Since I last wrote, I finished my summer research at Andrew Weaver’s lab (more on that in the weeks and months to come, as our papers work through peer review). I moved back home to the Prairies, which seem unnaturally hot, flat and dry compared to BC. Perhaps what I miss most is the ocean – the knowledge that the nearest coastline is more than a thousand kilometres away gives me an uncomfortable feeling akin to claustrophobia.
During that time, the last story I covered has developed significantly. Before September even began, Arctic sea ice extent reached record low levels. It’s currently well below the previous record, held in 2007, and will continue to decline for two or three more weeks before it levels off:
Finally, El Niño conditions are beginning to emerge in the Pacific Ocean. In central Canada we are celebrating, because El Niño tends to produce warmer-than-average winters (although last winter was mysteriously warm despite the cooling influence of La Niña – not a day below -30 C!) The impacts of El Niño are different all over the world, but overall it tends to boost global surface temperatures. Combine this effect with the current ascent from a solar minimum and the stronger-than-ever greenhouse gas forcing, and it looks likely that 2013 will break global temperature records. That’s still a long way away, though, and who knows what will happen before then?
Following this epic saga as much as I can, I notice that the rate of change seems to be constantly on the increase.
Earlier this year, I read a projection that the Arctic might have a totally ice-free summber by 2018. Then just a month or so ago, it was said to be 2015. Now all bets are off. A big storm in the next few weeks could make it all slush.
This is nuts.
Amazingly, the usual suspects are trying to argue that it’s all just natural and nothing to worry about.
Dana, I would say “predictably” rather than “amazingly.”
I feel similarly every time I spend a season working on the coast or the island and come back to middle of Canada. It helps having a really big lake nearby where you can see the curvature of the earth, even if the smell isn’t coast-like at all. Still, every time I go back it feels like I’ve come home again and it is very invigorating…especially when you can work with some top minds in the field for a while.
I would like to see worse case scenario projections based on average constant underestimations by climate models measured vs. real word observations. Everyone keeps getting it wrong and I would like to look at a projection and multiply it by a average error coefficient to see what’s really going to happen.