Ok, so this is not a week in ice, it’s This Fortnight in Ice. A combination of the holidays and, quite frankly, distress over what is clearly a wide-spread, vigorous, and alarming effort to misinform the public about Climate Change required me to take a breather.
Yes, it has been cold. No, it doesn’t disprove that Global Warming is real.
Here are some links to share with your misinformed uncle that explain why the extreme weather we’re experiencing in the US only supports that we are in the grip of anthropogenic Climate Change. (I’ve included some more general links, too.)
- A ‘PERFECT STORM’: EXTREME WINTER WEATHER, BITTER COLD, AND CLIMATE CHANGE
- It’s Cold and My Car is Buried in Snow. Is Global Warming Really Happening?
- What Is This Polar Vortex That Is Freezing the U.S.?
- Ice Loss and the Polar Vortex: How a Warming Arctic Fuels Cold Snaps
- How a Melting Arctic Changes Everything (This one is more general and includes the geopolitics of a melting Arctic, which may make your misinformed uncle think.)
- How Quickly Climate Change is Accelerating, in 167 Maps
- Recent Arctic amplification and extreme mid-latitude weather (study)
Turns out, loss of polar ice affects the jet stream.
Of course, while we have been shivering in the eastern US, most of the planet has been experiencing warmer than average temperatures. Here’s today’s global map showing the temperature anomaly. Most parts of the world are warmer than average.
This includes the Arctic.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports that Arctic sea ice extent for December was the second lowest on record (satellite data 1979 to present).
Kevin Pluck has incorporated December’s data into another great visualization:
While the satellite data only extends back to 1979, using maps, ship reports, and other records, NOAA has published monthly estimates of sea ice extent from 1850 to 2013.
This image brings it home:
Antarctic December sea ice was the fourth lowest on record.
And here’s another animation by Kevin Pluck showing the global sea ice anomaly and comparing it to countries of similar size.
Icebergs & Ice Shelves
NASA has provided a stunning new shot of the iceberg formerly known as B-44, which has now broken into numerous smaller bergs. B-44 calved from the accelerating Pine Island Glacier back in September and quickly broke up.
NASA glaciologist Chris Shuman says that warm water in the polynya (open water in an area of sea ice) likely caused the speedy breakup of the iceberg.
Schuman estimates the iceberg is about 315 meters (1005 feet) thick, with approximately 49 meters (about 160 feet) above the water’s surface.
Here’s the breakup in action:
Iceberg A-68A nudged up against the Larsen C ice shelf, from which it (A-68, a slightly larger berg) calved back in July. A-68A is about the size of Delaware.
Watch a short video about the Larsen C ice shelf http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/content/view/embedjw/493291” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>here.
I am very excited about the British Antarctic Survey’s upcoming expedition to the Larsen C ice shelf to explore the benthic diversity (the variety of fauna on the sea floor) in an area that, up until the calving of A-68, was covered by the thick ice shelf. I cannot wait to see what they find! If you’re interested, you can follow using hashtag #LarsenCBenthos on Twitter.
Two other polar news stories worth your time:
- Climate Change is Causing the Sea Floor to Sink (Study here)
- Huge snowfall increases over Antarctica could counter sea level rise, scientists say (Study here.)
And lastly, during the holiday, I began a series of sea ice watercolor sketches:
I am tweeting as I finish each one, with info about sea ice. Here’s the link if you’d like to follow my ongoing Sea Ice Sketch project:
I would like to wish all of you a safe, peaceful, and Happy New Year! Thank you for reading POLAR BIRD.
This is truly a labor of love, but if you’d like to support my work, please visit my Patreon page.
As always, I am not a scientist but a writer/illustrator and science communicator passionately in love with sea ice. I welcome input and corrections from and connections with polar scientists as I learn more about this remarkable and vital part of our planet and bring this knowledge to a wider audience.