FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Arctic Sea Ice in Steep Decline

by

For years now prominent scientists have warned of the dangers of global warming and a concomitant tipping point for the Arctic. Because of abnormal heat, things are not looking good. Arctic sea ice is in a vertical free-fall. But, the melt season only just started!

This makes Obama’s call for regulation of coal-burning power plants look like a fanciful ephemeral wish list, too little, too late.

Do not expect to see this story on the nightly news. This news story comes by way of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) obtained whilst comparing images of sea ice concentration on May 14, 2014 to June 2, 2014.

Confirmation of the NRL images comes from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC – Boulder) reporting that ice concentration values plummeted by more than 286,000 square kilometers, an area the size of the state of Nevada (286,351 sq km), which alarmingly disappeared over a period of a day, not weeks or months, leaving glaciologists flat-footed and startled.

One can only hope and pray this is not an omen for the entire melt season. At that rate, there’s not enough ice to hold on for very long.

What’s up?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports huge sea surface temperature anomalies all over the Northern Hemisphere. Some anomalies range up to 8 C around the Arctic Ocean. That’s a lot for the Arctic!

As for the planet in toto, NOAA says that the combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April 2014 tied with April 2010 as the highest on record for the month, which is the most recent data available.

And, in confirmation of those readings, according to Arctic News: “Above sea surface anomalies are very high, much higher than historic annual temperature anomalies over land and oceans….” (Source: Arctic Sea Ice in Steep Decline, Arctic News, June 3, 2014.)

As an aside (actually, a denunciation): Where’s the “cooling crowd” when you really need’em? Well, several of them are in the hallowed halls (cough, cough) of Congress scheming for ways to discredit Obama’s EPA broadside of the nation’s coal-burning industry.

Furthermore, now that Earth is reaching its maximum axial tilt towards the sun during the months of June and July its insolation, i.e., solar radiation, is higher in the Arctic than anywhere else on Earth.

And, as bad luck would have it, according to a GFS Model Temperature Forecast by the University of Maine, a high melt rate is likely going forward. As such, here is a quote: “It should go without saying that a 70 degree reading in early June on the shores of the East Siberian Sea in the high Arctic is a clear sign of human-caused climate change gone nuts. And we are likely to see these and higher readings as spring proceeds into summer.”

Jeez, summer just started!

The Risks

The fear amongst many professionals, like the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (see: http://ameg.me/), is that an ice-free Arctic will open the door for massive release of methane from hydrates embedded within the ice, leading to runaway global warming. That is a lights-out scenario of some kind, but nobody really knows for certain how it will happen and when and how badly.

Also, weather patterns throughout the Northern Hemisphere will continue to turn ugly because of Arctic warmth disrupting the jet streams, which, in turn, disrupts agriculture with embedded droughts and torrential storms. This is already a shopworn story.

Here is a quote from AMEG’s web site: “If methane release from Arctic sea floor hydrates happens on a large scale — and reports suggest that it will — then this situation can start an uncontrollable sequence of events that would make world agriculture and civilization unsustainable. It is a responsible alarm, not alarmist, to say that it is a real threat to the survival of humanity and most life on Earth.”

The risks, according to Arctic News: “Temperature rises of the water close to the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean are very dangerous, as heat penetrating sediments there could cause hydrate destabilization, resulting in huge amounts of methane entering the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean.”

What to Do?

AMEG suggest geoengineering techniques to cool the Arctic. This requires a lot of research and testing and considerable governmental support. But, nobody has ever done it. And, there is considerable skepticism about the effects geoengineering may have on Mother Nature à la the Frankenstein climate syndrome, but nobody really knows for sure. It’s virgin science, not tested.

There are no easy answers to a prospective melt down of the Arctic, but it is fair to say that governments around the world will get involved once a crisis is declared. However, it is well beyond the scope of this article to know how that plays out.

Nevertheless, it is also fair to say that the U.S. has missed the mark big time on the issue of global warming. As the purported leader of the Free World, U.S. leadership on this one issue, which spans the globe, has been pitiful and ignorant. And, that may be understated.

After all, attempting to control the human-caused risks of runaway global warming is the one political issue where it is impossible to error on the side of enthusiasm.

Still, there’s a lot of summer ahead. Maybe the Arctic will get hit with a huge cold front.

But, where from?

Postscript: “The minute that the Republican Party becomes the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people that would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012,” Jon Huntsman (R-former governor of Utah and Republican presidential candidate) on ABC News, Aug. 21, 2011.

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com.

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
Margaret Kimberley
Liberal Hate for the Green Party
John Davis
Lost Peoples of the Lake
Alex Richardson-Price
The Fight for a Six Hour Workday
John Wight
Why Palestine Matters, Even on the Pitch
Brian Cloughley
Hillary Clinton’s War Policy
Patrick Cockburn
A Battle to the Death in Syria
David Rosen
The Great Fear: Miscegenation, Race “Pollution” and the 2016 Election
Ben Debney
Worthy and Unworthy Victims of Child Abuse
David Barouh
Liberal Myths: Would Al Gore Have Invaded Iraq?
Graham Peebles
Democratic Revolution Sweeps Ethiopia
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
How Parasitic Finance Capital Has Turned Iran’s Economy Into a Case of Casino Capitalism
David Swanson
The Unbearable Awesomeness of the U.S. Military
Robert Fantina
The Olympics: Nationalism at its Worst
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail