Posted by: JohnnyRook | August 11, 2008

Temperatures Hit 80 Degrees in the Arctic: 2008 May See a Record Sea-Ice Melt After All

Today’s news that we may set a new Arctic sea-ice melt record in 2008 is, along with a number of other recent stories, further indication that Climaticide is proceeding full speed ahead the Arctic.

Warming temperatures resulting from our continued emissions of greenhouse gases are causing sea ice to melt (at both poles) at ever faster rates, ice shelves to collapse, 30 degrees-above-average temperatures in areas of the Arctic, the potential migration of sea creatures from the Pacific to the Arctic and the Atlantic after a 3.5 million year hiatus, and creating a new area for global conflict as the Northwest Passage opens and polar nations scramble to lay claims for both strategic and economic reasons.

If you need to pull an all-nighter tonight, forget the caffeine. Just read on.

During the last week of July a 7 square kilometer piece of the Ward Hunt ice shelf, the largest ice shelf in the Arctic broke up into 3 pieces.

Scientists reacted with unusual bluntness:

“Canadian ice shelves have undergone substantial changes in the past six years, starting with the first break-up event on the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, and the loss of the Ayles Ice Shelf,” said Dr. Luke Copland of the University of Ottawa. “These latest break-ups we are seeing have come after decades of warming and are irreversible,” said Dr. Derek Mueller of Trent University. [Science Daily]

Gary Stern, co-leader of an international research program on sea ice, said it’s the same story all around the Arctic.

Speaking from the Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen in Canada’s north, Stern said He hadn’t seen any ice in weeks. Plans to set up an ice camp last February had to be abandoned when usually dependable ice didn’t form for the second year in a row, he said.

Nobody on the ship is surprised anymore,” Stern said. “We’ve been trying to get the word out for the longest time now that things are happening fast and they’re going to continue to happen fast.” [Associated Press]

A couple of days after the breakup at the Ward Hunt ice shelf, Canadian Park officials announced the evacuation of 21 tourists from Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island due to Climaticide related changes there:

Thawing permafrost, eroding lakeshores, a melting glacier and fears of flash floods at a national park on Baffin Island have forced the evacuation of 21 tourists and led officials to declare much of the wilderness reserve off-limits until geologists and ice experts can assess what appear to be the latest dramatic effects of climate change in Canada’s Arctic.

The 19,000-square-kilometre Auyuittuq National Park on the island’s northeast coast has recently experienced “record-breaking” warmth and substantial amounts of rain, Parks Canada spokeswoman Pauline Scott said Thursday.

“This summer’s events are beyond anything we’re used to,” Ms. Scott said from Iqaluit. “This is no doubt a result of climate change.” [National Post]

Auyuittuq National Park

MSNBC also quoted Ms. Scott:

“We’ve lost huge proportions of what was formerly the trail in the park. It’s disappeared — gone,” Scott said by phone from Iqaluit, capital of the Arctic territory of Nunavut.

Most visitors walk through the park — which is slightly smaller in area than Israel — starting from the southern edge, near the town of Pangnirtung.

The problems started last month with two weeks of record temperatures on Baffin Island that reached as high as 81 Fahrenheit, well above the July average of 54 F.

That, Scott said, triggered massive melting that sent “a huge pulse of water through the park,” washing away 37 miles of a trail used by hikers and destroying a bridge over a river that is otherwise impassable.

Meanwhile the melting of Arctic sea ice continues apace. Check out the weekly updates by DK blogger and climate scientist BilllaurelMD. As recently as ten days ago, scientists at the United States National Snow and Ice Data Center were expressing doubts about whether 2008′s sea ice melt would match the record-setting levels attained in 2007.

In today’s report however, the skepticism seems to be melting along with the ice. The melt rate has increased due to storms in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas which took out large expanses of newer thin sea ice formed this past winter on the heals of last year’s thawing of thicker and older sea ice.

Once again, Canadian scientists are plain-spoken in their assessment of events:

Last year, 14 million square kilometres of Arctic Ocean ice shrank to just over four million between March and September. The minimum is typically reached in mid-September.

