Last year, the Arctic Ocean reached the smallest surface area ever recorded. It was a manifestation of global warming that even the most stubborn Cold Earthers could not deny. They could only pretend not to notice what was going on.
But that was last year. The question now on people’s minds is what will happen in the Arctic in 2013.
It may well be that the Arctic sea ice will not melt quite as much as it did last year. There are a couple of reasons to suspect that we will see another record-breaking big melt this year, however.
First of all, we’re starting the season of Arctic thaw with the surface area of Arctic sea ice already at a historic low. National Snow and Ice Data Center observations show that the surface area is the same as it was a year ago at this date.
Secondly, other sources of data have revealed that the thickness of Arctic sea ice has been thinning year by year. This year, the thinning of the Arctic ice has resulted in gigantic fractures in sea ice in the Arctic, even as the ice reached its seasonal maximum extent.
If the surface area of sea ice in the Arctic is the same as it was at the beginning of last year’s record-breaking melt, but the ice is thinner than it was then, the conclusion is clear. There’s even less volume of ice in Arctic waters right now than there was at this time last year, meaning that less energy will be required to melt it down to last year’s record-low surface area. At the same time, the long term trend is for increasing atmospheric temperature, bringing more melting energy into the Arctic climate system.