Murmurs were circulating in the stewardship circles about a scientific study that blew holes in the sea level rise models that governments and policymakers are using, so I decided to do a little digging. What I found became the inspiration for the latest Woman Not Waiting post trilogy speculative fiction piece called The Lonely Icebreaker.
There are two major types of models that scientists use to put a number on predicted sea level rise: Physical and Empirical.
The physical models look at physical processes that give us more water such as:
- swelling (aka thermal expansion) in hot weather— If Earth had rings on her fingers (channels) and bells on her toes (bays), we’d been needing a hacksaw to get them off.
- more water— melted land ice, reservoir depletion, deep aquifer syphoning (more on this one in a future post)
- ocean bed changes— could either raise or lower seal level based on direction of movement
Depending on how accurate the math is, the climate fortune tellers can be full of the same stuff their carnival counterparts are or they can be superstars constantly surrounded by paparazzi. I haven’t seen any of them grace the cover of People magazine yet. Hmmm. Where does that leave us?
The Empirical models base their predictions on observational data from the past and the relationship between different parameters (eg. sea level relative to global temperature) to project them into the future based on Earth’s habits so to speak. This of course does not allow for any surprises. So is it safe to assume that the planet is stable? Or Is Earth bipolar?
A combination of these two models, called semi-empirical, uses the mathematical equations that define the physical processes and fills in the parameters using empirical data. As new physical processes are discovered and scribbled into some seriously insane chicken scratch, the models become more accurate. And since we humans constantly create more sophisticated equipment to take measurements, the predictions are always improving with time.
But what if weather patterns not included in the models are also stirring things up? Well, it seems they are…quite literally. This is what the digging uncovered.
Paul Beckwith, a PhD student with the laboratory for paleoclimatology and climatology at the University of Ottawa (Go Sens Go!), has found a wrench in our planetary air conditioner, the Arctic.
Yes…a wrench! Can you believe it?
He cites Frankenstorm Sandy as the one who flung it there in 2012 and the Beaufort Gyre was all cracked up about it.
The models that predict an ice-free Arctic sometime between 2040 and 2070 belong to a coin operated genie it seems.
According to Dr-to-be Beckwith’s analysis and the dismal ice situation on March 8th 2013, polar bears are going to have to learn how to make dirigible ice rafts WITHIN 2 YEARS. (see Arctic Ice Cap Cracking Up and Why Arctic Sea Ice Will Vanish in 2013)
Let’s do an ice re-cap: an ice-free Arctic by 2015 or before!
There won’t be any nooky for Gaia, our Earth, as her albedo plummets and the oceans suck in more sun. Good thing we already know How To Cure A Low Albedo because it’s the same solution to the Arctic meltdown.
Stop burning fossil fuel!
I don’t know about you, but our bold Beckwith’s slushy-melts-faster-than-frozen-slab theory makes sense to me. It’s like turning on a blender and making a polar smoothie.
The jet stream is getting neurotic due to less ice and snow cover, and now finds it appropriate to invite strange storms to party it up in the Great White North. The thinner the ice, the more chopped up it gets by the turbulent guest, and since the ice has not recovered from the 2012 mega-melt, Ra the sun god gets to stick a long plastic straw into the Arctic ocean and slurp up the slush. Yum!
I’m not waiting for peer reviews on this one before sharing because I believe there is a reason why the Arctic nations are racing to claim their piece of the North Pole. And it’s not because they are on a quest to find Santa’s workshop.