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Arctic Methane Emergency Group - AMEG - Arctic Sea Ice - Methane Release - Planetary Emergency

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Joomla : Arctic Methane Emerg

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Arctic Sea Ice - Methane Release - Planetary Emergency

Prof Wadhams on latent heat

Professor Peter Wadhams recently commented on 'latent heat', i.e. the energy that now goes into melting the ice in the Arctic.

Prof Wadhams said:  “The point about summer conditions is that as long as there is SOME ice present on the sea surface, however thin the layer, then the ocean temperature below it is held to 0 degrees Celsius because the absorbed solar radiation melts the ice rather than warming the water. Also the atmospheric temperature is held to close to 0 degrees Celsius because warmer air melts the surface snow layer on top of the ice and is thereby cooled. The sea ice, even when thinned, continues to act with 100% efficiency as an air conditioning system for ocean and atmosphere alike.”

 
“BUT”, Prof Wadhams continues, “as soon as the sea ice layer goes, this process ceases and the sea can warm up rapidly (to typically 7 degrees Celsius by the end of summer - which is not much colder than the North Sea), as can the atmosphere (which speeds up Greenland ice sheet melt when that warmed air passes over Greenland). Latent heat is an enormously powerful buffer - the amount of heat that you have to pump in to melt 1 kg of ice will subsequently heat that same amount of melted water to 80 degrees Celsius. So once the ice goes away entirely there is a big jump in temperatures in the upper ocean and atmosphere (with dire consequences for permafrost), and it is very difficult to see how one can ever go back to an ice-covered summer ocean once this has happened.”
 

Arctic Methane: Why The Sea Ice Matters

Methane Hydrates: Hazard or Resource

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