ice-free Arctic

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pages: 421 words: 120,332

The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future by Laurence C. Smith

Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, clean water, Climategate, colonial rule, deglobalization, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, energy security, flex fuel, G4S, global supply chain, Google Earth, guest worker program, Hans Island, hydrogen economy, ice-free Arctic, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invisible hand, land tenure, Martin Wolf, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, side project, Silicon Valley, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, standardized shipping container, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Y2K

Gone was the entire United States east of the Mississippi River, together with North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Iowa. A murmur rolled through the hall—even scientists enjoy a good animated graphic over tables of numbers any day. After Serreze’s talk we milled around some more, wrangling over things like “model downscaling,” “cloud forcing,” and “nonlinear dynamics.” Some were revising the old projections for an ice-free Arctic Ocean from 2050 to 2035, or even 2013. Others—including me—argued for natural variability. We thought the 2007 retreat could just be a freak and the sea ice would recover, filling up its old territory by the following year. We were wrong. The excursion persisted for two more years, with 2008 and 2009 also breaking records for the Arctic summer sea-ice minimum. They were the second- and third-lowest years ever seen, and had followed right on the heels of what happened before.290 Ice Reflects, Oceans Absorb The broader impacts of amplified warming—more rain and snow, and reduced summer sea ice at the top of our planet—extend far beyond the region itself.

By responding in this way to small global temperature changes, sea ice thus amplifies them even more.292 While its global effect is small, the ice-albedo feedback is uniquely powerful in the Arctic because it is the only place on Earth where a major ocean gets coated with ephemeral floating sea ice during the summer. Antarctica, in contrast, is a continent of land, thickly buried beneath permanent, kilometers-thick glaciers. For this and several other reasons, climate warming is more amplified in the Arctic than the Antarctic. 293,294 As an ice-free Arctic Ocean warms up, it acts like a giant hot-water bottle, warming the chilly Arctic air as the Sun crawls off the horizon each winter. The sea ice that does eventually form is thin and crackly, allowing more of the ocean’s heat to seep out even during the depths of winter. Winters become milder, the autumn freeze-up happens later, and the spring thaw arrives earlier. The warming effect is highest over the ocean and from there spills southward, warming vast landscapes across some of the coldest terrain on Earth.

For a brief time window each year, it would become feasible to cross right over the North Pole in ice-strengthened ships. A dream come true. Dream On So by 2050 will global trade flows be pouring through the Arctic Ocean, as they do today through the Suez and Panama canals? Impossible. Those operate 365 days per year with no ice whatsoever. At best the Arctic Ocean will become ice-free for a few days to a few weeks in summer and even then, there is no such thing as a truly “ice-free” Arctic Ocean. From autumn through spring, there will be expanding first-year ice cover, slowing ships down even with icebreaker escort. In summer, there will always be lingering bits of sea ice floating around, as well as thick icebergs calved from land-based glaciers into the sea (a glacier iceberg sank the Titanic, not sea ice). The Arctic Ocean will always freeze in winter—or at least we’d better hope so.


pages: 364 words: 101,193

Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Climatic Research Unit, Deng Xiaoping, failed state, ice-free Arctic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Live Aid, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, price stability, South China Sea, supervolcano

Given that these high-altitude wind belts-narrow corridors of rapidly moving air at the top of the troposphere-mark the boundaries between the different air masses, their gradual movement shows that the location of the world's typical climate zones is already starting to shift in response to rising global temperatures. What we have so far witnessed is still only the beginning. As one group of scientists warned recently: ‘The Arctic system is moving toward a new state that falls outside the envelope of recent Earth history.’ As future chapters show, this new ice-free Arctic will see extreme levels of warmth unlike anything experienced by the northern polar regions for millions of years. Danger in the Alps When the Englishmen Craig Higgins and Victor Saunders left the Hornli hut at 4 a.m. on 15 July 2003, they had no idea that they would end the day being part of the biggest-ever rescue on Switzerland's iconic Matterhorn. The ascent began straightforwardly, with the two climbers scaling three rock towers, after which steep slabs led up to a small bivouac hut midway up the Hornli ridge.

