Saturday, February 06, 2010

Sort of Like the Titanic - Without the Ice

We all learn something new every day. There was a time that was a good thing. Times change.

Yesterday I learned of "Arctic cyclones." I'd always thought of cyclones or hurricanes as warm-temperature events, fronts moving out of the tropics sort of things. Turns out we're now getting them up in the Arctic too.

The results of a 2008 mega-study of Arctic ice were released in Winnipeg yesterday. A team ofr 370 scientists from around the world spent 2008 up in the Arctic taking a close look at conditions and that led to a report about the "Circumpolar Flaw Lead System."

Speaking to a symposium yesterday, professor David Barber didn't pull any punches. The Arctic ecosystem, he said, is worse than we'd thought and is in fact under threat of collapse. We've known for years that Arctic sea ice is becoming a seasonal thing and is receding but we never really grasped just what that meant to the ecosystem. It does everything from releasing toxic contaminants into the sea to generating cyclones that further hasten the break up of sea ice to drawing the jet stream - and warming air - steadily further north. Marine life is being impacted by the toxins and the disappearance of the ice cap. Orca, once held at bay by the ice, are now spreading into the Arctic to prey on the once protected creatures. Lovely, just lovely.

Oh well, with a government headed by a petty tyrant with a stooge like Prentice for EnviroMin I'm sure we have nothing to worry about.


joycedell said...

The G-20 meeting should be interesting with everyone wanting South Korea (the co-chair) to take the lead instead of Canada. South Korea is investing heavily in renewables and we...not so much.

Jay Alt said...

Meteorologists call low pressure areas 'cyclones' and high pressure areas 'anticyclones.' The winds rotate in a different sense, depending on Hi vs Low. (and also which hemisphere you're in, N vs S)

'Cyclone' is often used to refer to low pressure driven storms. The Arctic has seen more of those blown up from the south. Although this year has been an exception, the trend described below is toward an increase in positive AO conditons.


The Mound of Sound said...

Jay, thanks for the information. The link was terrific. Now I'm wondering to what extent the Arctic Oscillation is affected by the warm, humid wind patterns we receive from la Nina events? Any idea?