Arctic Sea Ice

Alongside a string of record high world temperatures it shouldn’t be a surprise to see a reduction on Arctic sea ice, especially as the north is warming disproportionately more than the southern hemisphere.

ArcticSeaIceExtent

There was a record minimum in 2012 so 2016 is tracking to break new records.

How Melting Arctic Ice Contributes to Global Warming

Kristina Pistone of NASA’s Ames Research Center…

“The Arctic is a region that’s probably seen some of the most dramatic changes over the past few decades. And I think possibly one of the most iconic images is the decline in the Arctic sea ice.”

She says melting Arctic sea ice is not only a symptom of global warming, it’s also an important contributor because of the “albedo effect.”

So when Arctic sea ice melts, the underlying ocean water absorbs more of the sun’s energy, and heats up. That, in turn, melts more sea ice.

Since 1979, more than 600,000 square miles of winter sea ice has disappeared – an area more than twice as big as Texas.

Pistone says that rate of loss could lead to ice-free summers in the Arctic within the next two decades.

Fractures seen in rapidly melting Arctic sea ice, and it’s only May

Even accounting for the accelerating pace of Arctic climate change, sea ice loss in the Far North is running well ahead of schedule. This may signal a near record or record low sea ice extent to come in September.

Fractures in the ice cover are evident north of Greenland, which Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, told Mashable are “quite unusual” for this time of year.

In general, the Arctic has warmed at about twice the rate of the rest of the world, due largely to feedbacks between melting sea ice and the ability of newly-open ocean waters to absorb more heat, and then melt more ice.

So far, the ice is melting at a far faster pace compared to the record sea ice minimum that occurred in 2012.

Arctic sea ice set a record low seasonal maximum in March, and a relentless series of weather systems have pumped unusually mild air into the Arctic as well as milder than average ocean waters

Many studies have shown that the Arctic may be seasonally ice free within the next few decades.

Even for the fast-melting Arctic, 2016 is in ‘uncharted territory’

We’re in record breaking territory no matter how you look at it,” says Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University who has published widely on how Arctic changes affect weather in the mid-latitudes. “The ice is really low, the temperatures are really high, the fire seasons have started earlier,” she says.

Indeed, NASA and other keepers of planetary temperatures have documented staggering warmth in the region this year — not just 1 or 2 degrees Celsius above average, but more than 4 degrees above average across much of the Arctic during the first quarter of this year:

giss-jan-march-2016-temps

So in sum: Scientists fear northern wildfires could be not only worsening, but also accelerating loss of permafrost from frozen northern and Arctic soils — which in turn would amplify global warming. And 2016, they think, could be a banner year for this process.

Granted, the atmosphere (and ocean) always deliver surprises, and as all of these researchers will tell you, there is no crystal ball to tell us what will happen in the Arctic as full summer nears. We only know that this year, five months in, is standing out for dramatic levels of warming, melting — and hints of early burning.

So there is plenty of cause for concern, especially in the northern hemisphere.

In the meantime our run of unusually mild weather seems to have come to an end with temperatures dropping 5+ degrees over the last day or two and a forecast of 10 degree highs through next week, more typical of late autumn.

But that’s irrelevant in the whole scheme of things. Record planet wide temperatures and record low Arctic sea ice extent are causing considerable concern in the climate change world.

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21 Comments

  1. Brown

     /  18th May 2016

    ” causing considerable concern in the climate change world.”

    Meanwhile, in the real world …

    Reply
    • The climate change world includes most of the scientific world and most of the world of governments.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  18th May 2016

        Not quite true, Pete. While few scientists deny climate change is a reality. There are many who question the man-made element. Some who have spoken off the record state their careers would be over if they question this massive global fraud. While I would agree most scientists would be in the affirmative, the number of dissenting scientists is woefully unreported for the above reasons.

        Below are some brave souls who have spoken up:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_mainstream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming

        Reply
        • Of course warming is most natural – it’s called the sun.

          The critical issues are how much the human effect is, and whether we can do anything effective to counter our effect that won’t risk or cause bigger problems..