., 2006: ‘Subtropical Arctic Ocean temperatures during the Palaeocene/Eocene thermal maximum’, Nature, 441, 610-13 p. 203 Air temperatures: Weijers, J., et al., 2007: ‘Warm Arctic continents during the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum’, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, in press p. 203 higher rainfall: Pagani, M., et al., 2006: Arctic hydrology during global warming at the Palaeocene/Eocene thermal maximum', Nature, 442, 671-5 p. 203 no ice: Kerr, R., 2004: ‘Signs of a warm, ice-free Arctic’, Science, 305,1693 p. 203 temperatures soared: Pagani, M., et al., 2006: An ancient carbon mystery', Science, 314,1556-7 p. 204 Gerald Dickens: Dickens, G., 1999: ‘The blast in the past’, Nature, 401, 752-5 p. 204 John Higgins and Daniel Schrag: Higgins, A., and Schrag, D., 2006: ‘Beyond methane: Towards a theory for the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum’, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 245, 523-37 p. 204 early Eocene: Lowenstein, T., and Demicco, R., 2006: ‘Elevated Eocene atmospheric CO2 and its subsequent decline’, Science, 313,1928 p. 204 30 times faster: 2006: ‘Lesson from 55 million years ago says climate change could be faster than expected’, Daily Telegraph, 17 February 2006 p. 204 searing global heatwave: Thomas, D., et al., 2002: ‘Warming the fuel for the fire: Evidence for the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum’, Geology, 30,12, 1067-70 p. 205 decrease by 85 per cent: Buffett, B., and Archer, D., 2004: ‘Global inventory of methane hydrate: sensitivity to changes in the deep ocean’, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 227,185-99 p. 205 Arctic Ocean: see ‘Methane hydrates and global warming’, RealClimate blog, 12 December 2005, http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?


pages: 138 words: 40,525

This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook by Extinction Rebellion

3D printing, autonomous vehicles, banks create money, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, David Attenborough, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, feminist movement, full employment, gig economy, global pandemic, ice-free Arctic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), job automation, mass immigration, Peter Thiel, place-making, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, Sam Altman, smart grid, supply-chain management, the scientific method, union organizing, urban sprawl, wealth creators

It is time to prepare, both emotionally and practically, for a disaster. I am a social scientist, not a climatologist. So who am I to spread panic and fear when the world’s top scientists say we have twelve years? Like many readers, I had assumed the authority on climate was the IPCC – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – but it turns out they’ve been consistently underestimating the changes. In 2007 they said an ice-free Arctic was a possibility by 2100. That sounds far enough away to calm the nerves. But real-time measurements are documenting such rapid loss of ice that some of the world’s top climate scientists are saying it could be ice free in the next few years. Sea-level rise is a good indicator of the rate of change, because it is affected by many factors. In 2007, satellite data showed a sea-level rise of 3.3 millimetres per year.


pages: 148 words: 45,249

Losing Earth: A Recent History by Nathaniel Rich

Dissolution of the Soviet Union, energy security, ice-free Arctic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), James Watt: steam engine, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil shale / tar sands, planetary scale, Ronald Reagan, spinning jenny, the scientific method

The scope of Changing Climate was impressive, with its various commissions on agriculture and social policy, its subchapters with titles both specific and grand: “The Colorado River” and “Weeds,” “The Deep Circulation” and “The Time Dimension.” Nevertheless, as Pomerance flipped through its pages, he could see that it offered no significant new findings. “We are deeply concerned about environmental changes of this magnitude,” read the executive summary. “We may get into trouble in ways that we have barely imagined.” The authors did try to imagine some of them: an ice-free Arctic, for instance, and Boston sinking into its harbor, with Beacon Hill surfacing as an island two miles off the coast. There was speculation about political revolution, trade wars, and a long quotation from A Distant Mirror, the medieval history written by Barbara Tuchman, Pomerance’s aunt, describing how climatic changes in the fourteenth century led to “people eating their own children” and “feeding on hanged bodies taken down from the gibbet.”


pages: 579 words: 164,339

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman

air freight, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, David Attenborough, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, El Camino Real, epigenetics, Filipino sailors, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute couture, housing crisis, ice-free Arctic, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, immigration reform, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), land reform, liberation theology, load shedding, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, megacity, Menlo Park, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, Pearl River Delta, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, Satyajit Das, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, unemployed young men, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

To avoid bringing something comparably drastic upon ourselves, the ecological economists propose we rethink the way we provision civilization—starting now. It’s a big job. Today’s globalized economy literally means an economy the size of our planet—but as Daly points out, that also means there’s no more room to expand. The addition of more fuel reserves than we once thought we had—in the form of gas we free by shattering bedrock, oil we wring from sand and shale, and newly ice-free Arctic deposits—seems impressive from a short-term perspective, such as an election cycle. But the math reveals that they’ll buy us relatively little extra time, and may cost much more than they give. The techniques to harvest them make alarming messes, and burning them turns the skies even more uncontrollable and the oceans increasingly corrosive. “The closer the economy approaches the scale of the Earth,” Daly told the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission in 2008, “the more it will have to conform to the physical behavior of the Earth.”

