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Arctic Sea Ice Rallies a Bit

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the mysterious-ways dept.

Earth 152

radioweather writes "Like the recent stock market rebound, Arctic sea ice is making a big rally over the record low set last year. According to the Alaskan IARC-JAXA website, satellite data which shows sea ice extent as of 10/14/08 was 7,064,219 square kilometers, when compared to a year ago 10/14/08 it was 5,487,656 square kilometers. The one-day gain between 10/13/08 and 10/14/08 of 3.8% is also quite impressive. On May 5th, The National Snow and Ice Data Center suggested the possibility of an ice-free north pole in 2008, but so far, this year has been a banner year for sea ice recovery."

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Stock market what? (2, Insightful)

Drakin020 (980931) | about 6 years ago | (#25390053)

FTH:

Like the recent stock market rebound...

Uhh....what? http://moneycentral.msn.com/detail/stock_quote?Symbol=$INDU [msn.com]

Re:Stock market what? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390063)

They mean it'll all melt in a couple days, I think.

Re:Stock market what? (-1, Offtopic)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | about 6 years ago | (#25390123)

you know, it is just your american economy that is tanking. Everywhere else is just reacting to your recession.

Re:Stock market what? (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 years ago | (#25391893)

Finally, somebody noticed my efforts at increasing the polar ice caps using my icemaker!

Re:Stock market what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25392041)

You say that like we should feel more unhappy about ourselves. However, when I read what you wrote I think "Gosh, what does it say about them..."

Re:Stock market what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25392631)

PC and Sony Fanboy wrote:

you know, it is just your american economy that is tanking.

-----
Psst! Want to buy some used Hedge fund derivative computer programs. Proprietary but cheap!

Profit!

"I believe this is the sound that hedge funds make when they are imploding," T.J. Marta, a fixed income strategist at RBC Capital Markets, said, characterizing the sell-off in the last hour.
From NY Times article: October 15, 2008

Re:Stock market what? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390129)

well sure. stock market goes down, people drive less, global warming curbed, ice sheets grow.

you don't need to be an Al Gore to figure that out.

Re:Stock market what? (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 6 years ago | (#25390177)

ugh who uses msn? superior [google.com]

Re:Stock market what? (1)

wizbit (122290) | about 6 years ago | (#25390275)

ugh who uses the NASDAQ as the barometer for the stock market?

superior [google.com]

superior-er [yahoo.com]

Re:Stock market what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390205)

It is like the stock market in that it the amount ice in the arctic is imaginary and only exists in the collective consciousness of the public.

Just like all the made up numbers on wall street the arctic doesn't really exist. Have you ever been there? no thought not, see it is an imaginary made up place and the only people who know this are the ones who spent a lot of their imaginary money getting there and are now too embarrassed to admit the truth.

THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (2, Insightful)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | about 6 years ago | (#25390109)

News reports have indicated that the earth's weather climate has been constantly shifting over millions of years.

Seriously, I wish people would stop getting so shocked about this. I remember reading in school about things like Ice ages and constaly changing climates, and I'm not that old. I beleive man's impact on the enviroment, while measurable, is severly overblown.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (3, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 6 years ago | (#25390369)

Lets ask this question:

Do you want to walk on ice that froze an hour ago? or ice that's been solidly frozen for decades?

The ice 'recovery' is a misnomer, even if it covers the entire arctic at peak winter, it won't be very thick compared with persistent perennial ice cover that has existed and built up thickness for hundreds/thousands of years.

Replacing 'steel' with 'balsa wood' doesn't mean the structure can hold up the same weight. i.e. polar bears.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (1)

Dimitrii (958525) | about 6 years ago | (#25391127)

Replacing 'steel' with 'balsa wood' doesn't mean the structure can hold up the same weight. i.e. polar bears.

Correct! Balsa wood *is* more buoyant than steel. That is what you were trying to say right. ~

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (1)

Lars T. (470328) | about 6 years ago | (#25392907)

Replacing 'steel' with 'balsa wood' doesn't mean the structure can hold up the same weight. i.e. polar bears.

Correct! Balsa wood *is* more buoyant than steel. That is what you were trying to say right. ~

So that's why they build ships out of balsa wood.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | about 6 years ago | (#25393163)

Prepare to be amazed! [wikipedia.org] Balsa wood craft are capable of crossing the pacific, and may have been one of the ways in which some pacific islands were populated.

The incredible leap is steel ships, not wooden. The idea that something that sinks as readily as steel would be a good marine material surely had a lot of public opinion inertia to overcome.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | about 6 years ago | (#25392877)

Except polar bears don't go that far north.

Neither do people.

Only Grise Fiord gets anyway near, and that has a dark story to it. Not only that but I think it's 3+ hours away from Pond Inlet, itself 6 hours from Iqaluit, itself 6 hours away from Ottawa. By plane. Yeah.

There's Alert, but I really doubt those GI Joes are out huntin' for caribou nose and polar bears.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | about 6 years ago | (#25390371)

An interesting article, that in my honest opinion, makes far more sense explaining the current global temperature changes.

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/sun_output_030320.html [space.com]

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (5, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | about 6 years ago | (#25390523)

I think it's cute how people like you think that the IPCC is either unaware of or deliberately ignoring papers like this ;)

Seriously -- read the report some time. It'll be educational for you. There's something like 50 papers referenced for just sunspots alone. If it A) has to do with global warming, even tangentially, and B) was published in a peer-reviewed journal in the past 10-20 years, odds are it's in there.

Science does not work in a manner of "this one paper says one thing about one aspect, so it must be God's honest truth!". The amount of research out there is pretty staggering. It is... let's just say "unfortunate" that the popular press has a habit of picking up one work or another and sensationalizing them.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390479)

Wow. You remember reading it in school?

