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Loss of Arctic Sea Ice ... and of a 'Giant Parasol'

Posted on 30 September 2012 by greenman3610

This is a repost of Peter Sinclair's latest Yale Forum This is Not Cool video

A new video produced by independent videographer Peter Sinclair for The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media explains what expert scientists now find to be the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice in recorded history.

The shrinking of the Polar ice cap — providing protection much like a “giant parasol” — presents us “a big problem, a real problem, and it’s happening now, it’s not happening generations from now,” Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis cautions.

“There’s really nothing like what we’ve seen happen this year,” according to Francis. She calls the loss of sea ice in 2012 “just such a stunning example of how the climate system is changing right before our very eyes … something anybody can see, you don’t have to be a scientist.”

Other experts featured in the six-minute video are scientists Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Michael MacCracken of the Climate Institute, and Admiral David Titley, retired chief oceanographer of the U.S. Navy and now with NOAA. They advise that along with being mindful of the decreasing area of Arctic ice coverage, it’s important to keep in mind also the thinning of that ice.

“I would almost argue that we might be entering a new climate state,” says Stroeve.

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Comments 1 to 10:

  1. With all the fulminating in the skeptiverse that there isn't enough attention paid to Antarctic sea ice, I plotted a linear regression for global sea ice data from Jan 1979 to Dec 2011. Global sea ice area has declined by 1.3 million sq km over the satellite period. But I'm an arts guy, so maybe someone with skillz would like to check that out for themselves. Global daily data 1979 to present I wonder what percentage of the 1979 to 1988 annual average this represents. That doesn't speak much to the article here, which is more about the decline in summertime sea ice, and I doubt the slight increase in Antarctic sea ice makes a difference to albedo concerns, but this seemed like a fair place to post this. Is the matter worth a short SkS article?
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  2. Wow! GREAT video. "Seeing is believing" - even for non-believers, one can hope. I will be recommending this to every UE (Unconvinced by the Evidence) that I know. Thanks, Barry & Peter Sinclair.
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  3. A skeptic friend who has posted here did the work for me and says global annual sea ice area has declined by 6.7% from the 1979 - 1988 average.
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  4. Barry, 6.7% less sea are ice means that much less albedo? Besides the Arctic, what else would this 6.7% include?
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  5. Tom, the value is for Arctic + Antarctic annual sea ice - or 'global' sea ice. Antarctic sea ice has increased slightly, but not nearly enough to offset the Arctic decline. Not to be confused with the video above, which is mainly about summertime Arctic sea ice. The Arctic sea ice minimum, taken as the average extent for the month of September, has declined by 36%.
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  6. I wonder if anyone has seen this new study from Geology: Mild Little Ice Age and unprecedented recent warmth in an 1800 year lake sediment record from Svalbard. In brief, it shows that, since 1987, summers at Svalbard have been 2C - 2.5C hotter than they were during any time in the last 1800 years - including during the warmest parts of the MWP. While this paper doesn't directly address the video above, I think it must have serious implications for Arctic sea ice in general. It might also be a useful addition to the rebuttal on the 'MWP was warmer' article.
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  7. Barry Annual average sea ice is interesting but not very relevant for albedo. The Arctic and antarctic still pretty much freeze over in winter which doesn't keep the sun out because the sun doesn't shine on these places in winter. In fact winter sea ice helps keep the ocean warm by acting like a blanket. What is important is sea ice in spring, summer and autumn, particularly June and July in the arctic and December and January in the antarctic. During those months on clear days the polar regions actually receive more energy from the sun than equatorial regions on similarly clear days. The presence or absence of ice at that time dramatically affects the ocean's albedo. In the arctic sea ice has been declining rapidly in those months and in the antarctic it has barely moved. If you want to see what has been happening to global sea ice I suggest that you try plotting the sum of arctic and antarctic sea ice but giving one of them a six month lag - so as to line up the two winters and the two summers. You will see not much change in winter coverage but a massive change in summer coverage.
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  8. SW, "Annual average sea ice is interesting but not very relevant for albedo" I agree, and said as much above. Antarctic summertime sea ice trends are more strongly positive that wintertime, so the massive decline in summer sea ice (pairing North and South) is really all about the Arctic. It is astonishing to think that I may see the Arctic icecap, a continent sized feature of the Earth, disappear during summers within my life-time.
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  9. Breaking news of another kind of parasol. Yahoo News just posted this, 10 minutes ago: "Asteroid Dust Could Fight Climate Change on Earth" The Deniers are already swarming in for the attack!
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  10. Tom, we cover Antarctic vs. Arctic sea ice here. I believe MarkR is working on an update blog post on the subject too.
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