From AP (via CNN): “The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming,” said Zwally, who as a teenager hauled coal. “Now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines.” The annual American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco is bringing bad news about the Arctic – most of it listed in the foregoing linked article. One paragraph is particularly shocking:
Still to be released is NASA data showing the remaining Arctic sea ice to be unusually thin, another record. That makes it more likely to melt in future summers. Combining the shrinking area covered by sea ice with the new thinness of the remaining ice, scientists calculate that the overall volume of ice is half of 2004’s total.
In three years, half of the summer ice has gone. In Hot Topic I suggest that it might all be gone in my lifetime – and I thought I was being pretty daring, given that the IPCC talks about the end of the century. One ice modeller who has been predicting an early demise for the summer sea ice is the US Navy’s Wieslaw Maslowski. From the BBC:
“Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007,” the researcher from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, explained to the BBC. “So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.”
RealClimate is providing coverage of AGU highlights (here, here, here and (update – sea ice specific) here. The Herald runs with a very US-angled Reuters story. As I’ve pointed out before, the consequences of the loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic for northern hemisphere climate is not known, but I would expect that there’s some urgent work being done to find out. We’re into the land of the unknown unknowns, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.