Thursday, January 01, 2009

Goodbye, Northwest Passage, We Hardly Knew You.

Arctic Ocean nations might have to put their economic plans to take advantage of a polar sea without ice on hold for a while.
"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. ...

"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." (Here.)

Climate scientists don't know everything about how Earth's climate works? Who could have known?

The news might be bad for the Northwest Passage, and embarrassing for climate scientists, but it could be good news for the poor polar bear.

-tdr

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