

      Kill the ban on breeder reactors in the United States and license French reactor designs. Could be done in 10-15 years and cut our carbon output 50%. Unfortunately there is no political will to do what needs to be done.
      • by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @12:23PM (#51800501)

        The problem isn't the science behind warming it's the ridiculous solutions that are being proposed.

        The problem is that half the people are denying the science, so we can't even start a proper discussion about any proposal.

        • With an intelligent switch to nuclear we would see enough benefits that the global warming controversy would be moot. No more mercury emissions, strip mining, decommission the old nuclear plants and reprocess the spent fuel rods (solving a host of waste issues). If you propose a palatable solution than you will bring more people to the table.

          Taxing rich nations for the carbon emissions with no restraint on the 3rd world is ridiculous and nowhere near a solution! If this is the solution than the science
        • "The problem is that half the people are denying the science, so we can't even start a proper discussion about any proposal"

          That other half of the 'deniers' are the ones who won't let us implement any low-carbon solution, even going so far as "Ivanpah kills birds!" No, Ivanpah is making bird species more intelligent by selecting out the individuals who blunder around in foodless desert wasteland.

          • No, Ivanpah is making bird species more intelligent by selecting out the individuals who blunder around in foodless desert wasteland.

            By that logic, we'd best watch out for the squirrels; we've killed off so many of the "dumb" ones that the survivors'll be intelligent enough to develop cesium weaponry and take us out... any day now.

        • Then don't talk about it as a mater of global warming. Say that you're doing it to reduce pollution. Is there anyone against reducing pollution? Sell it as reducing pollution, improving efficiency, eliminating our dependence on foreign energy.

          The obtuse fools who keep banging their heads against the wall in this way are just as idiotic as the people burying their heads in the sand and ignoring that there's any kind of problem at all.

          It doesn't matter if you have people who normally accept science. Odd
        • Yep, half the people simply deny the science of breeder reactors. If we could get them on board, the rest of the discussions would be irrelevant.
          • If you are pro nuclear you should get your head out of your arse and read a bit about the topic.
            There are plenty of reactor 'ideas' that are hundred times better than breeders.

            Playing pro nuke and anti wind or anti solar and then coming up with breeder reactors as a 'solution' makes you look like a complete moron and an idiot.

            • You really know what makes people look like morons and idiots (vindictive ones at that)? Attacking people for things they never said nor wrote. Inventing things like anti-wind or anti-solar when it wasn't even mentioned or hinted at. But then - you probably already knew that, didn't you?
      • by Layzej ( 1976930 )

        Kill the ban on breeder reactors in the United States and license French reactor designs. Could be done in 10-15 years and cut our carbon output 50%. Unfortunately there is no political will to do what needs to be done.

        Agreed. This is the discussion we should be having. We need the republicans to come to the table to bring some balance to the conversation.

      • Kill the ban on breeder reactors in the United States and license French reactor designs. Could be done in 10-15 years and cut our carbon output 50%. Unfortunately there is no political will to do what needs to be done.

        Agree completely.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Let's assume, for whatever purpose, that I believe you.

      What, precisely, would you like to do about that?
      What's the impact of your suggested actions?
      Are they more or less dire than the proposed scenario if we a) do nothing at all, b) just don't give a shit and do more of what we're doing?

      Because NOBODY, really NOBODY, actually has a solution.

      You're right. Okay? Let's accept that. Now what?

      • Denial or ignoring the problem is _not_ a solution.

        Neither is sitting on our ass and hoping for the best.

        • by ledow ( 319597 )

          Agreed. So your suggestion is....?

          • How about we listen to those who have studied the problems and have solutions to offer instead of sticking our head up our collective asses. I'm sure there's plenty you can do at your end.

            We know that buying gas-guzzling SUV is bad for the environment. Before you start blaming the government for imposing legislations, please consider that the problem has been known for a while, but people feel that a status symbol is more important that the sustainability of our planet. We only have ourselves to blame.

            • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @02:22PM (#51801649) Homepage

              And quite what are those people saying, for instance? Because there's shockingly little air-time ever given to that.

              Let's say we tax all cars over a certain engine size, applicable to the US. Will that reduce emissions by any noticeable amount? Will that amount recede the ice-caps by anything significantly measurable? Because, pretty much, as far as I can tell the answer is no.

              I'm playing devil's advocate here, but I'm also quite serious. As someone of scientific mind, "What's happening?" is a good question, but not one millionth as interesting as "What does that mean?" and "What are the alternatives?"

              What, precisely, are the listed actions that - if we impose them immediately, world-wide, without anyone trying to find a way around them, would reduce the danger and NOT introduce more problems (e.g. if we taxed ALL cars, would that push people into poverty and/or would it mean that people instead started overcrowding the train systems?). And how feasible is that of ever happening?