Well, gee, that does it. We'll let those thousands of scientists who have devoted their entire professional careers to learning about climatology know that a slashdotter read something in school and they're all wrong.

They'll be so relieved to know they don't have to do any more research, and that all their accumulated knowledge is unnecessary.

Because you read something in school.

You are so special.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (4, Informative)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25391567)

Seriously, I wish people would stop getting so shocked about this.

Climatologists are not unaware that the climate has changed in the past. The issue is that climate is currently changing faster than it would have without human input, and that larger and faster changes are likely if we continue to increase our input to the climate system.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 years ago | (#25392163)

You do know that we have a less then 200 years of good data on climate don't you?
Heck I am even all for cutting carbon just to be safe.
But what your so sure of you shouldn't be.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (2, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25392315)

You do know that we have a less then 200 years of good data on climate don't you?

Yes, which is what tells us that the late 20th century warming is faster than natural, because we also have data on the usual natural sources of warming and cooling such as solar activity and volcanoes.

But what your so sure of you shouldn't be.

The Earth is 4 billion years old, but we don't need 4 billion years of data to understand something about what's happening to the Earth now. Sure there is uncertainty, and more than a couple hundred years of accurate data helps. But the instrumental data we do have is enough to tell us that something anomalous is going on, when compared to the various measured factors in the climate system which are normally responsible for climate change.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (2, Insightful)

JimboFBX (1097277) | about 6 years ago | (#25393057)

You do realize that all historical data that predates accurate measurements are just very rough estimates that are open to interpretation and completely unopen to experimental proof and disproof, right? I can't grab a rock, do something to for a million years, and prove that I was right that it looks the way it does because of it. As a programmer, I can argue that I'm initially wrong about the cause of bugs in programs I wrote 80%+ of the time. However, unlike a program, where i can prove or disprove myself right or wrong quite quickly (hopefully), a geologist or climatologist can't when it comes to large scale theories like this. Its all a cycle of pre-knowledge with very few people challenging what they were fundamentally taught.

Climatology is more or less a pseudo-science, at best a scientific research project. It, by definition, is not humanly possible to prove right or wrong. There is no isolation of variables, perceived close similarities. Whatever you don't account for is assumed to be not a factor, when it in reality easily could be. I could say my dog can't learn tricks, it must either be unintelligent, hard of hearing, or hard of seeing. These are the only factors I'm considering. Eventually, I come to the conclusion he can see fine and hear fine, so it must be he is unintelligent. But in reality, its my teaching style that is the cause - something I fundamentally assumed was correct. For the sake of the argument, lets say, like the climate, I am only given ONE dog to work with, so if I had been able to grab other dogs and find they all don't learn new tricks, I would have went "ah ha!" and realized it wasn't my dog that was the problem. We only have one Earth, one sun, one timeline. We can only build models based off our current understanding how things work, and those models can only be assumed correct if they come up with the same conclusion I have already made. Of course, I'm not saying global warming more or less isn't being affected by humans, because it must be. At the very least, consider all of the artificial heat we create with our cars, computers, heaters, air conditioners, etc. But the amount of effect is open way too much up for debate and not much else.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25393201)

You do realize that all historical data that predates accurate measurements are just very rough estimates that are open to interpretation and completely unopen to experimental proof and disproof, right?

I take your point, but you missed my main point, which is that we don't need paleoclimate data to support the manmade influence on the climate; modern observations are sufficient, although paleo data helps. You're right that there are substantial uncertainties, which is why the projections for 2100 vary by several degrees. But we do know enough to say that less than 1-2 degrees warming is unlikely, which is enough to be worth taking out some insurance against the possibility of greater warming.

Climatology is more or less a pseudo-science, at best a scientific research project. It, by definition, is not humanly possible to prove right or wrong. There is no isolation of variables, perceived close similarities.

I hate to break it to you, but observational sciences are still science. It is possible to know a lot about climate, geology, paleontology, astronomy, etc. without the ability to perform controlled laboratory experiments on the system being studied.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (1)

Moridineas (213502) | about 6 years ago | (#25393165)

Yes, which is what tells us that the late 20th century warming is faster than natural, because we also have data on the usual natural sources of warming and cooling such as solar activity and volcanoes.

I'm not sure that's how it works. For instance, How did the global climate change between 1075 and 1100AD? Between 850BC and 870BC? etc We might have a fairly good idea for how climate in some areas changed over a period that INCLUDES that time period, but we have no data that is at all similar to what we have for the last maybe 100 years.

But the instrumental data we do have is enough to tell us that something anomalous is going on, when compared to the various measured factors in the climate system which are normally responsible for climate change.

This I don't understand either. It's like how downloaders can say "Download speed is currently 150kb/s, download will be done in 5 minutes." In reality that 150KB/s was an instantaneous spike--the average is more like 80kb/s. With the amount of data we have, it seems like we're measuring the slope but we really don't know where we are on the curve? Given at most 100 years of solid data, do we REALLY know all that?

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25393269)

We might have a fairly good idea for how climate in some areas changed over a period that INCLUDES that time period, but we have no data that is at all similar to what we have for the last maybe 100 years.

I know. My point was that we can tell tell that there's something odd about the modern warming, based ONLY on the modern data. Specifically, we can measure the various sources of warming and cooling (solar irradiance, volcanism, industrial sulfate aerosols and particulates, natural and manmade greenhouse gases, etc.), and if we leave out the manmade greenhouse gases, we can't account for the atmosphere and ocean warming which we observe.

This I don't understand either. It's like how downloaders can say "Download speed is currently 150kb/s, download will be done in 5 minutes." In reality that 150KB/s was an instantaneous spike--the average is more like 80kb/s.

