From: Editor, Science Daily
Published August 18, 2011 09:34 AM

Polar Ice Caps Can Recover from Warmer Climate-Induced Melting, Study Shows

ScienceDaily (Aug. 17, 2011) — A growing body of recent research indicates that, in Earth's warming climate, there is no "tipping point," or threshold warm temperature, beyond which polar sea ice cannot recover if temperatures come back down. New University of Washington research indicates that even if Earth warmed enough to melt all polar sea ice, the ice could recover if the planet cooled again.

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In recent years scientists have closely monitored the shrinking area of the Arctic covered by sea ice in warmer summer months, a development that has created new shipping lanes but also raised concerns about humans living in the region and the survival of species such as polar bears.

In the new research, scientists used one of two computer-generated global climate models that accurately reflect the rate of sea-ice loss under current climate conditions, a model so sensitive to warming that it projects the complete loss of September Arctic sea ice by the middle of this century.

However, the model takes several more centuries of warming to completely lose winter sea ice, and doing so required carbon dioxide levels to be gradually raised to a level nearly nine times greater than today. When the model's carbon dioxide levels then were gradually reduced, temperatures slowly came down and the sea ice eventually returned.

"We expected the sea ice to be completely gone in winter at four times the current level of carbon dioxide but we had to raise it by more than eight times," said Cecilia Bitz, a UW associate professor of atmospheric sciences.

"All that carbon dioxide made a very, very warm planet. It was about 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than it is now, which caused the Arctic to be completely free of sea ice in winter."

Article continues: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110817194235.htm

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