A snapshot of melting Arctic sea ice during the summer of 2018

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IMAGE: THIS FIGURE SHOWS THE SEA ICE CONCENTRATION AND THICKNESS IN THE ARCTIC ON SEPTEMBER 23RD 2018. view more CREDIT: JUHI YADAV

As sea ice in the Arctic retreats further and melts faster every decade, scientists are racing to understand the vulnerabilities of one of the world’s most remote and unforgiving places. A study appearing July 29 in the journal Heliyon details the changes that occurred in the Arctic in September of 2018, a year when nearly 10 million kilometers of sea ice were lost over the course of the summer. Their findings give an overview at different timescales of how sea ice has receded over the 40 years of the satellite era and show how the summer’s extensive decline is linked to global atmospheric processes as far south as the tropics.

At the peak of its melting season, in July 2018, the Arctic was losing sea ice at a rate of 105,500 square kilometers per day–an area bigger than Iceland or the state of Kentucky. “On the ground, I am sure it would have looked like an excellent summer month in the Arctic, in general, but over the past four decades, September sea-ice loss has accelerated to a rate of 12.8% per decade and 82,300 square kilometers per year,” says co-author Avinash Kumar, a senior scientist at the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in India.

The researchers followed the warm water currents of the Atlantic north to the Arctic Ocean and tracked the ice as it subsequently retreated through the Chukchi, East Siberian, Laptev, Kara, and Barents seas. Thanks to higher temporal resolution and greater satellite coverage than had previously been available, they could also measure the ice’s decline through variables such as its thickness, concentration, and volume in addition to its extent throughout the Arctic. This dramatic loss of sea ice culminated at the end of the boreal summer, when in September, the ice had been reduced to a mere third of its winter extent.

Then, the team compared the decline to the previous four decades of data. “In the summer of 2018, the loss of sea ice was three times higher than the reported loss at the beginning of the satellite era,” says Kumar. “Our study shows that both the minimum sea-ice extent and the warmest September records occurred in the last twelve years.”

“Every year, news pops up of a new record of high temperature or fastest loss of sea ice in the Arctic region, but in the global system, each portion of the planet receiving climate feedback will lead to changes in the other parts as well,” Kumar says. “If the sea-ice decline continues at this pace, it can have a catastrophic impact by raising air temperatures and slowing down global ocean circulation.” These global impacts are partly why he became interested in trying to decipher the mysteries of the polar regions as a doctoral student studying the coastal zone in India. Now, he works at NCPOR, whose scientific programs, he says, are “truly trans-hemispheric, cutting across from north to south.”

The researchers also turned their attention to the atmosphere, where they were able to gain insight into the processes that contribute to the loss of Arctic sea ice. They found not only that September of 2018 was the third warmest on record, but that there was a temperature difference within the Arctic itself: the temperature of the air above the Arctic Ocean (~3.5°C) was slightly higher than that of the Arctic land (~2.8°C).

Their findings provide further evidence that ocean warming around the globe has influenced the natural cycle of the wind and pressure patterns in the Arctic. El Niños, or warm phases in long-term temperature cycles stemming from tropical regions, have long been known to drive extreme weather events around the world and are occurring with greater frequency as the world warms. El Niño cycles in the equatorial Pacific Ocean can carry warm air and water from tropical circulations to the Arctic, spurring the sea ice to melt. As the ice retreats, it cascades the Arctic into a positive feedback loop known as Arctic amplification, whereby the reduced ice extent gives way to darker ocean waters that absorb more of the sun’s radiation. As it retains more heat, temperatures rise and more ice melts, causing the Arctic region to heat up faster–about four times so–than the rest of the world.

“If the decline of sea ice continues to accelerate at a rate of 13% per decade in September, the Arctic is likely to be free of ice within the next three decades,” Kumar says. And just as sea-ice retreat is largely the result of anthropogenic pressures from across the globe, its impacts will be felt worldwide: this work adds to the mounting body of evidence that changes in the Arctic sea ice could be detrimental to weather patterns spanning the globe. He says, “The changes taking place in the Arctic can lead to other changes in lower latitudes, such as extreme weather conditions. The world should be watching tropical countries like India, with our research center saddled close to the beaches of Goa, and trying to understand–even in a small way–more about climate change and the polar regions.”