              Stop using oil?
              Start taxing it heavily?
              Start rolling, scheduled power-cuts to reduce usage (like the UK did in the 1970's?)?
              Stop the sale of cars, appliances, etc. that are less than super-efficient?

              And how long, if we do all that, do we have to do it for? Centuries? Permanently? Until we spot a difference?

              And, playing absolute devil's advocate, what if we notice NO difference? What if we ban oil-use and nothing changes and we continue to flood the world? What did we gain by doing so? Could we have predicted that? What other mechanisms could be responsible.

              Sorry, but it's really not as simple as "stop buying SUV's". The engine sizes in Europe are tiny compared to the US, so we're already effectively doing what a ban on SUV's in America would do. And it's always been that way. So do we spot differences in emissions? Not really, our scientists are still saying the same as the US scientists. And while China is just burning coal like there's no tomorrow, would/could anything we do actually make a difference if they don't also co-operate?

              I'm being serious here, and have had this conversation many dozens of times online.

              I believe you. NOW WHAT?

              • Change coal to nuclear and renewable (China's on it already), switch ICE cars to EVs. Those two will help immensely. Taxing oil heavily may be helpful at some point in that transition. We've already stopped the sale of appliances that aren't super-efficient, and switching to EVs will do the same to cars, since EVs are 95%+ efficient and ICE cars are around 30%. Further in the future, carbon sequestration will be necessary.

                If nothing changes then some new phenomena must've taken effect, because we knew well

            • We know that buying gas-guzzling SUV is bad for the environment. Before you start blaming the government for imposing legislations, please consider that the problem has been known for a while, but people feel that a status symbol is more important that the sustainability of our planet. We only have ourselves to blame.

              No, we don't know that. In some uses it may be bad for the environment; when it's used to haul food, deliver medicine, or provide goods and services to many people that cuts down their net effect on the environment, it's a good thing. Blanket statements are why there is a debate in the first place.

              • Do you need an SUV to haul food, deliver medicine or provide goods and services or are there more efficient method?

                Please enlighten me. Where is a SUV really better for the environment than say a minivan or small car? Even a cargo van for large haul?

                • Me, personally? No. But I do have an uncle who is the local pharmacist/general store for a tiny town in Central Northern Washington and he uses his Suburban for weekly runs into town to buy many items in bulk at Costco/Sam's Club that he resells for the locals. So they don't have to do the 120 mile round trip, especially in the winter when the roads are pretty bad. So yes - it does happen. But that's OK, SUV=evil, I get it.
            • by lucm ( 889690 )

              We know that buying gas-guzzling SUV is bad for the environment. Before you start blaming the government for imposing legislations, please consider that the problem has been known for a while, but people feel that a status symbol is more important that the sustainability of our planet. We only have ourselves to blame.

              Yeah, it's a known fact that diesel or electric car batteries are much better solutions and by no way a status symbol.

    • The arctic has a well-known liberal bias.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Tired of hearing about climate change/warming what ever, I accept we have screwed the pooch.

      I bought a house 400ft above sea level in a location that rarely gets storms or temperature extremes .
      I avoid carbon emitting activities where its practical to do so - I leave the car at home and ride the bus and train to work, have made effort to get my house energy efficient with a heatpump waterheater, and a heatpump for heating the house, next I'm replacing windows, at that point I've done as much as I can with o

      • However I do wonder what a mess of a planet my kids are going to inherit, and the kids of the morons that run the evil carbon spewing activities, do these guys not worry about that?

        No they don't worry about it, their kids can afford to move to wherever is safe and has a nice climate, even if it's some luxury arcology on the ocean or in space.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RevDisk ( 740008 )
      Most sane people agree that climate change is a thing. I certainly do. Ice core samples show it rather convincingly. I'm also mostly fine with our recent sample collection though I think the datasets aren't as good as some people believe. They rarely are for large scale projects, but still there's a natural bias towards thinking your collection methods are always better than they really are. Third party auditing to try to correct bias gets expensive and politics get involved as well.

      On the other hand, th
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Folks have a hard time taking serious action based on this especially when we've been hearing "end of humanity within five years" for over a decade.

        You accuse people of hyperbole, and yet you give the worst demonstration I've heard in a million years.

        • "You accuse people of hyperbole, and yet you give the worst demonstration I've heard in a million years."

          And your hyperbole is the worst I have heard in a billion years!
      • On the other hand, there's legitimate issues. There's a very vocal component of climate change that are constant Apocalypse callers. You would be a good example. "Cries of the billions who will suffer."

        If the number of people who will suffer (or are suffering) is not in the billions, how many is it? How did you reach that conclusion - by studying the evidence, or just on a feeling?

        Folks have a hard time taking serious action based on this especially when we've been hearing "end of humanity within five years" for over a decade.

