Climate change: we’re all on thin ice

The outlook for the frozen top of the world is bleak, according to the annual Arctic Report Card: 2015 Update released by the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Tuesday. Since the turn of the last century, it said, the Arctic’s air temperature has increased by more than 5 degrees due to global warming in the last 115 years.

polar-ice-caps-melting

“These report cards are trailing indicators of what’s happening in the Arctic.”  said NOAA chief scientist Richard Spinrad  ‘‘They can turn out to be leading indicators for the rest of the globe.’’  

One of the difficulties with the rhetoric coming out of the Paris climate conference was that nations would aim to limit global warming to 2°C and if possible, 1.5°.

But we’ve already experienced 1°C rise globally, and that translates into 5° in the Arctic.  So the 2°C target disguises the seriousness of the problem.

When most people think of the 2° C increase in temperatures, they’re inclined to think that a very hot day in Melbourne will go from 42°C to 44°C.

It’ll be hot, but is not a problem, all you have to do is leave the air-conditioner on a bit longer.

Warmer air and sea temperatures, particularly in the Arctic and Antarctic areas, melt the ice and lift sea levels. The expanded oceans hold more heat and this melts more ice. It’s a positive feedback loop that generates ever-increasing rates of change.

Someone once said, in a slightly different context “There will be no change until the wells run dry”.

Now the fear should be that, ” There will be no change, until the tide comes in.”

By then, it may be too late.

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