Arctic Melt Down Is Bringing Harder Winters and Permanently Altering Weather Patterns

Last year’s cold and snowy winter directly connected to warmer Arctic new research reveals

By Stephen Leahy

OSLO, 15 June 2010 (IPS)

Last winter’s big snowfall and cold temperatures in the eastern United States and Europe were likely caused by the loss of Arctic sea ice, researchers concluded at the International Polar Year Oslo Science Conference in Norway in June.

Climate change has warmed the entire Arctic region, melting 2.5 million square kilometres of sea ice, and that, paradoxically, is producing colder and snowier winters for Europe, Asia and parts of North America.

“The exceptional cold and snowy winter of 2009-2010 in Europe, eastern Asia and eastern North America is connected to unique physical processes in the Arctic,” said James Overland of the NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in the United States.

In future, cold and snowy winters will be the rule rather than the exception” in these regions, Overland told IPS.

[[UPDATE Dec 29 2010 РWinter of 2010-11 appears to follow same pattern, see new post with northern hemisphere temp map for 20 Dec:  Arctic Hothouse Turns Europe into an Icebox]]

Scientists have been surprised by the rapid warming of the Arctic, where annual temperatures have increased two to three times faster than the global average. In one part of the Arctic, over the Barents and Karas Seas north of Scandinavia, average annual temperatures are now 10 degrees C higher than they were in 1990.

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Overland explains the warming of the Arctic as the result of a combination of climate change, natural variability, loss of sea ice reflectivity, ocean heat storage and changing wind patterns, which has disrupted the stability of the Arctic climate system. In just 30 years, all that extra heat has shrunk the Arctic’s thick blanket of ice by 2.5 million square kilometres – an area equivalent to more than one quarter the size of the continental U.S.

The changes in the Arctic are now irreversible, he said. Continue reading

Polar Bears’ Future Bleak in Melting Arctic

http://www.firstpeople.us

Lots of folks have been telling me that polar bears are doing ok and don’t need protection under the US Endangered Species Act. Some say polar bear populations are stable in Alaska and increasing in parts of Canada. And there might be 1500 more bears than previous estimates according to a three year study in Nunavut which makes $2 million a year from polar bear trophy hunters. But 1500 isn’t very many more bears and with the Arctic sea ice melting fast the future certainly doesn’t look bright.

As for Alaska consider this fact:

This week scientists announced new findings that the survival rate of polar bear cubs in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea has plummeted. In the late 1980s, 65 percent of polar bear cubs in the southern Beaufort Sea survived their first year. That has fallen to an average of 43 percent in the past five years. — Polar Bears Go Hungry as Icy Habitat Melts Away

“Without taking serious and urgent action to stabilize the climate, there is no future for polar bears” says Andrew Derocher, Chair of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), Polar Bear Specialist Group.

See also this controversy: Oil vs Polar Bears in Alaska

And these updates on the Arctic: Arctic Is the Canary in the Coalmine

Arctic Oil and Gas Rush Alarms Scientists

Arctic Meltdown Signals Long-Term Trend

Inuit Sue America over Climate Change

http://www.firstpeople.us