But if we wait to act until all the numbers are in, we’ll have waited too long, which is why scientists keep jamming every possible variable into models that predict our likely future. Because technically they’re speculative, their credibility is attacked by whoever profits from business as usual. But thus far, the main failing in climate change models has been timidity: the worst possible case for an ice-free Arctic summer, predicted for 2050 back in 2008, has now been moved to as early as 2016. At what point, and with what proof or words, might politicians and industry be convinced that drastic change is already upon us, and will only worsen—perhaps fatally—if we don’t respond accordingly? Later that year, I would be asked by a prominent Japanese business magazine if I thought that people were being hysterical to demand an end to nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima tragedy.


pages: 565 words: 164,405

A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World by William J. Bernstein

Admiral Zheng, asset allocation, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, British Empire, call centre, clean water, Columbian Exchange, Corn Laws, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, domestication of the camel, double entry bookkeeping, Eratosthenes, financial innovation, Gini coefficient, God and Mammon, ice-free Arctic, imperial preference, income inequality, intermodal, James Hargreaves, John Harrison: Longitude, Khyber Pass, low skilled workers, non-tariff barriers, Paul Samuelson, placebo effect, Port of Oakland, refrigerator car, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, working poor, zero-sum game

I (March-May 2001), accessed at http:// www.sam.gov.tr/perceptions/Volume6/March-May2001 /inan06. PDF. 6. See Rodrigues see also Donna J. Nincic, "Sea Lane Security and U.S. Maritime Trade: Chokepoints as Scarce Resources," in Sam J. Tangredi, ed., Globalization and Maritime Power (Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 2002), 143-169. 7. Jessie C. Carman, "Economic and Strategic Implications of Ice-Free Arctic Seas," in Globalization and Maritime Power 171-188. 8. Patrick J. Buchanan, The Great Betrayal (Boston: Little, Brown, 1998), 224. 9. Bairoch, Economics and World History, 47-55, 135-138. 10. Mark Bils, "Tariff Protection and Production in the Early U.S. Cotton Textile Industry," The Journal of Economic History, 44, no. 4 (December 1984): 1041, 1045. 11. Kevin O'Rourke, "Tariffs and Growth in the Late 19th Century," The Economic Journal 110 (April 2000): 456-683; quote, 473.

., "Who Voted for Smoot-Hawley?" Journal of Economic History 54, no. 3 (September 1994): 683-690. Calmes, Jackie, "Despite Buoyant Economic Times, Americans Don't Buy Free Trade," The Wall Street Journal (December 10, 1998). Carapace, Ian, Review of Roman Coins from India (Paula J. Turner), Classical Review 41 (January 1991): 264-265. Carman, Jessie C., "Economic and Strategic Implications of Ice-Free Arctic Seas," in Globalization and Maritime Power (Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 2002). Carney, Timothy P., The Big Ripoff (New York: Wiley, 2006). Chau Ju-Kua, Chu-Fan-Chi, Friedrich Hirth and W. W. Rockhill, ed. and trans. (New York: Paragon, 1966). Chaudhuri, K. N., Trade and Civilization in the Indian Ocean (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1985). Chaudhuri, K. N., The Trading World of Asia and the English East India Compam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978).


pages: 497 words: 144,283

Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna

"Robert Solow", 1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 9 dash line, additive manufacturing, Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Boycotts of Israel, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, British Empire, business intelligence, call centre, capital controls, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, complexity theory, continuation of politics by other means, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, data is the new oil, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, digital map, disruptive innovation, diversification, Doha Development Round, edge city, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, energy security, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Ferguson, Missouri, financial innovation, financial repression, fixed income, forward guidance, global supply chain, global value chain, global village, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, Hyperloop, ice-free Arctic, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, industrial robot, informal economy, Infrastructure as a Service, interest rate swap, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, Khyber Pass, Kibera, Kickstarter, LNG terminal, low cost airline, low cost carrier, low earth orbit, manufacturing employment, mass affluent, mass immigration, megacity, Mercator projection, Metcalfe’s law, microcredit, mittelstand, Monroe Doctrine, mutually assured destruction, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, off grid, offshore financial centre, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, openstreetmap, out of africa, Panamax, Parag Khanna, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-oil, post-Panamax, private military company, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, TaskRabbit, telepresence, the built environment, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transaction costs, UNCLOS, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, WikiLeaks, young professional, zero day

