I gave up on actually attending the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU’s) annual meeting this fall in San Francisco at the last minute. I like to fantasize that I can overcome all adversity, but I occasionally check in with reality. I have M.S., and to make outings like this really work, a lot of planning needs to go into it. I waited too long this year to start that planning. Unfortunately the following substitute plan makes it hard to keep up with the blog.
What I was still able to do was explore the virtual options. The AGU is an international group of space and Earth scientists that you rarely hear from, but which is leading in its field. Every December, before the solstice, they meet in San Francisco and release to the general public many of that year’s highlights of the research they’ve conducted during the year. If you’ve noticed them at all, this is probably why. The meeting this year is of about 30,000 scientists from around the world. One of the things they’ve been trying to do is make it easier for the press to get access to the meeting. There’s a great deal of the year’s research which gets its only public viewing at this meeting.
I was expecting a very good, functional site: if anyone can put together a good site, it should be these guys. Unfortunately, the site suffers from what I was very often accused of during my years as a mathematics professor: It is much more functional for the expert than the newby.
That said, I am getting used to it, and have found some interesting articles on it. Two that I’d like to summarize for you talked about unexpectedly rapid destabilization of the arctic ice cap,
In both cases reference was made to the fact that effects of global warming are exacerbated in higher latitudes, and especially so in the arctic. Very significant in the Arctic is the albedo of the region, which has decreased substantially as the ice is melts longer and earlier each year, so the reflectivity of the whole area is decreased during more direct sunlight. This is the worst time for there to be less sunlight being reflected off the planet. It is expected that by 2044 the Arctic ocean will be, essentially, ice free in the summer.
As of now, while changes in the jet stream may be due to Arctic warming, there is not enough data to make that claim nor to guess at longevity, so whether the polar vortex will be a common term during the extended period of global climate change is unknown.