THE ARCTIC / Sept.21, 2018 https://go.nasa.gov/2QNGAOp
The grim changes in the Arctic
Arctic ice hit one of its lowest points on record, but there’s another grim statistic
Sea ice in the Arctic has just about melted to its lowest point of 2018, and this reinforces a trend of dwindling ice atop the globe — where the climate is warming two to three times faster than the rest of the planet. As of last week, it’s the sixth-lowest ice extent — known as the sea ice minimum — in nearly 40 years of satellite records, and with the summer’s end it’s likely to keep that ranking.
This statistic alone might not carry the bite of 2012’s extreme Arctic melt, in which the ice thawed to its lowest point ever recorded. Yet, a closer examination of what’s transpired in the great north this year reveals the Arctic’s ever-accelerating disappearance.
“I don’t want the story to be ‘This was a ho-hum year’,” Jeremy Mathis, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist who has led the agency’s Arctic Research Program, said in an interview. “Even though the ice didn’t break an all-time record, it was still well below the historical average.”
In fact, each of the last 12 years have been the lowest 12 years on the satellite record, Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said in an interview. “Twelve in a row,” said Meier. “That clearly indicates a change.”
And there’s more.
Some of the thickest, oldest Arctic ice, which is anchored in a compacted mass off the frigid north Greenland shore, broke apart this year.
“That was oldest, most stable ice in the Arctic,” said Mathis. “That’s the ice that we thought would hold on the longest.”
“It even stuck around when we saw all-time record-breaking melt in 2012,” he added.
The average thickness of this ice is around 5 meters, or 16 feet thick, but in parts it can reach 20 meters, or some 65 feet, said Meier.
… “Something happened this year that is incredibly indicative of just how fast the Arctic is changing,” said Mathis. “That could accelerate the timeline for what could be an ice-free Arctic Ocean during the summer months.”
“It definitely was a surprise,” said Meier.
Though, this may not be the first time such Greenland ice melting has happened, he explained; given the limited satellite records, there’s no way to know for sure. In any case, it’s still a sign of growing instability.
“It’s an indication that it [the ice] was thinner and weaker than it used to be,” he said.
The ARCTIC / Sept.16, 2018 https://go.nasa.gov/2pjFoGh
ARCTIC Ocean near Svalbard & Franz Josef Land Islands Russia. Contrast & saturation maxed. https://go.nasa.gov/2D2tNVA
The ARCTIC / Sept.14, 2018. Franz Josef Land Islands, Russia. Note the miles of radiation in parallel lines, with the contrast etc. enhanced. https://go.nasa.gov/2pa5ueF
The ARCTIC / Sept.13, 2018 https://go.nasa.gov/2p7iCB4
The ARCTIC / Sept.8, 2018 https://go.nasa.gov/2oSwr6j
An Unforeseen Climate Beast Awakens!
by Robert Hunziker
East Antarctica is a big-time global warming player. Nothing is comparable. It is the world heavyweight, and nothing can impact the world with so much calamitous clout. As such, it would be a huge mistake to discount its capability to turn mean-spirited, striking all of a sudden, catching scientists and humanity unawares. In fact, it’s already turning heads, and it alone is equivalent to 170 feet of water.
Disturbingly, early signals of destabilization have been detected at Totten Glacier/ East Antarctica, where, according to accepted science for years and years, we are not supposed to worry until the next century. Scientists have always said East Antarctica’s a “not to worry region,” nearly impervious to the impact of climate change.
However, along those lines, over time it’s becoming increasingly evident that one of the horrors of the global warming story is a failure of mainstream science to know what’s really going on in a timely fashion, always late to the party. Repercussions could be cascading ecosystems crushing societal norms and flooding of the great cities well ahead of any kind of preparations, such as building dykes around major urban centers.
… The Totten Glacier in East Antarctica is destabilizing. It alone carries enough ice melt (16 feet) to flood NYC and Tokyo, forget Miami, it’s already a goner. Totten is less than 10% of the mass of East Antarctica. Still, Totten brings more potential sea level rise than all of West Antarctica, where major destabilization of glaciers continues ongoing with gusto.
