The Great melting
As you may know, I am writing another weather book. This time it is about climate change and the Maritimes. I have just finished the first draft and it is now in front of my long suffering publisher and editor, who have to wade through the dire predictions and prognostications. And if all is well I will then inflict my thoughts on my readers.
Here is a nugget that will appear in the book, something that sent a cold shiver up my spine. We here in the Maritimes possess one of the great oceanographic institutes in the world, the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. Some 500 scientists study and research all things atmospheric, geologic and oceanographic. And in the course of my researches for my new book, their media expert, Carl Myers, set me up with a number of scientists to interview. Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of talking with Jim Hamilton, a scientist who has just returned from the iceless North West Passage. The pictures are daunting, vast stretches of open water where just a few decades ago the vistas were frozen solid even in the summer with ice five metres thick. As I marveled at the pics, Jim laid a stat on me while he was telling me about the trip. He said that it appears that the top 200 metres ocean’s of the world are now 0.5C warmer than they were fifty years ago. Not much I thought at first. But after I did a quick mental arithmetic calculation I realized that energy involved was huge. That half a degree of ocean warming in the top layer of the oceans contains the enough heat to raise the temperature of the atmosphere some 100C if it were released all at once into the atmosphere. Of course it won’t, but it stopped me in my tracks. All that heat tied up has to go somewhere. And it is. It’s melting the ice. What this ultimately means no one can say for certain. But I will bet not a whole lot on good will happen. Where are the nay sayers to counter this one?
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