PODCAST: The canary in the climate coal mine — New Internationalist




By Phil England

There are a number of tipping points in the Arctic which threaten to rapidly escalate the threat of climate change for the whole planet. These should serve as a wake-up call in the fight against climate change.

In this episode of Climate Radio Phil England speaks to Professor Peter Wadhams, Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University and Professor Timothy Lenton, the award-winning Chair in Climate Change and Earth Systems Science at University of Exeter.

Listen to the podcast here.

The podcast explores the science behind Arctic tipping points including:

Arctic Sea Ice NASA/Kathryn Hansen, under a CC License

Arctic Sea Ice: New data from the CryoSat 2 satellite confirms that Arctic sea ice is declining faster than most climate models predicted. Is the trend in volume decline turning exponential or are recent observations just anomalies waiting to be explained?

Greenland Ice Sheet: Work published in 2012 indicates we are now within the estimated range for tipping the Greenland ice sheet into irreversible meltdown – although a 2008 assessment suggested this process itself could take hundreds of years to complete.

Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation: Recent observations appear to suggest that freshwater from Greenland ice melt may be weakening the Atlantic thermohaline circulation – the ocean current which includes the Gulf Stream and brings warm water to the Arctic (EAC, p.20).

Arctic Methane: There are several potential sources of methane in the arctic: on-shore permafrost (which turns into wetland as it melts); subsea permafrost on coastal shelves; and methane hydrates which are locked up on the deep ocean floor.          …(more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

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