News Release 1 Sep 2012
ARCTIC SEA ICE CRASHES: GLOBAL FOOD AND METHANE FEEDBACK EMERGENCY - AMEG WARNS ACTION NOW IMPERATIVE
AMEG press release, 1st September 2012
The record low Arctic sea ice extent, reached in the past few days, shows that a collapse in the sea ice is underway, and the minimum to be reached in a few weeks, could be as much as a million square kilometres below the September 2007 and 2011 minima (which were almost the same). AMEG has repeatedly warned that this could happen, raising the issue in their submission to the UK Environment Audit Committee (EAC) hearing on “Protecting the Arctic”, on Hansard record. The complete collapse of sea ice, till practically none is left for at least one day of the year, is now likely by 2015. The extreme danger lies in the repercussions of the sea ice loss, especially those resulting from seabed methane emissions and from altered jet stream behaviour – the latter already being experienced with extremes of drought and floods in different parts of the northern hemisphere. However AMEG is confident that a crisis can be averted if immediate action is taken to cool the Arctic, but this will inevitably involve a degree of intervention known as geoengineering because of the large cooling power required. Preparations need to start straightaway for deployment of the best candidate techniques, with a view to rapid deployment, hopefully in time to head off a worse collapse of sea ice next summer.
The repeated warnings about the sea ice by AMEG sea ice experts (including Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University) have been ignored or scorned as doom- mongering by climate scientists, who claim that the sea ice will last for decades. So the current collapse may come as a nasty surprise to many people. However the collapse could have been expected from observed trends, particularly of sea ice volume. The Arctic has been warming, sea ice has retreated leaving open water in summer, and the relentless Arctic summer sun has warmed the water to produce further thinning of the ice. Each year, come the minimum ice extent at the end of summer, the thickness and volume of the ice has been less. The trend reaches zero volume before September 2015, by which time the extent must obviously have collapsed.
The AMEG warning on methane emissions has also been ignored or scorned by climate scientists, who claim that the emissions will be too slow to have an appreciable global warming effect this century. However AMEG has been advised by Russian scientists, Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov, that escalating emissions from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf seabed pose a threat of abrupt climate change, as the protective and insulating cover of the sea ice disappears. There is so much methane stored under the seabed that only one percent release of this potent greenhouse gas, e.g. as a result of a large earthquake or rapid seabed heating, could cause intolerable global warming.
AMEG has recently warned of increased climate extremes and a global food crisis that will deepen as the Arctic warms. This year’s severe drought in the US is not an isolated event; much of the world has been afflicted by extreme weather in one form or another, with floods and droughts impacting agriculture*. Such extremes have been on the increase. Recent research by scientists, such as Dr Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, shows convincing evidence that this increase is related to dramatic warming of the Arctic and changing polar jet stream behaviour.
Droughts and floods have been gradually increasing in intensity for a great many years, as the IPCC AR4 report (2007) predicted would occur with global warming. However the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet. This has weakened the jet stream, increasing the frequency and duration of warm/dry spells and cool/wet spells, and thereby making matters much worse. This year we have seen widespread crop failures and a rise in food prices. Unless emergency measures are immediately taken to cool the Arctic and restore the sea ice, one can expect an ever worsening food crisis in years to come, with the prospect of famine on a biblical scale.
There are other serious repercussions of sea ice disappearance and Arctic warming, such as a disintegration of the Greenland Ice Sheet to cause massive sea level rise. But AMEG has chosen to focus on methane escalation and the food crisis because they can be seen to be already under way, with apocalyptic results if Arctic warming continues unabated.
AMEG’s conclusion is that we have a planetary emergency as a result of the downward spiral of sea ice. Only by grasping the nettle and applying geoengineering with great determination, as in a war effort, do we have a chance of remedying the situation before it is too late. International collaboration to fight this common “enemy” of Arctic meltdown must bring all nations together, simply in the cause of survival.
Arctic Methane: Why The Sea Ice Matters
Methane Hydrates: Hazard or Resource
Deprecated: Non-static method modLatestNewsWithIntroHelper::getList() should not be called statically in /home/ameg/public_html/modules/mod_latestnewswithintro/mod_latestnewswithintro.php on line 12
Paul Beckwith at Ecoshock
Saving the Arctic Ice
Nathan Currier describes responses to the emergency in the Arctic in the post Saving the Arctic Ice: Greenpeace, Greenwashing and Geoengineering (#1), concluding that geoengineering will have to be part of the action.
AMEG issues policy brief
AMEG issues policy brief, urging immediate government action.