Scientists: Arctic ice may not go away so quickly
A polar bear sits on sea ice in the Canadian Arctic.
August 11th, 2011
01:05 PM ET

Scientists: Arctic ice may not go away so quickly

Earth's Arctic ice is disappearing. In fact, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center told CNN last week that, within three decades, the top of the world would be practically ice free during the summer.

This week scientists are saying, not so fast. You might want to plan for that ice-free Arctic Ocean summer sail about 50 or 60 years from now.

That's because new computer models run by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, show the ice cap could just as easily expand as contract in periods of up to 10 years at a time.

“One of the results that surprised us all was the number of computer simulations that indicated a temporary halt to the loss of the ice,” NCAR scientist Jennifer Kay, the lead author of a new study on the Arctic ice, said in a news release.

Climate variables such as shifting wind patterns could temporarily reverse ice loss, Kay said.

“The computer simulations suggest that we could see a 10-year period of stable ice or even an increase in the extent of the ice.  Even though the observed ice loss has accelerated over the last decade, the fate of sea ice over the next decade depends not only on human activity but also on climate variability that cannot be predicted,” Kay said.

But she said the overall trend is clear.

“When you start looking at longer-term trends, 50 or 60 years, there’s no escaping the loss of ice in the summer,” Kay said.

The latest research appears in this week's Geophysical Research Letters.

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Filed under: Climate change • Environment
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    Hey, leeintulsa.
    Whassup? 🙂


    Yep, you're right...and I'm the same way.
    I have just one question:
    Why would anyone think a threat like "I have a gun in my car" would *work*?
    What a dolt!
    Wish you *could have* b!itch slapped him...he sounds stupid to the extreme.
    Even *I* wouldn't have been scared!

    August 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    Hey, leeintulsa, I DO know everything!
    (Yeah, right!)

    August 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. leeintulsa

    Hi banasy 🙂 livin the dream. You?

    August 11, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Ditto, lee, ditto!
    Livin large and largly livin...

    August 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. leeintulsa

    Cricket... Cricket...

    August 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. john

    @leeintulsa: paleoclimateologist don't claim to be spot on, they are dealing in large blocks of time to which we can make generalizations about what the weather was like due to what forms of life were present during those time periods. For instance a TRex wouldn't be walking around during the ice age any more than a woolly mammoth would be walking around now or during the Jurassic period. From studying the creatures that were alive during each time period we can get a generalized view of what the climate was like, not so with what future weather trends may come, that's just a cr@p shoot guess. Do agree about your assessment of politicians and talk show hosts, both are snakes in the grass from both sides of the political spectrum. Also agree with your comment about anything is possible which is exactly why I question pop culture science. Global warming theorists point to a decade of time to support their claim, that's the equivalent of one small teardrop in all the oceans combined(minuscule) and even much of that data is faulty. Hardly enough evidence to base any claims upon.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. john

    @Wassup: I was a lot younger back then and in much better shape. Time, I'm afraid, is catching up with me. Guess that's the one fight none of us wins. @Leeintulsa: don't take my last post s an attack I agree with what you said I was only attempting to point out why I don't believe in junk science. If I did believe in junk science then I would've been going along with these same scientists back in the seventies when they were crying global cooling.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. leeintulsa

    There's really no way to know for sure until it happens. But claiming that there's no way people can have any effect on our climate, when the data on that won't be in for thousands of years, seems reckless. Sounds like something uncle rush or W would say..

    August 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. john

    @leeintulsa: of course people weren't hear during the Jurassic Period but carbon dioxide has always been here since plant life couldn't have thrived without it. The planet itself wouldn't not have an atmosphere since volcanic activity is partly responsible for our magnetic poles not to mention that plants also helped in creating our atmosphere. It's fourth grade science class stuff, at least it was when I went to school, don't know what they're teaching these days. You do get that almost all(as a percentage) of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere comes from volcanic activity? We can run from the facts but that doesn't change the facts no matter how hard we try.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. john

    I'll take billions of years of historical data over a decade of politicians various other groups with an agenda any day. As I stated ten years of unproved theories is minuscule in the overall historical data we have. If you're so concerned about it though perhaps you'll get a horse and buggy and through out all your electrical devices including your air conditioner, btw whatever happened to that global cooling back in the seventies? Oh that's right it was pseudo science also. if you don't like talk show hosts why do you listen to them? I don't.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. leeintulsa

    Yes, CO2 has been here forever. I'll even grant it's mostly from volcanoes.

    There is a balance in nature. As with any balancing act, a slight change in either direction can have huge consequences.

    Say 99 percent of the CO2 came from volcanoes 1000 years ago. And say, as balance would have it, it's a fairly constant number. Every year, more people are born than die. Add in an industrial revolution or two, and contrary to balance, our CO2 emissions don't stay the same. They grow.

    If one more straw can break the camel's back, how long can we play before the game is over?

    August 11, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. leeintulsa

    You keep referring to theorists i don't know and some decade they use for data.. I don't.. I'm talking simple math..

    And sometimes rush is forced upon me by the redneck controlling the jobsite radio lol.. Trust me, it sickens me..

    August 11, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. leeintulsa

    DOH! Forgot to mention the plants that use the CO2. As our emissions grow, they get wiped out to make room for more of us. I once heard something like 70 percent of our oxygen comes from the amazon. Which is getting wiped out as we speak..

    August 11, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. john

    Sorry about your problems at the job site sounds like mental abuse to me. Perhaps you have grounds for a lawsuit. If you're too young to remember the seventies here's a quick refresher course. Scientists during that time were clamoring about being on the verge of a new ice age and they were claiming that it was man made from the industrialization of the world, including automobiles(sound familiar). By the eighties it was pretty much debunked as pseudo science with nothing to support the claims. Much of the records taken from core samples during Roman times and the fourteen hundreds shows that the earth was much warmer during those periods of human history than it is now. It also shows that there was much less ice at the poles and that the sea levels were much higher during those time periods. As for the population growth that's mostly in undeveloped countries, most developed countries has seen a marked decline in population growth over the last several decades. That is the main reason why so many countries are have a problem financing their social security programs. As for the decade the scientists are using to prove their global warming theory I am, of course, referring to the past decade-give or take a few years. One decade out of hundreds of millions isn't enough to formalize a working hypothesis let alone an actual theory.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. john

    I would actually agree that the forests being wiped out is a threat, much more so than cars. However don't forget that nature always finds a way to compensate. An example would be that there have always been forest fires, most of the US plains states constantly went from being forest area to prairie area, in fact many states like Missouri lost nearly all their trees throughout the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. Too much undergrowth actually stifle a forest's growth. The rain forest is a problem we'll never solve though unless we invade the country and put a stop to it.

    August 11, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
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