The difference is that we're not just measuring a transient response and saying "huh, that's weird". We're measuring a response and numerous causes, and seeing which ones match up with the response.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 years ago | (#25393621)

And I am saying that the level a belief in this put ways the dataset!
I am not even saying that it isn't happening, I am not saying we shouldn't cut our emissions.
I am saying that it is far from proven. I am just willing to modify my behavior based on the possible risk.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25393659)

And I am saying that the level a belief in this put ways the dataset!

I have no idea what that sentence means, but it doesn't change the fact that CO2 levels can account for the warming we've observed, and the usual natural sources do not. The uncertainty is not whether CO2 is causing significant warming, it's about how much further warming from CO2 will be realized in the future.

People in glass houses... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 6 years ago | (#25393709)

"But what your so sure of you shouldn't be."

Good advise, but your own risk assesment that you are 'so sure about' doesn't have any probability caveates at all?

The GP did have one such caveate (ie: 'likely'), the best science available says 'very likely'. But maybe I have misunderstood, maybe you are talking about the GP's implicit assumption that humans are causing the climate to change, if that's the case then the science says 'certain'.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (1)

g-san (93038) | about 6 years ago | (#25393855)

you should google "ice core" sometime. you can even see the ppm of various gases over history on various websites. it's all there. look for yourself if you don't trust media/news/science research of unknown funding.

Re:THIS IS A SLASHDOT NEWS FLASH! (1)

bobbonomo (997543) | about 6 years ago | (#25393247)

Let's not worry too much on this. Nature can adapt. If there is a "virus" on the planet its anti-bodies will fix the problem. If we are the virus it knows how to fix that. :)

He said tongue-in-cheek.

Statistics? (3, Informative)

rwade (131726) | about 6 years ago | (#25390115)

According to the study's website [uaf.edu] , the extent of the ice coverage is an estimate "calculated by certain algorithm."

It would be premature to suggest this as a panacea without knowing the statistics behind this estimate. Without this, we don't know if 3.8% is even statistically significant? They don't even offer a margin of error.

Even the "Data Download" [uaf.edu] offers only the bottom line estimate at a given point in time. What is the formula that feeds into that?

Re:Statistics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390781)

The 3.8% was a one day change, not the total observed ice reformation. The linked article says that current coverage is back to 2005 levels.

Re:Statistics? (2, Insightful)

rwade (131726) | about 6 years ago | (#25390939)

The 3.8% was a one day change, not the total observed ice reformation. The linked article says that current coverage is back to 2005 levels.

How did they determine what the 2005 levels were?
How did they determine what today's levels are?

Without that information, we do not know whether this information is credible. I suppose the question should be: how do we know the delta between today and 2005 is statistically significant?

People are arguing whether this is caused by man or not, which political candidate is going to under-respond or over-respond, but what is the point in doing that if the data is B.S. in the first place?

Re:Statistics? (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25392095)

Given the interannual variability in the long term data [nsidc.org] , differences between 2005 and 2008 levels are almost certainly not statistically significant. The change between the 1950s and today is a different matter.

Re:Statistics? (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | about 6 years ago | (#25393829)

Let me add another question or two:

Have these statistics been adjusted for the break-up of the Markham Ice Shelf? How about for the increase in glacial calving?

These are both factors that have tremendously increased the ice surface area, but by moving freshwater ice into the Arctic Ocean, not by increasing sea ice itself.

Re:Statistics? (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25391801)

My quick Google search couldn't find the paper with the exact algorithm, but this paper [uni-bremen.de] describes a related algorithm. Skimming it, I can't tell what the error bars on 1-day deltas are. I do see from that paper that the biases between different data products can be larger than 4% (although they seem to be most likely more like 2%). I would imagine that time deltas are more accurate than absolute estimates. Anyway, bottom line is I don't know if it is significant, but you could probably dig up the algorithm if you searched more than I.

Wait... (1, Funny)

cheap.computer (1036494) | about 6 years ago | (#25390117)

Does that signal an end to Global warming ?

Re:Wait... (1, Insightful)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about 6 years ago | (#25390263)

Of course not. I'll explain.
Earth heats up: Global Warming
Earth cools down: Global Warming getting worse.

Re:Wait... (5, Informative)

Rei (128717) | about 6 years ago | (#25390405)

No, and they're being *deliberately* misleading. Arctic sea ice this year hit the second lowest level in recorded history [nsidc.org] . Last year was the lowest.

Arctic sea ice extent during the 2008 melt season dropped to the second-lowest level since satellite measurements began in 1979, reaching the lowest point in its annual cycle of melt and growth on September 14, 2008. Average sea ice extent over the month of September, a standard measure in the scientific study of Arctic sea ice, was 4.67 million square kilometers (1.80 million square miles) (Figure 1). The record monthly low, set in 2007, was 4.28 million square kilometers (1.65 million square miles); the now-third-lowest monthly value, set in 2005, was 5.57 million square kilometers (2.15 million square miles)./I.

To report values now, from *October*, during the refreeze is just bloody ridiculous. Yes, different years melt and refreeze at different times; there's a lot of spring and fall fluctuation. What matters are the maximum and minimum extents.

FYI, arctic sea ice normally low in years after El Nino winters and high in years after La Nina winters. Winter of 2006-2007 was in El Nino conditions, leading to the record 2007 melt. But winter of 2007-2008 was in a strong La Nina. The fact that we got the second lowest ice extends on record despite this is incredibly disturbing.

Re:Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25394247)

recorded history... 30 years? id just say 30 years next time...it wont sound like youre trying to editorialize. PS. the satellites have been wrong too, many were inaccurately calibrated and off on measurements regarding sea level, etc.

pedantic mode ON (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390127)

... as of 10/14/08 was 7,064,219 square kilometers, when compared to a year ago 10/14/08 it was 5,487,656 square kilometers.