In 2010, Russia issued only four permits for Arctic sea passage; in 2013, it issued four hundred. That year, the nineteen-thousand-ton Yong Sheng sailed from Dalian to Rotterdam in thirty-five days. At present, more than fifty times more cargo traverses the Suez each year than the Arctic, but because temperatures rise faster at the earth’s poles (while water levels rise faster at the equator), the Arctic could become a major reliable shipping route by 2020. Ice-free Arctic shipping features two major corridors: The Northern Sea Route, taken by China’s Yong Sheng, connects the two ends of Eurasia (the Far East and northern Europe) over Russia, through the Bering Strait and past Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula—a full two weeks faster than the Suez Canal route. Meanwhile, the Northwest Passage connects East Asia to North America’s East Coast by passing over Alaska and Canada instead of Russia, shaving ten thousand kilometers off the Panama Canal route.


pages: 829 words: 229,566

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

1960s counterculture, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bilateral investment treaty, British Empire, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, different worldview, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, energy security, energy transition, equal pay for equal work, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, financial deregulation, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, hydraulic fracturing, ice-free Arctic, immigration reform, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jones Act, Kickstarter, light touch regulation, market fundamentalism, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, patent troll, Pearl River Delta, planetary scale, post-oil, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rana Plaza, renewable energy transition, Ronald Reagan, smart grid, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, wages for housework, walkable city, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

See also: “Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia,” Committee on Stabilization Targets for Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas Concentrations, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, 2011, p. 31; Schellnhuber et al., “Turn Down the Heat,” pp. 37–41. TENS OF THOUSANDS: Jean-Marie Robine et al., “Death Toll Exceeded 70,000 in Europe During the Summer of 2003,” Comptes Rendus Biologies 331 (2008): 171-78; CROP LOSSES: “Climate Stabilization Targets,” National Academy of Sciences, pp. 160–63. 19. ICE-FREE ARCTIC: Ibid., pp. 132–36. VEGETATION: Andrew D. Friend et al., “Carbon Residence Time Dominates Uncertainty in Terrestrial Vegetation Responses to Future Climate and Atmospheric CO2,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (2014): 3280; “4 Degree Temperature Rise Will End Vegetation ‘Carbon Sink,’ ” University of Cambridge, press release, December 17, 2013; WEST ANTARCTICA STUDY: E. Rignot et al., “Widespread, Rapid Grounding Line Retreat of Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith, and Kohler Glaciers, West Antarctica, from 1992 to 2011,” Geophysical Research Letters 41 (2014): 3502–3509; “APPEARS UNSTOPPABLE”: “West Antarctic Glacier Loss Appears Unstoppable,” Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, press release, May 12, 2014; “DISPLACE MILLIONS” AND STILL TIME: Eric Rignot, “Global Warming: It’s a Point of No Return in West Antarctica.


pages: 369 words: 98,776

The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans by Mark Lynas

Airbus A320, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Haber-Bosch Process, ice-free Arctic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Negawatt, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, peak oil, planetary scale, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, special drawing rights, Stewart Brand, undersea cable, University of East Anglia

Boswell, 2010: “Another Big-ice Arctic Thaw, Say Experts,” The Vancouver Sun, September 8, 2010, http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Another+Arctic+thaw+experts/3496268/story.html. 11. R. Kwok et al., 2009: “Thinning and Volume Loss of the Arctic Ocean Sea Ice Cover: 2003–2008,” Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, C07005. 12. NSIDC, “Arctic Oscillation Brings Record Low January Extent, Unusual Mid-latitude Weather,” February 2, 2011, http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2011/020211.html. 13. M. Wang and J. Overland, 2009: “A Sea Ice Free Summer Arctic Within 30 Years?,” Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L07502. 14. T. Cronin et al., 2010: “Quaternary Sea-ice History in the Arctic Ocean Based on a New Ostracode Sea-ice Proxy,” Quaternary Science Reviews, 29, 35–36. 15. V. Petoukhov and V. A. Semenov, 2010: “A Link Between Reduced Barents-Kara Sea Ice and Cold Winter Extremes over Northern Continents,” J. Geophys. Res., 115, D21111. 16.