Arctic Ice Now in Catastrophic Decline?

by Val Germann

The bad news on climate is coming thick and fast these days, and nowhere is the news less good than from the Arctic. Further confirmation of this sad fact can be seen today on THE INDEPENDENT‘s website where a headline delivers yet another stiff jolt: “Collapse of Arctic sea ice ‘has reached tipping point.'”

No equivocation there, just a simple declarative sentence, one backed up by the opening paragraph:

A catastrophic collapse of the Arctic sea ice could lead to radical climate changes in the northern hemisphere according to scientists who warn that the rapid melting is at a “tipping point” beyond which it may not recover.

An ice-free Arctic would likely not be a good thing, even for us here in the United States. Not only that, the melting of millions of square miles of Arctic tundra would release vast amounts of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere, accelerating the current warming trends even more.

As we have been writing about on Star Phoenix Base for some time, these effects are part of a positive feedback loop that is rapidly developing on our planet, one that could play hob with all climate models and bring shattering climate changes in decades rather than centuries. Take a look at the graph below, from a recent NASA article:
Ice Thickness

This graph dramatically shows the thinning of Arctic ice since 1978. But note what has been happening of late, over the last few years: the bottom seems to have dropped out of the trend, indicating again that some kind of “tipping point” has indeed been reached.

This writer hopes that the data published above and elsewhere do not point the way to a far north free of floating ice. But this could be the case, as we may be finding out soon in this International Polar Year.

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About Val

I am a long-time teacher of science and astronomy with a strong interest in resource conservation and the environment.
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