According to a recent telling article in Geophysical Research Letters: Yara Mohajerani, Isabella Velicogna, and Eric Rignot, “Mass Loss of Totten and Moscow University Glaciers, East Antarctica, Using Regionally Optimized GRACE Mascons,” https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL078173, July 25, 2018: Totten lost 18B tons of ice every single year from 2002-2016, a clear signal that risk of inordinate sea level rise is now officially “on the move.”
“Both of these glaciers are vulnerable to the intrusion of warm ocean water and hold considerable potential for sea level rise,” said co-author Eric Rignot, Donald Bren Professor and chair of Earth system science at UCI. “This work highlights that East Antarctic glaciers are as important to our future as those in the continent’s western regions,” Ibid.
To say that is surprisingly bad news is comparable to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster’s surprisingly bad news, both ecosystem degradations have potential to “come down like a ton of bricks on civilized society.”
For overall perspective, Antarctica is the world’s largest desert at 5,400,000 square miles (the United States is 3,500,000 square miles). It is the highest, driest, coldest, windiest, brightest of the seven continents, roughly the size of the United States and Mexico combined, and almost completely covered by a layer of ice that averages more than one mile in thickness and up to three miles in some areas. The ice has accumulated over millions of years through snowfall. It represents 90% of the ice on Earth and would raise sea levels worldwide by over 200 feet were it to melt.
East Antarctica has been quiescent for centuries upon centuries… until now. It is the one piece of the climate puzzle that scientists don’t want to see turn ugly, so fast. But, it is misbehaving very, very badly and sending up smoke signals that humanity best get its act together soon and halt CO2 emissions or buy lots of scuba gear.
Not only is The Big Kahuna or East Antarctica starting to shake rattle and roll, it’s kissing cousin West Antarctica has already been on a roll for some time now. The “Mass Balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017,” Nature, 219-222 (2018) shows the rate of ice loss from West Antarctica increasing three-fold over the past 15 years. That’s a lot. No science models came close to predicting that rate of increase since 1992, 2002, or 2012 (every 10 years), but it was and still is happening at ever-increasing rates of speed.
Time and again the same storylines about “scientists surprised by how much faster the climate system is changing… way ahead of the models,” should start sinking in that anthropogenic climate change is on the march in a big way. Yet, leadership, especially in America, is as cavalier about the risks as General Custer was when informing his courier: “It looks like we caught’em sleeping.” It is axiomatic that wipeouts are never anticipated!
According to James Hansen of Earth Institute – Columbia University, whose strong ethical straightforward honesty was totally unacceptable (actually taboo) for the Bush/Cheney administration: “The last time that ice sheets disintegrated 14,000 years ago, sea level went up (on average)… one meter (3.3 feet) every 20 years.” (The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, Dec. 2013) Oops!
Totten is an early warning signal clanging loud and clear, if ignored, it’s comparable to Custer’s courier riding off in the distance to inform reinforcements of “good news.” Somebody somewhere, everywhere, better start planning to move to higher ground or building dykes, or do something other than sit around waiting for additional stronger evidence that impending worldwide chaos is right around the corner. Wipeouts are never anticipated. If it were otherwise, they’d never happen.
ANTARCTICA / Sept.26, 2018 – ENDERBY LAND & a Russian Station. Contrast etc. adjusted. https://go.nasa.gov/2R7R3oe
ANTARCTICA / Sept.26, 2018 – Queen Maud Land. Contrast etc. enhanced. https://go.nasa.gov/2R2oU1K
ANTARCTICA / Sept.26, 2018 – The Antarctic Peninsula & WEDDELL SEA area. With contrast etc. maxed. https://go.nasa.gov/2DycwUp
ANTARCTICA / Sept.26, 2018 – McMurdo Station & Ross Sea area. BIG crack!
Contrast etc. enhancement. https://go.nasa.gov/2Dz01YS
ANTARCTICA / Sept.25, 2018 – Ross Sea area. https://go.nasa.gov/2DxuSVE
ANTARCTICA / Sept.25, 2018 – Antarctic Peninsula & WEDDELL SEA area. Some contrast etc. enhancements https://go.nasa.gov/2QZnLrO