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A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic summer 2005 has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover.

Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.

Dr Serreze: "This will be four Septembers in a row that we've seen a downward trend.  The feeling is we are reaching a tipping point or threshold beyond which sea ice will not recover."

Professor Wadhams: "As the sea ice melts, and more of the sun's energy is absorbed by the exposed ocean, a positive feedback is created leading to the loss of yet more ice."

"If anything we may be underestimating the dangers.  The computer models may not take into account collaborative positive feedback."

"Sea ice keeps a cap on frigid water, keeping it cold and protecting it from heating up."

"Losing the sea ice of the Arctic is likely to have major repercussions for the climate."

"There could be dramatic changes to the climate of the northern region due to the creation of a vast expanse of open water where there was once effectively land."

"You're essentially changing land into ocean and the creation of a huge area of open ocean where there was once land will have a very big impact on other climate parameters."







 

Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Worldwide
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Worldwide

What is happening?
  • The use of fossil fuels in transportation, industry, heating and power generation throughout the world has increased steadily over the past 40 years. This has resulted in increases in greenhouse gas emissions, shown here as carbon dioxide levels (the bars on the chart).
Why is it happening?
  • Greenhouse gas emissions have increased at the same rate as the overall world economic production, measured by the Gross World Product (GWP - the red triangles on the chart). The GWP reflects the increase in worldwide industrialization and human population levels.
Why is it important?
  • Greenhouse gases trap the sun's heat at the earth's surface, resulting in increases in temperature and other changes in weather patterns.

  • Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, occurs naturally, and the greenhouse effect it produces is necessary for life on earth. However, the steady increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now having an effect on the world's climate, and this effect is expected to increase.
Technical Notes
  • This graph is adapted from the Environment Canada website.
  • Bars represent estimated total world emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.




 
 





 
 





 
For archive purposes, this article is being stored on TheWE.cc website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.