BSB 159     J. Morris Hicks     (7-27-18) 
Crisis in the Arctic?--Dr. Peter Wadhams

I want to lead off with this chart, previewed in last week's blog, that looks "below the surface" when evaluating the problem of sea ice melting in the Arctic. The gray bars in this chart represent the volume of ice--not just the area of the surface coverage.

As I noted last week, for the past eight years, the volume of the Arctic sea ice has been about 75% less than the volume in 1979, when satellite imaging began. When the blue line  touches the red line , there will be no ice in the Arctic Ocean. And that's not good.
Where will we be this September? To answer that question, I turn to my friend  Dr. Peter Wadhams,   who is arguably the leading scientific authority in the world on the Arctic Ocean and its impact on climate change.

Peter Wadhams, PhD, University of Cambridge

Last week, I sent the graph below to Dr. Wadhams along with a few questions about the latest developments in the Summer of 2018 in the Arctic Ocean.

This is the graph (dated July 14) that I included with my email message to him:
Dear Dr. Wadhams,  After frequently checking the Arctic ice extent this summer, it seems to me that the area (or extent) of ice has fallen sharply in recent weeks, although still above the 2012 dotted line in this chart. Can you please comment on that?

Also, as you predicted in your book "A Farewell to Ice," do you expect to see an ice-free Arctic this September or perhaps in 2019? Regards, Jim Hicks.

His response:  

Dear James,

Many thanks for your message. The Arctic ice has been behaving in a new way. In terms of annual mean extent, it is lower than ever before, but the decline in volume  is spread throughout the year rather than being focused on September. 

The above graph shows this - the ice extent is paralleling the average at a lower level rather than  diverging from it as summer approaches, but you can also see this if you go right back to last autumn. The ice is switching to a significant decline at all seasons,  so an ice-free September, previously thought to be a dire warning, may not happen . 

Instead the ice just declines at all seasons until finally it goes altogether.

Best wishes, Peter

Next, I took a look at the variations in Arctic ice extent in the month of June since 1979

June 1979 to 2018
Then, as Dr. Wadhams suggested, I went back to the same graph for October of 2017. And sure enough, we have an almost identical graph. 

I also looked up the same graph for March of 2018 and the downward trend is similar to the trends that we saw in June 2018 and October of 2017. Both of those graphs are shown here:

October 1979 to 2017
March 1979 to 2018
If you wish to track the data yourself,  Click here for the Arctic sea ice news at NSIDC .

Want to see all the 2017-18 graphs in one place?  

While viewing the above link, you will see this photo that has been sitting on my desk for the better part of 20 years--representing my emphasis on hard data when trying to understand and improve any situation or process:

The Bottom Line . I will continue to track this unfolding saga of the disappearing ice in the Arctic. All the data continues to support Dr. Wadhams' conclusion that our only remaining chance is to begin urgently removing carbon from the atmosphere. He explains in this excellent video: 

Ted Talk (20 minutes) March of 2018 in Belgium
A Farewell to Ice -- Dr. Peter Wadhams

As he has concluded, it is no longer possible to reverse the many dangerous trends by simply reducing emissions, we must now begin removing far more carbon every year from the atmosphere than we are putting up there. A huge task that will require governmental mandates coupled with global coordination. 

Not likely to happen. But still possible.   

This just in. Just before launching this BSB, I reached out to Dr. Wadhams for his latest reading on what is happening in the Arctic. He wrote:

July 25, 2018. I think the intense sustained heat these past few weeks will be taking the ice extent record well below the 2012 curve and giving  us a new record low. Best wishes, Peter

I also just checked for the ice extent for 7-26-18. And it looks like Dr. Wadhams may be right.  

Related BSBs

Be well,

J. Morris (Jim) Hicks 
CEO, 4Leaf Global, LLC

PS: As long as I can envision a viable pathway for humanity going forward, I will not give up hope.  I welcome your feedback and/or your questions at:

Looking for Opportunities to Speak.  Since 2016, my research, writing and speaking has been focused on the sustainability of our ecosystem and our future as a species. With a primary emphasis on food choices, I call it the "most important topic in the history of humanity." 

After all, what could possibly be more important to humans than the survival of our species?

Latest/future talks: Earlier this year, I spoke at a VegFest in Ft. Myers, Florida, at the in Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, and at the College of the Holy Cross  in Worcester, MA. Upcoming talks: On October 17 at Plant Powered Manhattan--NYC; and in South Haven, Michigan in November.

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Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

Moonglow J. Morris Hicks

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