PDA

View Full Version : Report to Predict Big Changes in Arctic Climate



Telperion
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004, 03:10 AM
Report To Predict
Big Changes In Arctic
By Jeff Sallot
The Globe and Mail
11-1-4



Ottawa - Some time this century, polar bears may disappear from Hudson Bay. The Northwest Passage may become a busy shipping lane, posing a challenge to Canadian sovereignty. The Inuit of the Arctic may suffer higher rates of skin cancer because of increased exposure to ultraviolet rays.



These are some of the possibilities outlined in a massive scientific study to be presented next week to senior government officials from Canada and seven other countries with Arctic territory. It predicts profound changes to the climate, wildlife habitat and human living conditions in the Far North because people living to the south are polluting the air.



The four-year study also suggests that what's happening in the North is the harbinger of changing climate conditions that, if unchecked, will eventually alter living conditions everywhere on Earth.



The 1,400-page report, dubbed "the brick" by the more than 250 scientists working on the project, is to be released Nov. 9 in Reykjavik at a ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council. The council countries are Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States.



Portions of the report were leaked Friday to The New York Times by scientists in Europe, who said they were trying to thwart efforts by the Bush administration to keep the study under wraps until after the U.S. presidential election tomorrow.



Canadian officials familiar with the study say there was no political interference from Washington on the timing of the release, but they agree that the Bush administration has generally been out of step with an emerging global consensus on the risks of global warming.



The report warns that gases from factory and vehicular emissions are accelerating environmental changes in the Arctic -- shrinking glaciers, melting sea ice, thawing permafrost and changing weather patterns.



Robert Corell, an American oceanographer who headed the study, detailed some of the climate changes in testimony before the U.S. Congress this year.



He said the average winter temperature in the Alaskan and Western Canadian North has increased an average three degrees Celsius in the past 60 years. This is twice the rate of temperature increases globally.



Arctic sea ice has shrunk by 10 per cent in the past three decades, he said.



The permafrost line, which is important for transportation, petroleum exploration and construction, will retreat north by about 300 kilometres this century -- if trends continue.



The research, which has been previewed in technical publications and at seminars in recent months, suggests that people living in the Arctic will find their world radically altered within a generation or two.



With warming temperatures and pools of stagnant water in the summer, they'll have to worry for the first time about diseases carried by mosquitoes.



The beaver population in Alaska is moving north, causing worries about the kinds of diseases it carries.



Inuit hunters are falling through ice more frequently. In European Nordic regions, birch trees are supplanting lichen pastures that have been the main food source for reindeer.


Dr. Corell told the Commonwealth North education group in Alaska that dramatically shifting wind patterns mean indigenous people can no longer depend on the wind to help them make their way across an Arctic landscape that has few distinguishing physical features to help navigate.


As sea ice disappears, polar bears, which rely on the ability to move on ice to hunt seals, will be forced ashore. But they don't have the ability to forage for food on land, Dr. Corell said.



© Copyright 2004 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.



http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20041101.wxwarming01/BNStory/specialScienceandHealth/

Dr. Solar Wolff
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004, 03:20 AM
Through most of earth's recent history, say 300 million years, the earth and the poles have been warmer than they are now. If they warm up, Eskimo culture will retreat but American, Russian, Canadian, Finn, Swede, Icelandic and Norwegian cultures will all expand North. What's the problem?

Telperion
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004, 04:31 AM
The Arctic can't really be looked at in isolation from other regions though. If the northern ice sheets were to completely melt, for instance, that would open up large areas for settlement and development that are currently inaccessible; yet, it would also necessarily be the case that global sea levels would rise substantially, causing serious damage to numerous currently settled areas (including those in the northern countries). There are also many unknowns, such as will a warmer climate also be a drier climate, what will be the consequences for more southerly species if more northerly species are driven to extinction, etc. The temporal dimension is important too - a gradual warming of the Arctic is something to which we might be able to adapt over time, but a sudden warming might have more immediately destabilizing consequences that would pose more serious problems. In any event, personally I wouldn't be too sanguine about the issue.

