As spring extends its wonders across the northern hemisphere, after a cold winter over North America and Asia, and warm winter over Europe, the arctic sea ice extent is receding fast at record low levels (source http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/).
Arctic sea ice extent is a reliable indicator of long-trend global warming conditions, because the geographic situation of the northern polar cap makes it much more stable over time than the southern polar cap, subject to strongly changing wind and current conditions from year to year. The march average trend clearly shows how arctic sea ice extent is affected by the solar cycle: the minimum is reached a couple of years after the solar heating maximum of each cycle. As the current cycle (Solar Cycle 24) nears its maximum, not really a peak but rather a series of peaks separated by quieter periods*, evidence that something is happening in Northeastern Greenland is becoming stronger: the slow, regular motion of ice towards the sea, sped up fast during the last solar maximum year (2003). The same is expected to happen this year (and/or maybe next year).
The problem is the following: we are used to see large contnental icebergs forming on the west coast of Greenland, but the northeastern coast was exempt from this phenomenon due to the presence of thick sea ice along the northeastern coast. Nox that this old, thick sea ice has disappeared, there is little left to prevent the ice sheet to move towards the Greenland Sea through the lowest and thinnest of the mountain ranges surrounding the ice sheet. Very few people expected this, including myself.
Now it seems that someone needs to update this statement on the Greenland ice sheet Wikipedia page : “Some scientists predict that climate change may be near a “tipping point” where the entire ice sheet will melt in about 2,000 years.”
For all we know, that could very well be 200 years, which would be bad news for sea-level residents, since every chunk of continental ice reaching the sea immediately makes sea level rise. This means a 7-meter level rise over a few centuries: that is not sustainable!
So please tell your political representatives to STOP fossil fuels NOW, including shale gas and oil, before they destroy our coasts !
* real time information about solar activity and solar storms is available from spaceweather.com