The Unfreezing of Siberia
How much will the melting Arctic warm Russia in Putin's life?
- On this Page:
- How Fast is the Arctic Melting?
- How much will the Melting Arctic Warm Russia?
- Proposed Method for Empirical Prediction
- Existing Research Data
- Related Content in this Site
- (Click the images for a lightbox slideshow)
With a near prediction of 85% Arctic ice loss sooner than 2035, how many of the millions of square miles of Siberian land could unfreeze and become arable while Putin is still alive, due to the Ukraine War increasing gas prices, thereby leading to further removal of restrictions on greenhouse-gas emission?
How Fast is the Arctic Melting?
|Created: May 30 2022|
|Modified: July 1 2022|
Oil-price increases this year from the Ukraine War continue to pressure nations into abandoning climate-control policies. As the Arctic is warming 2~7x faster than the rest of the planet, which NASA infra-red satellite data atttributes to the accelerating heat absorption of seawater, as more reflective ice is lost. The impact of Arctic ice loss on the environment may reasonably be considered far more immediately significant than the more populist concern of rising sea level, as indicated by 'near' and 'far' predictions of ice loss.
- 'Near' predictions of Arctic ice-loss rate are based purely on prior data measurements. A 2020 study, reported in the National Geographic , provided a near prediction of 85% Arctic ice loss in September of 2035, based on total ice volume. Then in 2021, analysis of the Mosaic Expedition data from the year-long embedding of the Polarstern icecutter in an Arctic Ice flow indicated that the Arctic ice is thinning twice as fast as expected, moving the near prediction closer than 13 years.
- 'Far' predictions include international commitments on greenhouse-gas reduction, and are based on earlier, less sophisticated matrices. The most recent version of the 'Paris Accord,' COP26, aims to reach carbon neutrality in the same year as the Paris Accord originally calculated all Arctic Sea Ice would be lost, in 2060. The original 2060 estimate was based on a simple 'ice area' prediction (from NASA satellite picvtures) rather than the total ice volume, as for the more recent near prediction of 2035. Curiously, even Putin apppeared not to know why the original 'net-zero' target was set 10 years before NASA originally predicted there would be too little Arctic ice to have any homeostatic effect, and actually asked the reason for the target. Even curiouser, no one in the conference explained the reason to Putin either–Perhaps because those who knew the answer already knew it was out of date, but with the political tensions, did not want to create an even greater upheaval.
- In the USA, President Biden's 2022 State of the Union Address committed to more electric-car manufacture, immediately after which Putin halted his advance on the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. However with an expected Republican House majority in November this year, existing plans to increase fracking are destined for acceleration.
- Additionally, China expects a future U.S. Administration might again withdraw from accords, because President Trump already did. Hence China has refused any significant increase in its commitments beyond those it already had made.
- Meanwhile, Putin has made no effective commitment to greenhouse-gas reduction at all. Russia merely started monitoring carbon emissions in 2021, and has made no effort whatsoever to reduce them.
There is therfore a strong likelihood that the melting Artic ice will benefit Putin within his lifetime, and could even well be a significant factor in Putin's decision to invade Ukraine. According to research in the West, Putin could be expecting significant warming of Siberia by the time he is 80 years old, in 2030. There are indications Putin has access to more data not available in the West, including ice-depth data from the Russian icebreaker which resupplied MOSAIC's Polarstern expedition midway, as well as from Russian submarines.
How much will the Melting Arctic Warm Russia?
Perhaps the best method of analysis is to assess how much the Ocean Conveyor Belt will change due to Arctic Ice loss with data from the Argo buoy system.
Oceanographic studies of the ocean conveyor belt refer its physical analysis of heat moving around the globe in the sea as thermohealine circulation, and it is a relatively new field of study, due to the recency and advancement of the solar-powered Argo floats, which move up and down by thousands of feet to measure light, temperature, salinity, and current at different ocean depths.
Started in 1999, the number of ARGO buoys has since been increasing in size exponentially, from ~1,000 a decade ago to >4,700 (providing on average a 170-mile measurement grid over the entire ocean surface). Due to the COVID epidemic stalling recent academic progress, there are enormous amounts of more comprehensive data for the last few years than ever before. Scientists have only scratched the surface of what can now be learned.
Thermohaline circulation has so far only been analyzed annually. Yet with the greater amount of current buoys, measurement of seasonal variations are increasingly more accurate. Seasonal variations are most significant in the far North. In the Summer, wider and longer channels are opening between the Arctic Ice and the Northern continent edges. By examining the seasonal variation, a forward projection should be possible (with at least some extent of statistical significance) on how the currents will warm Siberia and Canada. While news reports state Canada is warming twice as fast as any other land mass, Russia has not made equivalent analyses, and the water channels opening in the Summer are wider by Russia than by Canada.
It's therefore a reasonable postulation that Putin is hoping to see significant thawing and significantly more arable land in Russia during his own lifetime. A deeper motive for Putin invading Ukraine therefore might be Russian predictions based on data Russia knows, but the West does not, indicating that his Ukraine invasion might yield him far more arable land than in the Ukraine–Even though Ukraine has long been considered the breadbasket of Europe. This study will provide more factual analysis to help determine whether Putin has indeed weaponized global warming.
Proposed Method for Empirical Prediction
The proposed studies will make use of the following data:
- The seasonal variation of ice extent, from NASA satellite data
- The seasonal variation of Northern ocean currents, from ARGO data
- Corresponding temperature variations, from meteorological data
From these sources this study will refine a decadal prediction. Initially it is planned to examine ice area compared to Northern ocean currents and temperatures across a two-bucket seasonal average in the most recent year, with sample sets taken from overlapping geographical regions to find the best comparison sets; then the buckets reduced in size from 6 months to 10 days (the cycle period of Argo buoys measurements at different depths) while zeroing in on significant changes. The seasonal variation will then be extrapolated forwards for minimum and maximum Arctic sea ice extent over the next ten years, correlating with expected warming of Siberia.
The initial plan is to download all source data into a MySQL database, create subsets of the data in multidimensional arrays via PHP on Apache servers, and if necessary, pass the arrays into vectorized C for cloud supercomputers on OpenCL. It is however hoped that the subset buckets can be defined with sufficiently small array sizes for efficient multithreaded processing on a mini-farm of three i7 workstations, for which a full crossbar network was already set up during my prior 3D modeling work.
Currently the Cycling74 user community is discussing the best way for Max8's Jitter to provide interactive graphical display of the results.
Existing Research Data
A subset of the Argo network of particular importance to this study is the Polar Argo, which consists of buoys especially designed to operate under ice. Supertrawlers are a main funding source for ARGO, because they use sonar on the buoys to locate large fish shoals. Fish migrate to unfrozen waters to feed over the summer months, thus, further extensions to Polar Argo are planned, regardless the higher expense of ice-tolerant buoys.
NASA published a review of its prior work on Arctic sea ice variability and trends in 2014. The article includes chart and tabular data (as shown) which could be extended with more recent findings as the basis for initial predictions based on arctic ice area.
Of corollary interest, the National Oceanographic Center in Liverpool (UK) last year published an extraordinary article on surface drift in the Siberian region. The attached diagram shows cold and warm water currents, both of which are moving ice away from Russia towards Canada.
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