Wadhams, Peter

Peter Wadhams (b.1948) is Professor of Ocean Physics and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge.  He has been a polar researcher for 47 years, completing >50 trips to the Arctic, and is President of the Ocean Commission on Sea Ice, sponsored by the International Association for the Physical Sciences.  He began warning about the thawing of Arctic summer sea ice in 1990, and his recent book, A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic (Oxford University Press, 2017, 240p), states that the summer ice does not have long to live.  Two huge effects of this “Arctic Death Spiral”: the fraction of solar radiation reflected back into space—the albedo—drops from 0.6 to 0.1, which further accelerates warming of the Arctic and the planet, and removal of ice cover in the summer thaws offshore permafrost, releasing huge plumes of methane and a possible seabed methane pulse.  Methane and C02 emissions from decaying permafrost on land will be some 30 times more by 2100 than the offshore methane pulse in the next decade.  Thus “a major climate warming boost from methane is inevitable” – an estimated 0.6oC by 2040 alone.  This distinctive and potentially important book criticizes the IPCC’s “complacent predictions” of sea level rise, and the Paris climate agreement as a step that should have been taken 10-20 years ago.

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