*UPDATE* 22nd August 2012.
Some climatologists believe that this catastrophic reduction in Arctic ice-cover is directly responsible for the extreme weather being experienced in the Northern hemisphere, a symptom of climate instability brought about by global warming.
Coincident with the Arctic melt has been the sudden appearance of massive methane plumes in the Arctic Ocean.
The combination of the loss of Arctic ice, causing an increase in the capacity of the sea to absorb the sun’s heat, together with the resultant thawing of the permafrost, causing the release of natural stores of the potent greenhouse gas methane, represent two of the most concerning feedbacks that are predicted to greatly accelerate the vicious cycle of global warming and consequent climate disruption.
Already, the effects of extreme weather on food production have been pronounced this year, something also predicted by climatologists.
2010 was the joint warmest year on record
Despite rumours that the world has been cooling recently, the most comprehensive and carefully detailed study of climate data made so far by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) provides the clearest demonstration yet that 2010 (along with 2005) was the warmest year on record for global surface temperatures, culminating the warmest decade on record (right).
Researchers took a number of factors into consideration when compiling and analysing the data in order to answer some of the chief criticisms recently levelled against climate science.
This includes taking into account
- Proximity of observing stations to urban areas (local urban warming effect)
- Changes in the Sun’s irradiation of the Earth
- The El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) effects on global climate
- The effect of volcanism on global climate
- Explaining how regional extremes of weather are an integral and predicted part of global warming—symptoms of a destabilised climate system
- Explaining how the short-term cooling effects of pollution merely mask the longer-term warming effect of the same sources of pollution
- Taking into account the various effects of aerosols on climate
- Cataloguing the general ecosystem changes (both physical and biological) precipitated by global warming
As well as
The GISS paper “Atmospheric CO2: Principal control knob governing Earth’s temperature” further explains how CO2, rather than H2O, is the most important regulator of the Earth’s long-term global temperature.
To help illustrate these changes, NASA’s climate website outlines the key indicators with up-to-date interactive graphs and satellite imagery; and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has further useful interactive graphs illustrating the historic changes and oscillations in many of these climate variables.
The GISS findings tally closely with those of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the Japanese Meteorological Agency, and the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, figures from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center reveal no let up in the global emission of anthropogenic carbon from fossil fuels, which reached its highest level in 2008 (updated 2009-10 figures can be found here), while this year Arctic sea ice has reached its lowest volume on record.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) the world has just 5 more years to prevent itself from becoming locked-in to a high-carbon energy infrastructure that will necessitate dangerous and irreversible climate change.
The late Stephen Schneider’s famous warning back in 1979.
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