Arctic sea ice near record low

Back in 2007 a combination of weather and heat reduced the Arctic ice cap to its lowest measured level ever. This year is poised to beat it and the end of this month may set its own record of sorts:

BBC— Scientists at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center said data showed that the sea ice extent was tracking below the previous record low, set in 2007. Latest figures show that on 13 August ice extent was 483,000 sq km (186,000 sq miles) below the previous record low for the same date five years ago. The ice is expected to continue melting until mid- to late September.”A new daily record… would be likely by the end of August,” the centre’s lead scientist, Ted Scambos, told Reuters. “Chances are it will cross the previous record while we are still in ice retreat.”

None dare call it global warming …


  1. docsarvis says

    Nope. Can’t mention global warming, climate change or sea level rise. Those do not fit Republican policy so therefore can neither be spoken nor written.

    Does anyone else around here get the feeling we may have already passed a major tipping point where nothing we do can mitigate global warming?

  2. mildlymagnificent says

    There’s nothing we can do to avoid some serious warming (or to get that ice age we’ve knocked off its schedule).

    But we can get a start on slowing the pace and on avoiding the very worst of what might happen if we let this train run away completely uncontrolled. What we can’t do is kid ourselves that we can avoid large scale disruption, starvation and millions of deaths – regardless of any successes we might have at this late stage. I think of it as being like 100 years ago knowing that all those power plays were going haywire and not knowing that in the next 60 years we’d see 2 world wars, a flu pandemic, a Great Depression, the Holocaust, atomic war and all the associated horrors.

    Climate’s going to cost us a fair bit more than the 20 million Russian dead it took to finish off WW2. But we got through that. We can get through this, even if it’s heart-breaking knowing that, this time, we really could have avoided it if we’d been halfway sensible.

  3. says

    I found the details of the article interesting, esp. the graph which has various features revealing how things are changing. But one aspect seemed potentially wrong, that if for a single year, 2012, at the minimum ice ever recorded, that this would require projecting an earlier date (than the current 2030-2050 projection) for being completely ice free. Over and over real scientists talk about how a single data point can be part of the larger trend but not necessarily predictive. This likely 2012 all-time minimum was partly produced by a storm, which accelerates melting via breakup of the ice (note on the graph the recent downturn).

    I’m not, as the deniers do, saying all this isn’t true. It’s completely clear for all the data that Arctic sea ice is disappearing and it’s not pure chance that it’s happening, it’s human-caused. But if predictions are made that aren’t completely justified by the science it’s just playing into the hands of the deniers. Most climate scientists were reluctant to call this summer’s heatwave and drought as having a clearcut connection (after all, there was a worst drought in 1956 which is before much of the AGW began to be measurable).

    OTOH, the storm caused ice breakage could, in fact, be accelerating the trend to ice-free. When “old” ice melts and is replaced by fresh refrozen ice, that new ice is much more vulnerable to breaking, so even mild storms tear it apart quickly. So perhaps 2030-2050 is too long, but I’d hate to see the projection, unless really solid, move down to 2020-2035 or some such because that is close enough it might not happen and most people alive today would see that it didn’t happen and the disbelief in climate change would increase.

    So I think we’re better off if reality is worse than projections even if we’re tempted to push more aggressively on the projections.

  4. mildlymagnificent says


    This is a nice assemblage of graphs to illustrate how things are progressing. I highly recommend the *click* on the Arctic sea ice volume graph.

    “So I think we’re better off if reality is worse than projections even if we’re tempted to push more aggressively on the projections.”

    Even now there are scientists unwilling to ‘push’ anything on projections. Considering how badly the projections have lagged the realities so far on loss of ice as well as the advent of extreme weather and extensive drought, it’d make a nice change if the next IPCC report was a bit more outspoken.

  5. jimvj says

    It should always be emphasized that the decline of sea ice in the polar regions is not just an effect of global warming; more importantly, it is also a strong positive feedback mechanism for the warming:
    the reflectivity of snow > ice > open water.

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