It’s now a “neck-and-neck race between 2007 and this year over the issue of ice loss,” Mark Serreze, a senior climate researcher at the U.S. ice data centre told Britian’s (sic) Guardian newspaper yesterday. “We thought Arctic ice cover might recover after last year’s unprecedented melting — and indeed the picture didn’t look too bad last month.”

But recent storms in the Beaufort region “triggered steep ice losses,” he said, “and it now looks as if it will be a very close call indeed whether 2007 or 2008 is the worst year on record for ice cover over the Arctic.”

The Canadian government’s chief observers of Arctic ice conditions are expressing amazement at the state of the Beaufort Sea.

“We’ve never seen any kind of opening like this in history,” senior ice forecaster Luc Desjardins said of the Beaufort’s exceptional loss of ice this summer. “It is not only record-setting, it’s unprecedented. It doesn’t resemble anything that we’ve observed before.” OttawaCitizen.com

That’s because nothing on this scale has likely happened for millions of years according to University of California marine ecologist Geerat Vermeij and California Academy of Sciences paleontologist Peter Roopnarine in an article to published today in the journal Science. Vermeij and Roopnarine are predicting the migration of marine creatures from the Pacific to the Arctic and Atlantic. Although their study focuses on mollusks because they are so well preserved in the fossil record, Roopnarine also noted that

warming “could definitely promote invasions by other aquatic species, fish included. I can’t be as certain of marine mammals and sea birds, but if food sources expand, then they will also likely expand their ranges.”

Churchill Polar bears

If you’re not intimidated by visions of migrating mollusks how about polar and grolar bears, which, because of the loss of their traditional hunting grounds, are already moving to new territory, as 5 scientists in northern Alaska discovered today.

And finally there is the news that that the Arctic is increasingly likely to become a target of geopolitical contention:

The great polar thaw has also prompted Canada, Russia, Denmark, the U.S. and Norway — the five nations with Arctic Ocean coastlines — to expedite efforts to claim oil-rich undersea territory and invest billions to enhance their military, scientific and economic presence in the far north.

Coast Guard

Last week, during a visit to Alaska, U.S. Coast Guard commander Admiral Thad Allen revealed U.S. plans to recast its foreign policy in the Arctic from a focus on scientific research to “sovereignty” and “security presence.” [OttawaCitizen.com]

For background information see this news article and my diary from last December. The irony in this new emphasis on geopolitics in the Arctic is that one of the factors causing governments to scramble to position themselves as advantageously as possible is the possibility of exploiting Arctic oil deposits that have been, until now, out of reach. Offshore drilling possibilities par excellence. Or, to put it another way, the consequences of Climaticide in the Arctic may provide us with the means to continue practicing Climaticide until it’s too late for us to do anything about it.

Are you wide awake yet?

[Hat Tip to desmogblog]

Crossposted at Daily Kos

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Responses

  1. Thank you for the article, it is reasonable common sence about what is happening in the arctic. I think events there will change our lives more than anything else happening on earth today.
    Whether the Arctic is ice free this year or in 5 years or 10 years the decreasing ice has to be melting permafrost around the arctic and ice in Greenland. Each will have big effects on our life and standard of living.
    But, the world is full of people in denial, and people ready to pander to it, who mislead the public into thinking there is no problem.

  2. Why post false data?

    A comparison between the Arctic sea ice extent in 07 and 08:

    10/17/2007 5,663,125 square kilometers

    10/17/2008 7,436,406 square kilometers

    Δice = 1,773,281 sqkm or 31.3% more than last year

    Source data here: http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/plot.csv (Excel file)

  3. Record low temperatures have hit dozens of areas across America as a natural period of global cooling accelerates, leaving man-made global warming advocates with egg on their face as the big chill sets in.

    Data compiled by the IceAgeNow website shows that record lows are being matched and broken on an almost daily basis in states throughout the U.S. as the country prepares for a freezing cold winter.

    Record lows have been matched or beaten in the following states over the course of the last two weeks.

