Warming Arctic air temperatures causing more rain, less snow, faster ice melt

Arctic air temperatures are warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. Although the level of precipitation is remaining unchanged, there is reduced snowfall in summer which is being replaced by increasing rain. The loss of summer snow and increase in rain is resulting in a positive feedback mechanism increasing warming and melting of the Arctic ice.

We are already witnessing an increase in the Albedo feedback mechanism - loss of reflectivity in the arctic leading to more warming and greater ice melt. Research published early in 2011 revealed Loss of reflectivity in the Arctic is double the estimate used in climate models. With the change in precipitation we have a further feedback mechanism contributing to Arctic warming and melting of snow and sea ice.

The research on this new polar global warming feedback mechanism was presented by Dr James Screen from the University of Melbourne at the XXV International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics General Assembly in Melbourne on 2 July 2011.

“As a result of this temperature shift, we estimate that there has been a 40 percent decrease in summer snowfall over the last 20 years.” said Dr Screen, who was lead author for this research.

“The reductions in snowfall in the summer months (when there is still typically significant snow in Arctic regions) have knock-on effects for the sea ice - the ice floating on top of the Arctic Ocean,” he said.

“Snow is highly reflective and bounces up to 85 percent of the incoming sunlight back into space. Snow on top of ice effectively acts as a sunscreen protecting the ice from the power of the sun rays.”

“As the snow cover has decreased, more sea ice has become exposed to the sunlight, increasing the melting of the ice. Measurements show that the sea ice has been getting thinner and less extensive,” he said

The study was conducted with Professor Ian Simmonds of Melbourne University’s School of Earth Sciences and was published in the prestigious international journal Climate Dynamics.

The article - Declining summer snowfall in the Arctic: causes, impacts and feedbacks was published in Climate Dynamics on June 10. The abstract for the article concludes:

"We perform a series of sensitivity experiments in which inter-annual changes in snow-covered ice are either unaccounted for, or are parameterized. In the parameterized case, the loss of snow-on-ice results in a substantial decrease in the surface albedo over the Arctic Ocean, that is of comparable magnitude to the decrease in albedo due to the decline in sea ice cover. Accordingly, the solar input to the Arctic Ocean is increased, causing additional surface ice melt. We conclude that the decline in summer snowfall has likely contributed to the thinning of sea ice over recent decades. The results presented provide support for the existence of a positive feedback in association with warming-induced reductions in summer snowfall."

A comprehensive study published in 2004 conducted by 300 scientists and elders from native communities in the arctic found that the Arctic ice cap is melting at an unprecedented rate due to human induced global warming. A review of scientific literature reported in 2007 that Arctic Sea Ice heading for Rapid Disintegration: Greenland Ice Sheet melting.

An Arctic climate change report card produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2010 found that Arctic climate warming at unprecedented rate due to Global Warming. Other research found that Greenland sets a new melt record in 2010 - sea levels to rise. (See also Record summer melting in Greenland 2010)

Scientists have also discovered the albedo climate feedback mechanism - Loss of reflectivity in the Arctic - is double the estimate used in current state-of-art climate models. We are also seeing signs of Arctic Permafrost thawing raising CO2 levels. The 2011 winter sea ice maximum has continued the strong decline trend.



takver can you give us the whole story can you tell us about the glaciers that are growing?or would this make all the doom and gloom you are pushing not look as bad as you make out.
I have noticed you woke up and stopped quoting the IPCC can you tell us about the hockey stick graph and how the data was manipulated?
Can you tell us how temperatures are dropping?
can you tell us how the sea level is not rising and how the IPCC based all its sea level rise on one peice of data obtained in Hong Kong habour ?
Can you tell us how Australian scientists pull down a marker tree in the Maldives that had been there since the 1950's to hide the fact that the Maldives is not a victim of sea level rise
Come on give us a equal balance on the issue tell us how the Antarctic ice has increased and how the antarctic has 90% OF THE WORLDS ICE these omissions makes me smell a rat

Thankyou you for your comment. I can tell you about all those issues - barring the Maldives tree (you gave me no reference for that one to refute)
Most mountain glaciers are shrinking, very few are static or actually growing

Read more about the hockey stick graph here:

And as to climategate and the theft of emails, several enquiries have exonerated the climate scientists, but with some criticism of the lack of disclosure of raw climate data and criticism of University of East Anglia for the mishandling of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.

Average global temperatures are rising. 2010 was equal hottest on record according to NASA and NOAA with the past decade the hottest decade on record.

Even the JMO found that 2010 was the second hottest on record

Sea level rise will vary with region and locality based upon ocean and geographical features. Sea level rise will occur due to thermal expansion as the temperature of the oceans increase, and through the melting of ice sheets and glaciers.

Just watch this interview with Peter Ward, professor of Biology and of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle on the risks of sea level rise.

The last IPCC report - published 2007 - was extremely conservative regarding sea level rise estimating up to 59cm increase to 2100. The conservative bias is due to the early cutoff in including research and the consensus process in writing the report which favours conservative modelling. Recent research on ice sheet dynamics and the accelerating rate of melting of ice sheets - particularly Greenland - seems to indicate about 1 metre of sea level may be expected by 2100, but it may be more than that. Scientists meeting in Copenhagen in March 2009 confirmed sea level rise may exceed 1 metre by 2100'

The ocean around Antarctica has insulated the continent to some extent. Most of the warming has so far impacted the Antarctic peninsula but scientists are now finding ocean currents are warming which is undermining glaciers. This is impacting on the West Antarctic ice sheet. When melting starts to accelerate in Antarctica there will be no stopping the metres of sea level rise this will cause over 100s and thousands of years.

It is good to see there are still flat earthers out there willing to dispute scientific research.

who to believe on this issue anymore, can someone answer where all the pollution goes and what is accounting for all of this wild weather we are having?
also is it true that the real global warming is coming from the increased radiation output from the sun? i am not a scientist of the atmosphere and climate as far as i can tell the cutting down of trees and the industrial revolution as well as nuclear radiation cannot be doing nothing to impact the global weather patterns?

takver you talk about flat earthers please correct me if I'm wrong,but was it not Anaximenes a cosmologist and meteorologist scientist in 545 BC that said the Earth was flat and floated on air?and at the same time mariners knew the Earth was round? So by this analogy the Hockey stick players and warmists are on the side of scientists which would make them the flat Earthers and the people who say global warming is crap would be like the Mariners who said the Earth was round and the scientists were full of shit?
You say glaciers are shrinking and few are growing here is a site that is not from a Green Melbourne citizen journalist but from people who have been out there, a bit like the early mariners as opposed Anaximenes the flat Earther http://www.iceagenow.com/Growing_Glaciers.htm

Read more on the Hockey players here
takver I will tear the rest of the shit you talk to pieces latter

yeah you keep spamming that, do you have any reliable sources? or is this it?

you would have to admit "iceagenow" hardly screams impartiality. it mostly links to itself and if you click around all you get is cherry picked quotes and links.

honestly its up there with prison planet in the nut bag sweepstakes.

Is there anyone who is not impartial in this debate?

iceagenow.com content is run by a former architect turned author called Robert Felix. Many of the articles are in denial of climate science. I don't think Felix has been out there much either.

The research I referenced was published in Nature Geoscience, which has slighlty more scientific credibility than Mr Felix's iceagenow website

Read more on Mr Felix and the myth of glaciers advancing in George Monbiot's 2005 column from the Guardian: Junk Science