This alarming disappearance of Arctic ice shows only too graphically how urgent is the need to tackle climate change, an alarm call that must reverberate across the world.
Alarmingly, the arctic ice-cap has shrunk to its smallest ever extent, satellite images revealing the summer melt to have reduced the frozen sea area to less than half the area typically occupied 40 years ago.
Arctic sea ice cover has been shrinking since the 1970s when it averaged around 8m sq km a year, but such a dramatic collapse in ice cover in one year is highly unusual.
The 2007 figure of 4.17m sq km reduced even further – on August 27th by more than 500,000 sq km – lowest figure over 5 days 3.421m sq km rising to 3.45m sq km. Scientists have predicted that the Arctic Ocean, within two decades only, could be ice-free in summer months.
This could easily lead to major climate impacts, this ice-cap shrinking was interpreted – by environmental groups – as a sure indication that long-term global warming, caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions, is a stark and terrible reality. Estimates have it that human activities have caused by up to 95% the radical decline in Arctic sea ice.
Humanity is on the edge of one of the most pivotal moments in environmental history – loss of sea ice will cause raising global temperatures – impacting on human ability to grow food as extreme weather becomes more commonplace around the world. This major new catastrophic run of events is alarming because weather conditions have not been especially conducive in 2012 to a major melt.
Arctic ice is now thought much thinner than it once was and thus prone to much faster melting. This means that the usual annual cycle – melting in warm summer months – refreezing in winter – this sea ice playing a critical role in regulating climate by acting as a giant mirror – reflecting solar energy and helping cool the Earth – is being upeneded on a massive scale.
This alarming disappearance of Arctic ice shows only too graphically how urgent is the need to tackle climate change, an alarm call that must reverberate across the world, that all of humanity needs to move towards a 100% renewable economy and seriously cut carbon emissions.
The fact is that not only could the positioning of the gulf stream be badly affected by the record melt this year – possibly leading to a really cold winter in the UK and Europe, because Arctic water heat will get released into the atmosphere this autumn – but there is also the very real chance that the warm Atlantic water stream that keeps the UK warmer than it should be, could well slow down or even stop. Should that actually happen, what we see as a catastrophe right now will seem like very small beer indeed. You have been warned.