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This work was supported by the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, Goa, the Ministry of Earth Science, New Delhi, and the University Grants Commission, New Delhi.

Heliyon, Kumar et al.: “Global warming leading to alarming recession of the Arctic sea-ice cover: Insights from remote sensing observations and model reanalysis” https://www.cell.com/heliyon/fulltext/S2405-8440(20)31199-3

From EurekAlert!

105 thoughts on “A snapshot of melting Arctic sea ice during the summer of 2018

  1. “If the decline of sea ice continues to accelerate at a rate of 13% per decade in September, the Arctic is likely to be free of ice within the next three decades,” Kumar says. And just as sea-ice retreat is largely the result of anthropogenic pressures from across the globe, its impacts will be felt worldwide: this work adds to the mounting body of evidence that changes in the Arctic sea ice could be detrimental to weather patterns spanning the globe. He says, “The changes taking place in the Arctic can lead to other changes in lower latitudes, such as extreme weather conditions. The world should be watching tropical countries like India, with our research center saddled close to the beaches of Goa, and trying to understand–even in a small way–more about climate change and the polar regions.”

    I love the IF at the begining

    AMO Anybody

    • Could someone tap Kumar on the shoulder and let him know that summer sea ice minimum extent has been stable, to very slightly increasing since 2007 in the real world.

      Do these people get their data from BBC gobsh!tes. It’s one click away in the sidebar here.

      • But…there is a kernel of truth in their statement if you look at the data…
        1989 minimum was slightly less than 1979 minimum
        1999 minimum was slightly less than 1989 minimum
        2009 minimum was slightly less than 1999 minimum
        2019 minimum was slightly less than 2009 minimum
        Though you do need to pick a few cherries for it to work
        Other start years and subsequent decade data yield different results

        • Summer minima in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 were higher than in 2012. Minima in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were higher than 2007.

          For instance.

          August and September Arctic cyclones made 2007, 2012 and 2016 the three lowest years of the past 13. IOW, weather.

          Climate, OTOH, is why Arctic sea ice was low in the 1920s to ’40s, high in the ’50s to ’70s and low in the ’80s to ’00s. It’s now gaining again from its 2012 low (the precise year based upon weather).

      • According to http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/snow-and-ice/extent Northern hemisphere sea ice extent has been decreasing linearly by 47,000 km2 per year since 1979 when the chart begins. Given that total ice extent is about 11 million km2, that is a decline of about 0.4% per year. Unless I’m missing something this means, at this rate, ice would disappear in 250 years ??
        Note in the NOAA graph the right-hand axis is labelled incorrectly / use the left axis label, which matches the data tables.

    • Still don’t know why I should care about less sea ice. Albedo is a canard, and not enough of an effect to worry about. If it were, then we would slip into a glacial during those winters were much of the northern hemisphere is covered in snow and ice.

      • Jeff,
        On the one hand I agree: why worry about something that you literally cannot control. On the other hand, reflecting the sun’s energy before it becomes heat is effective and painless, so clouds and contrails and ice and desert sand are our friends.

        • At those latitudes the difference in albedo between water and ice isn’t much to begin with (especially in the winter). As the ice ages and starts getting covered in dust and soot, the difference becomes even more insignificant.

          Any way, the less ice there is, the more easily the water can lose heat to space, so loss of ice is a strong negative feedback.

          • Yup. Albedo of Antarctic sea ice is far more significant than Arctic because it extends so much closer to the Equator.

          • Albedo of Antarctic sea ice

            And the albedo of the Antarctic ice is greater than the tops of low level clouds.

            The very high speed Antarctic winds break the ice crystals which increase the albedo of the ice.

            This explains the Polar see-saw which is the phenomena that during the small warming and cooling cycles, the Antarctic Ice sheet warms when the Greenland ice sheet cools and vice versa.

            Svensmark has proven the Polar see saw is caused high latitude cloud changes.

            In the Northern Hemisphere the Greenland ice sheet albedo is less than clouds and the Greenland Ice sheet does not create a polar vortex.

            Svensmark got detailed temperature data for the last 6000 years from the two ice sheets from a papers that has used the direct ice temperature method which captures small changes and is accurate that length of time.