Yeah... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390185)

...its called *Winter*

Hallelujah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390235)

Long live polar bears!

Re:Hallelujah (1)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | about 6 years ago | (#25393435)

Long live? I would rather compare them to rabbits - 5000 in 1950, 20000 - 25000 now. But the little polar bear who is apparently in danger looks sooo cute on a poster... Environmentalists are all about donations after all. And saving polar bears is so easy -- you can always show results.

Long live my carma...

Cold is on the way... (2, Insightful)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 6 years ago | (#25390273)

2008 [slashdot.org]
is the coldest year of the 21st century and output from the sun is declining [slashdot.org] .
Maybe Al Gore and his carbon cult followers were...wrong.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1, Funny)

teldar (952697) | about 6 years ago | (#25390301)

That can't really be possible, can it? I mean, Al Gore invented the internet.

Re:Cold is on the way... (5, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | about 6 years ago | (#25390461)

Solar output and atmospheric heat retention are two completely independent variables.

The fact that one is rising, while the other is falling is merely a fortunately coincidence.

My own personal view is that there's a heck of a lot that we don't know about the mechanics of the atmosphere. Until we figure everything else out, though, it's probably a good idea to err on the side of caution.

Re:Cold is on the way... (-1, Flamebait)

taustin (171655) | about 6 years ago | (#25390515)

Erring on the side of caution would be not implementing social programs that will seriously damage the economy, and ultimately contribute to famine in places already in danger of it, because a theory we can't really support might possibly be true, an because cinnamon flavored ponies fly out of Al Gore's butt.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

MrHanky (141717) | about 6 years ago | (#25392533)

Looks like the economy took care of damaging itself even though nothing has been done. For some reason, it seems making a pyramid scheme out of housing is worse for the economy than investing in innovative technologies. Who would have thought?

Re:Cold is on the way... (1, Interesting)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 6 years ago | (#25390727)

Solar output and atmospheric heat retention are two completely independent variables.

At least you admit that solar output is a variable which puts you way ahead of most of global warming people. As far as the 'atmospheric heat retention' I presume you mean the effect of the atmosperic carbon dioxide concentration which is allegedly increasing heat retention. The evidence that a change in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from 280 ppm at the end of the last ice age to 385 ppm today has any effect at all on 'atmospheric heat retention' is nonexistent. But even assuming the opposite, your statement above is wrong. How warm do you think a 'greenhouse' is if the sun is not shining? Not very. Atmospheric heat retention is completely dependent on solar output, not independent as you claim. No output...no heat retention. Prepare for coooooooolllllddddd.....

Re:Cold is on the way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390945)

How do you err on the side of caution? You just said we don't enough about it! If I walk into a nuclear power plant today, I would know nothing about how it works and what all the shiney buttons do.
If I'm told to err on the side of caution, do you know what I would do? Nothing! Because if I screw up, Bad Things happen. So I'll wait until the manual arrives before I touch anything.

Re:Cold is on the way... (4, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25392277)

If I'm told to err on the side of caution, do you know what I would do? Nothing!

You're driving in complete darkness and someone tells you there might be a cliff nearby. You're told to err on the side of caution. What do you do? Speed up? I think not. You stop, or at least slow down.

Right now CO2 levels are already higher than they've been in at least a million years, and we're increasing them at an accelerating pace. Basic physics as well as our observations of present and past climate suggest that this will lead to warming, possibly by a dangerous amount.

Continuing to add CO2 at an accelerating pace may be "doing nothing different", but it is not "doing nothing". It is doing a very significant Something.

We don't know everything about the climate, but we know that reducing CO2 back to pre-industrial levels is unlikely to do anything worse than keep us at the present climate (and even then we are likely to still warm a little due to heat already stored in the ocean). By contrast, there are a lot of climate risks associated with staying on our current emissions trajectory.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

AJWM (19027) | about 6 years ago | (#25392679)

You're driving in complete darkness and someone tells you there might be a cliff nearby. You're told to err on the side of caution. What do you do? Speed up?

That depends on how believable that someone is. If he's known for being mistaken about nearby cliffs, and somebody else tells me that we're being chased by large carnivores or men with guns, then yeah, the prudent thing might be to speed up.

(Some people will turn anything into a car analogy.)

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25392781)

The scientific evidence from past climate changes, present observations, and future physical predictions, is that there are "cliffs" nearby, but we're not completely sure how far away or how high they are. Basically, don't give the system an unprecedented kick unless you know what it's going to do.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

AJWM (19027) | about 6 years ago | (#25392865)

Some people think that the scientific evidence from past climate changes, present observations, and future physical predictions, is that there are "cliffs" nearby,

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25392937)

As much as some people would like to portray this as a "he said, she said" debate where all claims are equally valid, this is not really a matter of opinion.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

AJWM (19027) | about 6 years ago | (#25393405)

As much as some people would like to portray this as decided fact, this really is only a matter of opinion since we lack the ability to perform meaningful (as in, all factors are controlled or accounted for) experiment.

Crazy car analogy take 2? (1)

Jartan (219704) | about 6 years ago | (#25393799)

You're driving in complete darkness and someone tells you there might be a cliff nearby. You're told to err on the side of caution. What do you do?

Turn on the headlights. For fuck's sake do you WANT to get eaten by a grue?!

Re:Cold is on the way... (5, Insightful)

NotmyNick (1089709) | about 6 years ago | (#25391149)

Ironic isn't it that some people who so easily dismiss decades of research by thousands of scientists will so willingly glom onto one report that might ever so slightly support their lifestyle choice?

