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IPY: From Knowledge to Action



April 23, 2012 – Comments (4)

I'm in Montreal, my third day here, at the International Polar conference.

It is definitely interesting.  Really interesting stuff on how the climate change is changing ocean currents and the big issue is how it is changing the mixing of the lower nutrient rich part of the ocean with the upper layer.  Without the mixing there is a huge void of minerals and such that are need for the massive photosynthesis that takes place in the upper ocean.  So there's a lot of interest in how those currents are changing.

The other thing that is quite interesting in the Arctic ocean  is these massive layers of freshwater and reduced salt concentration in other layers from the melting sea ice, and never mind that the multiyear ice is almost completely gone.  The data I saw showed 40 meters of freshwater in some layers.  I didn't follow it that well, but I always think of liquids as completely mixing and that doesn't happen and so the other thing that is happening is those salt water dependent species are declining in those increasing fresh water layers.

The ice melt has increase so rapidly, that in just a few years they've re-evaluated the rate of ice melt and tripled estimates.

And I had no idea how much ice there is in Antarctica.   The ice there is a couple miles thick and the continent is bigger then the USA so now I get it on where the predictions on how much sea level could rise come from.  Right now the predictions are only about a meter in the next 100 years, but I never understood where estimates of 70 meters if all the ice melted came from.

In any event, the ice there is melting faster as well and it is creating challenges for the penquins.

On another note, I saw a sample of a Japanese produce 3/8ths of an inch thick with an R30 value.  This is a massive increase in insulation  capacity of which I'm going to see if I can learn more about.  Imagine it lining fridges and freezers and in my case, northern homes.

Anyway, I'm seeing evidence that what's happening in the polar regions of the planet are having environmental effects across the planet and the ocean currents is a big one.


4 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On April 23, 2012 at 8:35 PM, materialsman92 (38.55) wrote:

i read that on average the ocean level as risen by about 8 inches since the industrial revolution about 200 years ago.

 You say this as if this were little:

"Right now the predictions are only about a meter in the next 100 years".

 I live in South Florida so if this happens my house will be underwater.

Are you sure? that seems a little high

btw the part about the currents is interesting; this disruption could decrease photosynthesis? what do you think this holds for life in general? how can we stablize currents? 

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#2) On April 24, 2012 at 9:00 AM, dwot (29.67) wrote:

Well, depending on the level of melting water, the model we saw showed half of Florida under water, and certainly Florida was the hardest hit by rising sea levels, but I don't know if/what was a timeline to it.  I say 1 meter as it it was little because of the 70 meter estimate if all the ice melted.

The increase in ice melt is huge.  Models they thought were reasonable 3-5 years ago are all predicting about half of what they are seeing.  That 1 meter estimate is newer.  Only a few years ago they were predicting half a meter in the next hundred years, so maybe that's why the 1 meter seems high to you.

I specifically asked about the mixing of the ocean waters because what I understood is 70% of the photosynthesis takes place in coastal waters, and it does, but that deep water is loaded with minerals and needs to mix.  

They are studying it and I found it interesting that where they have massive fresh water melts they can already measure a decline in the plankton, and the larger ones are declining the most.  Now, this is only in region where there's this massive fresh water build up, something like an increase of 25% in the last 5-10 years, maybe less.

The one guy gave an anology about being in a boat on the river heading towards Niagra Falls.  Even though you haven't gone over the edge yet, there is a "tipping" point where by if you pass it and you haven't gone for shore, you are committed to going over those falls regardless of what you do.  Quite a few think we've gone past a tipping point in terms of what we've done to the planet.  They also did a very good job of showing where by melting ice even if we dramatically reduced our carbon emissions, the amount trapped in ice that is now melting overwhelms any reduction that we could do now.

Without greenhouse gases the planet is about -17C and with greenhouse gases at historical levels it is at about 15C.  We are a good 15-20% above historical high levels of carbon in the atmosphere.

They announced a million dollar prize.  I forget the details, but it had a huge education component.  I just went to see if I could find more information, but no,

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#3) On April 24, 2012 at 9:55 AM, materialsman92 (38.55) wrote:

thanks for your valuable insights, it will be interesting to see how this plays out

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#4) On April 24, 2012 at 5:32 PM, dividendsrus (40.86) wrote:

I appreciate reading about the topic of climate change without someone telling me to try to do something about stopping it or advocating some policy or another.  It's an interesting subject.  Thanks for the great post.

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