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August 24 News: Melting At Unprecedented Rate, Arctic Sea Ice Set To Reach Lowest-Ever Levels In Coming Days

By Stephen Lacey on August 24, 2012 at 8:04 am

"August 24 News: Melting At Unprecedented Rate, Arctic Sea Ice Set To Reach Lowest-Ever Levels In Coming Days"

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Arctic sea ice is set to reach its lowest ever recorded extent as early as this weekend, in “dramatic changes” signalling that man-made global warming is having a major impact on the polar region. [Guardian]

With the melt happening at an unprecedented rate of more than 100,000 sq km a day, and at least a week of further melt expected before ice begins to reform ahead of the northern winter, satellites are expected to confirm the record – currently set in 2007 – within days.

“Unless something really unusual happens we will see the record broken in the next few days. It might happen this weekend, almost certainly next week,” Julienne Stroeve, a scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, told the Guardian.

A spokesman for President Obama’s reelection campaign suggested Thursday that climate change is unlikely to take center stage in the 2012 White House battle, noting that Obama’s contrast with GOP rival Mitt Romney is already apparent. [The Hill]

The wells supplying people’s homes are running dry here at the heart of the nation’s drought, which the government announced on Thursday has spread to 63.2 percent of the country, centered in the parched earth of the southern Midwest. [New York Times]

The worst U.S. drought in more than half a century has rallied critics of the federal renewable fuel standard, which will reserve about 40% of the nation’s corn crop for ethanol production this year. [Los Angeles Times]

Police in Indiana say they’re finding an unexpected benefit to the drought baking the American Midwest: Marijuana crops are easier to find. [NBC]

The Republican National Convention is only three days away, and Tropical Storm Isaac is threatening to crash the party. The big question is will it just filch a few hors d’oeuvres and clear out, or wreck the entire affair? [New York Times]

Fires across the West have left some states with thin budgets to scramble to get people, planes, bulldozers and other tools on fire lines to beat back the flames. [National Public Radio]

Climate change and the subprime mortgage crisis share two trends: They had early signs that some people ignored or denied, and they can strain the economy, experts said Wednesday. [Bozeman Daily Chronicle]

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22 Responses to August 24 News: Melting At Unprecedented Rate, Arctic Sea Ice Set To Reach Lowest-Ever Levels In Coming Days

  1. Raoul says:

    Seems that JAXA extent has broken the 2007 record today (4,189,375 km2)!

  2. Jack says:

    If you needed a final confirmation that global warming was real this is it

  3. ice-free in ten years–anybody want to bet?

  4. LW says:

    Are there other visuals, satellite images or anything available that could clearly demonstrate this to the public? If so, where please. Yes, I see the graph above, but I am thinking of something that could be understood at, for lack of a better term, the 6th grade reading/science level.

    • EDpeak says:

      LW, glad you asked. I’ve been critical of the focus on the graph of temperature which shows real global warming but on top of a lot of noisy random variability. Ice graphs are good.

      But we need what you called “worked for a 6th grader” or what I call a minimilist argument. Start with this graph:

      http://goo.gl/ok6HE

      It hits you over the head that what we’re doign is off off off the chart. Combine that

      i. off off off the chart radical changes we’ve already made seen in above graph

      with

      ii. the Pracautionary Principle (if a scientist walks up to you wanting to put electrodes on your brain while running ane xperiement on you, the burden is NOT on you to prove it is unsafe..the burden is on him to prove it is safe..you have the moral right to say no thanks, without needing to prove with certainty that it’s unsafe)

      and there is our minimilist argument that we cannot say it is safe to continue fossil fuel business as usual (BAU) never mind BOS (Business on Steroids) as Romney promotes.

      IF the audience is interseted in more, add a third item
      iii) the RATE of increase is also off off off the charts…about 60 times faster than the previous FASTEST rate of change of the last 800,000 years (See BBC’s “Deep ice tells long climate story” from 2006) a more relevant number than “a million times faster than background rate” since it’s comparing to the most extreme pre-human rates.
      contact us–econdemocracyATgmail

  5. LW says:

    P.S. I’m sorry, but the Obama statement is incredibly lame. It is insulting, “…climate change is unlikely to take center stage in the 2012 White House battle, noting that Obama’s contrast with GOP rival Mitt Romney is already apparent.”

    Gee, does that mean they won’t be talking about Wall Street, women’s rights, jobs, healthcare, terrorism… I thought the contrast on those issues was just as clear?

    • Harry Middlemas says:

      Yea, had to laugh (in sad demented way) at the “climate change won’t take center stage” comment. Such a fast turn about from the Rolling Stone interview. What a surprise. Dr stein for president!

      • prokaryotes says:

        Actually it would be the right moment now to start for making a stance on CC, Romney just made clear that he is 100% dirty energy -> climate change fuel, oil into the fire.

        Obama should now start to point out how stupid a 100% dirty energy agenda is.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        The Obamotons won’t listen. It is excruciatingly embarrassing to acknowledge that you have been had by a master confidence-trickster. Better to just live in denial.

  6. Kelly O'Day says:

    I have an animation (link here) that helps to visualize the 30+ year trend in Arctic Sea Ice Extent decline.

  7. Joan Savage says:

    Jeff Masters’ blog comment today about Tropical Storm Isaac: “It’s tough to spin up as much atmosphere as Isaac is attempting to do..”

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/

    Very wide storms that barely spin up to hurricane force could be important phenomena to monitor in the context of known climate change factors.

