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Climate Change: Why Is The Arctic Melting?

Updated on August 19, 2015

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

NASA image release Feb. 29, 2012 GREENBELT, Md. -- A new NASA study revealed that the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is disappearing at a faster rate than the younger and thinner ice at the edges of the Arctic Ocean’s floating ice cap. The thick
NASA image release Feb. 29, 2012 GREENBELT, Md. -- A new NASA study revealed that the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is disappearing at a faster rate than the younger and thinner ice at the edges of the Arctic Ocean’s floating ice cap. The thick | Source

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.

To read the latest on the Arctic situation you can join the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) on Facebook and you can also read AMEG's strategic plan here.

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


Submit a Comment
  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @maxoxam41) Methane is at record highs in some parts of the Arctic now. Not good at all.

    @Words By William) Thanks for coming by William.

    @Bruce Elkin) YW and thank you Bruce.

    @noelm) Thanks noel.

    @macteacher) Thanks mac and I agree. I know that Polar Bears are definitley being threatened - and yes I agree with everything you said in your comment.

  • macteacher profile image

    Wendy Golden 

    6 years ago from New York

    The whole climate change issue is just a nightmare - and everyone in charge keeps putting off dealing with it - and now it may be too late. How are the animals that live up there coping with this? We're going to lose entire species, such as polar bears. I'm glad you wrote this hub.

    More people who are knowledgeable on the topic need to start blowing the whistle. This is our home and we have no place to go when it can no longer sustain us because of human carelessness. Voted up.

  • noelm profile image

    Noel M 

    6 years ago from Kottayam

    Really useful

  • Bruce Elkin profile image

    Bruce Elkin 

    6 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

    Excellent article. Great graphics and videos. This is very useful. Thanks.

  • Words By William profile image

    Bill Ashworth 

    6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    I'm a believer.

  • maxoxam41 profile image


    6 years ago from USA

    Few years ago, I wrote an article on climate change, focused on the permafrost. I am just wondering what we, the human beings will do to avoid its explosion and how we will limit the damages against mother nature? We can't even stop a tsunami! It would be presumptious.


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