Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Polar Bears Saved!

The shot of the polar bear marooned on a small piece of floating ice was the most potent weapon in the armory of the global warming zealots. Despite the fact that the shot was contrived and the fact that polar bear numbers are actually increasing, (from 5000 in 1950 to 25,000 now) in May concerns over disappearing sea ice led the U.S. to officially list the polar bear a threatened species, over objections from experts.

Earlier this year, predictions were rife that the North Pole could melt entirely in 2008. Instead, the Arctic ice saw a substantial recovery. Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months, global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago, when the year 1979 also drew to a close. Ice levels had been tracking lower throughout much of 2008, but rapidly recovered in the last quarter. In fact, the rate of increase from September onward is the fastest rate of change on record, either upwards or downwards.

Bill Chapman, a researcher with the University of Illinois's Arctic Climate Research Center, claims that this was due in part to colder temperatures in the region. Chapman says wind patterns have also been weaker this year. Strong winds can slow ice formation as well as forcing ice into warmer waters where it will melt.

Why were predictions so wrong? Researchers had expected the newer sea ice, which is thinner, to be less resilient and melt easier. Instead, the thinner ice had less snow cover to insulate it from the bitterly cold air, and therefore grew much faster than expected, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.


Anonymous said...

I can see both sides of the global warming debate (this is not a new debate; when I was a child in the 1960s, I read adolescent science books and distinctly remember even now the section on global warming (right before the nuclear-powered plane and automobile...).

I understand the desire to not believe the hype, but I will tell you that the winter temperatures here in Sacramento, California are just not as low as in past years. We used to have many nights below freezing, generally in December. Now, over the past 15 years, we have maybe one or two or three nights below freezing, and not much below.

We have hummingbirds winter over, which was not the case in the 60s, 70s and 80s. On December 29, 2008, I saw a ladybug crawling across a plant, unthinkable years ago. On Christmas day a few years back, I heard a cricket in my front bushes (!). Mosquitoes are now flying around, year-round.

I can listen to the arguments, and I am not a fan of Al Gore. However, I do trust my own eyes and memories and see significant changes in my community.

Terry Hamblin said...

I don't doubt that climate changes. This winter is the coldest we have had for several years, just as 1976 was the hottest summer in my lifetine and 1962/3 the coldest winter (though 1946/7 was very cold to but I can only remember occasional incidents from it). Although the supposed benevolence of the climate in Greenland in the Dark Ages may all have been propaganda, there seems no doubt that within historical records that grapes once grew in Roman Times in the far north of England and that there was a 'little Ice Age' when the Thames froze over in the Tudor/Stuart period. What I doubt is that it is anything to do with the activity of man. The size of the Pacific Ocean is so great that it is likely to buffer any affect that the burning of fossil fuel will have.

CO2 is the second most important greenhouse gas, but it accounts for less than 5% of the effect. The most important is water vapor which really buffers itself. Probably more important is solar activity which does vary very coinsiderably and shine as he might, even Al Gore cannot affect that.