Re:Cold is on the way... (3, Insightful)

AJWM (19027) | about 6 years ago | (#25392639)

My own personal view is that there's a heck of a lot that we don't know about the mechanics of the atmosphere. Until we figure everything else out, though, it's probably a good idea to err on the side of caution.

And which side is caution on, exactly? Spending money (that could be used for other things) to reduce CO2 emissions "just in case", or not spending money tinkering with CO2 because if global warming turns out not to be anthropogenic, we could bring on the next (little?) ice age?

(I happen to think the effects of a minor global temperature increase are a lot less serious than the effects of another ice age, but that my just be my Canadian upbringing talking.)

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25392985)

Spending money (that could be used for other things) to reduce CO2 emissions "just in case", or not spending money tinkering with CO2 because if global warming turns out not to be anthropogenic, we could bring on the next (little?) ice age?

I'm sorry, but "Global warming is not anthropogenic" is no longer a credible scientific position. The serious scientific questions are along the lines of "Is climate sensitivity to CO2 closer to 2 degrees, or 4 degrees?"

Incidentally, if you're concerned that reducing CO2 will bring on a "little ice age", then you've already conceded that CO2 levels lead to warming. And it's not hard to add more CO2 if we decide we want/need to. It's adding less that's hard.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

AJWM (19027) | about 6 years ago | (#25393349)

I'm sorry, but "Global warming is not anthropogenic" is no longer a credible scientific position.

Among political scientists perhaps, physical scientists and particularly climatologists would argue otherwise.

The fact is that CO2 is a relatively minor greenhouse gas (the effects of water vapor are several times as great), and anthropogenic contributions are a small percentage of global CO2 production (be eg geochemical processes). It may not even be the case that increased CO2 (of whatever cause) raises global temperature: the opposite may be true (increases in temperature increase atmospheric CO2 levels).

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25393497)

Among political scientists perhaps, physical scientists and particularly climatologists would argue otherwise.

You're obviously unfamiliar with the climatological literature. I follow the major journals every month. I invite you to peruse the latest issues of Nature, Nature Geoscience, Science, Journal of Geophysical Research, Geophysical Research Letters, etc., and look at how many papers dispute this point.

The fact is that CO2 is a relatively minor greenhouse gas (the effects of water vapor are several times as great),

The natural greenhouse effect is on the order of 30 degrees C, which is why the planet is not a frozen iceball. CO2 is a smaller effect, but a few additional degrees of warming is still significant.

and anthropogenic contributions are a small percentage of global CO2 production

What is relevant is not the size of anthropogenic sources relative to natural sources, but the size of anthropogenic sources relative to the natural net carbon flux to the atmosphere. There are large natural sources which are normally closely balanced by equally large natural sinks, leading to relatively small natural fluctuations in CO2 levels during the last 10,000 years. Our additional CO2 has upset that balance; only half of it is taken up by natural sinks, leaving the other half to keep accumulating year after year.

Anthropogenic contributions now account for 35% of all CO2 in the atmosphere, and are likely to double or triple CO2 levels by the end of the century.

The fact that you're bringing up such obviously uncontestable scientific facts, such as the major human contribution to current CO2 levels, suggests to me that you're just uncritically copying skeptical talking points. There are legitimate scientific questions about climate, such as the strength of climate feedbacks. But whenever I see someone spouting off about how humans aren't having a significant effect on CO2 levels, or Martian climate disproves global warming, or other similarly nutty positions, I know they haven't seriously researched the issue.

It may not even be the case that increased CO2 (of whatever cause) raises global temperature: the opposite may be true (increases in temperature increase atmospheric CO2 levels).

In fact, both are true.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25393043)

The point of my last paragraph in my other response, in case it wasn't clear, was that the costs of making an error aren't symmetric. Even if you ignore the large amount of science which supports the enhanced greenhouse effect, if we cool too much it's easy to make it warmer. But if we warm too much, it's hard to make it cooler. This means we should be concerned more about potential warming than cooling.

And a potential 3-4 degrees C of warming (and larger in boreal regions like Canada) in 100 years, which is in the realm of possibility, is not "minor". It's certainly larger than any natural cooling we're likely to see; the Little Ice Age was smaller and slower than that, and the full glacial cycle is larger but much slower (tens of thousands of years). If you're really concerned about the latter, you should be advocating that we save our CO2 for later when we really need it, rather than using it up now when we don't.

Re:Cold is on the way... (4, Informative)

Rei (128717) | about 6 years ago | (#25390923)

Once again, this is why people who don't know anything about a topic shouldn't comment on it.

Earth's oceans, especially the Pacific, are truly massive heat reservoirs, and changing how they interact with the atmosphere can strongly affect the atmosphere's temperature in the *short term*. In the long term, the planet is still dominated by its radiation balance, of course.

The linked article was describing, quite accurately, how the early part of this year was in La Nina conditions. El Nino is caused by the weakening or reversal of the Walker circulation (an atmospheric flow around the Equator). The Walker circulation helps encourage the upwelling of cold waters in the eastern Pacific, so El Nino conditions prevent more of this cool water from reaching the surface. As a net change, the equatorial Pacific ends up much warmer on the surface, raising atmospheric temperatures. In La Nina conditions, the situation is reversed; a stronger Walker circulation encourages more upwelling, and thus colder surface (and hence atmospheric) temperatures.

This has *absolutely nothing* to do with the planet's long-term temperature, which even a six year old looking at a graph could recognize through the year-to-year noise.

