So bleak is the picture... that the bulldozer and not the atomic bomb may turn out to be the most destructive invention of the 20th century.
~Philip Shabecoff, New York Times Magazine, 4 June 1978
I can't believe that as of today fewer than 300 people have viewed this on youtube. It's about the arctic ice - how fast it is melting, far in advance of predictions - and what it means for the rest of the world which, as it turns out, is quite a lot. Oh, maybe everything when the jet stream becomes locked and there isn't anything benign left between extreme droughts and floods, just as Joe Romm's book, Hell and High Water, anticipated. The animation in this presentation is fascinating, and so clearly explained that even the average comatose american teevee zombie should be able to comprehend it. Below is a partial repost from Climate Code Red, with the most recent terrifying charts. This astonishingly rapid, record-obliterating summer melt season, which still has several weeks to go, will be looked back upon - for whatever brief period humans are still around and retain the ability to contemplate the past - as an epic event in our accelerating march towards irrevocable ecocide. You can follow the death spiral with more-or-less daily updates at Neven's Arctic Sea Ice Blog.
Arctic sea-ice melt record more than broken, it’s being smashed
by David Spratt
According to IARC/JAXA satellite data at Arctic Sea-ice Monitor from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the sea-ice extent of 24 August 2012 of 4,189,375 square kilometres broke the previous record in the satellite era of 4,254,531 square kilometres set on 24 August 2007. Back then the were scientific gasps that the sea ice was melting “100 years ahead of schedule”.
[The 24 August figure is subject to revision the next day, the but point remains that record has been broken or will be broken in next day or two. The NSIDC chart using 5-day running averages, so it is a few days behind.]
|JAXA Arctic sea ice extent to 24 August 2012. Updates:http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm|
What is astounding is that the record has been broken with three to four weeks of the melt season to go, and that the rate of melting this month is unprecedented in the modern record. Check the chart above (click to enlarge), with the red line mapping 2012 sea-ice extent. The slope of the line is much steeper than in previous years for August.
Looking at the data, the daily rate of sea-ice loss for 1-24 August has been 99,029 square kilometres per day in 2012, compared to:
- 2007 62,976 square kilometres per day
- 2008 72,785 square kilometres per day
- 2009 53,859 square kilometres per day
- 2010 55,109 square kilometres per day
- 2011 63,342 square kilometres per day
- 2012 99,029 square kilometres per day
It is remarkable that rate of loss is so much greater than previous years this late in the melt season, and at present shows no sign of easing.
The ice is now much thinner on average than in the past, as the extent of multi-year ice declines sharply. Thin ice is easily smashed up by storms and rough seas, and that’s what’s happened this year. In early August, a huge, long-lived Arctic ocean storm decimated the sea ice area which was melting out at a record rate, before the high waves and winds shattered the Siberian side of the ice cap. But there have been subsequent, less well-reported, cyclonic storms churning up the ice, which may explain why the melt rate has not eased off in the last 10 days.
What the minimum extent will be this year is anybody’s guess. It depends on weather conditions over the next three weeks, and how much ice is now just above the threshold (of 15 per cent sea-ice in a given area) and is currently counted as sea-ice, but likely to be below the threshold by the third week of September.
Even if the ice loss over the next 3-4 weeks was similar in magnitude to previous recent years, the season low could be around 3.5 million square kilometres. Maybe a good bit more, perhaps somewhat less. We will have to wait and see.
The next chart, amended, from NSIDC shows the 2007 fourth IPCC report projections for Arctic sea ice (blue line) and projections for RCP4.5 (representative concentration pathways) (red line) being used for the forthcoming fifth IPCC report in 2014. Actual observations are in black, and I have taken the liberty of sketching in grey what it will look like if the 2012 figure is around 3.5 million square kilometres.
|Sea-ice extent projections versus observations. My 2012 guestimate in grey. (Pink and blue shading show 1 standard deviation from averaging results from all of the model runs)|