Skip

The Arctic is failing.
December 2, 2011 7:17 AM   Subscribe

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its 2011 Arctic Report Card. Persistent warming has caused dramatic changes in the Arctic Ocean and the ecosystem it supports. Ocean changes include reduced sea ice and freshening of the upper ocean, and impacts such as increased biological productivity at the base of the food chain and loss of habit for walrus and polar bears.

1. Higher temperatures in the Arctic and lower temperatures in some lower latitudes are shifting the global atmospheric wind pattern.
2. There is a decline in the extent of summer ice, the age of ice, and a freshening of ocean water (as fresh water melts out of the ice)
3. A serious loss of glaciers and snow, combined with higher permafrost temperatures, are warming the Arctic air.
4. Tundra vegetation is staying greener longer, causing warmer land temperatures and increasing open water.
5. The Arctic Ocean's benthic community is being replaced by those endemic to North America. This affects animals up the trophic level - seabirds, marine mammals, polar bears.

Report cards are also available from 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006.
posted by ChuraChura (25 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah we're fucked.
posted by weinbot at 7:46 AM on December 2, 2011


But Baby's on fire!
And all the instruments agree that
Her temperature's rising
But any idiot would know that.
posted by weinbot at 7:56 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


...loss of habit for walrus and polar bears

If this means polar bears moving farther north, we can get Sarah Palin on board the eco-bandwagon by convincing her hunting helicopter fees will go up.
posted by DU at 8:15 AM on December 2, 2011


Fresher water, less ice and snow, more multicolored animals and fewer monochrome animals, warmer temps, interesting new wind patterns -- not only do I not see the problem here, I want more of it!!!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:24 AM on December 2, 2011


While the global increase of human sources of greenhouse gases continues, there is no direct evidence that Arctic emissions of methane are changing.

See: NO DIRECT EVIDENCE. It's right there in the report. (linked by 1.) Wait until the right wing media latches on to this.
posted by three blind mice at 8:24 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Africa is suffering too. Can we please stop arguing about whether climate change is happening and do something about it? The right-wing media will continue to do nothing until their dog whistles melt.
posted by arcticseal at 8:28 AM on December 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Can we please stop arguing about whether climate change is happening and do something about it?

Nothing is going to be done - or at least not anything substantive or effective. I've started focusing the energy I used to invest in global warming-related despair on learning to forage (esp. for edible invasives that will thrive in warmer weather), and since then I've felt a lot less helpless and full of hate.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:06 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can we please stop arguing about whether climate change is happening and do something about it?

There's no way anyone is going to convince the entire world to stop everything that could be causing this, and even if they did, I do believe I read somewhere that it would be too late anyway, the damage might have already been done.

So maybe we should all start taking foraging lessons from ryanshepard, and learn try to figure out how to adapt to the coming changes, if they're even going to effect some of us in our lifetimes. They might, they might not.
posted by Malice at 10:36 AM on December 2, 2011


"if they're even going to effect some of us in our lifetimes."

Uh - that would be 'affect' as opposed to 'effect' and the changes are affecting us in our lifetime. Want to come talk to me about the drought I'm seeing in Texas right now after a summer of record-breaking heat? Yes - we had the fabulous six-year drought in the '50's, but I think this one might be a little different.

There was a great Ed Hall song - lost the tape, but the line goes something like "earths' gonna shake us off her back like fleas off a dog".
posted by PuppyCat at 11:31 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Want to come talk to me about the drought I'm seeing in Texas right now after a summer of record-breaking heat?

You can't point to individual events like this as evidence for climate change any more than you can point (as right wing types are prone to do) to individual events as evidence against climate change.

That said, I'm with Malice. I think we're looking at mitigation rather than prevention at this point.
posted by Justinian at 11:43 AM on December 2, 2011


Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas — fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been — the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected.

posted by ChuraChura at 12:02 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've started focusing the energy I used to invest in global warming-related despair on learning to forage (esp. for edible invasives that will thrive in warmer weather), and since then I've felt a lot less helpless and full of hate.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:06 AM on December 2


I would love to see an FPP on this - what you've learned, best resources, etc.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:41 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events.

That no individual event can be attributed with certainty to climate change does not imply that those events are isolated or discrete. But ideological convenience does not change the fact that one cannot simply point to droughts in Texas and say "global warming!" (or even "climate change").
posted by Justinian at 1:01 PM on December 2, 2011


I would love to see an FPP on this - what you've learned, best resources, etc.