            This is a link to Svensmark’s paper that is an easy read where he explains the simple proof and data.

            http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0612145v1

            The Antarctic climate anomaly and galactic cosmic rays

            …If changes in cloudiness play a part in climate change, their effect changes sign in Antarctica. Satellite data from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) are here used to calculate the changes in surface temperatures at all latitudes, due to small percentage changes in cloudiness.

            The results match the observed contrasts in temperature changes, globally and in Antarctica.

            Evidently clouds do not just respond passively to climate changes but take an active part in the forcing, in accordance with changes in the …

      • “Still don’t know why I should care about less sea ice.”

        My own personal experience is that no one actually does give a s*** except for phony climate virtue-signaling. Over the past 30 years I’ve flown the San Francisco-London route and back, many many times. I find looking out of the plane’s window at the beautiful ice, icebergs and snowy mountains of Greenland is really wonderful. I guess other people don’t, because I’m the only one on the plane doing it.

        • I’ve only flown trans-Atlantic twice (once for the Army US to Germany then back a while later in 1981, and once to the UK in 1992 for a pleasure trip). Seeing the sea ice was pretty amazing, but then I thought of the shipping…

  2. Going from no ice to some ice over the past 5K years as sea level has dropped six feet, is going to have a lot of short-term (decades/centuries) variation at this beginning phase of re-glaciation.

  3. Off subject but interesting item in the BBC.
    “Siberia’s enormous hole in the ground is getting bigger”
    https://www.bbc.com/reel/video/p08lmh4z/siberia-s-enormous-hole-in-the-ground-is-getting-bigger

    Of course such “holes” must have occurred numerous times as the glaciers advanced and retreated- so it’s no great eco tragedy. And, no mention of what the future might hold for that “hole”- namely, it’ll turn green with vegetation and many species of wildlife will arrive there, sooner or later.

    • Fascinating hole, it nearly took the little house with it.
      Maybe this hole opens up for discovery of ancient animals once living there. Surely Melissa Hogenboom will report on this too – if it goes through the BBC censorship.

    • Someone will have a contest to name the hole, and the winner by a large margin will be: Holey McHoleface.

      Where’s my prize?

    • So it was caused by humans cutting trees for firewood? Maybe they should’ve burned coal instead.

  4. Let’s see how we come out of the upcoming winter with the warmer water temperatures in the northern Pacific, Gulf of Alaska and between Canada and Greenland. The northern Atlantic is already cooling. The equatorial Pacific has lost its warm water and will not be feeding the waters north of it until the ENSO flips warm again. There is a lot of heat to give up but the NH winter in the higher latitudes will take a lot of it. It should be just a matter of time.

    The southern hemisphere oceans seems to be cool and parts of the land mass there are having a cold winter.

    https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/analysis/ocean/cdas-sflux_ssta_relative_global_1.png

    • Ice free Arctic in three decades. OK but only for about one month. So what? Two months in 60 years? In 90 years we’ll be 90% nuclear and the fossil fuel global warming demon will be slain. Don’t worry, be happy

  5. If I didn’t know better, I would think the authors of this study are actually surprised to find out that arctic ice melts in the summer.

  6. Like watching your kids begin to ascend in a Ferris wheel and assuming they will eventually reach the moon.

  7. What came first, the chicken or the egg?

    … this work adds to the mounting body of evidence that changes in the Arctic sea ice could be detrimental to weather patterns spanning the globe.

    I mean, is it the melting Arctic sea ice that determines the global weather patterns or is it the global weather patterns that determine the fate of the Arctic sea ice?

    And the another thing:

    The changes taking place in the Arctic can lead to other changes in lower latitudes, such as extreme weather conditions.

    If the researchers assume a warmer arctic, it would lower the differential value between tropic and arctic, thus lowering the average potential for storms and other bad weather.
    Tim Ball explained this millennia ago, but I suppose many researchers don’t want to listen to basic knowledge.

  8. yep, there sure is a LOT OF sea ice up there.

    Biodata shows that there is far more sea ice now , than for most of the last 10,000 years.

    https://i.postimg.cc/TYWZMHb1/Arctic-Sea-Ice-Changes-Chukchi-Sea-Yamamoto-2017.jpg

    https://i.postimg.cc/LXmygrQ0/Arctic-Sea-Ice-Extent-North-of-Iceland-3000-Years-Moffa-S-nchez.jpg

    https://i.postimg.cc/FRtZFWQK/Holocene-Sea-Ice-Greenland-Sha-17.jpg

    This is most probably because the planet is actually in a pretty COOL period compared to the rest of the Holocene.

