Down to the Wire: Arctic Ice Close to Bottom (we hope..)

September 12, 2011

The Guardian:

Arctic sea ice has melted to a level not recorded since satellite observations started in 1972 – and almost certainly not experienced for at least 8,000 years, say polar scientists.

Daily satellite sea-ice maps released by Bremen university physicistsshow that with a week’s more melt expected this year, the floating ice in the Arctic covered an area of 4.24 million square kilometres on 8 September. The previous one-day minimum was 4.27m sq km on 17 September 2007.

The German researchers said the record melt was undoubtedly because of human-induced global warming. “The sea-ice retreat can no more be explained with the natural variability from one year to the next, caused by weather influence,” said Georg Heygster, head of the Institute of Environmental Physics at Bremen.

If current trends continue, a largely ice-free Arctic in the summer months is likely within 30 years –that is up to 40 years earlier than was anticipated in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) assessment report.

The last time the Arctic was uncontestably free of summertime ice was 125,000 years ago, at the height of the last major interglacial period, known as the Eemian.


Below, the most recent graph from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, (from 9/11/11) shows a slightly different picture, with ice loss seeming to bottom out. The NSIDC has not updated with any announcements in several days, and they may or may not agree with the U. of Bremen on a new record. Typical of the minor differences seen between this type data sets, the big picture remains very much the same.  This week will probably be when ice hits bottom for the year. Stay tuned.


8 Responses to “Down to the Wire: Arctic Ice Close to Bottom (we hope..)”

  1. Bruce Miller Says:

    As much as we witness the shift in the Capital of the world, from the West to the East, the stranger powers that be in this world are opening the North West Passages, making trade to the new and richer Eastern Empire possilbe for Canada. As we speak. Russian nuclear powered ice-breakers ply these waters, and Finnish, Norewigian and Swedish mariners dream of new prospects, in the northern part of the world, sequestered from the Southern realms by the Cold Climate technologies and a new breed of man, the Chinese Yuan for money, and freedom from the “Great American Corporate and Capitalist Propaganda Whore’s” ridiculous “American Dream” and her “Sales pitch bull Shiite”, Her constant and unfair money manipulations – a lesson well learned in Iceland and only recently, Her Fed’s fat thumb on the scales for every deal inked in her currency, and an astounding zxenophobia and denial of all other technologies of human survival over her impossibly unsustainable American Dream, with McMansions, SUV’s and Molls in suburbs, even though they are totally impractical North of the frost lines.
    U.S. illusions that they rule the world, and have great influence even over Canada are measured by the presence of the “Official Opposition” in Canada’s Parliment – a Socialist “NDP” party much as found in other northern realms, even Sweden. Strict Corpocracies seemingly do not appeal to folks of the northern latitudes.
    Is the ice melting? Even in the more southern reaches of Canada, at Churhill, the Polar bears are reported by natives to be diminishing in number, with poor health, and not enough ice for their survival – this from the folks that actually live on the spot, count them daily!

  2. I wonder if the Mainstream media will announce this news tonight? Probably not, their Lord & Master- the Special Interests will not permit it.

  3. otter17 Says:

    The exciting race for the lowest extent continues…

    I ought to read more about the Eemian. It might offer a taste of what is to come in the next few years. Hopefully, we don’t transform into the Pliocene too quickly.

    • otter17 Says:

      Neat article, but the comments are filled with vitriol from a couple denier trolls. Amazing how some of these guys have enough time to post and repost the same thing throughout a comments section of an article.

  4. tomgraywind Says:

    Agreed. Same thing is happening to an article by Andy Revkin on his DotEarth blog at the NYTimes site (and a very mild article it is). Plenty of oil & gas $ to go around, evidently.

  5. The Eemian was at best .02 degrees C warmer then then today (which is now the warmest part of the Holocene)

    Considering climate sensitivity to C02 is much wore then predicted- and C02 levels are this high and rising quickly (much higher then in the Eemian) when the warming was due to a slight shift to the earths orbit and tilt- warming will go beyond the Eemian quickly- by 2020- when global temperatures will exceed the Eemian.

  6. Pangolin Says:

    As far as I know all our recent history of weather and climate forecasting for such things as crop planting and storm tracking has a built in assumption of an intact arctic ice cap. We don’t have a historical record of data for an arctic ice cap with millions of sq. kilometers of ice missing.

    Is there any reason we shouldn’t assume that whatever our historical weather was we’re not going to get that any more? How do we assume normal cropping seasons with this massive shift in the planet’s energy balance?

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