Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Has the descent begun?

On March 9, 2014, Arctic sea ice area was at a record low for the time of the year, at only 12.88731 square kilometers.

Sea ice extent shows a similar descent, as illustrated by the NSIDC image below.

NSIDC update: The image below shows that Arctic sea ice extent was 14.583 square kilometers on March 11, 2014 (light green line), a record low for this time of the year and smaller than it was in 2006 (magenta line) and 2011 (orange line) at this time of the year.

The situation is dire, given that methane concentrations have risen strongly following an earthquake that hit the Gakkel Ridge on March 6, 2014, as illustrated by the image below.

[ click on image to enlarge ]
Huge amounts of methane have been released from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean over the past half year, and the resulting high methane concentrations over the Arctic will contribute to local temperature rises.

The image below shows that sea surface temperatures are anomalously high in the Arctic Ocean and off the east coast of North America, from where warm water is carried by the Gulf Stream into the Arctic Ocean.

The prospect of an El Niño event makes the situation even more dire. NOAA recently issued an El Niño Watch. This follows a conclusion by an international research team that found a 75% likelyhood of an El Niño event in late 2014.

The consequences of sea ice collapse would be devastating, as all the heat that previously went into transforming ice into water will be asbsorbed by even darker water, from where less sunlight will be reflected back into space. The danger is that further warming of the Arctic Ocean will trigger massive methane releases is unacceptable and calls for comprehensive and effective action as discussed at the Climate Plan blog.


- M4.5 Earthquake hits Gakkel Ridge

- Climate Plan blog


Has the descent begun?
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