Arctic Update Mid–June

Thank God there are still simple matters in life where you don’t have to wonder or ponder about what actor did what to whom. And the abrupt disappearance of ice in the Arctic is just such a matter: No one did squat to stop it, and that’s why it’s going away.

Take the 5-year average for sea ice as an example: Does it display a downward trend? And is that trend rather steep & aggressive? The correct answer to both of these questions is Yes, indeed. On the 21st of May, the average went below 13.7 k km³ for the first time on record (1979-2020), meaning the average of every single day for the past 5 years is lower than the average of any other 5-yr period on record.

Another way of saying that is where we are now is the lowest we’ve ever been. Of course in terms of a 5-yr average for sea ice volume. That gives us the long–term perspective, but of course there are other ways of looking at the Arctic. In fact there are plenty of ways.

In the short–term, there’s the annual or one–year average volume, where we remember that 2019 was the 2nd lowest of all. The lowest year, first proclaimed by this blog’s predecessor, was of course 2017. That year is still the only one on record to average below 13 k km³.

Many people and even some ‘experts’ still believe 2012 was the lowest year, but it was beaten by 2017, and now even 2019 is lower:

Annual sea ice volume graph from PIOMAS at Uni–Washington.

One of the many reasons people still believe 2012 is lowest, is that unlike temperature, which is always referred to in annual averages, sea ice tends to be measured by one day only, usually a September day. In a way, that would be like measuring the entire year’s planetary temperature by One day that you choose and for One spot that you also choose, you know, like that One day in June back in 5th grade when it snowed in Southern Norway. Is it representative for the entire planet, and the entire year? Of course not, it’s the kind of trick a climate–denier would play.

But granted, it IS also interesting to look for the absolute minimum amount of ice at the far end of the summer melt season. Could we have an ice–free Arctic this year, a so–called Blue Ocean Event? Well, not according to this plot:

Here it’s only a 3% chance that the September minimum this year will be ice–free, defined as less than a million km² sea ice area in the CAB, or Central Arctic Basin. The app behind the plot calculates the melt needed for every day till melt ends, and then compares the melt actually observed for that day, to the ‘needed’ melt. If no days can show enough ice melt, the % will be 0, and if half the days meet the demands, chance will be 50%. We can see 2020 being last in line of the past 5 years, meaning at this stage of the melt, we’re not very impressed by 2020’s performance. (Although it can be argued that the inner, most freezing part of the floating ice doesn’t start melting regularly before Summer Solstice and perhaps July.) Of course, a Blue Ocean Event never happened before in documented history, so a lot of eyes are fixed on this statistic and this eventuality only.

Some people like to look at the ice ‘directly’, or through satellite censors, in order to judge the progress by ice coverage in particular places, or degree of melt pond formation. Here we got tons of melt ponds on the sea ice, in a picture of the Nares Strait (right) and the Nansen Fjord, the planet’s longest fjord (left). Bottom middle you can see the famous ‘arc’, or the arc-shaped ice edge within the Nares Strait. The strait has been known to open or stay shut at widely varying times and periods of the year, and it does transport a fair amount of ice out of the Arctic, but the truly big export channel is of course the Fram Strait to the East of Greenland, named after polar explorer Nansen’s vessel and expedition. A fun fact is, if the Nares were a freshwater river, and not an ocean water strait or stream, its flow of water would be 10 times that of the Amazon river in terms of volume, which is interesting because the Nares is actually one–directional and thus acts like a river.

Uni–Hamburg has the most high–resolution sea ice concentration product on the web, and when you zoom it or view it like the above, you get a very quick overview of where we’re at. This is from June 15th.

Finally, I’ve included the Japanese interpretation of the daily sea ice volume for June 15. They say it’ll be a melting season out of the ordinary, so let’s follow closely what happens, when it happens!

We Let This Ship Sail

The problem of virtue signalling and the “Every good cause is our top priority” failed approach

Systemic xenophobia is a thing, and these days this thing is flying high, along with demands that we all” immediately express the seemingly only acceptable sentiment, namely that systemic xenophobia is the same” struggle as whatever the climate thing is. In a way, they want us to state publicly that 2+2=5”, for those of you who read George Orwell: We all know it isn’t the same struggle, and yet life will be much easier for each and every one of us if we just” say the words.

Let me start by telling a short story about the very first book I read entirely on a Kindle, back in the day. I read it outside in the very bright April sun at the family cabin, with bright-white snow reflecting even more light at my face and screen, a key test criteria for the Kindle, which had no backlight.

The book was written by a very strong Swedish woman, Inga-Britt Ahlenius, and documents the “decay of the United Nations under Ban Ki–Moon”, which Ahlenius witnessed first hand, having worked closely with Ban over many years. Besides being the regular type of arrogant liar & sleazebag, Ban liked to say that every one of 20–30 major issues were the “focus” of his administration as UN Secretary General. Or perhaps the number was 40, you get the picture.

You don’t need bright-white April sun to spot the flaw to a plan for “prioritising” 30-something huge world issues. But to be clear; if for instance the climate situation was in the process of getting out of hand, of passing the Big tipping point, and going into Point of No Return territory, during his time in office, then “focusing” or “prioritising” 30 other big issues, other than climate, equally and alongside the issue turning into a runaway existential threat, makes no sense at all.

One step further, one could even say that listing it as “one of 30” “prioritised” policy areas is a giveaway admission that Ban didn’t understand the first thing about the climate situation. (Or maybe he did: The Dark Side of the argument is of course that he knew exactly how royally effed we were already before the start of his term in the UN, and his treasonous job description included covering this up.)

Now, we don’t get to be at that all-important climate tipping point forever, no matter how “fun” that would be for activists. Now that ship has sailed, but for the pre–TP era, I don’t think it’s particularly hard to understand that the priority needed to be hard & razor-sharp on climate: Solve other stuff later. Granted, it’s unpleasant for every one of us as individuals to accept or realise that the ship did sail, and that many of the species we know & love will now go extinct, including our own, but this being hard to grasp doesn’t mean that every last problem on Earth and among humans is equally important as catching that ship before it sailed.

The very last part of this thought is that the only potential sanity to the “same struggle” argument requires there to be a planet where the climate “thing” is still fixable, together with a political situation on that planet where joining forces and mobilising millions, if not billions of people have even the potential to stop the climate “thing” from running away.

This is why they want us to say “2+2=5” and “every other struggle is a climate struggle” when they clearly are not. In short, they want us to compromise our very sanity in order to join hands with very, very different struggles so that a political front consisting of billions of human beings can smash store fronts while yelling our demand that the ship didn’t “really” sail fifty years ago.

Of course, the ship did sail, so join hands if you want, it doesn’t really matter now, does it.