Global warming was the catchphrase until the Earth stopped warming for the past decade so the more generic phrase climate change became the term to use. Shrinking Arctic sea ice was also said to be a certainty but a new report hedges scientists’ bets by saying it may not, once again providing a moving target.
A new study by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) shows that Arctic sea ice is “as likely to expand as it is to contract for periods of up to about a decade.”
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NCAR scientist Jennifer Kay, the lead author of the study said, “The computer simulations suggest that we could see a 10-year period of stable ice or even a slight 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.”
Utilizing a single climate model, the study authors speculate that fluctuations in the sea ice will increase due to a warming climate and thinning ice.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases are not the only reason for the decline of the ice.
Scientists attributed half of the decline to “climate variability.” This seems at odds with the results from the UN’s IPCC’s AR4 report which dismisses natural climate variability as a reason for increased global temperatures.
The statement from NCAR said that the computer model used by the scientists “has certain biases” however it is unclear how that would have affected the results of the modeling that was performed. A recent study has demonstrated that computer models are significantly underestimating the Earth’s ability to dissipate heat.
Reliable sea ice measurements have only become a reality since 1979 when satellites started observations. However, data suggests that as recently as 5,500 years ago during the Holocene Thermal Maximum the Arctic had considerably less ice than what it does today.
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