Matt Owens of Fairfax Climate Watch warns of a possible ice-free summer Arctic Ocean as soon as this summer.
... several troubling trends ... point to a possible ice-free summer Arctic Ocean as soon as this summer, including unusually high heat retention in shallow coastal shelves where large stores of methane gas wait to be released if temperatures climb too high.
Above is the ice thickness, as estimated by the U.S. Navy for March 3rd of 2011, 2012, and 2013 (The dates posted on the maps correspond to the date the analysis was performed).
The areas colored orange correspond to 1 to 2 meters of ice thickness (about 3.3 to 6.6 feet) and they will mostly melt this spring and summer. The white areas correspond to 2 or more meters (about 6.6 feet and up) of thickness, and they will likely also see large losses.
Over the coming months, ocean currents and wind will push the decaying ice around, further accelerating the melting, and leading to more solar heat absorption by the ocean waters. If any ice remains by September, it will probably end up pushed up along the Greenland coast again. In the winter, the ocean will ice over again, but only a thin layer will form, meaning the ice cover will melt even earlier in the season next year.
By all accounts, the Arctic is in big trouble. The ramifications are still being worked out, and are not entirely clear.
But really, "not entirely clear" is just a euphemism. And, "big trouble" is really an understatement. If I were the type to panic, I would be panicking now.
In his best case vs worst case scenarios, carbon release from thawing permafrost plays a large role. Yesterday I saw a video in which a NASA researcher described the carbon fluxes recorded from planes flying over melting permafrost areas as equivalent to the readings over a large city. If large areas of permafrost melt every Summer, with gigantic expanses pumping as much carbon into the air as cities do, then every Summer we'll lose control of the carbon cycle no matter how fast we switch from fossil fuel to green energy. The Northern hemisphere will experience a seasonal acceleration of Climate Destabilization, push - push - push, toward a terrible future.
And so it begins ...
Cracks have appeared in the Arctic Ice cap 51 days earlier than last year.
Over the past few weeks, massive cracks have appeared in the ice that connects the Beaufort Gyre region to Alaska. As a result of last summer’s record sea ice-loss, the winter ‘refreezing’ process went dismally and the surface area and thickness never recovered. The situation is frightening with the beginning of the 2013 melt season only a few weeks away.
As is usual these days, the best and most accurate up-to-date information on the state of Arctic sea ice is obtained from climatology blogs and a wealth of online data sources (if you want to look for it, that is). Uncensored near-real-time data and images of sea ice thickness, concentration, motion, temperature and just about anything else you can measure can be found here and here. For example, here's the movie showing how the sea ice thickness has decreased over the past year. The state of deterioration is clear (and shocking). So back to those new Arctic icecap cracks developing… everything you need to know can be found here. Even better than the images and the article itself, in my opinion, are the comments from climatologists, scientists and a growing number of very informed amateurs from around the world. These folks are very knowledgeable about Artic sea ice; many of them have followed the disappearing Artic sea ice for years and are clearly a step ahead of most scientists in their field (at least those scientists not following the links above!) It’s these folks who first spotted the cracking and raced to archival satellite imagery (from 2012) to confirm their fears. Turns out those cracks are appearing 51 days earlier than they did last year. That’s a staggering revelation and a game-changer (NOT a good one) as we approach the 2013 melt season. [emphasis mine]
The Arctic Sea Ice is not only cracked, it's moving.
The fast-moving western tip of a recognizable central feature, traced for 41 days (23 Feb 13 to 02 Apr 13), has moved 479 km or 11.7 km per day at 0.49 km per hour. The angular velocity about the feature's Euler pole at 82.5ºN 140ºW is quite rapid, about 1.2º per day.
I'm very curious what will happen once the thin ice in that crack gets properly introduced to the Sun.
This animated graph shows how the Arctic Ice volume changes month to month since 1979. While it moves slowly at first, this gives you time to figure out how information is shown (which is novel). See how close the volume comes close to zero near the end in 2012.
Thank you for the Arctic Ice updates Ruth. I will start reading through this. It may take a few days to get to all the links and graphs.
Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at the UK's university of Cambridge, who said, "Man-induced global warming does not involve a steady change over the whole planet.
"The arctic is warming at three times the rate of lower latitudes, and this is already having serious impacts.
"The sea ice cover is diminishing both in area (measured by satellite) and thickness (measured by submarines), and in summer now has less than 30 per cent of the volume of 30 years ago.
"At this rate, the arctic ocean will be ice-free in the month of September by 2015/6. It is changing into a seasonal ice cover, like the Antarctic, rather than a permanent one." [emphasis mine]
Note that the source is political, not peer reviewed science.
NASA now says the Arctic could be ice free this year.
NASA: Arctic Ocean Could be Mostly Ice Free in 2013
30 second video showing Arctic Sea Ice decline that's easy to understand.