Now, if you *really* want a breakdown of how it ranked (records since 1880), here you go (remember that the first half of this year was in strong La Nina conditions!):

January [noaa.gov] : 31st warmest
February [noaa.gov] : 15th warmest
March [noaa.gov] : Warmest for land on record, 13th warmest for ocean
April [noaa.gov] : 13th warmest
May [noaa.gov] : 8th warmest
June [noaa.gov] : 8th warmest
July [noaa.gov] : Tied for 5th warmest
August [noaa.gov] : 10th warmest
September [noaa.gov] : Tied for 9th warmest

Spring [noaa.gov] : 7th warmest
Summer [noaa.gov] : 9th warmest
January to July [noaa.gov] : 9th warmest

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 6 years ago | (#25391237)

Well, sure, it's not THAT cold...yet. The general idea of global warming, though, is that the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is trapping heat that would otherwise be radiated into space, and the effect is increasing. Most importantly, the amount of the increased heat being retained should generally be increasing as the carbon dioxide concentration increa and it should be impossible for there to be less heat retained, if the theory is correct. If global temperatures in the sea and air decrease, however, that implies that there is less heat, not more, since the temperature is a measurement of the retained heat. There is, of course, variation and 'noise' in the air and water surface measurements as well as the effects of mixing and circulation but the general idea should one of steadily increasing temperatures. Your list should have 2nd warmest, warmest, 2nd warmest, warmest, etc. rather than 9th warmest, 10 warmest, 8 warmest, etc.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25392177)

There is, of course, variation and 'noise' in the air and water surface measurements as well as the effects of mixing and circulation but the general idea should one of steadily increasing temperatures. Your list should have 2nd warmest, warmest, 2nd warmest, warmest, etc. rather than 9th warmest, 10 warmest, 8 warmest, etc.

No. There is quite a lot of interannual weather variation, which you can see in any of the instrumental temperature data sets. The greenhouse effect doesn't predict that every year will break or nearly break the previous year's record in a monotonic increase, and you don't see that in the climate model predictions either. You do see an overall upward trend, but on timescales of a decade or so, there can be considerable short term fluctuation above and below the main trend.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 6 years ago | (#25392527)

The greenhouse effect doesn't predict that every year will break or nearly break the previous year's record in a monotonic increase, and you don't see that in the climate model predictions either. You do see an overall upward trend, but on timescales of a decade or so,

From a global energy balance point of view, the amount of heat retained by Earth must increase every year if the theory about atmospheric carbon dioxide significantly reducing heat radiation into space is correct and that retained heat must manifest itself as increased temperatures on Earth...somewhere. Some places colder, some warmer but overall temperatures must increase...every year...all other things being equal. Our ability to measure temperatures on Earth is very limited, of course, but nevertheless the presence of more heat on the Earth's crust must reveal itself in some way.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25392665)

Some places colder, some warmer but overall temperatures must increase...every year...all other things being equal.

All else is not equal. For one, there is substantial variability from year to year in cloud cover, which prevents heat from reaching the Earth's surface (reflected into space). Over the long run, the greenhouse effect wins out, but only over the long run. In addition, there is a lot of variation in how much heat ends up in the ocean vs. stays near the surface; in some years, the ocean takes more and the surface gets less, and vice versa. Finally, heat can move from the deep ocean to the surface and vice versa, warming and cooling the surface independent of what the atmosphere is doing. We could in principle account for this by measuring ocean heat as well as surface heat, and we do. The problem is that we can measure ocean heat much less accurately.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 6 years ago | (#25393023)

All else is not equal. For one, there is substantial variability from year to year in cloud cover, which prevents heat from reaching the Earth's surface (reflected into space).

You are conceding, then, that the reflectivity of the cloud cover can vary from year to year. That puts you ahead of many global warming advocates. Isn't it also possible that warmer surface temperatures (which you must admit would be expected with global warming) would lead to increased evaporation, increased atmospheric moisture, and increased cloud cover, thereby increasing reflectivity and providing a global temperature feedback control mechanism? Yet, current models either don't account for that or simply assume that reflectivity is constant.

In addition, there is a lot of variation in how much heat ends up in the ocean vs. stays near the surface;

Yes, heat is not distributed evenly throughout the oceans. Nevertheless, the CO2 theory of global warming must result in more heat present in the oceans every year. If some locations are cooler, others must be warmer and the combined temperatures must be positive if the heat input is positive. Of course, that's not what is observed, which completely undermines the entire simplistic theory of co2-based global warming, but its adherents wave that away as a minor point, just as they ignore variations in heat originating in the planetary core and variations in solar output. Instead they point to sea ice cover decreasing, glaciers receding, increased hurricane activity, and hot weather in Paris to claim that co2-caused global warming is a fact and they go on with nonsense about carbon credits and such.

Re:Cold is on the way... (3, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25393093)

You are conceding, then, that the reflectivity of the cloud cover can vary from year to year. That puts you ahead of many global warming advocates.

No, it's a well known fact.

Isn't it also possible that warmer surface temperatures (which you must admit would be expected with global warming) would lead to increased evaporation, increased atmospheric moisture, and increased cloud cover, thereby increasing reflectivity and providing a global temperature feedback control mechanism?

Yes. There are two major cloud feedbacks, one for cloud albedo cooling as you describe, and one for cloud greenhouse warming.

Yet, current models either don't account for that or simply assume that reflectivity is constant.

That's wrong; dynamic cloud feedbacks are in all modern GCMs.

Nevertheless, the CO2 theory of global warming must result in more heat present in the oceans every year.

No, it doesn't, for reasons I just stated.

Of course, that's not what is observed, which completely undermines the entire simplistic theory of co2-based global warming,

As I just said, (1) cloud modulation alters your claim of "monotonic heat increase", and (2) ocean heat observations are not very accurate.

but its adherents wave that away as a minor point,

That's because there isn't anything yet statistically inconsistent with model predictions.

just as they ignore variations in heat originating in the planetary core

They're ignored because they've been measured and are utterly negligible, on the order of a hundredth of a degree.

and variations in solar output.

