More Bad Global Cooling News: NBC



Sea Ice Ends Year at Same Level as 1979
Michael Asher (Blog) - January 1, 2009 11:31 AM

Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months, global sea ice levels now equal
those seen 29 years ago, when the year 1979 also drew to a close.
Ice levels had been tracking lower throughout much of 2008, but rapidly
recovered in the last quarter. In fact, the rate of increase from September
onward is the fastest rate of change on record, either upwards or downwards.
The data is being reported by the University of Illinois's Arctic Climate
Research Center, and is derived from satellite observations of the Northern
and Southern hemisphere polar regions.
Each year, millions of square kilometers of sea ice melt and refreeze.
However, the mean ice anomaly -- defined as the seasonally-adjusted
difference between the current value and the average from 1979-2000, varies
much more slowly. That anomaly now stands at just under zero, a value
identical to one recorded at the end of 1979, the year satellite
record-keeping began.
Sea ice is floating and, unlike the massive ice sheets anchored to bedrock
in Greenland and Antarctica, doesn't affect ocean levels. However, due to
its transient nature, sea ice responds much faster to changes in temperature
or precipitation and is therefore a useful barometer of changing conditions.
Earlier this year, predictions were rife that the North Pole could melt
entirely in 2008. Instead, the Arctic ice saw a substantial recovery. Bill
Chapman, a researcher with the UIUC's Arctic Center, tells DailyTech this
was due in part to colder temperatures in the region. Chapman says wind
patterns have also been weaker this year. Strong winds can slow ice
formation as well as forcing ice into warmer waters where it will melt.
Why were predictions so wrong? Researchers had expected the newer sea ice,
which is thinner, to be less resilient and melt easier. Instead, the thinner
ice had less snow cover to insulate it from the bitterly cold air, and
therefore grew much faster than expected, according to the National Snow and
Ice Data Center.
In May, concerns over disappearing sea ice led the U.S. to officially list
the polar bear a threatened species, over objections from experts who
claimed the animal's numbers were increasing.


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