Ice Can Change Fast, Loss May Cause More Extreme Winters

A new study in the journal Science says that ice sheets respond to modest climate change far faster than previously thought, reports Michael Lemonick at Climate Central, growing fast under cooling. But this indicates they can melt fast, too.  Effects of current rapid ice loss will be profound, affecting the jet stream, and likely causing even more extreme weather, say climate scientists, reports Monte Morin at the LA Times. The “astounding” loss of sea ice this year is adding a huge amount of heat to the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere, said Rutgers University atmospheric scientist Jennifer Francis. “It’s like having a new energy source for the atmosphere.” She ties Arctic ice loss to such recent weather events as prolonged cold spells in Europe, heavy snows in the US, and Russian heat waves. As sea ice melts, it exposes darker ocean waters to incoming sunlight, greatly increasing heat absorption. This extra energy increases water and air temperatures, melting even more sea ice. One scientist estimated the added heat from sea ice loss equaled the warming generated from 20 years of carbon dioxide emissions.

Sources:

‘Astonishing’ ice melt may lead to more extreme winters. The record loss of Arctic sea ice this summer will echo throughout the weather patterns affecting the U.S. and Europe this winter, climate scientists said on Wednesday, since added heat in the Arctic influences the jet stream and may make extreme weather and climate events more likely. Climate Central http://www.climatecentral.org/news/astonishing-arctic-sea-ice-melt-may-lead-to-extreme-winter-weather-14989

New study shows how fast ice sheets can change. How high and how fast sea level will rise is a crucial question for the coming century, and it all depends on how fast the giant ice sheets atop Greenland and Antarctica melt back and slide into the ocean as the planet warms. A new study says that ice can respond a lot faster than anyone had thought. Climate Central http://www.climatecentral.org/news/new-study-shows-how-fast-ice-sheets-can-change-14996

Record loss of Arctic ice may trigger extreme weather. Arctic sea ice is shrinking at a rate much faster than scientists ever predicted and its collapse, due to global warming, may well cause extreme weather this winter in North America and Europe, according to climate scientists. Los Angeles Times http://newsletters.dailyclimate.org/t/93710/26488/97490/0/

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About melharte

Mel (Mary Ellen) Harte is a biologist (PhD) and climate change educator. She co-authored the free online book, COOL THE EARTH, SAVE THE ECONOMY, available at www.CoolTheEarth.US, and writes the CLIMATE CHANGE THIS WEEK column at the HuffingtonPost. Living summers in the alpine Rockies, she is on the frontlines of watching what climate change can do. Her diagnostic digital photographs of wildflowers have appeared in numerous publications.
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