The ice is almost gone

open ice

This is a NASA photograph of the North Pole taken on 4.8.16. See the dark spots under the clouds? This is bad. h/t Harold Hensel.

This is bad. 

NASA puts up a daily overlay map of the Arctic, including parts of Iceland, Greenland, and Scandinavia. The land masses are outlined, while the weather around said land masses is visible. The above (one of said maps) was put up yesterday. If you have never seen the pictures before (they’re here), you’ll have trouble seeing the problem in this picture. But those who are veterans of looking have bad news for the rest of us. because in the picture, the hard-white areas are sea-surface ice. The swirling areas above those are cloud cover. And the dark areas are… open seawater. We shouldn’t be seeing open sea water this time of year. 

Yes, this is an El Niño year. Things are going to be overheated to some extent. I noted this in earlier posts about high temperatures around the North Pole that were topping same-day temperatures in the Continental US (temperatures in Alaska that were higher than same-day temps in North Dakota, for example). But heating of the poles is different. Nobody sees the temperatures falling enough to bring any of the Arctic ice back. And the feedback loop means that more warming brings more warming. It takes 80 calories of heat to warm a gram of ice to melting point. But once it melts, the next 80 calories of heat takes the water up to 80 c (Trust me).  If there’s no ice to absorb the heat coming into the ocean(or reflect the solar heat back into space), the water absorbs it. 

It’s understood now that the oceans are heating to a point where plankton will start to die-off. Once that happens the oceans are dead–plankton is the basis of the oceanic food chain, and it’s also the provider of half the oxygen on the planet. This picture should put to rest any arguments that the earth has reached runaway warming. 

image polar bears

Really.

Updates: 

Breakout of the disaster in the ice and glacier fields on Living On Earth podcast blog.

Scott Andrews, a fb friend and frequenter of the Near Term Human Extinction pages, has posted this video. Worth watching.

 

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