Climate Change: Why Is The Arctic Melting?
Arctic ice melting and cracking March 2013
The Arctic ice is melting, and it's melting fast. So fast, in fact, that some scientists believe that the Arctic may be ice free as early as this year 2013. This is no great surprise to many of us that have been following the Arctic situation for years, but the speed at which it is happening is downright scary.
As Climate Change reporter for the San Francisco Examiner for over 4 years now, I have published many reports about climate change and the Arctic situation. On a personal note, the fact that the Arctic ice is retreating so fast frightens me and I'll tell you why.
NOAA March 22, 2013: Arctic Ice Breaks Up in Beaufort Sea
Why is the Arctic Ice melting?
First of all, I am going to tell you that this question brings up alot of arguments and disagreements, not so much between scientists, but between people who do not understand what is happening with our climate. There seems to be no other question that can bring such vehement disbelievers out of the woodwork. Some people say that climate change is not man-made, that it's just a natural cycle that the Earth goes through, and still others say that climate change is caused by chem-trails or contrails. Some believe that climate change is because of the sun and other outside forces that have nothing to do with the Earth itself.
To this question, I am going to answer to what I personally believe is causing the Arctic to melt. Although I do think that part of our climate changing is natural, I also believe that we have greatly accelerated it through man-made activities - namely the use of fossil fuels. I think we have pillaged the Earth, and we are now going to pay for it.
The reason I believe this is because many years ago, doing intense research, I uncovered a massive climate cover-up that was propagated by big industry leaders like oil companies and those who stood to profit from the continued use of fossil fuels. That propaganda was so wide-spread and so convincing that because of it, we still have climate deniers to this day that think that there is no such thing as climate change or global warming (although those beliefs are quickly changing as a large amount of the population is now seeing climate change in action - extreme weather events, large scale disasters like Super Storm Hurricane Sandy, droughts and the record Arctic and glacier melt that is currently taking place)
So what's the big deal you ask? Why would the Arctic melting mean anything to me and why should I care?
Plenty. Read on.
The Arctic ice in 1980 and 2012
The Arctic in March 2013
First off, I want to tell you about the state of the Arctic right now, as of March 2013. Although part of the Arctic melts every year, this year something incredible has happened. The melt season in the Arctic has begun a startling 51 days ahead of time. That means that the ice has begun cracking and breaking apart almost 2 months before it normally would (the Arctic ice does go through a melting season every year, then builds back up)
Because the Arctic ice has already been in a steady decline for several years, it was theorized years ago that the Arctic might be ice free by 2015. That date may be obsolete as the planet is warming far faster than even government models have predicted.
Paul Beckwith, Climatologist and part-time professor at the University of Ottawa, predicts that the Arctic may be ice free by this year. Beckwith issues a strong warning:
"For the record; I do not think that any sea ice will survive this summer. An event unprecedented in human history is today, this very moment, transpiring in the Arctic Ocean. The cracks in the sea ice that I reported on my Sierra Club Canada blog and elsewhere over the last several days have spread and at this moment the entire sea ice sheet (or about 99% of it) covering the Arctic Ocean is on the move. Clockwise. The ice is thin, and slushy, and breaking apart."
Methane gas being released
Why we should be worried about the Arctic ice melting
For millions of years, methane hydrates have laid frozen in the permafrost, much of it trapped under the Arctic ice sheets. As the Arctic ice disappears (which is happening in real-time right now as you read this) this powerful gas which has the ability to super-heat the planet is being released into the atmosphere.
Methane, a powerful green house gas, could be more than 100-150 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Conservative estimates had previously been made at methane being 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, but even those numbers may be considered off now.
Whether 20 times or 100 times more powerful, the results of an upcoming unchecked methane release into the atmosphere will be nothing short of catastrophic to life here on earth.
Recent reports out of the Arctic are startling, horrifying and grim (report from March 2013):
"Methane levels for this period are at record highs in the Barents and Norwegian Seas, i.e. the highest levels ever recorded by IASI, which is is short for Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer, a Fourier transform spectrometer on board the European EUMETSAT Metop satellite that has supplied data since 2007."
What can we do?
An unchecked release of methane could be a game changer for earth. It could be the turning point for humans and all life on the planet.
Immediate and decisive action is needed to stop a vicious feedback cycle, which can lead to abrupt and runaway climate change. This situation is so dire that the threat of a runaway methane release happening needs to be dealt with now.
Another important blog is the Arctic News where you can find maps, videos, reports, photos, charts and up to date news on the state of the Arctic.
(Dorsi Diaz is the climate change reporter for the San Francisco Examiner and contributing writer at Arctic News)
Arctic Methane: Why The Sea Ice Matters
NOAA: Arctic Report Card 2012
The effect of sea ice on jets and extreme weather
- Daily Kos: The Winter the Polar Vortex Collapsed
The polar vortex was persistently weak from November 2012 through March 2013. At the peak of winter, in mid-January, the polar vortex was split in two by a massive sudden stratospheric warming. Instead of a vortex, very high surface pressure built u
Methane menacing man
- Methane Menacing Man. ~ Paul Beckwith | elephant journal
Methane is at least 100 times, or possibly even 150 times more effective than carbon dioxide at warming our planet. This has enormous implications for me and you, assuming that you live on the planet.
More by this Author
It's interesting to journal about your life and then look back and see where life has taken you. If someone had told me that I would be writing for the SF Examiner on Climate Change a few years ago, I would have thought...
While arguments continue to rage about the why's, who's and how's of climate change and global warming, there is something far more sinister happening to our climate that has been stuck on the back burner for the most...
If you hit your head hard and are now feeling foggy, having head pain, or having trouble remembering, you may have a concussion. Check these symptoms and see if you need to go to the doctor.