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10.08.2005

Climate consequences of ice-free Arctic

Picked this up at Boing Boing

An article in the August issue of EOS (published by the American Geophysical Union) says we're well on our way to a "summer ice-free Arctic Ocean" and the short-term consequences will be catastrophic.

From the PDF:

The ramifications of a transition to this new system state would be profound. The deglaciation of Greenland alone would cause a substantial (up to 6 m) rise in sea level, resulting in flooding along coastal areas where much of the world’s population resides. Shrubs and boreal forest will likely expand northward, further decreasing the albedo. Less certain is the fate of vast stores of carbon previously frozen in the permafrost. Would they be exhaled as carbon dioxide and methane, further accelerating warming?

Probably. The vast extinctions of amphibious species can be traced to there being too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The article also says there's nothing we can do to stop this from happening:

The change appears to be driven largely by feedback-enhanced global climate warming, and there seem to be few, if any, processes or feedbacks within the Arctic system that are capable of altering the trajectory toward this “super interglacial” state.

Mike Davis writes about this:

The demon in me wants to say: Party and make merry. No need now to worry about Kyoto, recycling your aluminum cans, or using too much toilet paper, when, soon enough, we'll be debating how many hunter-gathers can survive in the scorching deserts of New England or the tropical forests of the Yukon.


Indeed.