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Scary Halloween Edition : Geophysical Research Letters

By October 31, 2008March 25th, 2014Arctic Sea Ice

Geophysical Research Letters had a busy and scary Halloween edition.  As discussed below on October 2, satellite analysis of 2008 Arctic sea ice thickness has revealed the lowest volume of Arctic sea ice ever recorded. Smedsrud, et. al., Recent and future changes of the Arctic sea-ice cover has a new model based on the latest satellite Arctic sea ice data that says that, yes we will run out of sea ice by 2050.  However, their model predicts a rebound between now and then.  The authors even went as far as this quote: "The low June 2008 export … may have a significant effect on the September 2008 minimum."  Our climate has an uncanny ability to surprise scientists. The low June 2008 export may have had an effect on 2008 sea ice coverage, but it does not appear as if it was the effect that Smedsrud, et. al, had envisioned.  The 2008 sea ice extent was almost as low as the record smashing 2007 year. Whereas 2007 saw sea ice coverage that was 39% below the 1979 to 2000 average, 2008 saw 34% below. The third lowest year on record was 2005 where sea ice coverage was 20% below the 1979 to 2000 average.

Rignot, et. al., Mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet 1958 to 2007. Rignot and the band have found that Greenland is losing 71% more ice through melt, evaporation and iceberg discharge in 2007 than was being lost in 2000, and 175% greater than 1996. So Greenland ice discharge is getting sort of close to doubling since the turn of the century, and fairly close to tripling since 1996.

GRACE is a new gravimetric satellite technology that is 100 times more powerful than the previous gravimetric satellite technology. (For more about Grace see the essay Antarctic Paradox on this site Wouters and his team of scientists (Wouters, et. al., GRACE observes small-scale mass loss in Greenland ) found almost exactly the same ice loss at Rignot in their analysis of Greenland with the GRACE satellites. The study also points out that the 2007 summer ice loss in Greenland was 21% greater than the previous record set in 2005.