Friday, 28 January 2011

Arctic canary looking sicker than ever

Environment correspondent for BBC News Online Richard Black has assembled an extremely useful summary of recent research findings from ongoing scientific studies of the Arctic region:
If the Arctic really is the "canary in the coal mine" for climate change impacts, as it's often been labelled, then it's a canary about which we know a little more following a spate of scientific papers coming out over the last week or so.

And looking at what they say, as well as readings from instruments monitoring the canary's heath, the signs of sickness appear to be stronger and more certain than before.

There are several distinct symptoms that need monitoring here: sea-ice area and volume, air temperature and wind, water temperature and currents, and the state of the Greenland icecap.

Along with all this is the constant effort to interpret new data and see whether long-term beliefs about how Arctic weather works still hold true, or whether - as with the El Nino Southern Oscillation, for example - the sustained rise in global temperatures may change mechanisms people thought they understood.
Black's blog entry summarises and links conveniently to five or six separate studies, each worrying by themselves, but which together add up to no small concern for the stability of the northern polar zone. Why not spend some time this weekend exploring a selection of the links?

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