Arctic Ice Cap Record Melt

If our civilization was in tune with what is going on around the world, we should be very, very concerned about what is going on up at the North Pole.

No, Santa and the elves are not feverishly whipping up toys for Christmas.  Something much more disturbing is going on.

This year we have, by our inaction, caused a record ice melt of the polar ice cap.  This graph from the US based National Snow and Ice Data Centre tells a sorry story of the reduction in extent of ice coverage over the Arctic Sea.


Here is another graphic to try and show the difference between this year and previous ones.

So why are I so worried about a lack of summer ice on the North Pole?  Well it is as simple at this. Dark surfaces absorb more heat than lighter coloured surfaces.  Basic physics.  The more sea water exposed, the more the ocean heats up and less infra-red heat is reflected back into space.  This in turn melts more ice and so the vicious circle continues until all the summer ice pack is gone.

Sure it comes back in winter, but it is thinner and melts quicker in summer.  Even the IPCC reports  didn’t predict this quickening rate of sea ice melt.


The green line are observations of the extent of Arctic sea ice vs. the predictions of the best scientific minds in the field.  The observations on this graph are only up to November 2010, so we are now well below the mean.

As the north pole heats, it causes havoc with climate patterns all over the northern hemisphere.  Hotter summers, cold snaps in winter, and little stability like we have been used to over the Holocene.  No stable climate makes it very difficult to grow food.  No food, smaller populations of humans.  A vicious cycle all around.

Any of this in mainstream media?  Not that I can see.  So all I ask is a simple favour.  Share this post with anyone who is concerned about our future on this planet so that it may, in some small way, prompt people to look up from their game of angry birds for a second and take notice to what is happening around them.  It may prompt them to think about lowering their environmental footprint while they are at it.

Please.  For the sake of our kids and future generations to come.   I beg of you.

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  1. says

    I am hoping that people are starting to see the big picture if my Facebook feeds this week are anything to go by. The reason…their winter electricity bill! Hopefully they will read your post Gavin and jump into action even if their beginnings are just to reduce their electricity bill.

    • says

      Hi Linn. That is my hope as well. Even if people see the connection between rising energy bills and lowering their carbon footprint for the sake of the climate, then that can only be a good thing.

      Gav x

  2. Anonymous says

    problem is climate change is a hard sell… and really how much of a difference is it going to make if we each reduce our footprints? will the ice stop melting? do we need to stop having children altogether to make a difference… well, honestly, that’s not going to happen…
    there are numerous periods in the earth’s history that climate change has been experienced- and humans had nothing to do with them… which is why most people turn their ears off when they start to hear people raving about climate change….

    • says

      Hi Anon. I don’t think it has anything about being hard to sell. It is the reality of it all that shocks people into inaction, and comments like yours do not help.

      We can make individual differences, that influence the greater community. If you had have read this blog then you would have realised that fact. The climate may not respond straight away if we reduce our carbon footprints, but that is no reason to give up trying. You may even save some money in the process.

      As for the numerous periods where climate has changed before, that is true, however “Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.” That is fact.

      People are changing their opinions or minds all the time. Look at the recent difference the major weather events made to peoples opinion in the Northern Hemisphere. People are waking up to the fact that the earth is warming, creating more frequent extreme weather events, that are caused by the most dominant force on the planet. Humans. If we do not stop burning fossil fuels then it will get bad.

      Get ready for a rough ride if we don’t take action soon. Ears shut or not, Nature always bats last!


  3. Anonymous says

    gav, unfortunately climate change IS a hard sell… i say this from the point of view of someone who’s previous professional job it was trying to promote information about climate change into mainstream media… it was like banging my head against a wall… it was bloody hard

    i think a lot of people do realise that the climate is changing (and scientists tell us that is so) but the problem is The Plan of what in the hell are we going to do about it that is going to make a difference…

    in my previous job i had access to all kinds of information about “green” energies (some of which was kept very hush hush) that show many of the “green” energies being touted as solutions have all kinds of problems (some of them quite scary) of their own… and no green energy source is ready to step in and take the place of fossil fuels… even green energies combined…

    and even if we do go over to “green” energies (at a huge expense with some unknown potential detriments at this point as these energies haven’t been tested on massive scales) we don’t actually know that it’s going to stop the climate from changing…

    and there lies the problem…

    we know the climate is changing… we WANT to fix it… but really at this point we really don’t know how (not yet anyway)… and if the scientists don’t know then what hope does every day joe bloggs have?

    i’m not trying to be unhelpful with my comments… but perhaps i’m a little jaded from years of “head banging” in my previous line of work…

    one thing i did learn is that most people like a “soft sell” and not a “hard sell”… look how many people turn their lights off for an hour each year… (even though it doesn’t make a lick of difference)…

  4. Anonymous says

    You state: As for the numerous periods where climate has changed before, that is true, however “Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.” That is fact.

    Could you explain what the dominant force was when it changed before and why were the previous historical changes were even larger that we are seeing now?

    You are right, the climate is changing and anything we can do to help is likely to not make an iota of difference but that shouldn’t stop us from keep on doing it mainly because it is the right thing to do! :)

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