Alaska’s sea ice has completely melted away

Alaska’s sea ice has completely melted away

SOURCE: Mashable DATE: August 5, 2019 SNIP: Alaska’s exceptional summer continues. The most rapidly changing state in the U.S. has no sea ice within some 150 miles of its shores, according to high-resolution sea ice analysis from the National Weather Service. The big picture is clear: After an Arctic summer with well above-average temperatures, warmer seas, and a historic July heat wave, sea ice has vanished in Alaskan waters. “Alaska waters are ice free,” said Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy. “This is definitely an extreme year — even by more recent standards in a changed Arctic,” noted Walt Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Arctic sea ice has been either been at record lows or flirting with record lows throughout much of the summer. “I’m losing the ability to communicate the magnitude [of change],” Jeremy Mathis, a longtime Arctic researcher and current board director at the National Academies of Sciences, told Mashable in June, when sea ice levels were at their lowest point in the satellite record for that period. “I’m running out of adjectives to describe the scope of change we’re...
Europe’s record heat melted Swiss glaciers

Europe’s record heat melted Swiss glaciers

SOURCE: Science DATE: August 5, 2019 SNIP: The sweltering heat wave that roasted much of Europe last month has since moved north, where it’s wreaking havoc on the Greenland ice sheet. But while all eyes are currently trained on the Arctic ice, scientists are finding that Europe’s coldest places have also suffered. According to initial findings from the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network (GLAMOS), Swiss glaciers experienced unusually high melt rates during the last heat wave, which occurred in late July, and an earlier heat wave that struck the continent in late June. Matthias Huss, a glaciologist with Swiss University ETH Zurich and head of GLAMOS, tweeted last week that the nation’s glaciers lost about 800 million metric tons of ice during the two heat waves alone. During the winter, the region received an above-average amount of snowfall, Huss pointed out. So the glaciers actually started the summer with a high level of snow cover and were doing “extraordinarily well” compared to the last few seasons, which have logged particularly strong losses, he noted. Scientists were hopeful that they’d end the season on a better note than the last few years. But once the first heat wave struck, the snow began to rapidly melt away. “Now, because of these two heat waves, we have tracked very fast downward,” Huss told E&E News. “And we are now at the average of the last 10 years, or even already a bit below.” Summers like this one, marked by extraordinary heat waves and high levels of melt, only exacerbate the problem. “Now we are really seeing almost every year another extreme year,” Huss...
Greenland Is Melting Away Before Our Eyes

Greenland Is Melting Away Before Our Eyes

SOURCE: Rolling Stone DATE: July 31, 2019 SNIP: Amid an ongoing heat wave, new data show the Greenland ice sheet is in the middle of its biggest melt season in recorded history. It’s the latest worrying signal climate change is accelerating far beyond the worst fears of even climate scientists. The record-setting heat wave that sweltered northern Europe last week has moved north over the critically vulnerable Greenland ice sheet, triggering temperatures this week that are as much as 25 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal. Weather models indicate Tuesday’s temperature may have surpassed 75 degrees Fahrenheit in some regions of Greenland, and a weather balloon launched near the capital Nuuk measured all-time record warmth just above the surface. That heat wave is still intensifying, and is expected to peak on Thursday with the biggest single-day melt ever recorded in Greenland. On August 1 alone, more than 12 billion tons of water will permanently melt away from the ice sheet and find its way down to the ocean, irreversibly raising sea levels globally. A tweet from the Danish Meteorological Institute, the official weather service of Greenland, said “almost all the ice sheet, including Summit” measurably melted on Tuesday. According to a preliminary estimate, that melt covered 87 percent of the ice sheet’s surface, which would be the second-biggest melt day in Greenland’s recorded history. Separate weather monitoring equipment at Summit Camp at the top of the 10,000-foot-thick Greenland ice sheet confirmed the temperature briefly reached the melting point. This week alone, Greenland will lose about 50 billion tons of ice, enough for a permanent rise in global sea...
New research shows that Paris Agreement goals might not save the Arctic

New research shows that Paris Agreement goals might not save the Arctic

SOURCE: Think Progress and Nature Communications DATE: July 10, 2019 SNIP: Global warming limits laid out by the landmark Paris climate agreement do not rule out an Arctic devoid of summer sea ice, according to new research out this week. The findings, published July 9, are a grim indicator that even a best-case scenario for limiting climate impacts could still have unprecedented implications for the planet. They also underscore the potential for even more dire situations, which are growing more likely as countries, including the United States, fail to reach their individual climate goals under the Paris Agreement. Published by scientists from South Korea, Australia, and the United States, the new research appears in this week’s issue of Nature Communications and offers an ominous forecast for climate advocates. Using 31 different climate models, the experts found that there is at least a 6% probability that summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean will disappear in a scenario long cited as the most optimistic: limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. [T]his week’s study highlights the need to establish what level of warming would bring forth an ice-free Arctic — a scenario in which there would be no white mass of ice to reflect sunlight and maintain cooler ocean temperatures. The less sea ice there is to reflect the heat, the more warming is likely to occur. While the researchers note that Arctic sea ice is all but guaranteed to disappear in a situation involving more than 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the potential for such a melting at lower temperatures also remains cause for...
Temperatures leap 40 degrees above normal as the Arctic Ocean and Greenland ice sheet see record June melting

Temperatures leap 40 degrees above normal as the Arctic Ocean and Greenland ice sheet see record June melting

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: June 14, 2019 SNIP: Ice is melting in unprecedented ways as summer approaches in the Arctic. In recent days, observations have revealed a record-challenging melt event over the Greenland ice sheet, while the extent of ice over the Arctic Ocean has never been this low in mid-June during the age of weather satellites. Greenland saw temperatures soar up to 40 degrees above normal Wednesday, while open water exists in places north of Alaska where it seldom, if ever, has in recent times. It’s “another series of extreme events consistent with the long-term trend of a warming, changing Arctic,” said Zachary Labe, a climate researcher at the University of California at Irvine. And the abnormal warmth and melting of ice in the Arctic may be messing with our weather. Weather satellites have monitored sea ice in the Arctic since 1979, and the current ice coverage is the lowest on record for mid-June. The ice extent has been especially depleted in the part of the Arctic Ocean adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. “It’s pretty remarkable how much open water is in that area,” Labe said. Labe explained high pressure over the Arctic has helped to pull sea ice way from the northern Alaska coast. Sea ice loss over the Chukchi and Beaufort seas along Alaska’s northern coast has been “unprecedented” according to Rick Thoman, a climatologist based in Fairbanks. Labe said there’s sufficient open water that you could sail all the way from the Bering Strait into a narrow opening just north of Utqiagvik, Alaska’s northernmost city, clear into the Beaufort Sea. “It’s very unusual for open...