Tag Archives: arctic sea ice extent

Chart of the Day, 4 March 2015: Arctic Stories

Arctic sea ice extent is one of the most iconic indicators of climate change, but we usually give it most attention during the summer melt months. Nonetheless, I try to do a quick catch-up around the beginning of March, which marks peak extent. And this is what we see (Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center here; click for larger image):

Arctic Sea Ice Extent jpeg

Generally, winter ice is not a good predictor of summer ice extent, so I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that we are currently hitting new historical March lows in terms of what will happen this coming summer. That said, what we see in the above chart is still part of the general picture of new climate records being made across the board–especially in northern latitudes where warming is amplified.

The NSIDC is also hosting a series of stunning animated NASA satellite images that illustrate the changing nature of Arctic snow cover, vegetation and frozen ground as well as sea ice extent.  The frozen ground page has this inset chart showing the general thaw (click for larger image):

Nonfrozen Ground Anomalies jpeg

This, in turn, is increasing fears relating to methane release, although as I blogged about here, I still see this as a lesser risk than general CO2 emissions. The Global Carbon Project also has a good backgrounder on methane (here), including a methane budget showing sinks and sources (click for larger image):

Methane Graphic jpeg

At present, we have more to fear from ruminants, rice, landfills and fossil fuels, than from hydrates and thawing peat bogs.

Returning to sea ice, the ‘go to’ site is Neven’s “Arctic Sea Ice Blog” I’ll be checking in regularly to see if what we are seeing now with Arctic sea ice is just a blip or harbinger of another big melt season. Neven has also just highlighted a disturbing Ocean Geographic Magazine photo essay by Jenny Ross that is worth checking out. It’s a surreal and unnerving experience to witness the planet change dramatically before our eyes.

Top 3 Images for 2012: #1 Arctic Sea Ice Extent

1. Arctic Sea Ice Extent for Summer Melt Season

By far the most disturbing image of any I saw in 2012 was that for Arctic sea ice minimum summer extent. Indeed, the chart below is nothing short of shocking. Sea ice extent plummeted to 3.4 million square kilometres compared with the previous low of 4.2 million square kilometres in 2007, an 18% decline.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent

In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Assessment Report 4 published in 2007 we saw this statement: Continue reading