Ice is melting in the Arctic at one of the fastest rates in human history. Researchers and climate scientists monitoring ice melt in the Arctic have started using the ominous term “death spiral” to describe what’s happening at the top of the world.
Documentary: Arctic Death Spiral and the Methane Time Bomb
“The record or near-records being reported from year to year in the Arctic are no longer anomalies or exceptions. Really they have become the rule for us, or the norm that we see in the Arctic and that we expect to see for the foreseeable future” – Jackie Richter-Menge, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The melt is happening so quickly, some researchers believe it’s possible we’ll see a summer with an ice-free Arctic as early as 2015.
“The loss of Arctic summer sea ice and the rapid warming of the Far North are altering the jet stream over North America, Europe and Russia. Scientists are now just beginning to understand how these profound shifts may be increasing the likelihood of more persistent and extreme weather.” – Jennifer Francis, Rutgers University climate scientist.
As Nafeez Ahmed wrote in The Guardian in May 2013:
Extreme weather events over the last few years apparently driven by the accelerating Arctic melt process—including unprecedented heat waves and droughts in the U.S. and Russia, along with snowstorms and cold weather in northern Europe—have undermined harvests, dramatically impacting global food production and contributing to civil unrest.
U.S. national security officials have taken an increasing interest in the destabilizing impact of climate change. In February this year, the U.S. Department of Defense released its new Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, which noted that global warming will have “… significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to greater competition for more limited and critical life-sustaining resources like food and water.”
While local effects of thawing permafrost are worrisome, the sheer amount of carbon that could be released in the future concerns everyone. Scientists estimate that Arctic permafrost contains nearly 1,700 billion tons of carbon, about twice the carbon currently in the atmosphere. Methane is over 25 times more potent at retaining heat than its carbon dioxide counterpart. In addition, carbon dioxide released due to thawing permafrost is a phenomenon only recently discovered and could convert Arctic carbon into carbon dioxide much more quickly than previously thought.
Arctic Death Spiral and the Methane Time Bomb
Many thanks to:
Peter Sinclair – Greenman Studios
David Suzuki – David Suzuki Foundation
Dr. Guy McPherson – University of Arizona (Ret.)
Dr. Richard Somerville – Stanford University
Severn Cullis-Suzuki - Activist
Dr. Natalia Shakhova - International Arctic Research
Nick Breeze – Filmmaker
Dr. James Hansen – NASA (Ret.)
Dr. Alun Hubbard - Aberystwyth University
Dr. Marco Tedesco - NOAA
James Balog - Filmmaker “Chasing Ice”
Dr. Peter Wadhams - University of Cambridge
David Wasdell - Apollo-Gaia Project
Omar Cabrera - Methanetracker.org
Lester R. Brown – Earth Policy Institute
Dr. Richard Milne – University of Edinburgh
Dan Miller - A Really Inconvenient Truth
Dr. Charles Miller - NASA JPL
Dr. Kevin Schaefer - USNSIDC
Dr. Jason Box - GEUS
Ben Abbott – University of Alasaka
John Tyndall - Tyndall Centre
Uli Hamacher - Filmmaker
Dr. Igor Semiletov - International Arctic Research
Dr. Richard Allen – Penn State University
Hat-tip to Clark Davis for the video.