  9. I love all those LARGE NUMBERS of melting ice! And the 1979 cherrypick. Anyone taking my £100 bet that ice will bottom out over 4 million square kilometres the third week in September as very much usual? That’s sixteen times the area of U.K. if you want another silly statistic. Come on, easy money!

    • It doesn’t just melt, it’s LOST! Can’t you see?
      nearly 10 million kilometers of sea ice were lost

      I stopped reading there…
      EurekAlert

  10. Why is there ANY ice at the Arctic in 2020? After all, experts like Professor Peter Wadhams and Inventor of the Internet Al Gore told us the Arctic was going to be ice-free years ago. They couldn’t possibly be wrong, could they?

  11. Ice free in thirty years, huh?

    Well I see they’ve learned at least something from the more immediate pronunciations of doom. That’s long enough time where everyone will forget when it’s wrong.

  12. I feel sure the authors are right about global weather/climate being an interconnected, incredibly complicated system with arctic ice being an important factor. And investigating this, trying to find the decisive factors here is great science. It would be fascinating if we could only know how much arctic ice was lost during the climatic optimum about 8000 years ago when sea levels were ca. 2 meters higher – or even 1000 years ago when global temperatures were higher than now.

  13. “As sea ice in the Arctic retreats further and melts faster every decade, scientists are racing to understand the vulnerabilities of one of the world’s most remote and unforgiving places.”
    Stopped reading after that opening tidbit of Alarmist hype and emotionalism.

  14. There is a National Center studying polar ice in Goa??? I would expect India to spend their research funds on more relevant (for India) topics, just saying…

    • Yes, some of the world’s best beaches are in Goa, and the locals will fetch and carry for you for a small tip. You don’t need to go to the coldest regions of the planet to make stuff up, errrr, I mean conduct research, when you can do it in your swimsuit whilst being served cocktails and fresh crab.

  15. I’ll just point out again that 2020 arctic sea ice is still at a record low for this date in July….

    Where’s the article on that?

    Svalbard is seeing record temperatures… again…

    I’m still waiting for the recovery so many have prophesied in these comment columns…

    • Didn’t you just finish saying that ice levels were lower 10,000 years ago?
      So how can you claim that today’s levels are the lowest ever?

    • Have you learned nothing from always being wrong in the past?

      What matters to minimum summer Arctic sea ice extent is weather in August and September, not June or July. The record low year of 2012 experienced high winter maximum extent, but suffered a bad cyclone in late August, which spread out and piled up the ice, leading to the summer minimum low.

    • grifter says:
      waiting for the recovery so many have prophesied in these comment columns…

      Who’s done that? In fact, I predict late summers will be nearly ice-free in the year 2525, if man is still alive, if woman can survive.

        • Taking alittle artistic license:

          In the year 3535
          Ain’t gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
          Everything you think, do, and say
          Is in the twitter-feed you plugged into your brain today

          ht/ Zager and Evans

    • Remember, this is the same griff who routinely proclaims that since Germany got 30% of it’s electric power for one second, once, then this proves that Germany is getting 30% of it’s power from electricity.

    • “Svalbard is seeing record temperatures… again…”

      So according to this weather site which use WMO data: https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/norway/longyearbyen/historic

      the highest temperatures for the same dates (25th, 26th, 27th, 28th July) for the last 10 years are:

      2020: 21°c, 20°c, 21°c, 20°c max 21°c
      2019: 10°c, 11°c, 13°c, 14°c max 16°c
      2018: 11°c, 10°c, 9°c, 9°c max 12°c
      2017: 8°c, 8°c, 8°c, 8°c max 13°c
      2016: 11°c, 12°c, 11°c, 9°c max 14°c
      2015: 7°c, 7°c, 12°c, 8°c max 18°c
      2014: 7°c, 9°c, 9°c, 8°c max 12°c
      2013: 8°c, 8°c, 8°c, 9°c max 15°c
      2012: 9°c, 6°c, 7°c, 9°c max 13°c
      2011: 11°c, 10°c, 6°c, 7°c max 13°c
      2010: 6°c, 8°c, 6°c, 9°c max 13°c

      Forecast for the next 14 days sees temperatures returning to monthly normes around 10°c, 9°c and 7°c.

