6 July, 2021
Above image, from the National Institute of Polar Research in Japan, shows Arctic sea ice extent at a record low for the time of year, on July 4, 2021, at 8.4 million km².
Subsequently, the NSIDC also indicated that Arctic sea ice was at record low extent for the time of year, on July 5, 2021, at 8.867 million km² (image above).
Arctic sea ice is getting very thin rapidly, threatening the latent heat tipping point to get crossed soon.
The U.S. Navy animation on the right shows Arctic sea ice thickness (in m) for the 30 days up to July 4, 2021, with eight days of forecasts included.
Albedo loss, latent heat loss and changes to the jet stream can dramatically amplify the temperature rise of the water in the Arctic Ocean, with the danger of causing destabilization of hydrates at its seafloor, resulting in eruption of huge amounts of methane from hydrates and from free gas underneath the hydrates.
And while the situation in 2021 is dire, the outlook for the years beyond 2021 is that things look set to get progressively worse.
This situation in 2021 is the more remarkable given that we’re in a La Niña period, as illustrated by the NOAA image on the right showing a forecast issued July 5, 2021, that indicates that La Niña is expected to reach a new low by the end of 2021.
Sunspots are on the rise. We were at a low point in the sunspot cycle late 2019/early 2020. As the image on the right shows, the number of sunspots is rising and can be expected to rise further as we head toward 2026, and temperatures can be expected to rise accordingly.
According to James Hansen et al., the variation of solar irradiance from solar minimum to solar maximum is of the order of 0.25 W/m⁻².
So, the outlook is grim. Even so, the right thing to do is to help avoid the worst things from happening, through comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.
• National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) in Japan
• The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder
• Climate Plan