Feedback Accelerates Arctic Ice Melt – Canada, Alaska Most Pronounced

Scientists at NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center published research last week in the Journal of Geophysical Research based on satellite microwave data of seasonal Arctic ice thaw from 1970 to 2009. The study indicates the seasonal Arctic sea ice melt season is now about 20 days longer than it was 30 years ago.

The growing season of thaw is most pronounced in Arctic waters off the coasts of Alaska and Canada, including the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, where the season is 30 days longer now than in 1979. East Greenland and the Hudson Bay also share nearly a month longer of seasonal melt. The Hudson Bay exhibits one of the fastest increases in seasonal melt on the globe.

On average, seasonal melt has increased about 2.5 days per decade and lasts 3.7 days longer – an average of just under 20 days since 1979.

“With the exception of the Sea of Okhotsk, all areas in the Arctic show a trend toward earlier melt onset and also a trend toward later freezeup,” researchers said in their published report.

Scientists suggest that the longer melt season creates a feedback loop further accelerating warming in the region. When the ice melts, darker ocean water absorbs more heat from the sun. With a longer melt season there is more time for these dark waters to absorb more heat, adding further to ice loss. The delayed fall freeze also means thinner ice reforms every season, leading to increased ice loss in the coming thaw next season.

NASA has recently published research showing that average thickness of Arctic sea ice shrank 2.2 feet between the winters of 2004 and 2008, with the surface area covered by multi-year ice shrinking by more than 42 percent.

As goes the ice in the Arctic waters so goes conditions on land. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the changes observed in sea ice leads changing conditions on land. Those changes include warmer fall temperatures, making was for a northward march of trees and shrubs into areas that were once frozen tundra. The changing patterns on land and sea rise up into the atmospheric circulation patterns in northern Alaska and Canada, all the way down to mid-latitude North America.

Sources and further reading:
Climatewire (subscription)
The Star
The Energy Collective

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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  1. You guys really are just batshit crazy.
    That’s ok- but you’ll need to be thinking about an honest job sometime.
    You can’t live on charity forever.

  2. Just read article today regarding the fact tha it looks like we are in for 20-30 of global cooling. According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 – and even the most committed global warming activists do not dispute this.The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.

    Read more:

    Read more:

    • Interesting – but what about the research published recently that is referred to here in the blog post? The longer term trend – as well as the shorter trend for perennial ice could possibly what you should be looking at.

      One common comment I hear about climate scientists and global warming is “how can they tell what will happen?” (kinda paraphrasing, but I think the point is clear) – so then I assume that thinking applies to some scientists claiming that we are in for “20-30 (years) of cooling”?

      Last November was the 3rd warmest on record. Last December was the 14th coldest.

    • @Byron Allen:
      Well, the cherry picking couldn´t be worse. Climate is what happens in several decades, not in three years. And if you do like you do, pick the starting point at a place where your “not-scientific conclusions” get´s the best result, you could probably show that earth is flat as a pancake or that God made the world in seven days… 🙂

      It´s so sad to read all denialists bad comments in a climate scientific perspecive, but fun in a psychological way. Keep on, the “shrinks” must love it!

    • @Byron Allen:

      Professor Anastasios Tsonis and Kyle Swanson, in the recent published research, which supposedly supports your article and argument, actually say:

      “Finally, it is vital to note that there is no comfort to be gained by having a climate with a significant degree of internal variability, even if it results in a near-term cessation of global warming. It is straightforward to argue that a climate with significant internal variability is a climate that is very sensitive to applied anthropogenic radiative anomalies [cf. Roe, 2009]. If the role of internal variability in the climate system is as large as this analysis would seem to suggest, warming over the 21st century may well be larger than
      that predicted by the current generation of models, given the propensity of these models to underestimate climate internal variability [Kravtsov and Spannagle, 2008].”

      Kyle Swanson commenting about his own research:

      “What do our results have to do with Global Warming, i.e., the century-scale response to greenhouse gas emissions? VERY LITTLE, contrary to claims that others have made on our behalf.”

      Here’s a link to Kyle’s thoughtful discussion of his research at the website:

  3. Well Thomas, they are “everywhere”, even so in Sweden…
    But one must remember; they are few but loudly squabblers, and they have almost no one inside the science world that supports them, not mentioning supports them with peer review evidence…
    Keep up the good work!

  4. Thanks Dr.Schueneman,

    for your research, your good strong voice and your patience with those in obvious denial. Very much appreciated,

    Bill Gibsons, B.C.

  5. I was in the north of Russia this year. it’s much quieter than it was ones. Less singing birds, nobody tried to still anything from our tent. now you can really feel global warming…


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