Cascading Consequences of the Loss of Arctic Sea Ice

“Losing the remaining Arctic sea ice and its ability to reflect incoming solar energy back to space would be equivalent to adding one trillion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, on top of the 2.4 trillion tons emitted since the Industrial Age, according to current and former researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.”

“At current rates, this roughly equates to 25 years of global CO2 emissions.”

Research Highlight: Loss of Arctic’s Reflective Sea Ice Will Advance Global Warming by 25 Years  

“Algae that live in and under the sea ice play a much greater role for the Arctic food web than previously assumed. In a new study, biologists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research showed that not only animals that live directly under the ice thrive on carbon produced by so-called ice algae. Even species that mostly live at greater depth depend to a large extent on carbon from these algae. This also means that the decline of the Arctic sea ice may have far-reaching consequences for the entire food web of the Arctic Ocean. Their results have been published online now in the journal Limnology & Oceanography.”
“We now know that ice algae play a much more important role for the pelagic food web than previously assumed. This finding also means, however, that the decline of the ice could have a more profound impact on Arctic marine animals, including fish, seals and ultimately also polar bears, than hitherto suspected,” says Doreen Kohlbach.”
Ice algae: The engine of life in the central Arctic Ocean

“Experts estimate the washed-up whales represent just 10% of the total number of the dead, with the rest sinking into the sea unnoticed by humans.”
“At least 81 gray whale corpses have washed ashore in California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska since Jan. 1. If tallies from Mexico and Canada are added, the number of stranded gray whales reaches about 160 and counting, said Michael Milstein, spokesman for NOAA Fisheries.”
Thousands of whales are dying. Scientists have run out of public beaches for the carcasses to rot

In the August episode of Nature Bats Last our guest Dr Andrew Glikson discussed his recent work titled: Beyond Climate Tipping Points: Greenhouse Gas Levels Exceed the Stability Limit of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets.
The pace of global warming has been grossly underestimated. As the world keeps increasing its carbon emissions rising in 2018 to a record 33.1 billion ton COper year, the atmospheric greenhouse gas level has now exceeded 560 ppm (parts per million) CO2equivalent, namely when methane and nitric oxide are included. This level surpasses the stability threshold of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The term “climate change“ is thus no longer appropriate, since what is happening in the atmosphere-ocean system, accelerating over the last 70 years or so, is an abrupt calamity on a geological dimension threatening nature and civilization. Ignoring what the science says, the powers-that-be are presiding over the sixth mass extinction of species, including humanity.”  

“As conveyed by leading scientists “Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences”

“Black carbon particles from  Siberian forest fires, fall down to the arctic ice. As these particles are black, they absorb sunlight and can accelerate ice melt if found in high enough concentrations. Our graphic shows black carbon concentrations, where high values can be seen emerging from the Siberian forest fires, circulating into the polar circle.”
Forest fires in Siberia, sending ash into the Arctic.

For additional day to day, up to date evidence of our headlong rush towards a Blue Ocean Event, I recommend readers follow Zack Labe on Twitter
and Sam Carana at the Arctic News Blogspot

The marine food web isn’t going to collapse, it is collapsing, now, live and direct.
The dominant culture and the corporate media are pretending to cover the unraveling of the biosphere but what they aren’t telling you about  is the rapidity of the collapse and how the domino effect of crossing these tipping points triggers cascading consequences.
I’ll be surprised if industrial civilisation survives an ice free Arctic summer and we might be only a year or two away from that eventuality.
One final comment I would make about the impending ice free Arctic sea is that we don’t need to have crossed the official definition of an Ice Free Arctic  to see the 50 gigatonne methane discharge from the clathrates as hypothesised by Dr Natalia Shakova et al. That could burst forth at any moment.
John Doyle thinks we will see a 10C temperature rise in the coming decades;

Next months guest on Nature Bats Last is Arthur Keller. We will be discussing his presentation titled “Collapse: The Only Realistic Scenario”. That episode can be found after broadcast at the Nature Bats Last archive at PRN.FM
Feel free to leave a comment below and to subscribe to the blog

Good luck everyone, we are sure going to need it.

I'm an anti-imperialist, environmental activist and blue ocean sailor, who is passionate about the earth and all it's inhabitants without favour. Brace for imminent impact as we bare witness to the non-linear unraveling of the biosphere and habitability disappearing for most if not all complex life on the only habitable planet we know of. To quote President Niinistö in North Russia: ‘If We Lose the Arctic, We Lose the World’. Folks we have lost the Arctic.

Posted in Abrupt Climate Change, Arctic Sea Ice, Collapse, Dr Andrew Glikson, Feedback loops, Methane, Nature Bats Last, Zack Labe
166 comments on “Cascading Consequences of the Loss of Arctic Sea Ice
  1. Kevin Hester says:

    “But when the sea ice extent of 2007 hit just over 4 million square kilometres, scientists like Walt Meier from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the US, were floored.”
    They might have been ‘floored’ but they have never conveyed the true urgency of the predicament.


