At international wildlife meeting today Canada is fighting to continue to trophy hunt endangered polar bears: Russia says NYET! Here’s what’s going in the Arctic – Stephen

Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

polar-bear-snout-wwwfirstpeopleus-smlIce-free summer in the Arctic is just a matter of time – mostly likely within the next 5 years. Here’s a “six-pack” of my recent articles on how global warming is transforming the Arctic:

The Arctic — The Earth’s Freezer — Is Defrosting With Dire Results

The rapidly warming Arctic region is destabilising Earth’s climate in ways science is just beginning to comprehend.

Arctic Leaking Methane a Super-Potent Global Warming Gas — Reaching Feared Tipping Point?“The way we’re going right now, I’m not optimistic that we will avoid some kind of tipping point.ceberg-in-glacier-strait-nunavut-canada-image-credit-sandy-briggs

Arctic Ice Gone in 5 Years – First Time in One Million Years– “We’re going to see huge changes in the Arctic ecosystem”

Things Happen Much Faster in the Arctic — “Things are happening much faster in the Arctic. I think it will be summer ice-free by 2015,” said David Barber, an…

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80 percent of Arctic Ice Lost Compared to 30 Years Ago

arctic-sea-ice-min-volume-comparison-1979-2012-small

[This is my first exclusive blog post – virtually everything else on this site are my published articles. Not sure if I’ll have time to do more. Let me know what you think – Stephen ]

A new study released Feb 13 revealed that the volume of Arctic sea ice is declining rapidly. Ice volume in September 2012 had fallen 80 percent compared with the volume of ice in September 1980 according to the latest data from European Space Agency satellite, CryoSat-2. As the Arctic heats up Most of the ice loss has been in recent years. Between 2003 and 2012 the volume declined a whopping 36 percent. Summers with a sea ice-free Arctic are only a few years away, scientists now agree. This will have significant and permanent impacts on weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere.

My previous article  Ice-Free Arctic Is “Uncharted Territory” documented last September’s one year record area decline of 18 percent. Here’s what this means:

The impacts are already being felt across the entire northern hemisphere. The loss of sea ice in recent years has been affecting weather patterns, recent research has shown. The all-important jet stream – the west-to-east winds that are the boundary between the cold Arctic and the warm mid-latitudes – is slowing down, moving north and become more erratic.

When continent-sized areas of the Arctic Ocean flip from the all-white ice to dark blue, tremendous amounts of heat are absorbed from the 24-hour summer sun. When the bitter cold Arctic winter sets in over the next few weeks, all the heat in the ocean must be released into the atmosphere before ice can form again.

The Arctic will be ice-covered in winter for decades to come but what’s fundamentally changed is that every fall, unprecedented amounts of heat and water vapour will be released into the atmosphere.

“The polar meltdown shows we’re teetering on the brink of climate change catastrophe,” said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.

As the sea ice declines, Arctic temperatures increase, thawing more and more permafrost, which will release more climate-heating carbon and methane. Permafrost is frozen soil, sediment and rock spanning 13 million square kilometres of the land in Alaska, Canada, Siberia and parts of Europe. It has twice the carbon that the atmosphere currently holds.

A Swedish study released Feb 17 has found a link between sea ice declines and increases in methane emissions. Methane has 40x the warming of carbon. This is may lead to an even faster meltdown of the Arctic risking the release of huge amounts of permafrost carbon and methane.

Ice-Free Arctic Is “Uncharted Territory”

Arctic sea ice extent. Area of ocean with at least 15 percent sea ice as of Sept 12, 2012. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Arctic ice half of what it was 30 years ago. Now affecting weather patterns

Heading for +4C and catastrophe – CBD

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 20 2012 (IPS)

The melt of Arctic sea ice has reached its lowest point this year, shrinking 18 percent from last year’s near-record low.

Summer ice this year is half what it was 30 years ago and is now affecting weather patterns. The massive declines in ice in recent summers have shocked scientists and Arctic experts. Some predict that in just a few years we will witness an event that hasn’t happened in millions of years: the complete loss of summer ice.

“We are now in uncharted territory,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Colorado.

“Few of us were prepared for how rapidly the changes would actually occur” as a result of the burning fossil fuels that are warming the planet, said Serreze.

“We could see an essentially ice-free Arctic ocean in late summer by the year 2030,” he told IPS.

Not long ago experts thought the soonest the Arctic would be ice-free was 2070. Now it’s anywhere from four to 18 years away.

The impacts are already being felt across the entire northern hemisphere. The loss of sea ice in recent years has been affecting weather patterns, recent research has shown. The all-important jet stream – the west-to-east winds that are the boundary between the cold Arctic and the warm mid-latitudes – is slowing down, moving north and become more erratic.Measurement of CO2 levels in atmosphere

“Europe, eastern Asia and eastern North America is connected to unique physical processes in the Arctic,” said James Overland of the NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in the United States.

