INTRODUCTORY CLIMATE BLOG
By John Bennett and Paul Beckwith
I'm sharing my space this week with climatologist Paul Beckwith because an enormous cyclone blew over the North Pole all this month - an event that has kept scientists around the world up at night.
It’s very rare for there to be such a storm in the summer. In the past a storm like this would arise in winter and blow snow around on top of a thick ice cover. This summer, over thinner ice, the wind creates large waves which, combined with warm temperatures of air and water, are causing havoc with a keystone of the global climate.
Arctic ice physically reflects most of the incoming solar radiation harmlessly back into space, keeping the surface temperatures cold. When water replaces the melting ice it absorbs much, much more sunlight and thus increasingly heats up the ocean and atmosphere. This extra heat melts even more ice in a vicious heat amplifying feedback cycle....