Arctic Sea Ice Seasonal Max is Lowest Ever

From the BBC/Science

Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has fallen to the lowest recorded level for the winter season, according to US scientists.

The maximum this year was 14.5 million sq km, said the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

This is the lowest since 1979, when satellite records began.

A recent study found that Arctic sea ice had thinned by 65% between 1975 and 2012.

Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics said: “The gradual disappearance of ice at the poles is having profound consequences for people, animals and plants in the polar regions, as well as around the world, through sea level rise.”


OMG! North Pole a Lake!

July is usually the warmest month in the area, but temperatures were 1 to 3 degrees Celsius above average this year. The shallow lake you see at the pole is made of meltwater sitting on top of a layer of ice, according to the observatory.

North Pole


See the lake…

Summer Ice Melt In Antarctica Is At The Highest Point In 1,000 Years,

“Researchers from the Australian National University and the British Antarctic Survey found data taken from an ice core also shows the summer ice melt has been 10 times more intense over the past 50 years compared with 600 years ago.

“It’s definitely evidence that the climate and the environment is changing in this part of Antarctica,” lead researcher Nerilie Abram said.”




Christmas is Coming and the North Pole is Disappearing!

I know the holidays are occupying a lot of brain volume these days but this news shut my party planning down completely.

SAN FRANCISCO — Global warming is rapidly driving the Arctic into a volatile state characterized by massive reductions in sea ice and snow cover, more extensive melting of the Greenland ice sheet, and a host of biological changes, according to a comprehensive report published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Wednesday.

Departure from average of Arctic surface temperatures during the first decade of the 21st century, as compared to the 1971-2000 average. This map illustrates that no part of the Arctic experienced cooler than average conditions during this period.

The seventh annual “Arctic Report Card” summarizes the latest scientific observations in the fastest-warming region on Earth. Members of the international team that produced the report said Arctic climate change is likely to have broad and sweeping repercussions well outside of the Far North.

Climate Central

For the NOAA Arctic Report Card see here.  For some salient, sobering findings gaze downward:

  • Snow cover: A new record low snow extent for the Northern Hemisphere was set in June 2012, and a new record low was reached in May over Eurasia.
  • Sea ice: Minimum Arctic sea ice extent in September 2012 set a new all-time record low, as measured by satellite since 1979.
  • Greenland ice sheet: There was a rare, nearly ice sheet-wide melt event on the Greenland ice sheet in July, covering about 97 percent of the ice sheet on a single day.
  • Vegetation: The tundra is getting greener and there’s more above-ground growth. During the period of 2003-2010, the length of the growing season increased through much of the Arctic.
  • Wildlife & food chain: In northernmost Europe, the Arctic fox is close to extinction and vulnerable to the encroaching Red fox. Additionally, recent measurements of massive phytoplankton blooms below the summer sea ice suggest that earlier estimates of biological production at the bottom of the marine food chain may have been ten times lower than was occurring.
  • Ocean: Sea surface temperatures in summer continue to be warmer than the long-term average at the growing ice-free margins, while upper ocean temperature and salinity show significant interannual variability with no clear trends.
  • Weather: Most of the notable weather activity in fall and winter occurred in the sub-Arctic due to a strong positive North Atlantic Oscillation, expressed as the atmospheric pressure difference between weather stations in the Azores and Iceland. There were three extreme weather events including an unusual cold spell in late January to early February 2012 across Eurasia, and two record storms characterized by very low central pressures and strong winds near western Alaska in November 2011 and north of Alaska in August 2012.


Soon, this won’t be a hotel PR shot.

Arctic Sea Ice Decline Breaks Records

From Jeff Masters at Wunderground….

