Time to Start Watching Arctic Sea Ice

By Chris Mooney | July 27, 2011 12:42 pm

I haven’t done many pure science items lately, so my latest piece at DeSmog is about Arctic sea ice extent, which is even lower right now than it was at the same time during the record year of 2007. An excerpt:

The extent of ice covering the Arctic has been declining for decades, and reached a record low in September of 2007, nearly 40 percent below its long term average. This wasn’t solely the product of global warming—weather patterns also have a lot to do with ice extent, and they contributed to the 2007 record.

Nevertheless, much like the worsening of heat waves, Arctic ice decline is one of the most obvious  impacts of global warming—and this year, it’s possible that Arctic ice extent might reach a minimum even lower than it did in 2007.

The annual Arctic sea ice minimum occurs sometime in September—that’s when the ice cover has received the most summer heat and shrunken accordingly, before beginning to build again as winter sets in. There’s a natural cycle of melt and freeze, but global warming is perturbing that cycle….

You can read the full piece here.


Comments (6)

  1. kirk

    The wimp factor behind ‘that’s not climate – that’s weather’ and ‘that’s not weather – that’s climate’ is charming the first 1000 times. How about this. “That’s not a cupcake – that’s chocolate icing with something stuck to the bottom of it”. Point is – climate change has some weather stuck to it.

  2. Johnny

    The great thing about people stupid enough to use summer to promote global warming is that it sets them up as fools when winter comes.

  3. J.J.

    “”The great thing about people stupid enough to use summer to promote global warming is that it sets them up as fools when winter comes.””

    People like you truly can never understand that the increasing greenhouse gas production adds net heat,ie; ENERGY into the ecosystem. The reason we call it climate change is because people like you think that a bad winter means there is no global warming. Just the opposite. Look at the numbers of anomalous temps and broken records on both sides of the scale. Record cold, record snowfall, followed by record highs in the summer that have actually buckled roads. 113 F in Joplin Missouri is not normal. Kansas had several feet of Snow that they almost never get. The extra heat is causing more evaporation, more evaporation means more water in the atmosphere, which causes more storms, in places that they don’t normally get, a mass displacement of water all over the world. The minimum sea ice extent in the arctic is set to fall below the record setting 2007 levels, when the fabled Northwest Passage became open for the FIRST TIME EVER. It’s happening. It’s real. Let your mind look at the facts, and see the truth, rather than only allowing your ideology to determine what you “see”.

  4. Chris,

    I hope you will expand your vocabulary to include sea ice area and sea ice volume. They are actually as important, and depending on the question being asked, more so, than extent.

    Extent is easy to see, but more area to spread out in can mean a much lower volume of ice looks the same as a higher volume that is more constrained.

    My take is that ice thickness/volume is the key to understanding future declines. Volume is dropping faster than extent is, btw. Basically, we’re getting to the point of having a thin crust with not much overall ice.

    I’ve been posting on this in simple language over at my blog:


    This site is full of great info and links to charts. makes me feel like an arctic sea ice blogging piker: http://www.arctic.io/

    And RealClimate has a nice thread going: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/arctic-sea-ice-discussions/


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs.For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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