The Norman Transcript

Columns

April 12, 2014

Solid evidence within ice record

NORMAN — In his November 10 Letter, Gary Reynolds misstated information in the October 27 op-ed by Catherine Hobbs, “New report says global warming is “unequivocal.” Mr. Reynolds incorrectly stated that Dr. Hobbs cited evidence from the 2007 UN Panel to assess climate change. Actually, Dr. Hobbs quoted directly from the report released in September, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, Summary for Policy Makers” from Working Group 1’s contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report states, “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.” We urge Mr. Reynolds to read the entire online report written by climate experts including over 600 lead authors and contributing authors, and 50 review editors from more than 39 countries. The authors considered evidence from peer-reviewed journals up to March 2013.

Citing only an unnamed “chief meteorologist for NASA” as a source of information, Mr. Reynolds made statements about Arctic and Antarctic sea ice that contradict information on the NASA website. The volume and extent of Arctic sea ice decreases every summer, and the magnitude of the decrease has been increasing over the last few decades. According to the NASA website, the extent of Arctic sea ice reached its 2013 summer minimum at a level higher than last year’s record low level, but it is “still the sixth lowest extent of the satellite record . . .” NASA states further that this “is in line with the long-term downward trend of about 12 percent per decade since the late 1970s.” NASA glaciologist, Walt Meier states, “I was expecting that this year would be higher than last year ... in our satellite data, the Arctic sea ice has never set record low minimums in consecutive years.”

Regarding the southern Antarctic sea ice, Mr. Reynolds mischaracterized the more complex effects of Antarctic climate. Unlike Arctic ice, which forms in an ocean basin hemmed in by continental masses, Antarctic sea ice freezes on the sea that encircles the Antarctica continent, and is much more susceptible to the effects of open ocean currents and winds. As a result, there is more variability depending on regional geography. On average, Antarctic sea ice is growing at about 1.5 percent per decade, mostly in the area of the Ross Ice Shelf, where winds are stronger and pushing ice further offshore. As NASA’s website explains, “Recent research points at the depleted ozone layer over Antarctica as a possible culprit. Ozone absorbs solar energy, so a lower concentration of this molecule can lead to a cooling of the stratosphere over Antarctica. At the same time, the temperate latitudes have been warming, and the differential in temperatures has strengthened the circumpolar winds flowing over the Ross Ice Shelf.” For the last two winters, winter sea ice extents were at record highs, but this increase is far less than the decrease in northern Arctic Ice. As NASA climate scientist, Claire Parkinson, states, “Climate does not change uniformly: The Earth is very large and the expectation definitely would be that there would be different changes in different regions of the world. That’s true even if overall the [climate] system is warming.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Congress must accelerate solutions

    Congress has roused itself, at the last minute, and now is scrambling to save the Highway Trust Fund. Better late than never. Better still will be if lawmakers agree to come up with the money to prevent the fund from becoming insolvent. ...

    July 20, 2014

  • The heavy burden of college aid

    Return on investment is a clear measure of what you get for your money. Incredibly, the federal government doesn’t apply that simple concept to the $137 billion a year it spends on college financial aid....

    July 19, 2014

  • James bears weight of Cav’s dreams

    LeBron James has done it all on a basketball court. He’s a great scorer, rugged defender, proven big-play leader and champion. But that might not be enough in Cleveland, where he’ll also need the powers of Merlin the Magician....

    July 17, 2014

  • Steve Boaz.jpg Breathing Rhythm Studio a center for creativity

    Recording engineer Steve Boaz has brought his musical ambitions to fulfillment in a downtown Norman studio.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Matt Lauer is so last century

    How about we rename “The Today Show” the “Yesterday Show” since host Matt Lauer asks questions from 1953? Isn’t what Lauer asked GM CEO Mary Barra about whether she’ll do “well” at being simultaneously an executive and a mom about, oh, 30 ...

    July 14, 2014

  • Religion’s role shrinking

    Surveying the response to last month’s Hobby Lobby decision, I was struck by a comment from progressive Massachusetts senator and possible Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren....

    July 12, 2014