Arctic sea ice extent just dipped below January 2007 levels in the last few days, according to the daily time series from the National Snow and Ice Data Center(NSIDC):
The NSIDC notes that they are showing the data from 2007 on this figure since that year “went on to reach the lowest summer minimum in the satellite record” (see “Arctic Ice shrinks by an Alaska plus a Texas“).
The NSIDC also has an interesting 2008 Year-in-Review for cryosphere buffs. It explains why the ice stopped growing for a week in mid-December. It also has an interesting graphic comparing the Arctic sea ice extent in 2008 with 2007 :
The day by day meanderings of Arctic sea ice extent are not overly meaningful yet, but I think they are worth reporting because it bugs the deniers to see any evidence whatsoever that the world is not undergoing global cooling.
More seriously, we may well be on track to set a record this year, especially given that, according to NSIDC, 2008 was a year of “Likely Record-Low Volume.” We are literally on thin ice.
We are also figuratively on thin ice because what happens to the Arctic ice has serious implications for the whole planet. Thanks to polar amplification, the loss of the highly reflective ice accelerates the warming in the entire Arctic (via increased absorption of sunlight) and that in turn threatens the most potentially volatile carbon sink — the tundra (see “NOAA’s arctic report card shows stronger effects of warming in Greenland and permafrost” and “Tundra 4: Permafrost loss linked to Arctic sea ice loss“).
As always, I’m still trying to get more bets that the Arctic won’t be ice free by 2020 (see “Another big climate bet — Of Ice and Men“).
[Note: I have put a big graphic file on the front page, which I normally don't do. Let me know if that causes anyone problems loading this site. If it does, I won't do it again!]
- NSIDC: Arctic melt passes the point of no return, “We hate to say we told you so, but we did”
- First commercial ship sails through Northwest Passage: “I didn’t see one cube of ice”
- Despite cooler weather, Arctic ice retreat just misses last year’s mark
- NYT editors confused about Arctic warming
- Arctic shrinks by an Alaska and 3 Arizonas in August
- What drove the dramatic retreat of arctic sea ice during summer 2007?
- Must See TV: Ice Ice Maybe (not)