The extraordinary decline in Arctic sea ice during 2012 is finally over. Sea ice extent bottomed out on September 16, announced scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) on Wednesday. The sea ice extent fell to 3.41 million square kilometers, breaking the previous all-time low set in 2007 by 18%–despite the fact that this year’s weather was cloudier and cooler than in 2007. Nearly half (49%) of the icecap was gone during this year’s minimum, compared to the average minimum for the years 1979 – 2000. This is an area approximately 43% of the size of the Contiguous United States. And, for the fifth consecutive year–and fifth time in recorded history–ice-free navigation was possible in the Arctic along the coast of Canada (the Northwest Passage), and along the coast of Russia (the Northeast Passage or Northern Sea Route.) “We are now in uncharted territory,” said NSIDC Director Mark Serreze. “While we’ve long known that as the planet warms up, changes would be seen first and be most pronounced in the Arctic, few of us were prepared for how rapidly the changes would actually occur

Arctic Sea Ice All Time Low

“Extraordinary melting of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has shattered the all-time low sea ice extent record set in September 2007, and sea ice continues to decline far below what has ever been observed. The new sea ice record was set on August 26, a full three weeks before the usual end of the melting season, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Every major scientific institution that tracks Arctic sea ice agrees that new records for low ice area, extent, and volume have been set.” Wunderblog


Arctic Sea Ice Melt — Like Leaving the World’s Refrigerator Door Open

Sea ice 1979 v 2012


Before the GOP climate deniers die there won’t be enough ice in the Arctic to shake a good martini in, though that will be the least of their, and our, problems.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Monday that the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.58 million square miles and is likely to melt more in the coming weeks. That breaks the old record of 1.61 million square miles set in 2007.

While melting Arctic ice, by itself, won’t significantly move sea levels -as melting Antarctic or Greenland ice, running off of landmass into the ocean, will– plenty of other problems will occupy inventive minds.  The melt, while the cause of some events,  described below, is also the result of other causes, which are having results other than ice melt.

“Why do we care?,” Abdalati, an ice scientist, asked. “This ice has been an important factor in determining the climate and weather conditions under which modern civilization has evolved.”

Scientists sometimes call the Arctic the world’s refrigerator and this is like leaving the fridge door open, Scambos said.

“This is kind of a knob on global weather,” Wagner said. “We don’t know the impact yet” of fiddling with it.

Scientists say Arctic sea ice helps moderate temperatures further south in the winter and summer. A study earlier this year in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters linked some of the factors behind Arctic sea ice loss to higher probabilities of extreme weather “such as drought, flooding, cold spells and heat waves.”

Read more at SF Gate


324 Months of Temperature Exceeding Long Term Average

I finally watched a documentary in the tape-now-watch-later section of the TV.  The History Channel’s  “Crude” [not to be confused with several others of the same or similar names] is a decent elementary explanation, with beguiling animations of Jurassic era creatures and representations of Carbon and Oxygen bound together as CO2 rising into the atmosphere and falling into the oceans.  It describes how oil came to be, the first discoveries and subsequent envelopment of the world by drilling sites.  Then, somewhat surprisingly, but hearteningly, the experts who have been explaining this go on to describe what the return of so much CO2 to the atmosphere and oceans, by burning all the oil,  means.  In rational, straightforward speech they describe what a warming world once meant, and what they know about our proximity to a tipping point.  Chilling — and on popular TV!

Having dreamt on that over night I woke to a significant front page article in the NY Times in need of a sharper headline:

Weather Runs Hot and Cold, So Scientists Look to the Ice

“United States government scientists recently reported, for instance, that February was the 324th consecutive month in which global temperatures exceeded their long-term average for a given month; the last month with below-average temperatures was February 1985.”

Almost every paragraph of Justin Gillis and Joanna Foster’s report rings bells of alarm, not only that above.

How about this:

…the sea ice cap has shrunk about 40 percent since the early 1980s. That means an area of the Arctic Ocean the size of Europe has become dark, open water in the summer instead of reflective ice, absorbing extra heat and then releasing it to the atmosphere in the fall and early winter.

The animations of the anoxic oceans in Crude, following the great volcanic upheavals as the continents pulled apart, will pop up in my brain now, every time I read another climate warning, filled with new confirmatory data.



Weird Weather and Arctic Warming

I ran across Yale’s Environment 360 site the other day, appearing in the storm of information we are all living with.  Very thorough and from impeccable sources.

The loss of Arctic summer sea ice and the rapid warming of the Far North are altering the jet stream over North America, Europe, and Russia. Scientists are now just beginning to understand how these profound shifts may be increasing the likelihood of more persistent and extreme weather.

by jennifer francis

Arctic Death Spiral

From Climate Progress

Even the U.S. Navy says it is lower than known in the last several thousand years. Hey McCain! You awake?