Arctic sea ice extent was 5.88 million km² on August 21, 2022, larger in extent than in any of the years from 2010 through 2021 at this time of year, as illustrated by the NSIDC image below.
Why is the situation so dangerous? There are many contributors to the danger, three of them are:
1. Ice acts as a seal
Ice acts as a seal, insulating the soil from warmer air and holding the soil together, like a glue. A 2022 study by Elizabeth Webb et al. concludes that rainwater carries heat into the soil and accelerates permafrost thaw, and the glue that holds the soil together disappears. This can open up underground channels that drain the surface.
Ocean stratification is increasing globally, as ocean warming is stronger for upper layers versus the deep ocean. Stratification increased from 1960 to 2018 by 5.3% for the upper 2000m and by as much as 18% for the upper 150m, while salinity changes also play an important role locally, a 2020 study finds.
|[ SSTA (left) and SST (right), August 23, 2022 - click on image to enlarge ]|
Deformation of the Jet Stream can at times strongly increase evaporation over the North Atlantic with more precipitation further down the path of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC).
Deformation of the Jet Stream can also increase runoff from land (including from melting glaciers).
In both these cases, this can contribute to the formation and growth of a relatively cold, freshwater lid at the surface of the North Atlantic.
The navy.mil combination image below has three panels. The left panel shows the sea ice on August 30, 2012, the center panel shows the sea ice on August 30, 2015, and the right panel shows a forecast for the sea ice for August 30, 2022, run on August 22, 2022.
|[ The Buffer has gone, feedback #14 on the Feedbacks page ]|
The top data image on the right shows methane recorded by the MetOp satellite on August 22, 2022 am. The image shows means of 1972 ppb at five pressure levels (of 280 mb and less), with a peak level of 2543 ppb, the highest that day, occurring at 218 mb.
The second data image on the right shows methane means recorded by the MetOp satellite on August 25, 2022 pm of 1975 ppb at four pressure levels (at 254 mb, 266 mb, 280 mb and 283 mb).
1-year GWP of 200, this translates into 790 ppm CO₂e, i.e. only 410 ppm away from the 1200 ppm clouds tipping point.
Even without such eruption of methane from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, temperatures look set to rise strongly soon, as we move into an El Niño and face a peak in sunspots.
This makes it in many respects rather futile to speculate about what will happen beyond 2026. At the same time, the right thing to do now is to help avoid the worst things from happening, through comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.
• Arctic sea ice June 2022 - why the situation is so dangerous
• Arctic sea ice July 2022
• NOAA - Globally averaged marine surface annual mean methane growth rates.
• Cold freshwater lid on North Atlantic
• NOAA - Monthly Temperature Anomalies Versus El Niño
• University of Bremen
• NSIDC - Arctic sea ice concentration
• NSIDC - Chartic, interactive sea ice graph
• NOAA - Trends in Atmospheric Methane
• Naval Research Laboratory
• Understanding the Permafrost–Hydrate System and Associated Methane Releases in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf - by Natalia Shakhova et al. (2019)
• Albedo, latent heat, insolation and more
• Latent Heat Buffer
• Feedbacks in the Arctic
• Clouds feedback
• How much time is there left to act?
• Cataclysmic Alignment
• Human Extinction by 2025?
• Climate Plan