  8. Scott Supak says:

    I don’t understand. The NSIDC record is here:

    ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/Sep/N_09_area.txt

    2007 = 4.30

    Right?

    And here:

    ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/north/daily/data/NH_seaice_extent_nrt.csv

    We have

    2012, 08, 23, 4.19043,

    Am I missing something?

    • cervantes says:

      What’s the question? 4.193 < 4.3

    • Artful Dodger says:

      Yes, Scott. The Sep 2007 record of 4.30 Million sq. km is the monthly mean for September.

      The other value you list is a daily value. We Won’t have the Sep 2012 monthly mean until about Oct 2nd, 2012.

      But you can read the writing on the wall…

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Climate destabilisation and the sub-prime scandal are both simply symptoms of wider malaises. The whole panoply of ecological crises encompasses numerous other disasters, and sub-prime was just the detonation point for a whole edifice of financial chicanery or securitised assets full of various types of junk, rigged Libor rates, money laundering for various Mafia activities, derivative leveraging and speculation etc, all themselves but a manifestation of gigantic inequality and the trillions held in tax havens by the 1% for nefarious purpose, rather than productive investment. Both these universes of harm, menace, injustice and destruction themselves emanate from the central horror-the total dominance of the planet and human society by the Right.

    • No doubt. The issue is, how to change the course of this mindset that conflates avarice with freedom? It’s part of a constellation of attitudes rooted in the same perversion of Christianity that justified slavery, in which the believers deem themselves at the apex of a divinely ordained order.

      We fought one war in this country to put the morally perverse states-rights genie back in the bottle. I don’t think that war is really over. I think much of the moral energy of the right is based in resentment that their god-given specialness was successfully challenged.

      Religion and religious leaders, for better or worse, have to play a key role. Christianity is about the New Testament (forgiveness, do unto others), not the Old (patriarchy, war, and eye-for-an-eye).

      Here’s a fascinating and dead-on analysis that traces cultural attitudes in the US back to the colonies. The memes of those early settlers persist to this day. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-29/real-u-s-map-a-country-of-regions-part-1-commentary-by-colin-woodard.html

  10. MA Rodger says:

    While humanity is about to witness a startling end to this year’s Arctic melt season, coincidently it appears the planet Wattsupia is also having a “less sea ice than any time since systematic measurements began in 1979” event.

    Luckily for the inhabitants of Wattupia this is not a problem because reassuringly “The measured reduction of sea ice does not mean the lowest extent ever. There is evidence that in warmer periods over the past 10,000 years the ice virtually disappeared, such as the periods between 8,000 and 5,000 years ago.

    So happliy the melt season on Wattupia doesn’t need headline coverage and only rates a mention in a “Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup,” an then only after more important matters are reported – things like the pronouncements of Mssrs Cohen, Happer & Lindzen, the important findings of Dr John Christy & the investigations of journalist Christopher Booker. And not forgetting the very important climate news from Egypt (It’s the Old Kingdom again. Droughts apparently. Was it frogs last time?)

    Of course some may argue about the exact definition (folk can get pretty fractious on Wattsupia), but experts are investigating whether August 2012 will become the first ever “Arctic-Ice-Report-free month” in the entire history of Wattsupia.

  11. EDpeak says:

    Can someone clarify?

    Nice quotable from the Guardian article mentioned above:

    “Only 15 years ago I didn’t expect to see such dramatic changes – no one did. The ice-free season is far longer now. Twenty years ago it was about a month. Now it’s three months.”

    But it raises the question – “three months” is the length of an entire Earth SEASON (“season” as in Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, not in the phrase “ice-free season” which is of course the point that there is a lengthening of)

    So it’s already now ice-free for the three-month length of an Earth Season, whether we has it coincide with the “Summer” season or not, we’re ALREADY today in 2012, in a situation where the Arctic is ice-free for a time-duration (3 months) equivalent to an earth season?? Or is there some definitional issue that quote doesn’t reveal?

    • MA Rodger says:

      EDpeek,
      The “ice-free season” phrase isn’t very helpful. The Arctic has not yet achieved an “ice-free” condition, usually considered when the Ice Area (or Extent) drops below 1 million sq km, or some say drops to 10% of earliest recorded values. We will be over halfway down to those levels for the first time this year. The second half is likely to be achieved quickly as the ice is getting thinner by the year.
      Why call it “ice-free season”? It’s that bit of the year between the “melt season” and the “freeze season.” If the cryospherical climatologists call that period the “ice-free season,” it would be best if they didn’t repeat the phrase outside the office. But they are probably all afluster at the moment with the ice melt still in free-fall, so they maybe forgot and blurted it out to TheGuardian.

  12. EDpeak says:

    “Why call it “ice-free season”? It’s that bit of the year between the “melt season” and the “freeze season.””

    Interesting…so the 2-months-longer so called “ice free season” relates to a later start, significantly later start of the freezing season, inter alia?

    Yes they need to be careful not to be misinterpreted, exactly what I was concerned about re “definitional issue” Sadly even basic things like making it easier for the public to eyeball more precise levels from the graph by putting numbers on the right side as well as the left (a second vertical axis as it were) would help but is not there..today’s

    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png

    even the hi res is hard to see (without putting a ruler on one’s computer screen) as precisely as one would like to be able to read from graph..incidentally I think the situation is very dire, but it the graph appears not show it likely to get as low as 2m sq km…anyway thanks for clarifying..it will be grimly interesting to watch the next week or so of updated graphs..-EDpeak