December 13, 2007

Get ready to be afraid. Very afraid. This summer, ice sheets in the arctic melted at a pace that exceeded most scientists� expectations�a sign that could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. [ABC]
This week, after reviewing new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said: �At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.�

This summer, 552 billion tons of ice melted off of the Greenland ice sheet, according to preliminary satellite data to be released Wednesday by NASA. That�s 15 percent more than the annual average summer melt, and beats 2005�s record.

Meanwhile, the surface area of summer sea ice floating in the Arctic Ocean this summer was nearly 23 percent below the previous record. Surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean this summer were the highest in 77 years of record-keeping.

What this means for you: For Americans, a weak, cold blast coming from the Arctic moving south to mix with moist warm air from Mexico equals less rain and more arid temperatures in places like the drought-stricken Southeast. For our furry friends, the situation is equally as dire. The dwindling ice sheets forced 6,000 walruses to come ashore in northwest Alaska in October for the first time in recorded history.

What we hope: This sends a call to the international leaders from over 190 nations that are closing up shop in a few days after two-weeks of conferencing on climate change in Bali. Yesterday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opened talks by saying that �if no action were taken, the world would face impacts such as drought, famine and rising sea levels.� [BBC]

The United Nations has called on developed countries to commit to cuts of 25 to 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. The Bush administration, meanwhile, continues to pose serious threats to concrete agreement: The White House has said it will not commit to mandatory cuts in emissions.

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