Ice-free North Pole?

Given last years record melt, some scientists who were predicting an ice-free arctic summers by 2013 were on record saying that those predictions may have been to conservative. Now some scientists studying the arctic ice are predicting (with roughly 50/50 odds) that North Pole may be ice-free this summer.

Arctic warming has become so dramatic that the North Pole may melt this summer, report scientists studying the effects of climate change in the field.

“We’re actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time [in history],” David Barber, of the University of Manitoba, told National Geographic News aboard the C.C.G.S. Amundsen, a Canadian research icebreaker.

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise given that after the 2007 melt the old ice (which is thicker, less saline, and much more resistant to warm weather) reached the lowest ever recorded levels.

The key issue is that since last year’s dramatic summer ice anomaly, the winter ice that formed in that newly opened water is relatively thin (around 1 meter), compared to multi-year ice (3 meters or so). This new ice formed quite close to the Pole, and with the prevailing winds and currents (which push ice from Siberia towards Greenland) is now over the Pole itself. Given that only 30% of first year ice survives the summer, the chances that there will be significant open water at the pole itself is high.

So even though some deniers claim that the arctic sea ice is doing fine, the science tells a different story.

So what does all of this mean? The fact that the North Pole could be ice free doesn’t actually mean that much.

The melt would be mostly symbolic—thicker ice, pushed against the Canadian continental shelf by weather and Earth’s rotation, would still survive the summer.

Rather this should be seen as a continuation of the rapid melting of the arctic sea ice, and that does have some serious repercussions, that go well beyond polar bears.

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  1. Even if the pole does melt this year, it doesn’t mean the arctic will be ice free (just vast areas of ocean around the pole), that being said the trend seems to towards ice free arctic summers in the not to distant future. Many arctic organisms (the polar bear being a charismatic example) will suffer greatly and some will definitely go extinct as a result.

  2. ‘Scruffy Dan’ you should be sued for writing this kind of discrediting hate propaganda.
    You said the “N pole would melt this year for the first time in recorded history”.Liar, 1987 and 1999.
    “Recorded history” of ice measurements in the Arctic only go back to 1959. You didn’t mention that did you?
    You used a photo of Penguins which are only found in the Antarctic. Liar.
    I could go on and tear this entire piece of pretend suedo-science into a hundred pieces.
    Your liable for this post and I’m taking notes you “Green” pottyperson.
    This entire post is libelous PottyDan and I think you should be held responsible and possibly even made an example of.

  3. Anon (I know full well who you are), this is your first and final warning. Comments like that will not be tolerated.

    ‘Scruffy Dan’ you should be sued for writing this kind of discrediting hate propaganda.

    Writing that ice at a certain symbolic location is melting is now considered hate propaganda? Grow up. I could say that every single square centimeter of ice on the planet will melt tomorrow and, while it would be inaccurate, it wouldn’t be hate propaganda.

    Also it isn’t me saying this, but rather the scientists studying the ice in the arctic.

    You used a photo of Penguins which are only found in the Antarctic. Liar.

    I used the picture that was taken near the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen from the NatGeo article I linked to. I don’t see any penguins, but perhaps with your admittedly limited education you don’t know what a penguin looks like.

    If anyone is a liar here, it is you Anon.

    As I said Anon, I know full well who you are, and I wont tolerate this type of ignorant comments. If you want to participate in an adult discussion you are more than welcome to do so (though you must abide by my comment policy), but these types of comments will be promptly deleted.

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