Those aren't ignored either; there is a large literature of it, and is in fact one of the pieces of evidence supporting CO2-induced warming. Solar output trends are inconsistent with the warming which has been observed.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 6 years ago | (#25394299)

You might say that variations in reflectance are a "well known fact" but the fact is that studies of the effect of reflectance on global warming are relatively recent [universetoday.com] and are not properly accounted for in current models. Certainly, the CO2-causes-global-warming fans ignore it. You claim that the CO2 theory of global warming does not result in more heat present in the oceans every year. Would you concede that the alleged 'greenhouse' effect of CO2 warming occurs every year or do you you claim that the CO2 molecules take an occasional year off? If the effect of atmospheric CO2 on heat retention is continuous (which it must be if the theory is correct), then increased heat must be retained every year. If that heat is NOT being accumulated in the oceans, then where must it be going? The air? Rocks? Moonbeams? Or are you just waving that away as a "minor point?" You claim that the variation in planetary core heat causes a variation in temperatures on the crust of "a hundredth of a degree" but the fact is that no one has any idea what the variation in heat from the core even is, much less what the magnitude of the temperature variation that might be resulting from it is. Just wave that away as another "minor point." Finally, you claim that variations in solar output are inconsistent with the warming which has been observed in those oceans which, according to you, don't have more heat present every year. The problem with your entire belief system on this issue is that it is based on what you want the facts to be rather than what they are.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

cbellh47 (1357013) | about 6 years ago | (#25392321)

I like it warmer than colder. I was not going to the arctic for a vacation. I do not want to visit it, the polar bears really are not friendly. Santa Claus will now be wanting a government bailout because his business has been affected. Nancy Pelosi cares. That's why I don't. The older you get, its better to be warmer. That why us baby boomers will make out in this thing. Now it will be so easy for anyyone to mount an expedition to the North Pole, especially in those summer months ahead, when you may only need a canoe. Maybe Russia will freeze instead. I notice that the south pole seems to be colder now.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

Moridineas (213502) | about 6 years ago | (#25393181)

Once again, this is why people who don't know anything about a topic shouldn't comment on it.

Wow, welcome to slashdot, get used to it!

Re:Cold is on the way... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25393237)

2008 [slashdot.org]
is the coldest year of the 21st century

Yes, and... 2008 is still one of the top 10 hottest years on record. As lovely as "coldest year of the 21st century" sounds, we should remember that the 21st century is still less than 9 (very hot) years old.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | about 6 years ago | (#25393365)

Do you truly believe his mission was more than to do some damage to foreign economies? Flying his personal jet to encourage other people not to fly. Encouraging governments worldwide to pay more to reduce CO2 levels, he, ex-vice-president of USA who has done nothing to reduce those levels in his own country while he was in power (Kyoto protocol, anyone?). You call environmentalist, i call hypocrisy.

Last "Little Ice Age" has ended merely 200 Years ago. It wasn't human-related. Sun-related, most likely. What if the temperature pendulum went that high because of this? We have seen increased sun activity during last decades, now that the sun is calm we see a decrease in global temperatures. Sounds pretty logical for me as I still don't think that human influence would be that significant on the global scale. Environmentalist lobby on the other hand is very influential around the world except for the worst polluter.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25393535)

Last "Little Ice Age" has ended merely 200 Years ago. It wasn't human-related. Sun-related, most likely.

Sun and volcano related.

What if the temperature pendulum went that high because of this?

For one, because solar output has increased very little over the last 50 years, when we saw the most warming. See, for instance, the review in Science by Foukal et al. in 2006.

We have seen increased sun activity during last decades, now that the sun is calm we see a decrease in global temperatures.

If you think that the climate responds that quickly and largely to a relatively small change in trend, you're going to have an even harder time explaining the previous 40 years of warming than I mentioned above.

Sounds pretty logical for me as I still don't think that human influence would be that significant on the global scale.

Have you calculated the magnitude of the effect? I didn't think so.

Re:Cold is on the way... (2, Informative)

kesuki (321456) | about 6 years ago | (#25393431)

"2008 is the coldest year of the 21st century and output from the sun is declining.
Maybe Al Gore and his carbon cult followers were...wrong. "

erm, do you understand that the sun's output isn't declining, but rather is in part of a 11 year cycle? oh yeah, 11 years is an estimate, they vary from 9 year to 14 year variation. no, you don't understand that the number of sun spots is a cycle that can change like the weather, and sun spotless (nearly) years are a common (roughly every 11 years since recorded measurement in 1754)

seriously, you're calling a cyclical lull in sun spots a decline in solar output?

someone else had a nice point about 2008 temps being affected by oceanic currents, more so than anything. try actually reading a few articles about global climate change first, before bashing things you don't understand that happened to make slashdot main page.

Re:Cold is on the way... (1)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | about 6 years ago | (#25393539)

IIRC, some cycles were skipped during Little Ice Age. We might see similar behavior where the increase is insignificant followed by another period of calm sun.

Can I buy futures in this? (1)

kybur (1002682) | about 6 years ago | (#25390291)

I hear soybeans and arctic ice are really hot right now.

Re:Can I buy futures in this? (1)

megamerican (1073936) | about 6 years ago | (#25390359)

I hear soybeans and arctic ice are really hot right now.

Didn't you read the summary? Ice is getting cold again!

slow start of next sunspot cycle too (3, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | about 6 years ago | (#25390303)

The Mauder Sunspot Minimum [wikipedia.org] in the 17th century has been arguably tied to the Little Ice Age, a cool period. The new 11-year sunspot cycle #24 has been very slow to start as predicted in late 2007. There have been as few as five sunspots in all of 2008. During the active part of the cycle there are up to 150 at a time. The sun is about 0.1% weaker during the cycle minimum. Perhaps this correlates with cooler weather. There are better tools now for tying solar weather with earth climate and maybe someone will find a causal tie.

