This image made available by NASA shows the amount of summer sea ice in the Arctic on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, at center in white, and the 1979 to 2000 average extent for the day shown, with the yellow line. Scientists say sea ice in the Arctic shrank to an all-time low of 1.32 million square miles on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, smashing old records for the critical climate indicator. That’s 18 percent smaller than the previous record set in 2007. Records go back to 1979 based on satellite tracking. (AP Photo/U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center)
By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Experts warned of a “planetary emergency” due to the unforeseen global consequences of Arctic ice melt, including methane gas released from permafrost regions currently under ice.
Columbia University and the environmental activist group Greenpeace held separate events Wednesday to discuss US government data showing that the Arctic sea ice has shrunk to its smallest surface area since record-keeping began in 1979.
Satellite images show the Arctic ice cap melted to 1.32 million square miles (3.4 million square kilometers) as of September 16, the predicted lowest point for the year, according to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.
“Between 1979 and 2012, we have a decline of 13 percent per decade in the sea ice, accelerating from six percent between 1979 and 2000,” said oceanographer Wieslaw Maslowski with the US Naval Postgraduate School, speaking at the Greenpeace event.
“If this trend continues we will not have sea ice by the end of this decade,” said Maslowski.
While these figures are worse than the early estimates they come as no surprise to scientists, said NASA climate expert James Hansen, who also spoke at the Greenpeace event.
“We are in a planetary emergency,” said Hansen, decrying “the gap between what is understood by scientific community and what is known by the public.”
What do the major-party presidential candidates have to say on the subject of climate change? President Obama says nothing. Willard (“Mitt”) Romney mocks the President for something he said in 2008.
“President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.”
Both candidates, of course, are backed by coal, oil and gas money.