Signs of the rise to come
Following the record low Antarctic sea ice extent reached last month, Arctic sea ice extent now looks to be beyond its maximum for the year and looks set to keep falling rapidly over the next few months.
Ocean heat is at record levels, as illustrated by the image below and as discussed in an earlier post.
The image below shows the temperature at the North Pole reaching 0.7°C or 33.3°F (at 1000 hPa, at the green circle) on March 16, 2022, with ocean currents depicted at the background.
Furthermore, the Gulf Stream is pushing huge amounts of ocean heat toward the Arctic.
The image below shows that, on March 16, 2022, the temperature in the Arctic was 3.5°C higher than 1979-2000.
The above events could be seen as signs of the strength and the speed of the rise to come.
The rise to come
Temperature anomalies of up to 4.1°C (versus 1951-1980) show up over the years at the highest latitudes north, as illustrated by the image on the right, created with a NASA image. These high anomalies show up in particular during El Niño periods.
We’re currently in the depth of a persistent La Niña, as the next image on the right shows. This will keep suppressing the temperature, until the start of the next El Niño.
The next El Niño could push temperatures up even more strongly than the average El Niño, for a number of reasons. As the temperature keeps rising, ever more frequent strong El Niño events are likely to occur, as discussed in an earlier post. A 2019 study analyzes how tipping the ENSO into a permanent El Niño can trigger state transitions in global terrestrial ecosystems.
What could further push up temperatures a lot over the next few years is the compound impact of feedbacks in the Arctic, including decline of the snow and ice cover, releases of greenhouse gases from degrading subsea and terrestrial permafrost, and further distortion of the Jet Stream causing more extreme weather events.
The situation is dire and calls for the most comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan.