Magazine article Science & Spirit

Sizing Up the Arctic

Magazine article Science & Spirit

Sizing Up the Arctic

Article excerpt

The world's largest piece of ice, the Arctic Circle around the North Pole, will be receiving a new battery of measurements, and scientists hope they can obtain a far more accurate picture of the ice cap's fate on our warming planet.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Computer modeling is now the chief tool for predicting future climate situations, but the challenge is to obtain accurate data to forecast the exact outcomes of large-scale natural phenomena. Past computer models of the Arctic show a slow rate of ice melting. But according to one new study, they have been remarkably inaccurate. Next year, a separate project will fly a zeppelin over the harsh terrain to measure the ice thickness with radar. Ice thickness is a key question in the debate over the rate of global warming and its effect on ice caps and ocean levels.

The new review of the past computer models found that eighteen were significantly off, reporting a slower rate of melting than may truly be the case. The report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relied on these models, making its conclusion misleading, according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center. The two groups reviewed the past eighteen models for accuracy.

To find an alternative, the two groups conducted their own measurements and concluded that the rate of melting has been much faster, reaching 7.8 percent per decade. The eighteen previous computer models had come in at an annual melting rate of 2.5 percent to 5. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.