Due to warm ocean waters and to heatwaves on land that extended over the Arctic Ocean, while warming up rivers ending into the Arctic Ocean, the sea ice has taken a battering over the past few weeks, as illustrated by the images below.
Above image shows the last bit of thick (5 m) sea ice in the Canadian Archipelago, which became dislodged on July 8, 2015. It looks set to be virtually gone by August 7, 2015, according to the 30-day Naval Research Laboratory animation below, and as also discussed in greater detail in a recent post.
The situation at the north-eastern tip of Greenland doesn't look much better, as illustrated by the image below.
The comparison image below also shows the north-eastern tip of Greenland on July 5, 2015 (top), and on July 31, 2015 (bottom). The bottom image shows water in many places, pushing the last pieces of thick ice into the Wandel Sea and Fram Strait .
|[ click on image to enlarge ]|
So, will the sea ice collapse this year? Consider the following three points:
|[ PIOMAS - click on image to enlarge ]|
- Volume - The image on the right shows sea ice volume as calculated by PIOMAS at the University of Washington. The image shows that in June, volume was less than 2015 in only four years, i.e. 2010 through to 2013. However, the situation has deteriorated much in July 2015.
- Thickness - Volume is calculated by looking at both thickness and extent. Thickness is looking much worse than it did in the years 2012 through to 2014, as illustrated by above image. In my experience, sea ice thickness now hasn't looked as bad for the time of the year since records began, especially when taking the loss of multi-year ice into account, as also illustrated by above image.
- Extent - Sea ice extent around this time of year was worse only in about four years, i.e. in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012, as illustrated by the NSIDC image on the right. The image on the right shows the situation on July 30, 2015, when extent was about the same as it was by that time in 2013. However, extent didn't fall much from then on in 2013, while 2015 features very high sea surface temperatures and an El Niño that is still gaining in strength. In other words, sea ice extent looks likely to take a battering over the next few weeks.
|[ NSIDC - click on image to enlarge ]|
Above image shows a trendline (shaded area) based on satellite data from 1979-2014, with annual minimum volume figures calculated by PIOMAS. The shaded area points at a total disappearance of the sea ice as early as September 2018. The width of the shaded area reflects natural variability, but natural variability could be wider than that, as illustrated by the fact that minimum volume in the years 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012 was lower than the shaded area. In other words, disappearance of the sea ice could occur even earlier than September 2018 and if things get really bad, collapse could even occur as early as September this year.
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as discussed at the Climate Plan.