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The world’s top climate scientists said in a UN IPCC report last month that “average Arctic temperatures increased at almost twice the global average rate in the past 100 years”. They projected that sea levels could rise by 18 to 59cm by 2100, by when Arctic sea ice may disappear in summers.

In the context of the role the oceans play in the environment scientists acknowledge three reasons why current climate models underestimate global warming:

First, the amount of heat oceans will transfer to the atmosphere. Oceans act like giant heat sinks, soaking up 90% of the heat from global warming. As surface sea temperature (SST) rises, the heat gradually dissipates into the colder ocean bottom.

Second, the effect heat waves will have on future warming. Think of the total heat accumulated in the atmosphere like water in a glass. The glass is never still, so the water rises and falls. More water means taller rises. As more heat accumulates, there will be more severe heat waves.

Third, the effect feedback will have on warming. Without CO2 in the air, the temperature would be a chilly minus 18 degrees C. On the other hand, we don?t know what the temperature would be if we doubled the amount of CO2 in the air (as we probably will by mid-century). Even more difficult is estimating how more heat leads to natural greenhouse gas emissions.

polarbear.jpg Time is running out for polar bears. Scientists warn that rising Arctic temperatures may cause nearly all of the summer sea ice that the bears depend on for survival to vanish by 2040. Polar bears are already suffering the grim effects of global warming: birth rates are falling, fewer cubs are surviving and more bears are drowning. With more than 25 percent of the world’s polar bear populations already in decline this species is in peril and further warming could drive it to extinction by the end of this century.

inuit_grampa_kid.jpg Global warming is negatively affecting way of life for northern indigenous people. Indigenous people of the circumpolar north say their way of life is slipping away and they are asking for help bringing it to a halt. In 2005 they filed a petition against the United States with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The petition argues that the impacts of climate change caused by the US violate the human rights of the Inuit. They allege their Inuit livelihoods, their spiritual life and their cultural identity are threatened because of the greenhouse-gas emissions of the United States and the government?s failure to curb the damage.

Arctic temperatures are rising fast partly because water on ground, once exposed, soaks up far more heat from the sun than ice or snow. Antarctica is staying cooler, with its far bigger volume of ice acting as a deep freeze.

The need for more specific research data from pole to melting pole has led to action both in the Antarctic and Arctic regions.

adeliepenguins.JPGPenguins heading south - The warming most global climate models predict will do more harm than simply raise the sea levels that most observers fear. It will make drastic changes in fragile ecosystems throughout the world, especially in the Antarctic.

A warming trend during the last few decades in the Antarctic Peninsula has already forced penguin populations to migrate south and perhaps diminished the abundance of krill that are at the base of the massive food chain at the bottom of the world.

Antarctic Marine Explorers Reveal First Hints Of Biological Change After Collapse Of Polar Ice Shelves -

Tarik Chekchak, Program Manager of the Cousteau Society: The Southern Ocean spans 35 million square km ? 10% of Earth?s ocean surface, and ice shelves cover 1.5 million square km of it. When Captain Cousteau explored Antarctica aboard the Calypso in 1972-73, the Larsen B ice shelf was 3,250 square km bigger and krill abundance in the Peninsula was much higher than today. The annual local temperature has risen 2.5 °C since the 1940?s.

International Polar Year 2007-2008 - Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and John Baird, Minister of the Environment, officially launched International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 in Canada and confirmed $150 million in federal funding for an ambitious program by Canada’s New Government for International Polar Year.

With the participation of thousands of scientists from more than 60 nations, International Polar Year 2007-2008 is the largest-ever international program of scientific research focussed on the Earth’s polar regions. Minister Prentice announced 44 Canadian science and research projects that were selected to receive International Polar Year funding from the federal government. All of the selected projects are aligned with one of two priority areas of Canada’s New Government’s International Polar Year science program, namely: climate change impacts and adaptations and the health and well-being of Northern communities.

Climate Foundation strengthens Canada’s capacity in polar and cold climate research - The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS) confirmed a $28 million investment to stimulate cutting-edge research on Canada’s Polar Regions, alpine glaciers and snowpack. The funds support 36 university-based research projects and partnerships. The CFCAS investment will enhance Canada’s involvement in, and contributions to, International Polar Year - the largest ever international program of scientific research focused on the earth’s Polar Regions.

These and other initiatives will help improve forecasts of hazardous weather and projections of future climate. They will also enhance the health and safety of northern communities by providing the knowledge and tools for improved environmental management, and for stewardship of water resources in the face of changing climatic and economic conditions. Finally, they will help in the development of strategies to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Read more at: http://timethief.wordpress.com/2007/03/03/climate-change-from-pole-to-melting-pole/.
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