Arctic sea ice could disappear completely within two months’ time
Arctic sea ice fell by 3.239 million km² in extent in 25 days (i.e. from July 1
to 25, 2020). Melting will likely continue for another two months. If it
continues on its current trajectory, the remaining 6.333 million km² of Arctic
sea ice could disappear completely within two months’ time.
The fall in extent over the next two months’ time may not remain as as steep as
it was in July, yet the sea ice still could disappear completely. One reason for
this is that, over the years, sea ice thickness has been declining even faster
than extent. The rapid decline in sea ice thickness is illustrated by the
sequence of images below.
The image on the right further illustrates that sea ice is getting very thin,
which threatens the
latent heat tipping point
to get crossed.
Sea currents and the
will make that the influx of warm, salty water into the Arctic Ocean will
continue. With no buffer of sea ice left underneath the surface of the sea ice
to absorb incoming ocean heat, more heat will accumulate in the Arctic Ocean,
threatening that the
methane hydrates tipping point
will get crossed.
Here’s another indication that the buffer is disappearing fast. North of
Greenland and of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, some 700 km from the North
Pole, sea ice is disappearing, precisely where the thickest sea ice used to be
High greenhouse gas levels are causing high temperatures over the Arctic and high ocean temperatures. On July 25, 2020, sea surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean were as high as 20.8°C or 69.4°F (at the green circle).