We have now entered the era of climate consequences. Arctic warming is simply alarming. Cassie Ito who is an admin colleague in Warriors for Environmental, Social and Economic Justice (Facebook Group) has a grim assessment of the human impact on the planet. “The human animal has exploited, pillaged and plundered since standing upright, it seems. Now the bill is coming due. Without significant behavioral changes by humans, this planet will soon no longer be inhabitable,” says Cassie. The following post illustrates how Arctic warming is causing levels of unprecedented melting.
On April 3rd, 2016, Arctic sea ice extent was at a record low for the time of the year, reports the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
Besides sea ice extent, sea ice area is important. For more on what constitutes “ice-covered” and what is sea ice extent (versus sea ice area), see this NSIDC FAQ page. Another measure is sea ice area. On April 2nd, 2016, Northern Hemisphere sea ice area was at a record low for the time of the year, reports the Cryosphere Today.
In 2015, there still was more sea ice area than there is now when it was half a month later (15 days) into the year. In 2012, there still was more sea ice when it was 25 days later in the year. In other words, sea ice area decline is almost one month ahead compared with the situation in 2012.
The Arctic is Warming Faster
The Arctic has warmed more than elsewhere on Earth. Surface temperatures over the past 365 days were more than 2.5°C or 4.5°F higher than they were in 1981-2010.
The high temperatures that have hit the Arctic Ocean over the past 365 days make that the outlook for the sea ice in the Arctic this year is not good. The current El Niño is still going strong, with temperatures above 100°F recorded in three continents. The year 2016 is already shaping up as the warmest year on record by far. Temperatures look set to soar over the coming months, over the Northern Hemisphere at large and over the Arctic in particular.
The image below shows that, on April 7, 2016, sea surface in the Barents Sea was as warm as 10.1°C or 50.2°F, an anomaly of 9.4°C or 16.9°F from 1981-2011 (at the location marked by the top right green circle), while there were anomalies as high as 11.3°C or 20.3°F off the coast of North America (green circle bottom left).
The white line shows the approximate path of the cold exit current, while the red line shows the approximate path of the warm entry current.
The high temperatures in the Barents Sea give an indication of the ocean heat traveling toward the Arctic Ocean, while the high temperature anomalies off the east coast of North America give an indication of the heat that is building up there. Much of this heat will make its way to the Arctic Ocean over the coming months.
In the Pacific, sea surface temperature anomalies from 1981-2011 were as high as 11.6°C or 20.8°F near Japan on April 11, 2016 giving a further indication of the huge amount of additional heat now present in oceans in the Northern Hemisphere. The prospect is that temperatures will rise over the next few months to levels even higher than they were last year.
Sea ice acts as a buffer, absorbing heat and keeping the temperature of the water at freezing point. Without such a buffer, further heat will instead make the temperature of the water will rise more rapidly. Furthermore, less sea ice means that less sunlight gets reflected back into space and more sunlight instead gets absorbed by the Arctic Ocean.
The excerpts for this post are drawn from Arctic News.
Another interesting effect of the profoundly huge impact climate change is having is the redistribution of weight on earth. A recent NASA study shows how melting ice sheets are changing the way the planet wobbles on its axis.
Rolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Reality leader, a Blogger and a Climate Activist. He’s a member of Climate Reality Canada, Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Ottawa) and 350.Org (Ottawa), the Ethical Team (as an influencer) and Global Population Speakout.