Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Melting Arctic ice cap could alter global thermostat: expert
Aboard Ccgs Amundsen, Canada (AFP) Nov 10, 2015

The Arctic ice cap is melting faster than ever before, threatening to push so much fresh water into the North Atlantic that it could disrupt how the ocean regulates global temperatures, a prominent oceanographer has warned.

As the head of a 40-member climate mission to the Arctic aboard the Canadian Coast Guard ice breaker Amundsen, Belgian researcher Roger Francois is concerned about how the pace of climate change may affect the future of deep water pools and currents, and how this imbalance may worsen the effects of global warming.

Over the course of the past two million years, temperatures have risen and fallen in 100,000-year cycles, with a sheet of ice forming over the Arctic cap each time followed by a rapid melt, he told AFP.

The last warming occurred between 20,000 and 15,000 years ago, and led at that time to a rise in sea level of 130 meters (425 feet).

"This really is the trend with the thaws in Greenland and Antarctica," said Francois, who is a professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

"The biggest difference with today is the time scale. It has never been faster."

Each cycle is marked by an increase in carbon in the atmosphere. At the last change, the rate of carbon dioxide in the air increased from 180 parts per million to 280 ppm over 5,000 years. Until the Industrial Revolution, the level remained at 280 ppm, and since then it has skyrocketed to more than 400 ppm in 2015, he explained.

"If we continue this way, and that's what seems to be happening, we'll end up by the end of the century with rates we have not had since the days of the dinosaurs, the Mesozoic Age," with 1,000 ppm, Francois warned.

- 'Feedbacks' -

The last deglaciation, or disappearance of ice from an area that was formerly covered by it, was followed by a much longer than usual period of climate stability, which allowed Homo sapiens to flourish.

"Our civilization, as we know it, is actually a direct result of climate change," said Francois.

At the heart of this climate are "deep water" masses that are created in the North Atlantic off Greenland when surface seawater evaporates and cools as wind blows over it, resulting in increased salinity. The remaining water becomes heavier and more dense and sinks into deep basins.

The water then flows southward along deep abyssal plains and back, creating currents that are "a major mechanism for transporting heat from the equator to the poles," said Francois.

   With the melting of the ice cap, dilution in the sea of   icebergs made of 
fresh water "lowers salinity, and makes more difficult the formation of deep water masses," he explained.

But if the heat transfer between the equator and the poles is interrupted because this deep water circulation is broken, then "high latitudes become much colder," he said.

Such a scenario already happened during the last global warming.

"It was still colder in early deglaciation than during the Ice Age in northern Europe in particular," said the oceans researcher.

Changing of the deep water formation is only one of several climate phenomena that can amplify the effects of global warming. These so-called "feedbacks" can cause climate change to spiral out of control.

An oft-cited example of this is the melting of sea ice due to warming exposing darker seas that absorb heat instead of reflecting sunshine, which hastens warming.

"We do not know all the feedbacks involved in the change, hence our concern," says Francois.

"The whole system is so complex, it is not something that can be experimented on. We're talking about processes occurring on a global scale. Just a small detail forgotten can lead to different conclusions."

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Beyond the Ice Age

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Less ice, more water in Arctic Ocean by 2050s
Boulder CO (SPX) Nov 09, 2015
By the 2050s, parts of the Arctic Ocean once covered by sea ice much of the year will see at least 60 days a year of open water, according to a new modeling study led by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder. "We hear all the time about how sea ice extent in the Arctic is going down," says Katy Barnhart, who led the study while at CU-Boulder's Institute for Arctic and Alpine Re ... read more

Gaia's sensors scan a lunar transit

SwRI scientists explain why moon rocks contain fewer volatiles than Earth's

All-female Russian crew starts Moon mission test

Russian moon mission would need 4 Angara-A5V launches

Amnesia Event Slows Down Opportunity Robotic Arm Work

Swiss Camera Leaves for Mars

NASA mission reveals speed of solar wind stripping Martian atmosphere

Martian desiccation

Orion Service Module Stacking Assembly Secured For Flight

Global partnerships in orbit support economic growth on and off the Earth

Magic plant discovery could lead to growing food in space

NASA Armstrong Hosts Convergent Aeronautics Solutions Showcase

China's self-developed Mars probe to be on show

Could Sino-U.S. cooperation bring the Martian home?

China's scientific satellites to enter uncharted territory

Declaration approved to promote Asia Pacific space cooperation

US astronauts dodge ammonia on risky spacewalk

UK astronaut dreams of heavenly Christmas pudding

NASA drops Boeing from race for $3.5 billion cargo contract

Space Station offers valuable lessons about life support systems

Commercial Spaceflight Gets A Boost With Latest Congressional Moves

The 10th Arianespace mission of 2015 is "go" for its Ariane 5 liftoff next week

USAF releases first Booster Propulsion Technology Maturation BAA Award

SpaceLoft demonstrates capability to eject separate payloads requiring independent re-entry

Distant world's weather is mixed bag of hot dust and molten rain

Disk gaps don't always signal planets

Finding New Worlds with a Play of Light and Shadow

Did Jupiter Expel A Rival Gas Giant

New ORNL catalyst features unsurpassed selectivity

Cyclic healing removes defects in metals while maintaining strength

Microscopy unveils lithium-rich transition metal oxides

Scanning reveals anomalies in Great Pyramid at Giza

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement