Going, going, gone (by 2015)

by Gareth on December 7, 2008

One for the furry blogger with sharp teeth: the Winnipeg Free Press reports that University of Manitoba geoscientist David Barber is predicting that the Arctic will be ice free in summer in the next seven years.

“We’ll always have ice in the winter time in the Arctic, but it will always be first-year ice,” Barber said on Friday. He said he estimates the Arctic sea should see its first ice-free summer around 2015. “That has got industry very interested in the Arctic,” he said. “That will put more pressure there. The change is happening so quickly.”

Barber, who will be officially presenting his preliminary findings at the International Arctic Change 2008 conference in Quebec City next week, was the scientist in charge of the Circumpolar Flaw Lead System Study (CFL), a $40-million Arctic research project.

A newcomer to the form book, Barber’s track record is yet to be established. But he’s clearly a runner. And that sounds like a conference to watch…

(See also Spiegel Online – h/t S Bloom Esq)

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

wmconnolley December 7, 2008 at 4:59 am

Or perhaps he believes (http://web.mac.com/barber1818/iWeb/D.G.Barber/Climate%20Research.html) that “At the current rate we expect the Arctic to be seasonally ice free around 2050″. A bit moreboring, I’ll grant you.

I mailed him to see if he was interested in betting on it. I’m not optimistic.

Gareth December 7, 2008 at 9:46 am

He’s very approachable, though. I exchanged emails with him earlier this year to ask him which side of 2008 he’d take – he took yours… ;-)

Steve Bloom December 9, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Scheduled AGU fm press conferences:

“Continuing climate changes in the Arctic received renewed scientific attention during the International Polar Year (IPY)—a scientific research campaign focused on the Arctic and Antarctic, which is slated to end in early 2009. This briefing presents early results from a range of Arctic studies conducted during IPY based on climate models and new observations taken from sea, land, and space. Findings include the discovery of new seeps of the greenhouse gas methane along the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, large increases in tundra greenness along North America’s Arctic coasts, a lengthening snowmelt season and a second year of ice mass loss in Greenland, and evidence that the predicted amplification of Arctic warming due to decreasing sea ice has already begun.”

Sounds like stuff we’ve already heard about, mostly, although the specifics could be exciting. And…

“By investigating Antarctica’s deep past, researchers are providing deeper understanding of the region today, including possible future scenarios for Antarctica’s vast ice sheets. Drillers find that 1 to 14 million years ago, the West Antarctic ice sheet responded dramatically, at times, to global warming events, implying the possibility of rapid sea level fluctuations in our modern era, up to as much as a 21 foot (6.4 meters) rise. A new analysis of GPS and other data indicates that current models for vertical motion of Antarctic bedrock due to glacial rebound are incorrect, possibly leading to more accurate estimates of polar-ice-sheet contributions to sea level change. Evidence for ancient periods of movement or lack thereof between East and West Antarctica offers potential new insights into plate tectonics, volcanism, and convection in the Earth’s mantle. These studies are part of the International Polar Year — a scientific research campaign focused on the Arctic and Antarctic, which is slated to end in early 2009. ”

This is ANDRILL, obviously. It’ll be interesting to see what synergy there is with the ice sheet results (which aren’t getting their own press conference, although see below). And…

“Scientists have recently taken a comprehensive look at abrupt climate changes that stand out in the geologic record as so rapid and large that, should they recur, they would pose clear risks to society’s ability to adapt. The speakers will unveil findings and conclusions of a new report from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. It weighs prospects for societal disruption from four types of abrupt climate change: rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets with consequent rise in sea level; widespread and sustained changes to the hydrologic cycle, including drought and flooding; abrupt weakening of the northward flow of warm, salty water in the upper layers of the Atlantic Ocean; and rapid release to the atmosphere of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.”

CCSP reports are usually more consensus than cutting edge, but they don’t normally do this sort of press conference for them either.

Gareth December 9, 2008 at 6:58 pm

Many thanks Steve. They sound fascinating.

I’ve got guest post coming up from one of the senior scientists on ANDRILL tonight – on general issues. I’ll have to see if he can give us an overview at some point…

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