        I've never heard statements of that kind coming from the scientific community. Plenty coming from the other side though: like this: Humans will simply not voluntarily remove 90% of earth's population or go back to living in yurts.

        The other hand is that there's no good supplied solutions. I mean, concrete realistic options that have a full roadmap, reasonably accurate cost projections and acceptably accurate levels of risk and mitigation.

        Is there any particular reason why you aren't doing this yourself? Who were you expecting to do

      • by lorinc ( 2470890 )

        Humans will simply not voluntarily remove 90% of earth's population or go back to living in yurts.

        You nailed it. Of course, we're not speaking of mass murder WWII style, and more in the sense of conservative birth policy. But that is not going to happen voluntarily, because nobody wants to stop multiplying. And we're not even talking about being less careless about energy consumption. It seems at a macroscopic level, our behavior is not very different to that of bugs.

        One thing is pretty sure, though. The current earth ecological system is not able to sustain our growth both in number and in consumption.

    • Am I the only person who was taught in school that the earth has had multiple ice ages and that regardless iced capped poles isn't the normal state of the planet. Stopping man made global warming isn't going to stop the earth from doing it's thing the only way we are going to stop climate change is by learning to completely control the climate.

      • In the very long term we will indeed need to completely control the climate. Today we have to correct man-made climate change, at some point in the far future the earth will begin to enter an ice age and we'll have to prevent it. We may have to move as much power generation capacity from fusion to natural gas as possible. People will even debate bringing back filthy, filthy coal power.

        • I know it just bugs me that everyone is freakn' out on climate change when everything they want to change probably should be for much more immediate reasons. The earth is going to warm up and cool down with very little we can do about it and giant portions of what are populated areas now like Canada and the the entire Northern US and Midwest will probably be under a glaciers yet again multiple times before it's all over just not anytime soon compared to the life span of a single human.

    • by NetNed ( 955141 )
      Yes! Banish the heretic deniers with a red "D" on their lapels so that all can see that they will not accept the relig...... I mean science that is climate change! Now lets pra....... I mean discuss they problem!
  • Sea ice evolution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Layzej ( 1976930 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @12:11PM (#51800417)
    This web app shows the evolution of northern and southern hemisphere sea ice evolution over the satellite record. Use left and right to change month. http://phosphorus.github.io/ap... [github.io]
  • The way this is explained isn't entirely clear to your average folk. I suspect folks are going to think that the fact that arctic ice isn't decreasing is a sign that everything is alright and that global warming is not a problem but it is much bigger than that. Each year arctic ice the size of a country melts in a cycle that refreezes in the winter. The cold freshwater melt is heavier than the surrounding seawater and sinks straight to the bottom starting many of the worldwide ocean currents. If this cy

    • by cogeek ( 2425448 )
      Thank you for the explanation for us common folk.... When you say "Each year arctic ice the size of a country melts," would that country be Vatican City or Russia? "Country" is not a very common measurement of mass in my limited, common experience.
      • Over the last 30 years, the Arctic ice has lost about 2 million square kilometers, or about the area of Mexico or Saudi Arabia.
      • When you say "Each year arctic ice the size of a country melts," would that country be Vatican City or Russia? "Country" is not a very common measurement of mass in my limited, common experience.

        We are talking multiples of Libraries of Congress.

      • Thank you for the explanation for us common folk.... When you say "Each year arctic ice the size of a country melts," would that country be Vatican City or Russia? "Country" is not a very common measurement of mass in my limited, common experience.

        The variation between the Arctic winter maximum sea ice extent and the summer sea ice extent minimum is around 8 or 9 million km^2 each year which would put it in the size range of the USA, Brazil and Australia.

    • The cold freshwater melt is heavier than the surrounding seawater and sinks straight to the bottom starting many of the worldwide ocean currents.

      Actually fresh water is less dense than saltwater and it can form a cap over it that disrupts currents. It's cold saline water sinking in the ocean that drives some currents.

    • Each year arctic ice the size of a country melts in a cycle that refreezes in the winter.

      Would that country be Monaco, or Russia? Lichtenstein or Canada? Vatican City or the United States of America? Has a bit of impact on what you're trying to convey...

    • Fresh water is quite a bit less dense than salt water I doubt it sinks...
  • My goodness! (Score:3, Informative)

    by aron1231 ( 895831 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @12:35PM (#51800593)

    You mean the planet is still warming up (recovering) from an ice age? Inconceivable!

    Fear not gentle denizens, another ice age is coming! Then the faithful climateers will rejoice!

    • If you paid any attention to the science you would know that the planet finished warming up after the last ice age about 8,000 years ago and had been slowly dropping toward the next one since then.

  • "Billions is hyperbole".

