Quantcast
Connect with us

Arctic summer sea ice second lowest on record: US researchers

Published

on

Sled dogs wading through standing water on the sea ice in northwestern Greenland, in June 2019 Steffen Olsen Centre for Ocean and Ice at the Danish Meteoroligical Institute/AFP/File

Arctic summer sea ice melted in 2020 to the second smallest size since records began 42 years ago, US scientists announced Monday, offering further stark evidence of the impact of global warming.

Arctic sea ice melts in summer and reforms in winter, but precise satellite imagery taken regularly since 1979 documented how the cycle has been shrinking significantly.

ADVERTISEMENT

The year’s minimum was reached on September 15, at 3.74 million square kilometers (1.44 million square miles), according to preliminary date from scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Only once before, in 2012, did the sea ice melt further.

“It’s been a crazy year up north, with sea ice at a near-record low… heat waves in Siberia, and massive forest fires,” said Mark Serreze, director of NSIDC.

“The year 2020 will stand as an exclamation point on the downward trend in Arctic sea ice extent. We are headed towards a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean, and this year is another nail in the coffin.”

Unlike melting glaciers on land, melting sea ice does not directly contribute to rising sea levels as the ice is already on the water, but less ice means less solar radiation is reflected and more is absorbed by the oceans.

ADVERTISEMENT

“When the sea ice disappears, the incident sunlight gets absorbed in the ocean, helping to further warm the Earth,” Claire Parkinson, climate scientist at NASA, told AFP.

She added that the weak ice coverage this year is “in line with the overall downward trend of the past four decades”.

The evidence of shrinking ice coverage — in both thickness and area — in the Arctic and Antarctic is stacking up, though pace varies from one region to another.

ADVERTISEMENT

– ‘Climate breakdown’ –

Antarctic ice melted quickly for three years in a row until 2017, but more recently it has bounced back without a clear explanation.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the Arctic the reduction has been on a more pronounced downward trend since 1996 in comparison to the previous period, said Parkinson, though there is some variation from year to year.

“The rapid disappearance of sea ice is a sobering indicator of how closely our planet is circling the drain,” Greenpeace Nordic Oceans campaigner Laura Meller said in a statement.

“Over the past decades we have lost two-thirds of the volume of the Arctic sea ice, and as the Arctic melts the ocean will absorb more heat and all of us will be more exposed to the devastating effects of climate breakdown,” she later told AFP from a ship on the edge of the sea ice.

ADVERTISEMENT

“What we are seeing here in the Arctic is really the opening up of a new ocean on top of the world, which means that we need to be protecting the area.”

The 2015 landmark Paris climate deal enjoins nations to limit global temperature rises to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) through a rapid and sweeping drawdown of greenhouse gas emissions.

But emissions have continued to rise since then, and several analyses have warned that without a thoroughly re-tooled global economy prioritizing green growth, the pollutions savings due to Covid-19 will have an insignificant mitigating impact on climate change.

With just one degree Celsius of warming over pre-industrial levels so far, Earth is already battling more frequent and intense wildfires, droughts and super storms rendered more powerful by rising seas.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Watch Kamala Harris laugh out loud when 60 Minutes asks her if Trump is racist

Published

on

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) laughed when asked if President Donald Trump was racist during a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday evening on CBS.

"Do you think the president is racist?" Nora O'Donnell asked.

"Yes, I do," Harris replied, with a laugh. "Yeah, I do."

"You can look at a pattern that goes back to him questioning the identity of the first Black president of the United States," she said, referring to the racist "birther" conspiracy theory he pushed against Barack Obama.

"You can look at Charlottesville, when there were peaceful protesters and on the other side neo-Nazis and he talks about fine people on either side," she continued. "Calling Mexicans rapists and criminals? His first order of business was to institute a Muslim ban?"

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Lesley Stahl takes Trump to task for still not having a health care plan as 60 Minutes airs interview

Published

on

CBS News' Lesley Stahl took heat from President Donald J. Trump for asking him "tough questions" during their interview for 60 Minutes and the train wreck will air Sunday night in primetime.

But in the meantime, there's this:

Lesley Stahl: But you're okay with some tough questions?

President Donald Trump: No, I'm not. I mean--

Lesley Stahl: (LAUGH) You're not okay with tough questions?

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

The pandemic sobriety trend is real

Published

on

As states descended into lockdowns, closing bars and restaurants, everyday people stockpiled toilet paper, cleaning supplies—and booze.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

Indeed, back at the start of the pandemic, alcohol sales skyrocketed — increasing in the United States by 55 percent the week ending March 21, 2020, compared to the previous year. While some data suggests that people have been drinking more during the pandemic, at least initially, the pandemic has also prompted a life re-evaluation, with many Americans reconsidering the role of alcohol in their lives.

Continue Reading
 
 
Democracy is in peril. Invest in progressive news. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free. LEARN MORE