Less sea ice, warmer Arctic Ocean
4 November, 2016
On November 2, 2016, Arctic sea ice extent was at a record low for the time of the year, i.e. only 7.151 million km².
The currently very low sea ice extent is further dragging down the average annual sea ice extent, which is also at a record low, as illustrated by the image below, from the blog by Torstein Viðdalr.
Not only is Arctic sea ice extent very low, the sea ice is getting thinner and thinner, as illustrated by the image below, by Wipneus, showing the dramatic recent decline of Arctic sea ice thickness.
As the Naval Research Lab 30-day animation below shows, Arctic sea ice isn't getting much thicker, despite the change of seasons.
Naval Research Lab 30-day animation (new model) up to Nov 1, 2016, with forecast up to Nov 9, 2016
The dire state of the sea ice indicates that the water of the Arctic Ocean is getting warmer and warmer.
On October 31, 2016, the Arctic Ocean was as warm as 17°C or 62.7°F (green circle near Svalbard), or 13.9°C or 25°F warmer than 1981-2011. This indicates how much warmer the water is beneath the surface, as it arrives in the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean.
The danger is that, as global warming continues and as the Arctic snow and ice cover keeps shrinking, warming of the Arctic Ocean will speed up and destabilize methane hydrates contained in sediments at its seafloor, triggering huge methane eruptions that will further accelerate warming. This could contribute to make global temperature rise by as much as 10°C or 18°F over the coming decade.
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.