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Grim Conclusions Emerge From 4-Year Arctic Climate Study - Toronto Star

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-21-04 11:51 PM
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Grim Conclusions Emerge From 4-Year Arctic Climate Study - Toronto Star

"But a summary of the assessment obtained by the Star makes clear that environmental doomsayers were not far off when they warned that severe warming of the Arctic is inevitable, threatens the way of life of the Inuit, will alter the face of the North almost beyond recognition and has potentially disastrous global climate change consequences. A related danger is the increased ultraviolet radiation passing through the damaged ozone layer in the circumpolar regions: Today's young indigenous people will receive lifetime doses at least 30 per cent higher than any prior generation.

These sombre warnings are the collective judgment of more than 600 scientists and other experts, mostly from Arctic countries, who four years ago began reviewing and weighing the mountain of research studies about climate change in the North. Their assessment was requested by the Arctic Council, made up of Canada, Russia, the U.S. and five other national governments plus six organizations of indigenous peoples.


While the scientific assessment is now being readied for the printers, Arctic Council members are still negotiating an even more sensitive document recommendations for what should be done by governments, industry, indigenous peoples and the general public. These will include policies to adapt to the projected change, mitigate the impacts as much as possible, develop communications and education programs and improve research, monitoring and computer modelling. All that comes before a ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council at the end of November in Reykjavik, Iceland, to approve the final policy recommendations and ideally commit the members to take action. That meeting could prove a big headache for Canada in particular because the national climate change strategy is in a shambles and the patchwork Northern science program still suffers from large gaps despite some promising recent initiatives.


These are the 10 key findings:

The Arctic is already warming much faster than the rest of the world and most computer projections show the increase there in average temperatures over the next 100 years will be at least double the global average. The bulk of the warming is taking place in the winter.


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jus_the_facts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-22-04 01:15 AM
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1. Scientific American Frontiers with Alan Alda on PBS did a show recently...
....called The Heating Of Alaska...which delves into these things and the consequences that we face...

*snip from the transcript*

ALAN ALDA (NARRATION) If we do cross that threshold, at some point the ancient permafrost will begin to break down. That will introduce a whole new factor into global climate calculations.

CHARLES COLLINS These roots are from grasses that were growing at the surface here, oh about 30,000 years ago, and they're just preserved in the permafrost. So even though they're 30,000 years old they're just very fine organic material just trapped in the permafrost.

ALAN ALDA (NARRATION) The Ice Age roots and sticks never had a chance to decompose - they were just frozen in place. It's a warehouse of organic material that, once thawed, will release the CO2 it's made of.

VLADIMIR ROMANOVSKY If this material will be exposed to warm temperatures, and together with erosion, it could happen very, very rapidly. So all this -- not all, but a pretty significant part of this organic material will turn into CO2.

ALAN ALDA Is that measurable? Can we make a prediction now about what that's liable to do?

VLADIMIR ROMANOVSKY We can estimate. There is estimations of the amount of carbon in the soil in the frozen state. And this estimation show a very significant number, actually it's the largest number -- it's much more than growing vegetation on top. It's much more organic matter here. And compared to CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, it's also comparable numbers. So if all this organic matter will go as CO2, so we can double actually CO2 in the atmosphere.

ALAN ALDA (NARRATION) So thawing permafrost could greatly reinforce the warming of the global climate. We're heading out to the Tanana River flats, again in central Alaska, where we can see what disappearing permafrost looks like. This is 800 square miles of meandering channels, wetlands, and low-lying forest. It's prime moose habitat, too. Since the last Ice Age, there's been permafrost under everything here except the large river channels. At least, there was until about two hundred years ago. Before then, most of the flats would have been forest, growing on a permafrost plateau just above water level. Now about half the area consists of these waterlogged fens, covered in thick floating mats of vegetation. You can see this transformation continuing today in the remaining forest areas. They call them "drunken forests" - collapsing as the ground disappears beneath them.

MATTHEW STURM This is an Arctic where instead of sea ice existing in the summer we have an open ocean in the Arctic basin; an Arctic with a much, much smaller icecap in Greenland; an Arctic with considerably less permafrost, or permafrost that is not completely frozen in the winter so it has a ground water system; an Arctic with shrubs, rather than tundra. So it's kind of a vision of a different Arctic, one that's warmer, shrubbier, less ice-covered, and consequently not nearly as good at getting rid of earth's heat as the Arctic we know today. We don't really know if that's where the state is at, but that's what people are starting to think about, and trying to understand if that's where things are headed.

ALAN ALDA (NARRATION) We made our program in Alaska, but you can be sure that guillemots, ground squirrels, forests, glaciers and tundra are changing all over the north. Many scientists said to us that the north is the canary in the coal mine - the harbinger of things to come in the rest of the globe. Whether we can do anything about that -- or care to -- is another story entirely.

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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-22-04 05:45 AM
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2. Quote: "The bulk of the warming is taking place in the winter."
Hmm, what happens when the North Polar Vortex gets warmer? Does it become more active? Yes indeed, I believe it does.

So much for the idea that the Superstorm theory is Junk Science.

Of course, the scenario in The Day After Tomorrow is not likely, either, but we'd better start getting used to having more blizzards, nor'easters, Euro-gales and extratropical "hurricanes". (Incidentally, yet another wintry Euro-gale is bearing down on the British Isles and Scandinavia.)

Hatrack, do you have any access to seawater current data in the North Atlantic? I stopped being able to get that stuff over three years ago and haven't found a link since.

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