Arctic freshening not due to ice melt after all, says NASA
Calm down, hippies
Concern that the Arctic Ocean is becoming massively less salty due to its ice cap melting - which could have knock-on consequences for the planet's climate - is unfounded, NASA scientists have said.
For years, researchers have seen falling salinity readings in the Canadian half of the Arctic Ocean. This has led them to theorise that large amounts of fresh water were being added due to permanent disappearance of ice. In itself this might not mean a lot - sea levels would be unaffected, as the Arctic ice floats atop the sea - but it had been feared that addition of so much fresh water could impact the oceanic "conveyor belt" which moves heat around the planet, with major consequences for the climate.
As long ago as 1999, Greenpeace were saying things like this:
Calculations suggest that most, if not all, of the fresh water added to the Beaufort Sea came from melting Beaufort sea ice in the summer of 1997, and imply that much of the ice of the Beaufort Sea was much thinner (perhaps more than a meter thinner) at the end of the melt season in 1997 than it was during the end of the melt season in 1975.
But the hippies were wrong. Analysis of data from specialised NASA satellites monitoring the Arctic ice has disproven this.
"Changes in the volume and extent of Arctic sea ice in recent years have focused attention on melting ice," says Ron Kwok of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which runs the Grace and ICESat spacecraft. "The Grace and ICESat data allow us to now examine the impacts of widespread changes in ocean circulation."
According to Kwok and his colleagues, analysing readings from the satellites overhead, new freshwater in the Beaufort Sea comes not from melted ice but from rivers in Russia. Formerly this freshwater would have stayed largely in the Russian side of the Arctic, but a shift in circulation has occurred.
According to a JPL statement:
The team attributes the redistribution to an eastward shift in the path of Russian runoff through the Arctic Ocean, which is tied to an increase in the strength of the Northern Hemisphere's west-to-east atmospheric circulation, known as the Arctic Oscillation. The resulting counterclockwise winds changed the direction of ocean circulation, diverting upper-ocean freshwater from Russian rivers away from the Arctic's Eurasian Basin, between Russia and Greenland, to the Beaufort Sea in the Canada Basin bordered by the United States and Canada. The stronger Arctic Oscillation is associated with two decades of reduced atmospheric pressure over the Russian side of the Arctic.
The shift has meant that the Beaufort Sea in particular is the freshest it has been in 50 years of recordkeeping - but only a "tiny fraction" of that results from melting ice, according to the NASA scientists. Taken as a whole the Arctic has got no fresher, it's merely that freshwater which was always present has shifted in the past two decades from the seldom visited Russian side to the Canadian, where many climate scientists are found.
"Climate models need to more accurately represent the Arctic Oscillation's low pressure and counterclockwise circulation on the Russian side of the Arctic Ocean," says oceanographer Jamie Morison, lead author of a paper on the new satellite research published yesterday by Nature. ®
100 years? Is that it?
"This long a stretch of very warm weather in December/January has never happened before, at least during the 100+ years that temperature measurements exist for."
Last time I checked, the land currently labelled "Canada" has been around rather longer than a century. Many orders of magnitude longer. Feel free to come back to us when you have a more useful dataset, rather than a snapshot of events taken over a tiny, tiny period in time.
And remember: the Earth's climate does not need "saving". If you want to preserve the Earth's *current* climate in amber, I would strongly advise against it; it would be much, much cheaper to just let it get on with itself and adapt to it, rather making blind, flailing attempts to adapt it to _us_, despite our clear lack of full understanding over how the climate's mechanism actually works.
Our species is nothing if not adaptable. If sea levels do rise, we can always move inland. If the temperatures rise or fall, we can improve our structures accordingly. If floods become more frequent, we can adapt to that—as those living along the Nile in ancient Egypt did.
Humans have built their homes on water (Venice), in mountain ranges (Switzerland and Austria), in tundra (Canada, Russia, Norway), in deserts (Africa, Australia. China. Antarctica*), on ice floes (Arctic research bases), in areas prone to tornadoes (US), floods (US and almost everywhere else), hurricanes (US, Japan), volcanoes (Italy, Hawaii, etc.), earthquakes and more.
The problem with many of the so-called ecologists and "Climate Change Fearmongers" is that they assume we're all complete and utter fucking idiots, ignorant of the sciences and the many thousands of years of our species' recorded histories. Personally, I find this attitude incredibly insulting.
Enough already. The sky is not falling. We are NOT going to be killed by "climate change", because we, as a species, have been *adapting* to changes in our planet's climate for *thousands* of years already. There are as-yet unknown tribes hidden in the Amazon rainforest that know how to adapt to changes in their environment. Life _is_ change.
* (Yes, technically Antarctica is a desert. It doesn't get a lot of rainfall.)
This is The Register.
It is not a scientific journal filled with peer-reviewed articles.
ALL words have emotional baggage attached to them. That baggage is defined not by the writer, but by the _reader_. Every article is therefore subjective. There are no exceptions.
The above is why papers submitted to science journals read as painfully as they do: they spend a big chunk of their time explaining, in anal detail, _exactly_ what the author _intended_ each term to mean, to avoid any misinterpretation. Journalists don't do that; it's not their job.
The Register is a website that has "Biting the hand that feeds IT" in its bright red masthead. This is a site that used to have "Integrity? We've heard of it," as one of its slogans, and which runs articles about home-brewed rocketry with project titles like "LOHAN" and "PARIS".
If you're taking it as seriously as a more po-faced rag like the Financial Times, you really need to work on your critical thinking skills.
Like, what, calling them "deniers"; in a thinly veiled attempt to equate questioning the models with holocaust denial?