Publication Date December 28, 2016

Global Warming 2016: Arctic Spin

Arctic sea ice has been at record-low values for months now, since mid-October. Image: Tamino

When 2016 began last January 1st, the average temperature throughout the Arctic was fully 18°F (10°C) hotter than usual for New Year’s day, and the extent of sea ice in the Arctic was lower than ever before recorded for that date:


The extra-high temperatures and extra-low sea ice with which the Arctic started the year, was just the beginning.


Ice extent didn’t just “skirt” the lowest for [late April and May] line, it plunged far below and by May’s end was a whopping (not just surprising but shocking) more than half a million square kilometers less — not less than “average,” but less than seen before:


The depths to which the Arctic ice had sunk was, not to put too fine a point on it, alarming.

About mid-June it returned to an almost-lowest for-this-date path, and throughout July and August was only 2nd- or 3rd-lowest on record.

This was right in line with the ongoing trend of decline, a direct consequence of man-made global warming. After all, the extra-rapid heating of the Arctic and the ongoing loss of sea ice there, had been predicted more than 30 years ago by the same scientists who now tell us climate change is man-made and dangerous.


By late September, Arctic sea ice had reached its lowest level for the year (its annual minimum). It wasn’t the lowest on record, it only tied for 2nd-lowest on record...But it did dip quite low — right in line with the ongoing trend


This year will have, without doubt, the lowest annual average on record.

[A]s much as the April-May lows were a shock, a bigger shock by far is what happened since October:


Arctic sea ice has been at record-low values for months now, since mid-October. 


It’s not exaggeration to say that 2016 was shocking for sea ice. It’s also not an exaggeration to say that 2016 was shocking for average temperature in the Arctic:


The Arctic truly is the canary in a coal mine when it comes to climate. It was predicted, long ago, to warn us of impending changes. Those changes have come to pass. The canary is seriously ill — if not actually dead.