Graph of the Day: Sea Ice Crashing to New Low. Deniers – “Co2 Good for Crops”.

August 15, 2012

Last week’s arctic cyclone might be what has ice extent crashing.

A Senior scientist writes me he believes we will hit a new low extent well before the ice even bottoms out.

As August turns to September, all eyes on the arctic.


Arctic sea ice extent during the first two weeks of August continued to track below 2007 record low daily ice extents. As of August 13, ice extent was already among the four lowest summer minimum extents in the satellite record, with about five weeks still remaining in the melt season. Sea ice extent dropped rapidly between August 4 and August 8. While this drop coincided with an intense storm over the central Arctic Ocean, it is unclear if the storm prompted the rapid ice loss. Overall, weather patterns in the Arctic Ocean through the summer of 2012 have been a mixed bag, with no consistent pattern.
Arctic sea ice extent on August 13 was 4.90 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles). This is 2.81 million square kilometers (1.08 million square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average extent for the date, and is 450,000 square kilometers (173,745 square miles) below the previous record low for the date, which occurred in 2007. Low extent for the Arctic as a whole is driven by extensive open water on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, the Beaufort Sea, and—due to rapid ice loss over the past two weeks—the East Siberian Sea. Ice is near its normal (1979 to 2000) extent only off the northeastern Greenland coast. Ice near the coast in eastern Siberia continues to block sections of the Northern Sea Route. The western entrance to the Northwest Passage via McClure Strait remains blocked.

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for August 13, 2012 was 4.90 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles), 450,000 square kilometers (173,745 square miles) below the same day in 2007. The orange line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Sea Ice Index data. About the data



7 Responses to “Graph of the Day: Sea Ice Crashing to New Low. Deniers – “Co2 Good for Crops”.”

  1. junkdrawer88 Says:

    Add to that CryoSat-2 is reporting polar ice coverage dwindling in extent and thickness

    “Preliminary analysis of our data indicates that the rate of loss of sea ice volume in summer in the Arctic may be far larger than we had previously suspected,” said Dr Seymour Laxon, of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at University College London (UCL), where CryoSat-2 data is being analysed. “Very soon we may experience the iconic moment when, one day in the summer, we look at satellite images and see no sea ice coverage in the Arctic, just open water.”

    As of yet, this is getting very little mainstream news coverage. Hard to add the obligatory “but of course, this event can’t be directly attributed to Global Warming” disclaimer to this story – so it’s ignored.

  2. […] Last week’s arctic cyclone might be what has ice extent crashing. A Senior scientist writes me he believes we will hit a new low extent well before the ice even bottoms out. As August turns t…  […]

  3. It’s worse than your report in that the extent does not account for the amount of open water within the sea ice. Cryosphere today shows how little of the total extent is made up of 100% ice this year. When shown next to 2007, it is clear there is the possibilty of total loss.

    • astrostevo Says:

      Total loss meaning *all* the Arctic sea ice this year or next?

      I’m not sure if that’s right, guess we’ll soon enough see but either way – YIKES!

      Clearly the Arctic sea ice is in very serious decline, I’d say “undeniably so” but well, you know..

  4. Peter Mizla Says:

    I wonder how low it will go- the sea ice has been the planets ‘air conditioning’ over the last million years- what happens has it disappears?

  5. astrostevo Says:

    I am NOT a climatologist but my understanding is that the main thing will be that the Earth’s albedo (reflectivity) changes – sea ice reflects a lot of heat,light and radiation generally (something like 80%?) whereas open ocean absorbs a lot more. (Again I think about 80%?)

    This is a major climate feedback and leds to further rapid global overheating. What this means is that the region gets a lot hotter and weather patterns and climate changes further – sea levels rise, glacier loss accelerates, the warmer watercan store less carbon dioxide and so releases more, plus polar bears and other arctic animal and plant species diminish dramatically in number and likely go extinct. The Inuit traditional lifestyle will become impossible too.

    Lots of living things humans included will suffer and die, the climate gets stormier and less predictable, our kids if we have any find themselves inheriting a far worse world and the ends of our own future lives see grimmer and grimmer prospects.

    Just my understanding glenaed from lots of reading and following this issue over quite a few years now, perhaps, hopefully, I’m wrong though.

    BTW. Did I miss a bit here about deniers and growing more crops or was that just the title not the article? Wonders what they’d expect to be growing in an ice free arctic ocean? Seaweed?

  6. I think that the key issue with the Arctic is the decline of multi-year sea-ice (NASA animation here: Because this is the thickest ice, it’s loss makes the entire (sea) ice sheet susceptible to melting. 2012 started with the multi-year sea ice being at about the lowest level it has been for a very long time and combined with the rapid retreat of the ice extent and decline in the sea ice concentration, does in my opinion leave us with the possibility of near total loss. What would be the result? Well, the glaciers that feed the ice sheet in Northern Greenland and Canada would be less hampered in their progress and would be more susceptible to ocean currents at their mouths and so their rate of flow could accelerate, especially given the increased amount of meltwater from Greenland this year.

    The deniers would welcome an ice-free arctic, so they could drill for more oil and natural gas.

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