John Abraham, known as the dragon that slew the Viscount and an excellent climate science communicator, approached me a while ago with a couple of questions concerning the blog and Arctic sea ice in general. He turned it into this ego-inflating article on the Guardian website:
Global warming, Arctic ice loss, and armchair scientists
Armchair scientist Neven provides valuable insights into the rapid decline of Arctic sea iceArctic sea ice image from NASA. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images
As humans put more and more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, the Earth's climate changes; we all know that. Some of the trickier questions are, how fast is it changing, what can we expect in the future, what are the costs of slowing emissions (compared to the costs of doing nothing), and what changes are we already observing that give us such confidence in our predictions?
Perhaps the poster child of climate change is in the Arctic, where sea ice has been declining at an astonishing rate. Over the past few decades, satellite information has been gathered which shows huge declines in ice extent (the area covered by ice). The declines are enough that it is possible that in a few years, there will be little or no ice left in the Arctic at the end of the melt season.
If the loss of ice area wasn't bad enough, the volume of ice has decreased faster than the area. By some measures, the volume of ice has decreased approximately 75% over the past 3 decades, since adequate records began to be kept.
For climate nerds like me, internet bookmarks are essential for organizations like the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) or IARC-JAXA which provide updated and high-quality information about Arctic conditions.Summer Arctic ice extent, National Snow and Ice Data Center
While these institutions gather and make available important Arctic information, a wider community has taken a very active role in interpreting the data. These "armchair" scientists play a particularly important role in telling the rest of us what the data actually means for our future.
Perhaps the best example is the Arctic Sea Ice blog which was started in 2010 by Neven, a 38 year old freelance writer who set up the blog to draw more attention to the Arctic and create a central place for the exchange of information and ideas concerning Arctic sea ice. He also set up the Arctic Sea Ice Graphs website that is a collection of graphs, maps and other pieces of information regarding Arctic sea ice, and he formed a forum to allow community discussion.
Neven, like many other armchair scientists has little formal training. But, he makes up for that with a doggedness that would impress anyone. While he describes his blog as basically weather reports, many publishing researchers turn to him for a comprehensive view of current conditions. Do you want to know what the short term ice conditions will likely be? Ask Neven. Interested in learning about impacts of current conditions on the atmosphere? Ask Neven.
Not only is he a great resource, but the commenters provide insightful thoughts as well. And very often, they are not in agreement with each other. It is refreshing to see people engage in polite yet candid discussions of various views of our Arctic.
Ice sheet melt pond – John Maurer NSIDC
So, what is the view of the current Arctic conditions? Well, let's hear from Neven himself.
Read the rest over at John Abraham's Guardian blog.