“In future, cold and snowy winters will be the rule rather than the exception” in these regions, Overland told IPS in Oslo in 2010.

The summer’s record loss of Arctic sea ice may mean a cold winter for the UK and northern Europe, Jennifer Francis, a researcher at Rutgers University, told the Guardian last week.

The region has been prone to bad winters after summers with very low sea ice, such as 2011 and 2007, Francis said. Continue reading

This is an analysis piece from 2011. I will be interviewing experts around the world for a new article on this year’s record breaking melt of Arctic ice. — Stephen

Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

Rapidly warming planet biggest threat to all nations

Military budget more than enough to convert USA to 100% renewable energy

Analysis by Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 15, 2011 (IPS)

All the analysis and commentary about safety and security on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 ignored by far the biggest ongoing threat to global security: climate change.

Just days before Sunday’s commemoration of the attacks, German scientists pointed to yet another smoking gun of climate change: the Arctic sea ice reached a new historic minimum ice extent.

The rapidity with which the planet is losing its northern ice cap continues to astonish experts. The defrosting northern pole is one of the prime drivers of Earth’s climate system and is changing global weather patterns in unpredictable ways.

The Arctic ice melt is also accelerating the rate of climate change beyond what humanity is doing with every barrel of oil, tonne of…

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Record Arctic Ice Melt Threatens Global Security

Rapidly warming planet biggest threat to all nations

Military budget more than enough to convert USA to 100% renewable energy

Analysis by Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 15, 2011 (IPS)

All the analysis and commentary about safety and security on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 ignored by far the biggest ongoing threat to global security: climate change.

Just days before Sunday’s commemoration of the attacks, German scientists pointed to yet another smoking gun of climate change: the Arctic sea ice reached a new historic minimum ice extent.

The rapidity with which the planet is losing its northern ice cap continues to astonish experts. The defrosting northern pole is one of the prime drivers of Earth’s climate system and is changing global weather patterns in unpredictable ways.

The Arctic ice melt is also accelerating the rate of climate change beyond what humanity is doing with every barrel of oil, tonne of coal or cubic metre of gas burned.

On Sep. 8, researchers at the University of Bremen in Germany reported that the Arctic ice melt bettered the previous minimum of 2007. Other research centres using different satellite and analysis tools say the extraordinary decline of ice in 2007 has not yet been exceeded this year and 2011 remains a close second.

Sea Ice Extent 2003-2011

“We think it will end up a little bit short of the record – not that it really matters,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the U.S. city of Boulder, Colorado.

“What is extraordinary this year is that there was no weird weather pattern that created the perfect conditions for the record melt in 2007,” Serreze told IPS.

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This year, the summer weather was normal and yet it the ice vanished in similar amounts to 2007.

“That tells us the sea ice is too thin now to hold up under normal weather conditions,” he said.

Continue reading

Arctic Ice Busts Yet Another Record – Lowest Ever For February

Since December of last year the Arctic sea ice has been breaking records with the lowest ever ice cover – lower than the shocker melt down of ice in 2007. This is the latest update from NOAA’s National Snow and Ice Data Center. It shows that the seasonal extant of Arctic sea ice at the end of February, 2011, stood at a record low, well below the prior record set in 2007 and almost 3 million square kilometers below the average for that winter date, when sea ice is usually within days of its greatest seasonal extant for the year.

I’ve written several articles on the latest arctic science and how the decline in sea ice affects weather in the northern hemisphere:

Arctic Melt Down Is Bringing Harder Winters and Permanently Altering Weather Patterns

Arctic Defrost Dumping Snow on U.S. and Europe

Arctic Sea Ice Record – New Satellite Image

Arctic Ice in Death Spiral, Thaws Permafrost — Risks Climate Catastrophe


Ice-cold Atlanta (and eastern US) Is Likely Connected to Arctic Hothouse

But first…

That’s a great cartoon.

Climate change seems to be behind the shockingly warm temps across much of the eastern Arctic all winter and is likely responsible for the snow has fallen across much of the southern US. Much of Arctic ice sea melted last summer, allowing the Arctic ocean to warm up which then took longer to freeze i.e. late Dec/ Jan. And that changed the wind circulation patterns bringing polar air far south. (See my previous post that explains what is happening East Coast Blizzard and Europe’s Snowmaggddon Reveal Fingerprints of Climate Change

And for a collection of global temp graphs see this post
Arctic Hothouse Turns Europe into an Icebox )

And finally here’s a short video by Peter Sinclair of Climate Denial Crock of the Week explaining this: Global Warming. Winter Weirding.

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This is part of Community Supported Environmental Journalism, independent reporting supported by citizens in several countries thru one-time, weekly or monthly or in-kind donations.