Stríbog
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004, 09:14 AM
Through most of earth's recent history, say 300 million years, the earth and the poles have been warmer than they are now. If they warm up, Eskimo culture will retreat but American, Russian, Canadian, Finn, Swede, Icelandic and Norwegian cultures will all expand North. What's the problem?

The recent warm periods in Earth's history have been natural occurrences governed largely by plant evolution and geological/seismic processes. What is presently occurring is an artificial, extremely rapid process resulting from human irresponsibility and profligacy, and the results may be irreversible. The species in the Arctic zones will gradually be forced northward and die out. Large sections of every continent will be flooded as ocean levels rise. Furthermore, once the ice caps have melted, there will be less of a moderating effect from the cold currents arising at each pole. This will cause global temperatures to rise at an even higher rate.

Dr. Solar Wolff
Thursday, November 4th, 2004, 05:13 AM
The recent warm periods in Earth's history have been natural occurrences governed largely by plant evolution and geological/seismic processes. What is presently occurring is an artificial, extremely rapid process resulting from human irresponsibility and profligacy, and the results may be irreversible. The species in the Arctic zones will gradually be forced northward and die out. Large sections of every continent will be flooded as ocean levels rise. Furthermore, once the ice caps have melted, there will be less of a moderating effect from the cold currents arising at each pole. This will cause global temperatures to rise at an even higher rate.

"Global Warming" is cited as the root of all evil but I have not seen evidence with persuades me that this warming is rapid, artificial or won't be reversed by earth's natural balancing mechanisms. But, even if true, yes some large urban areas near the sea would either be lost (what a pitty) or have to build dykes. But, on the other hand, some rivers would become deeper and more open to shipping trade from the sea, the climate would probably be wetter in the drier areas of the Northern Latitudes, and a huge, new area would be open to agriculture in the northern grasslands of Canada and Russia. Life is change.

Gorm the Old
Thursday, November 4th, 2004, 05:11 PM
Episodes of warming on a global scale recur periodically in the Earth's climatic history. These are natural events of which the cause is not understood. For example, about 6000 years ago, Norway had a Mediterranean climate. This is known as the Thermal Maximum (though the Scandinavians, from their point of view, called it the "Climatic Optimum.) As recently as 14,000 years ago, the Laurentide Ice Sheet extended as far south as Long Island. Yet, by about 8000 years ago, it was all gone. This represents global warming on a scale vastly exceeding anything we observe today. The once-discredited but recently again popular Milankovitch theory cannot account for such rapid temperature changes. However, human activity is not even imaginably significant. Primitive man was not generating vast quantities of "greenhouse gases" by burning fossil fuels. Let us admit, then, that we do not know what causes natural global warming and, as long as we do not know that, we cannot know whether the present mild episode of global warming is natural or human-induced. As far as the effects of global warming are concerned, there was a theory proposed in 1957 to the effect that thawing of the arctic pack ice would cause an ice age. As long as the Arctic Ocean is ice-covered, northern Canada and Siberia do not receive enough precipitation for snow to persist through the summer to form a continental ice sheet. Once open water is exposed in the Arctic Ocean, there is a source of precipitation for heavy persistent snowfall on the continents to the south, a necessary precondition for glaciation. (This is the major flaw in the Milankovitch theory. It provides for low temperatures, but not for the requisite precipitation on the continents of the Arctic.) What we are now observing in the Arctic may well be a natural climatic fluctuation, and, for all we know to the contrary, may prove to be (as such things go) of very short duration.

Aupmanyav
Wednesday, September 27th, 2006, 11:27 AM
I have not seen evidence with persuades me that this warming is rapid (why should this surprise me), artificial or won't be reversed by earth's natural balancing mechanisms (whatever we do, nature should make amends). But, even if true, yes some large urban areas near the sea would either be lost (what a pity) or have to build dykes(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_seaports, really what a pity). But, on the other hand, some rivers would become deeper and more open to shipping trade from the sea, the climate would probably be wetter in the drier areas of the Northern Latitudes, and a huge, new area would be open to agriculture in the northern grasslands of Canada and Russia (which is good news). Life is change.
Sure, life is change. (Text in grey inserted by me, my apologies to Dr. Solar Wolff).