I'm sure that there is a MeFite qualified to do this, but I'm still a rank amateur.

Two books that I've found very helpful and accurate, though: Kallas: Edible Wild Plants, Thayer: The Forager's Harvest. Steve Brill's site is also full of good information.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:20 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's no way anyone is going to convince the entire world to stop everything that could be causing this, and even if they did, I do believe I read somewhere that it would be too late anyway, the damage might have already been done.

You can't really undo hitting someone in the face, but you can stop from hitting them over and over and over...
posted by malocchio at 1:25 PM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Justinian: But ideological convenience does not change the fact that one cannot simply point to droughts in Texas and say "global warming!" (or even "climate change").

Surprisingly, you can!

What the paper does:

Divide the surface of the Earth into equal areas, using a resolution of 250 km. For each area, find the average June-July-August surface temperature, from 1951 to 1980. Use this to define a probability distribution. Measure the standard deviation of the distribution. For any particular area, the probability that the average summer temperature in any given year will exceed three standard deviations from the mean is 0.13%. For any given year, the areas for which the average summer temperature is more than three standard deviations from the mean should cover only 0.1-0.2% of the planet.

In 2009, 2010, and 2011, the areas for which the average standard temperature was more than three standard deviations from the mean covered between 6% and 13% of the Earth's surface. In 2010, that included large regions around Moscow and the Middle East. In 2011, that included Texas. See Figure 3.
posted by russilwvong at 1:59 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Surprisingly, you can!

That's an unpublished paper not subject to any sort of peer review.
posted by Justinian at 3:07 PM on December 2, 2011


That's not much of a counter-argument! (Do you really doubt that it'll get published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal eventually, alongside the many other articles published on climate change?) You can do the calculations yourself, if you like, and see if you get a different result.

There's natural variation in temperature--but once the temperature is far enough outside a baseline measurement of variability, we can indeed say that global warming is causing individual extreme weather events.
posted by russilwvong at 4:29 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can't point to individual events like this as evidence for climate change any more than you can point (as right wing types are prone to do) to individual events as evidence against climate change.

You might want to rethink this point after you read these (pdf warning).

Hansen et al. Climate variability and climate change: The new climate dice.

Rahmstorf, S. and D. Coumou, 2011. Increase of extreme events in a warming world.

Consider also that global warming effects have been detectable over the last several decades. This means that all that extra energy is now rattling around in the atmosphere. Heat doesn't just sit there -- it powers stuff in the atmosphere. It is highly likely that the Texas drought, along with other extreme temperature events, was caused by climate warming. Just like the weather today -- wherever you may be -- has been affected by it.
posted by dmayhood at 6:26 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's an unpublished paper not subject to any sort of peer review.

Try the second paper in my previous post. It is published and peer-reviewed. The Hansen paper you might just have to wade through and use your own judgment. I can't vouch for his data, but his analytical method makes good sense.
posted by dmayhood at 6:31 PM on December 2, 2011


I CAN talk about events like the drought in Texas and the heat last summer as a result of prolonged La Nina conditions brought on by cooler temps in the Pacific being a result of global warming.
posted by PuppyCat at 8:00 PM on December 2, 2011


Thanks russilwvong! That's cool.

Hey, wait a minute... This isn't a climate change discussion. There are references to actual evidence, and, and complete sentences!
posted by sneebler at 9:07 PM on December 2, 2011


Saying that any individual weather event can't be attributed to global warming or a lack of is like saying that everytime one rolls double-sixes 5 times in a row in dice known to be loaded doesn't prove they're loaded because fair dice can also behave the same way by random chance. It's both mathematically true and completely irrelevant.
posted by Bangaioh at 4:02 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you really doubt that it'll get published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal eventually, alongside the many other articles published on climate change

Given that the author states he doesn't intend to submit the paper and he wrote it just to provoke discussion, I'm going to go with "yes".

But the second paper which dmayhood linked to is peer-reviewed.
posted by Justinian at 1:45 PM on December 3, 2011


Here's a very good article on current climate change and the decreasing water supply in the Western US - http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/12/2011127125429770306.html
posted by PuppyCat at 8:44 AM on December 13, 2011


« Older Yogurt!   |   Careers, Parents, and the 1% Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post