    OCTOBER 25TH

    Corpus Christi, TX – 39 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Islip, NY – 31 Degrees Fahrenheit

    OCTOBER 24TH

    Montague, CA – 26 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Traverse City, MI Breaks old record of 24 set in 1976 – 22 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Pocatello, ID Ties previous record set in 1949 – 18 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Trenton, NJ Ties record set in 1969 – 29 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Austin, TX Ties old record set in 2005 – 37 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Troutdale, OR Breaks old record of 36 set in 2002 – 33 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Seattle, WA – 38 Degrees Fahrenheit
    McGrath, AK Breaks old record of 9 degrees set in 1982 – 5 Degrees Fahrenheit

    OCTOBER 23RD

    Rome, OR Breaks old record of 20 set in 1980 – 15 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Caribou, ME Breaks old record of 21 set in 1982 – 20 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Winslow, AZ – 21 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Traverse City, MI Breaks old record of 24 set in 1976 – 22 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Grand Junction, CO Breaks old record of 26 set in 1996 – 23 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Hilo, HI – 64 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Childress, TX – 34 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Bountiful, UT – 28 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Burley, ID – 21 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Idaho Falls, ID Breaks old record of 18 set in 1958 – 17 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Challis, ID – 17 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Pendleton, OR – 29 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Union, OR Breaks previous record of 20 set in 1980 – 17 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Walla Walla, WA – 32 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Pocatello, ID – 18 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Alamosa, CO Breaks old record of 6 set in 1958 – 4 Degrees Fahrenheit
    San Angelo, TX – 30 Degrees Fahrenheit

    OCTOBER 22ND

    Marquette, MI – 21 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Alpena, MI – 20 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Bryce Canyon, UT – 14 Degrees Fahrenheit

    OCTOBER 14TH

    Butte, MT Breaks old record of 13 set in 1969 – 10 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Burley, ID Breaks old record of 19 set in 1966 – 15 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Jerome, ID – 23 Degrees Fahrenheit

    Record low high temp
    Glasgow, MT Ties old record set in 1899 and 1981 – 37 Degrees Fahrenheit

    OCTOBER 13TH

    Grand Canyon, AZ – 36 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Salt Lake City, UT – 40 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Las Vegas, NV – 62 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Joseph, OR ties 1912 record – 21 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Monument, OR – 17 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Union Es, OR Breaks old record of 17 set in 1969 – 15 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Whitman, WA Breaks old record of 22 set in 2002 – 19 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Boundary Dam, WA Breaks old record of 21 set in 2002 – 15 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Olympia, WA – 28 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Quillayute, WA – 29 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Tucson, AZ – 38 Degrees Fahrenheit

    Tucson shatters old record low
    13 Oct 08 – TUCSON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT HIT 38 DEGREES WHICH SHATTERED THE OLD DAILY RECORD LOW OF 43 DEGREES SET IN 1931. THE LAST TIME TUCSON SET A RECORD LOW TEMPERATURE IN OCTOBER WAS BACK ON OCTOBER 30 1971 WHEN THE MERCURY HIT 26 DEGREES…WHICH IS THE ALL-TIME RECORD LOW FOR OCTOBER.

    OCTOBER 12TH

    Record low temps in four states:
    Meacham, OR – 15 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Pendleton, OR – 18 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Olympia, WA – 28 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Eureka, CA – 36 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Seattle, WA – 37 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Lewiston, ID Lowest temperature since records began in 1881 – 28 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Moses Lake, WA – 26 Degrees Fahrenheit

    Record cold highs
    Reno, NV – 39 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Salt Lake City, UT – 47 Degrees Fahrenheit
    Las Vegas, NV – 60 Degrees Fahrenheit

    Record snowfall levels as well as earliest snow records have also been measured in numerous areas, including Dodge City, KS, Stevens Pass, Washington, Billings, MT, Boise, and Valdez, AK.

  4. Eve,

    Regarding your first comment, my post was written in early August (clearly indicated at the beginning of the post) when it was still unclear whether a new record for minimum sea ice extent would be set. It wasn’t. However, it is now clear that a record was set for minimum sea ice volume. See: European Space Agency Confirms that 2008 Sea-ice Volume Reached Record Low

    As to your list of temperatures, that’s weather not climate. Moreover, I did a little checking and some of your data are not correct.


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