Heal Our Planet Earth

Climate Prediction and Postdiction 2000-2020

by Anthony Marr

In the Age of Climate Change, every year has its own distinct climate.

The climate of 2009 has so far baffled many people, including professional meteorologists. Since Vancouver experienced an extra cool 2008/2009 winter and an extra hot 2009 summer, a Vancouver TV news anchor publicly asked the meteorologist whether a new extra- cold- winter/ extra- hot-summer CLIMATE had begun, and the meteorologist, who concentrates of WEATHER predictions, seemed baffled by the question. But to me, the answer is clear.

Globally, the 2009 climate is extra baffling. Whereas many places in the U.S. and Canada broke high temperature records, the northern U.S. Mid-West and mid-western Canada have experienced a cool summer thus far due to Arctic outflows, as have northern Europe. The explanation, to me, is clear as well.

Let's proceed year by year from, say, 2000, and work forward to arrive at the current 2009 climatic pattern, then project forward to, say, 2020. But first, let me say a few words about a crucial but by-and-large unknown factor called the Latent Heat of Melting. Place a large steel bowl containing ice-cold water and ice cubes on a stove and apply slow heat. Insert a thermometer into the bowl and stir the ice-water with it while taking occasional readings. What you will find is that the water's temperature will remain close to freezing for as long as there is ice in the bowl to melt, but as soon as the ice has melted off, the water temperature will rise. The amount of latent heat absorbed by the melting ice not manifest as a temperature rise is around 40 calories per gram of ice melted. Now, imagine the Arctic Ocean as a giant bowl of cold water with ice on top, and apply this to what I have to say below:

2000-2005 - The Arctic summer polar ice cap had shrunked substantially since around 1980 when it was still more or less intact. Over 2 trillion tons of ice had melted within the Arctic Circle since around 2000. The Arctic summer ice extent has been shrinking year by year since before 2000. This has brought about 2 main consequences: 1. Vast areas of the Arctic Ocean, previously covered by bright sea ice which reflected solar heat back into space, was now dark open water which absorbed the solar heat. This would set the Albedo feedback-loop in motion, where less ice results in more solar heat absorption, which leads to faster ice-melting resulting in even less ice. 2. The massive amount of ice melt has absorbed a huge amount of solar heat in the form of the Latent Heat of Melting, thus keeping the Arctic Ocean relatively cool, though progressively warmer than before.

2006 - The Arctic summer polar ice had shrunken even further, opening even more of the Arctic Ocean to solar heat infusion, setting the stage for a major ice-melt the year after. At the same time, the summer ice-melt has absorbed a massive amount of latent heat, which does not register in terms of temperature rise but in terms of the ice-melt rate. Meanwhile, with less and less sea ice comes more and more solar heat infusion.

2007 - The Arctic summer polar ice melt turned into a meltdown, with a melt rate exceeding the worst case scenario in the Intergovernment al Panel on Climate change (IPCC) report released in this same year - by over 300%. Vastly increased open water absorbed more solar heat than ever, but the enormous amout of latent heat absorbed by the ice meltdown would bring about a cooler 2008. It of course also cooled the winter of 2007, which brought about a relatively fast ice- re-freezing, which released the Latent Heat of Fusion back into the Artic Ocean and the Arctic lower atmosphere, thus keeping the 2007 winter not unusually cool.

2008 - The Arctic summer polar ice melt was still steep, but less steep than the 2007 meltdown, so while around the same amount of summer solar heat was absorbed by the Arctic Ocean, the amount of ice melt was less than in 2007. The amount of latent heat absorbed, therefore, would also be less, and the manifest temperature rise in the Arctic Ocean would then be more. This would lead to a warmer 2009 than 2008.

2009 - While winter 2008/2009 was colder than usual (in the Pacific North-West), it was caused by the extra cooling by the 2007 meltdown, sustained by the normal melt of 2008. The summer of 2009 has been predictably hotter than ever before, which in turn melted more ice than in 2008. According to the National Snow and Ice Date Center, "On July 21, Arctic sea ice extent was 8.28 million square kilometers (3.20 million square miles). This is 617,000 square kilometers (238,000 square miles) more ice than for the same day in 2007 and 1.36 million square kilometers (523,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average. Ice extent on July 21, 2009 remained 8.06% higher than the same day in 2007, yet was 2.44% below the same day in 2008 and 14.06% below the 1979-2000 average for that day." This heavier 2009 summer melt than the summer melt of 2008 absorbed more latent heat than in 2008, and which induced local cooling on the higher latitudes, while the global average temperature continues to rise.

2010-2012 - The Arctic ice cap in the summers of 2010, 2011 and 2012 will continue to diminish in size, opening more and more the Arctic Ocean to solar heat absorption, while the melting of the smaller and smaller ice cap will absorbed less and less of the infused solar heat as latent heat. The Arctic Ocean temperature will begin to significantly rise.

2013-2020 - It is predicted by climate scientists that the Arctic ice cap may disappear in the summer altogether as early as 2013, 2014 or 2015. Sooner or later, when there is no more ice left to be melted in the summer, all the absorbed solar heat will go towards heating up the Arctic Ocean and none to the latent heat of melting. At this point, the "Arctic air conditioner" will cease to function, and the global temperature will rise steeply, with no reprieve for centuries to come.

The Arctic sea ice is like money in the bank. We can pay off credit card debts with it, and maintain a good credit rating for as long as the money remains. But once this money has dried up, the credit card debts will pile up, until the credit limit is exceeded, and we lose financial solvency. Global warming so far has not shown its true colors due by-and-large to the remaining ice cap. But once the ice is gone, the roasting will begin, with no relief in sight.

One devastating effect as the temperature rises will be the decline of the global relative humidity, which will precipitate the mother of all droughts, one worthy of the title: The Global Millennium Drought.

And we haven't even talked about methane. The Arctic permafrost contains billions of tons of frozen methane. Even now, while the Arctic air- conditioner is still working, the permafrost has begun melting at an unprecedented rate, releasing the methane into the atmosphere, resulting in a global rise in atmospheric methane concentration, especially in the Arctic region. Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide by up to 70X, and can generate its own feedback loop where more methane in the atmosphere will raise the temperature higher, which will melt more permafrost, which will release more methane...

I leave it to your imagination as to what will happen once the Arctic air- conditioning has shut down permanently as of 2013 onwards. There are of course other factors in play, but Latent Heat certainly plays a major if not central part.

What must we do? Whatever it is, it must be drastic - much more so than any climate convention can impose. If we do it now, we might still have a fighting chance. But my last prediction in this writing is that the world will not wake up until severe global calamities have struck, and by then, it might be too late.

Watch this video:
M-BOMB: Doomsday Machine

Anthony Marr, founder and president
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)

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