Arctic Ocean February 2020
The above forecast for February 20, 2020, shows surface temperature anomalies reaching both ends of the scale over North America, while the Arctic is 3°C or 5.4°F warmer than 1979-2000.
On February 18, 2020, the Arctic was as much as 3.6°C or 6.48°F warmer than 1979-2000.
Due to this heat, Arctic sea ice extent is falling and it may be that Arctic sea ice has already passed its maximum extent for the year, i.e. by February 9, 2020, at 14.03 million km².
On February 18, 2020, Arctic sea ice extent was 13.96 million km², just above the 2010s average. At first glance, that may not sound worrying. However, sea ice volume is at a record low for the time of the year. In other words, sea ice is very thin and there is little or no buffer left to consume the influx of warm, salty water from the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean.
As long as there is sea ice in the water, this sea ice will keep absorbing heat as it melts, so the temperature will not rise at the sea surface. The amount of energy absorbed by melting ice is as much as it takes to heat an equivalent mass of water from zero to 80°C.
Meanwhile, temperatures keep rising globally and more than 90% of global warming is going into oceans.
As the temperature of the oceans keeps rising, the danger increases that heat will reach the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and will destabilize hydrates contained in sediments at the seafloor, resulting in huge releases of methane.
The situation is dire and calls for immediate, comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.