  16. Sea ice around the poles seems to be a distinctly ephemeral phenomenon.

    Just ask those intrepid “researchers” from “The Ship Of Fools” who got stuck in the allegedly melted Antarctic sea ice a few years back.

  17. “If the decline of sea ice continues to accelerate at a rate of 13% per decade in September, the Arctic is likely to be free of ice within the next three decades,” Kumar says.

    I doubt that very much. The arctic sea ice is ultimately responsive to solar irradiance via the tropics

    https://i.postimg.cc/zBmD5Q78/Nino34-vs-Sea-Ice-Extent.jpg

    https://i.postimg.cc/BvF2rZCJ/SN-v-N1234-CO2.jpg

    https://i.postimg.cc/9QYG91Df/30yr-SN-vs-Tropic-and-Ocean-Thresholds.jpg

    It’s all getting an early start w/Nino negative anomalies & 2 years of SN < 4 (annually). Look for ice growth before 2023, and near the end of SC25. This is what the start of a mini-ice age looks like (mild so far). A strong SC25 and SC26 can change this direction before the ice has a chance to thicken back more after 2023.

    • 13% per decade times 3 decades works out to 39%. Less if you consider the fact that each decades 13% is coming off a lower level.

      So how can they claim that ice will be gone in 3 decades. Unless they just don’t know how to do math.

    • SIDADS’ daily data is nice to follow year by year, but has the drawback to be restricted to sea ice extent.

      To obtain the sum of ice extent (at least 15 % ice) and area (100 % ice) we must select SIDADS’s monthly data.

      An ascending sort of the September months gives for the top ten:

      Year mth ext area sum

      2012 9 3.57 2.41 5.98
      2007 9 4.27 2.82 7.09
      2016 9 4.51 2.86 7.37
      2019 9 4.32 3.13 7.45
      2011 9 4.56 3.21 7.77
      2008 9 4.69 3.26 7.95
      2017 9 4.80 3.30 8.10
      2018 9 4.71 3.30 8.01
      2010 9 4.87 3.34 8.21
      2015 9 4.62 3.42 8.04

      Source

      ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/north/monthly/data/

      J.-P. D.

  18. From the article: “Then, the team compared the decline to the previous four decades of data. “In the summer of 2018, the loss of sea ice was three times higher than the reported loss at the beginning of the satellite era,” says Kumar.”

    Well, that would make sense since it was colder at the beginning of the satellite era (1979), than it is now, so it should be expected that there is less ice now, at almost the peak of the current warming, than during a cold period like in the 1970’s.

    • And “Thanks to higher temporal resolution and greater satellite coverage than had previously been available, they could also measure …”
      So it’s really not apples to apples.

  19. Come on Griff, take my bet. If it’s below 4 million square kilometres I pay you £100. O’wise u pay me.

  20. To confirm what has already been said. The National Snow & Ice Data Centre, show very
    clearly that arctic sea ice extent has slowly increased over the past two years. and the decrease has slowed since about 2014.
    Although arctic ice is thinner off the Russian coast, It is close to normal off the Canadian coast.
    Where are the BBC reporters this year showing the retreating ice, they would need an Ice breaker this year.

  21. Due to numerous predictions the arctic should have been ice-free since at least 10 years. Is there any indication that this prediction is any better? Nuclear fusion will be able to create energy in 50 years time. That is what I was told 1977 and stil today. Same tale.

  22. “In the summer of 2018, the loss of sea ice was three times higher than the reported loss at the beginning of the satellite era,”

    Someone please remind these people that the beginning of the satellite era just happened to coincide with the end of a brief global cooling period – the 1970’s. I remember all the hype about Global Cooling no matter how much they try to deny it now.

  23. “A snapshot of melting Arctic sea ice during the summer of 2018” is an article designed to alarm readers and not to inform them. It is designed to rally ill-informed and panicked people to swell the ranks of the Alarmists.
    It assumes that people will prefer cold weather to warm weather which is statistically baseless.

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