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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Meltdown continues: 2012 breaking Arctic records

Not too long ago (July 17, to be exact), I wrote here:

"'7. The Arctic Ocean is projected to become nearly ice-free in summer within this century, likely within the next thirty to forty years.' [It's not hard to find people on the Web, who know what they are talking about, who believe this will happen before 2020.  While 2012 is, at this writing, on a record pace for Arctic sea ice melt, it remains to be seen whether a new ultimate summer low will result.  What we can say, however, is that there has been no recovery from the 2007 summer low, which was sharply lower than the summer lows in previous years going back to 1979 (when measurements began). You can check out sea ice area through this wonderful interactive graphic, which provides data by day and year.  You can "erase" years by clicking on them at the right, and if you erase back to 2007, you will see that the summer low was roughly 3 million square kilometers, almost exactly a whopping 25% below the low of 4 million reached in 2006.]"

While all the results are not in yet, and won't be until the potential melting season ends next month, 2012 has now erased the 2007 lows for Arctic sea ice area.  As of today, the ice area reported in Cryosphere Today graphic linked to above stands at 2.65 million square kilometers, well below the '07 low of 2.92 million.  The Arctic Sea Ice blog, which appears in the blog list on the right side of this page, has very deep coverage of Cryosphere Today and the several other ongoing measurements of sea ice (extent, area, volume, etc.).  All of the groups measuring except one are now reporting new records.

What does this mean to us? Joe Romm explores the question in a blog at Climate Progress (otherwise known as the climate section of ThinkProgress): "In particular, a 2012 Geophysical Research Letters study, “Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes,” finds that the loss of Arctic ice favors “extreme weather events that result from prolonged conditions, such as drought, flooding, cold spells, and heat waves.”

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