    Well, no.
    a) where are most metropolitan areas located? On rivers or oceans. NYC's talking huge seawalls, Miami's trying to figure out if it will exist above water in a decade or two, and this is true around the world.

    b) It all affects the climate. Note that a) Syria's several years into the worst draught in many, many years. A large part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over control of water. And then there's Phoenix and LA.... and the California Central Valley, that's drawing

  • Considerations... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:08PM (#51800923) Homepage

    Arctic vs Antarctic ice
    https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/s... [nsidc.org]

    http://www.nasa.gov/content/go... [nasa.gov]

    http://www.climatechangenews.c... [climatechangenews.com]

    ***

    The truth is, there have been times when the Earth did not even have polar ice caps. But I have a hypothesis regarding this scenario.

    The orbital plane of earth is slightly lower. Think about it. The Earth's orbit around the sun is not perfect - no celestial body is. Look at the moon sometimes it's higher in altitude and sometimes lower.

    So what if the Earth is slightly lower in altitude of it's planar orbit around the sun? The northern hemisphere would be warmer, ice would melt. The southern hemisphere would experience the opposite, with the antarctic increasing in the accumulation of ice.

    Yet I have seen very little research into this possibility that could pose a valid explanation for Earth's present climate changes.

    ***

    None of this means we shouldn't clean up our act, stop pollution, and move to clean renewable energy. Far beyond CO2, look at the damage coal mining has done to the neighboring environments. Streams poisoned until no life is in them. I think we can ALL agree we need to clean up our act.

    • This is a joke hypothesis, right? You're not actually suggesting that the Earth no longer orbits the sun, but a point "below" the sun?

      • This is a joke hypothesis, right? You're not actually suggesting that the Earth no longer orbits the sun, but a point "below" the sun?

        Well, it's already been modded up, so somebody else seems to buy it too.

        Just to be clear -- the reason there's no "research" on this hypothesis is because it makes no sense from a basic orbital mechanics standpoint. If the earth for some reason moved below the "normal" orbital plane on one side of the sun, gravity as it continued in orbit would cause it to shoot up above the orbital plan on the other side of the sun. What GP is proposing (i.e., the earth somehow maintaining a stable orbit in a plane bel

        • I have a hypothesis of my own. My hypothesis is that the people who modded OP up based on the suggestion that the center of the earth's orbit is far from the sun's center of mass (and, indeed, that it has recently changed) are the same kinds of people who think that climate scientists have no idea what they're talking about.

    • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

      So what if the Earth is slightly lower in altitude of it's planar orbit around the sun? The northern hemisphere would be warmer, ice would melt. The southern hemisphere would experience the opposite, with the antarctic increasing in the accumulation of ice.

      Yet I have seen very little research into this possibility that could pose a valid explanation for Earth's present climate changes.

      There's been very little research into this possibility because it violates the laws of physics. You could not consistently

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Sea ice forms at -1.8C, and winter air temperatures in the Southern Ocean range from -15C to -20C. That's plenty cold enough to freeze a much higher area of the ocean than actually it does. The problem is that the sub-freezing air can't instantaneously absorb the heat of the surface water. It takes time. And therein lies a story.

      Sea ice extent in the Arctic and Antarctic both represent an equilibrium between ice formation areas and ice destruction areas. Your hypothesis is that if rising air temperatures

    • by amorsen ( 7485 )

      Come on Slashdot, I know things have been going downhill for a while, but this drivel at +5? Have we all turned collectively moronic?

  • by MarchHare ( 82901 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:16PM (#51801029)

    Personally, I love this diagram. I bookmarked it a couple of years ago and I like to show it to people. Climate change is pretty obvious if you hide all the series and then reveal them one by one in chronological order.

        http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/arctic.sea.ice.interactive.html

    (University of Illinois)

  • Strangely (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @01:28PM (#51801143) Journal

    ...Antarctic ice has been setting maximums.

    Even more curious (to me) are the different responses:
    - Arctic ice is shrinking: CLEARLY THIS IS GLOBAL WARMING.
    - Antarctic ice is growing: (shrug) we really don't have any idea why this is happening I guess we'll just have to figure it out (shrug, again)

    http://www.nasa.gov/content/go... [nasa.gov]

    When the "record" is only 35 years, 'record setting' really isn't that big a deal.
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2... [theregister.co.uk]

    The opening of the Northeastern passage? A herald of climatological disaster? Well, not so much:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2... [theregister.co.uk]

    • - Antarctic ice is growing: (shrug) we really don't have any idea why this is happening I guess we'll just have to figure it out (shrug, again)

      If you look at the volume, Antarctic ice is shrinking. There are some good theories about why the sea ice is growing, but scientist like to be careful. In any case, growing Antarctic sea ice area isn't really helping anybody, nor is it conflicting with global warming.

    • You may be ignorant of why it's happening, but everybody else knows that melting land ice in Antarctica increases the freezing temperature of sea water resulting in more sea ice. Hardly mysterious.

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