Arctic Death Knell Foretells Abrupt Climate Change
Arctic ice is disintegrating at an amazing rate, an indicator of how quickly global heating is occurring, and with grave consequences for the Arctic's absorption of heat, and the survival of polar bears [search] and humanity. One of Canada's six ancient Arctic ice shelves has cracked off [more] northern Ellesmere Island, creating an enormous 66-square-kilometre ice island and leaving a trail of icy blocks in its wake. Occurring 16 months ago, the enormity of the event is just now becoming known. The relatively rare Canadian ice shelves, located about 800 kilometers south of the North Pole, are 90 percent smaller than they were when first crossed in 1906. Meanwhile, astonishingly the melting of Arctic sea ice and precarious decline of polar bears has finally caught the attention of the Bush administration [more | more2]. The Department of the Interior has decided the iconic polar bear should be listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because “the polar bears' habitat may literally be melting”. Last week scientists predicted that the Arctic Ocean's summer sea ice could melt entirely [search] as early as 2040 and possibly sooner. Open seas absorb more heat than sea ice which largely reflects incoming solar radiation. As a society we are so far behind on developing and implementing policy to address climate change that it is sadly, shockingly frightening.