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  18th May 2016

            In my opinion the human effect is negligible. The effect of human activity on soils, water and human health is the thing that brings me out in a cold sweat.
            Superphosphate is one example. Its acidic and locks up minerals in the soil.. Farmers ignore that it was meant to be spread with equal parts Dolomite. The result is we eat meat that is woefully unbalanced in mineral content. We then scratch our heads as to why 1in3 people have cancer, why our fertility rates are heading south( no offence) and our general population have the attention span of the next Twitter Tweet.

            Climate change isn’t on my hand-wringing schedule. I doubt we can do much about it. Although, ironically ,measures taken to counter supposed climate change may help more with the above problems.

            Reply
        • hardly a compelling list in there, my understanding is 97% for, and 3% against in the science world, lets compile a list of scientists that are pro man exacerbated Climate change….. Mine is bigger than yours!!!

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  18th May 2016

            The list has been tampered with since I last saw it. The 97% for is bs. The Aussie study stating that is wrong. I’ll bone up when we have a genuine tape measure.

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  18th May 2016

            my understanding is 97% for, and 3% against

            For and against what? 97% of who? Determined how?

            Do you know the answers to those questions because unless you do, your understanding is void.

            Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  18th May 2016

    Every media climate story comes with an attached political agenda and timing: http://m.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11640270

    I understand there are some issues with satellite ice sensors failing and a changeover to a replacement satellite being calibrated too so some results are provisional.

    Reply
    • Even Antony Watts posted the Arctic Sea Extent Chart without criticism, and he also refers to the sensor issues.

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/05/17/nsidc-resumes-sea-ice-plots-with-provisional-data/

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  18th May 2016

        I’ve got no doubt that the total amount of ice globally is continuing to decline, in both extent and thickness. The main issue scientifically is whether this is being caused by man-made CO2 emissions or is part of a naturally occurring climate cycle that has always operated over millenia.

        Reply
        • No, the main issue is how much of it is a man-made problem on top of natural cycles.

          If we were heading into an ice age then a bit of warming wouldn’t be a problem. If we are in a natural warming cycle and add significantly to that then we should be very concerned.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  18th May 2016

            My point is really do we even know that the natural cycle is and where we are in it?

            Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  18th May 2016

    It’s cold and pouring with rain in Welly this morning. So the other thing to be considered is whether this might in fact have been orchestrated by John Key and the National government to dampen people’s enthusiasm for Andrew Little’s livechat on facebook this morning. 🙂

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  18th May 2016

      Well, if the weather was orchestrated by National for that purpose they needn’t have bothered. 5 minutes of watching that shambles was enough to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. 😕

      Reply
  4. Hall

     /  18th May 2016

    Thousands of people die or are displaced as a result of climate change, it’s the biggest threat to mankind. You climate change deniers writing insensitive comments – have a think about the victims that have to struggle with the effects everyday you insensitive whiners.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  18th May 2016

      Nobody’s denying the climate is changing Hall. Try & keep up.

      Reply
  5. Every science academy in the world accepts the mainstream view of man-made global warming.

    Virtually every government, recognising the profound danger of tampering with the climate that allowed human society to thrive, has agreed the world must limit the global temperature increase to 2C.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/apr/17/why-cant-we-give-up-fossil-fuels

    A survey of 3,146 earth scientists asked the question: “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”. More than 90% of respondents had PhDs, and 7% had master’s degrees. Overall, 82% of the scientists answered yes, but the response rate differed markedly according to level of expertise in climate science. Of scientists who were non-climatologists or didn’t publish research, 77% answered yes. By contrast, 97% of climatologists who actively publish research on climate change responded yes.

    This overwhelming consensus among climate experts was confirmed by an independent study that surveyed all climate scientists who have publicly signed declarations supporting or rejecting the consensus position. It found that 97-98% of climate experts support the consensus. Moreover, the study found that the small number of scientists rejecting the consensus had published, on average, around half as many papers each as the large majority of scientists accepting the consensus position.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/07/scientific-consensus-climate-change

    Reply
    • Hall

       /  18th May 2016

      Right on comrade.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  18th May 2016

      You overlook the minor detail that the vast majority of climate alarmism sceptics are amongst the 97% because their scepticism is over how much human actions and exactly what activities are impacting climate.

      Reply

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