  2. Kevin Hester says:

    “The change is part of a cycle called the “ice-albedo feedback.” Open ocean water absorbs 90 percent of the Sun’s energy that falls on it; bright sea ice reflects 80 percent of it. With greater areas of the Arctic Ocean exposed to solar energy early in the season, more heat can be absorbed—a pattern that reinforces melting. Until that heat escapes to the atmosphere, sea ice cannot not regrow.”


  3. Kevin Hester says:

    “The impact of losing the Last Ice Area would extend far beyond photogenic species like polar bears. Ice algae flourishes below the ice and in brine channels that run through its cracks and fissures, supplying carbon, oxygen and nutrients that underpin an elaborate but vulnerable ecosystem.”
    This is exactly what we discussed with Arctic scientist Jim Massa on this weeks episode of Nature Bats Last
    Loss of the sea ice will trigger the collapse of the Arctic marine ecosystem.


  4. Kevin Hester says:

    My cohost on Nature Bats Last lays out a pathway for how we will be toast before 2024:


  5. Kevin Hester says:

    Our planetary thermostat is irretrievably broken. With the loss of sea ice we lose the algae on the bottom which is the basis of the marine food web.
    This has already triggered the collapse of the Arctic marine food web.


  6. Kevin Hester says:

    “How the loss of Bering Sea ice is triggering cascading effects for the ecosystem — and the people and wildlife that depend on it”.


  7. Kevin Hester says:

    Great in depth analysis of the changes in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
    Higher than average temperatures for over 500 months ! How’s that for a trend.
    Our planetary thermostat is broken, draw your own conclusions as to what that means for the biosphere. I think it can be summed up as impending chaos, phase shifts are always chaotic. Soon we’ll look back on these times as “The Good Old Days”.


  8. Kevin Hester says:

    Sea surface temps 5C above the average. Factor in the lag time between emissions and their effects and we are guaranteed a non-linear increase in temps and further attacks on the re-freeze. It’s the final countdown.


  9. Kevin Hester says:

    Based on these results, an increase of molecular iodine could lead to more particles for water vapor to condense onto and spiral into a positive feedback loop. “The more the ice melts, the more sea surface is exposed, the more iodine is emitted, the more particles are made, the more clouds form, the faster it all goes,” Kirkby said.


  10. Kevin Hester says:

    The second lowest on record during a La Nina phase. The next El Nino will put this event on steroids.
    Added to my blog post fare welling the cryosphere and habitat.


  11. Kevin Hester says:

    There is a crucial detail in the very first paragraph of the Scripps paper that Guy quotes:
    “A team led by physical oceanographers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography”
    Guy and I have been saying for years that the modelers are underestimating the rate of change. This latest research data has been gathered in the field making it much more relevant and sadly dire.
    I’ll post the paper below for further reference.


  12. Kevin Hester says:

    Guy’s latest roundup of the collapse of the Arctic Sea Ice.
    Delve into the embedded links to get the overall analysis in it’s totality.


  13. Kevin Hester says:

    What doesn’t get metabolised in the water column will enter the atmosphere speeding up the melt in a vicious feedback loop


  14. Kevin Hester says:

    We’ve long known that the sea ice acted as a ‘plug’ slowing glacier creep, this latest paper goes into detail why it’s failing.


  15. Kevin Hester says:

    The worst possible news from the Laptev sea


  16. Kevin Hester says:

    Zack Labe’s latest and it’s not good


  17. Kevin Hester says:

    Many people think that myself, Guy McPherson and John Doyle are exaggerating that a 10C temperature increase could be baked in.
    This link shows that it has happened before.


  18. Kevin Hester says:

    “BUT the AGU paper shows that the decrease of Earth’s light reflectivity (albedo), combined with the increase of its OLR (heat) absorptivity by the atmosphere, overwhelm the also increased rate of heat (IR or OLR) emission from the planetary surface back towards space.


  19. Kevin Hester says:

    It’s nearly 20C in the Laptev Sea, it’s colder around Rakino Island in the freakn Pacific than the arctic ffs !!


  20. Kevin Hester says:

    “The temperatures were so anomalous that night time lows were higher than the average high temperatures that this region would normally observe at this time of year.”
    Early stage runaway writ large.


  21. Kevin Hester says:

    It’s such a pity that all the flora and fauna on this planet evolved in an ecosystem that no longer exists.


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Kevin Hester

Kevin Hester is currently living on Rakino Island, a small island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, New Zealand, monitoring the unravelling of the biosphere and volunteering at the Rakino Island Nursery is currently developing a proposal to create a marine reserve near by. The Island has no grid tied electricity or reticulated water.  I catch my own water from the roof and generate my electricity from the ample solar radiation on the island.

My Submission to the Ministry of the Environment
Kevin Hester, Dropping Anchor in an Exponential World
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