The Arctic is now the fastest warming place on the planet. As it heats it is melting the sea ice. The melting of Arctic sea ice decreases the amount of reflective surface. Dark water absorbs more heat which:
• melts more surface ice
• warms the ocean depths, potentially releasing methane hydrates
• slows the jet stream down
• heats the air over the Arctic which raises the tropopause which displaces the polar vortex
Each one of these actions creates a positive feedback system. We were warned in 1988…
Global Warming Has Begun, Expert Tells Senate
New York Times June 1988
Congress was warned about the need to reduce carbon emissions in 1988. James Hansen, then director of NASA’s Institute for Space Studies, told Congress that they must consider ways to slow Climate Change…
Hansen was an early herald of potential Climate Change disaster and has continued to issue alarms about ice sheet collapse, sea level rise, the slowing of ocean-current circulation and super storms.
In 2007, Tim Flannery issued another warning about the Arctic…
Oh, this is, for me, the most disturbing thing. You know, the ice cap at the North Pole has been there for three million years. You know, walrus, polar bears, many unique species have evolved in that wonderful environment. And, of course,
. It reflects a vast amount of heat, of energy, back into space, that doesn’t then heat our planet. What we’ve seen, starting in the 1970s, but particularly since 2005, is a rapid melting of that ice cap. And it’s possible now that as early as 2013 there will be no polar ice cap in summer, and that will change the world, if — that is, if that happens. We cannot — I just hope that that will not happen, that we’ve got a long good timeframe to act.
James Hansen stated his concerns again in 2012…
Climate Citizen December 2012
The thesis that Hansen has put forward for several years is that Ice Sheet collapse is a non-linear process: that with the inclusion of amplifying climate feedbacks it is likely to follow an exponential rate of acceleration – a doubling rate. It might be a 10 year doubling time, or less. This will lead to extensive sea level rise, perhaps on the order of 5 meters in this century.
In 2016, Hansen and 16 other scientists published a paper with the shocking conclusion that Climate Change was happening faster than expected…
Scientists Warn of Perilous Climate Shift Within Decades, Not Centuries
NY Times March 2016
The basic claim of the paper is that by burning fossil fuels at a prodigious pace and pouring heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, humanity is about to provoke an abrupt climate shift. Specifically, the authors believe that fresh water pouring into the oceans from melting land ice will set off a feedback loop that will cause parts of the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica to disintegrate rapidly.
The 2016 paper said, “that the concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have been accelerating in recent years.” To me, methane is the most worrisome…
Is Climate Change causing an exponential rate of Ice sheet Mass Loss…
Climate Citizen December 2012
Methane is a very strong greenhouse gas, 21 to 25 times as strong as carbon dioxide over a 100 year period.
This is a really powerful feedback mechanism in the short-term.
Arctic sea ice is As the sea ice melts, there is a loss of reflective surface. The sea heats up, absorbing up to 94% of the sun’s energy versus 10% when it is covered by ice…
The once-thickest Arctic sea ice has gone
Arctic News August 2018
A further huge danger is that, as warming of the Arctic Ocean continues, heat will reach methane hydrates on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, causing them to get destabilized and release methane.
Meanwhile, for the first time in human history, mean global methane levels as high as 1900 ppb have been recorded.
Fast forward to 2018…
Degrading Plastic Emits Methane and Could be Responsible for Climate Change
The Green Optimistic July 2018
The study found that some of the most used plastics under sunlight release methane and ethylene in the atmosphere. The amounts of gases released are small. However, the astonishing amount of plastic waste could still contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change over time. … the research team tested polycarbonate, acrylic, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polystyrene, high-density polyethylene and low-density polyethylene (LDPE). These materials are used commonly in food packaging, textile, and other plastic goods. Polyethylene, the most popular material out of plastics, was releasing the biggest amounts of greenhouse gases. Additionally, they found out that the longer the LDPE is exposed to sunlight, the greater the emissions from it.