Well no wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390325)

With all of the people doing predatory gaming the sea [wikipedia.org] , it was only a matter of time before there was an Ice market crash [wikipedia.org] . I, for one, am glad that Mother Nature stepped in to "bail out" the "too big to melt" iceburgs.

liars & touts & shills, oh my (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390409)

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Re:liars & touts & shills, oh my (1)

scatteredsun (981481) | about 6 years ago | (#25391933)

Ia! Ia! Cthulhu F'thagn!

Just wait until the election (2, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | about 6 years ago | (#25390749)

I'm sure President Palin will fight back the ice fantastically efficiently, for the good of the economy. You betcha! [today.com]

"Winter" theory abounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25390841)

Scientists today who have seen greater ice formation towards the end of the year have been applying for grants to prove a new theory of theirs ... one they call "Winter - an Annual Period of Cold - does it exist?". Millions of dollars are pouring in to fund these scientists to discover whether or not the North Pole gets colder during the months of October to March each year.

Is that 10/14/08 stuff supposed to be a date?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25391323)

Try some ISO 8601 loveliness you crazy apes!

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This is not a measure of total ice (3, Informative)

MarkusQ (450076) | about 6 years ago | (#25391421)

It's important to keep in mind that this isn't a measure of how much ice there is in the arctic.

The figures they are reporting are sea ice coverage estimates, and typically work as follows: the arctic is broken up into a grid, and for each area of the grid which does not fall on land they ask the question "is >15% of the surface covered with ice?"

If the answer is yes, it's counted as "ice;" if not, not.

There are several ways this can give results you wouldn't expect:

  • If one cell of the grid is 85% ice covered and the eight adjacent cells are ice free, this counts as 1/9 of that area being ice. If some of the ice melts and the rest disburses so that the original cell and four neighbors are now all 16% ice covered, it counts as five times as much ice coverage (5/9) even though the total amount of ice went down
  • Ice thickness is totally ignored
  • Land ice is totally ignored
  • Submerged ice is only counted by inference

--MarkusQ

Re:This is not a measure of total ice (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25392013)

That's true, but it should also be noted that sea ice extent is still a climatically interesting quantity. Non-submerged ice area is closely related to surface albedo, i.e. how much shortwave solar radiation is reflected from the Earth, which obviously relates to how much the Arctic warms (polar amplification). Both sea and land ice contribute, but sea ice is of particular interest because it is more vulnerable to melting than are land ice sheets in the Arctic. This is due to it being situated on relatively warm water (compared to most land) and the ability of sea ice to be transported to lower, warmer latitudes.

Re:This is not a measure of total ice (1)

rpauli (119120) | about 6 years ago | (#25394251)

The ice this year is thinner than all years past.

Something is missing in the report.... (1)

Feadin (766801) | about 6 years ago | (#25391451)

If the ice it's really coming back... I'd like to know why :)

Re:Something is missing in the report.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25392425)

I don't know where you live, but here in the Northern hemisphere it's autumn. That means colder temperatures, especially near the North Pole where there is currently no direct sunlight at all. In cold temperatures ice freezes. You can expect Arctic ice to melt each spring and summer, and then freeze each autumn and winter. The troubling news is that each summer a new record or near-record for the lowest amount of sea ice has been recorded. It's not coming back for the long term; long term, it's still melting.

Size matters but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25392283)

Extension is relevant, of course, but... does this report take into account the thickness of the ice? I mean, if you have 10 km^2 of ice with an average thickness of 10 cm, you still have a lot less ice than when you had 8 km^2 with an average thickness of 50 cm....

Re:Size matters but... (2, Informative)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25392347)

No, this report only discusses extent. There are other people who report ice volume, which is more difficult to estimate. I don't know what the current volume estimate is.

It's about "Climate Change." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25393369)

Come on people it's not about global warming anymore. It's about "Climate Change." Yes, that means when ever the climate changes it's must be caused by humans. The experts predicted 10 years ago that the temperature today would be warmer but they were wrong. Michel Jarraud, who is a big fan of global warming, of the World Meteorological Organization reluctantly admitted that global temperatures have not risen since 1998, according to a BBC article. Global snowfall is at record levels and there are fewer, not more, hurricanes.

Re:It's about "Climate Change." (2, Informative)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25393607)

Michel Jarraud, who is a big fan of global warming, of the World Meteorological Organization reluctantly admitted that global temperatures have not risen since 1998, according to a BBC article.

That's a pretty misleading representation of what he said [bbc.co.uk] .

Global snowfall is at record levels

I haven't looked at snowfall records, but global precipitation is expected to increase in a warming world.

and there are fewer, not more, hurricanes.

AFAIK, there are more hurricanes. Some research suggests that there will be yet more in the future, some research suggests there will be fewer; some suggests they will get stronger even if fewer. Hurricanes are a legitimate area of deep uncertainty in climate science; it's not clear how their behavior should change.

Arctic volcanos (1)

Mspangler (770054) | about 6 years ago | (#25393449)

So the volcanos on the Lomonosov and Gakkel ridges shut down. Less steam heating of the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, less ice melts at the top of the ocean.

And this boggles peoples minds because....?

Re:Arctic volcanos (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#25393635)

The volcanoes are mostly not under the sea ice, their heating doesn't measurably reach above depths of 1500 meters, and the total heat is nothing compared to what it takes to melt siginificant quantities of sea ice. It's rather ridiculous to claim that they have anything to do with sea ice melting.

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