Breaking: Arctic Ice Breaks Up in Beaufort Sea. {Video} ~ Paul Beckwith

Via elephant journal
on Mar 23, 2013
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sea ice screen shot

For the record—I do not think that any sea ice will survive this summer.

An event unprecedented in human history is today, this very moment, transpiring in the Arctic Ocean.

The cracks in the sea ice that I reported on my Sierra Club Canada blog and elsewhere over the last several days have spread and at this moment the entire sea ice sheet (or about 99 percent of it) covering the Arctic Ocean is on the move. Clockwise. The ice is thin, and slushy, and breaking apart.

This is abrupt climate change in real-time.

Humans have benefited greatly from a stable climate for the last 11,000 years or roughly 400 generations. Not any more. We now face an angry climate. One that we have poked in the eye with our fossil fuel stick and awakened. And now we must deal with the consequences. We must set aside our differences and prepare for what we can no longer avoid. And that is massive disruption to our civilizations.

Satelite imagery from NOAA’s Visualization Lab

The NOAA VisLab uses the imagery from NOAA‘s weather and climate satellites to produce animations that show the dynamic nature of Earth and its environment.

How Climate Change is Destroying our Earth. {Infographic}

securedownloadPaul Beckwith is a PhD student with the laboratory for paleoclimatology and climatology, department of geography, University of Ottawa. He teaches second year climatology/meteorology as a part-time professor. His thesis topic is “Abrupt climate change in the past and present.” He holds an M.Sc. in laser physics and a B.Eng. in engineering physics and reached the rank of chess master in a previous life.

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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger


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64 Responses to “Breaking: Arctic Ice Breaks Up in Beaufort Sea. {Video} ~ Paul Beckwith”

  1. Paul Silver says:

    While I am all for dealing with climate change, does not this ice break up every year during these months?

  2. Victoria Reid says:

    this doesn't look like such a big deal– we are having an extra long winter here, Michigan would be such a pleasant place with just a teeny bit of global warming

  3. yogi tobye says:

    We have this strange arrogance about how "we caused it to happen". A funny species we are that's thinks itself completely disconnected from Nature unless we're organic, vegan and low impact cyclists.

    Nature controls our every thought and move. If Nature didn't want it to happen, you can damn well be sure it wouldn't happen.

    Unless you have every last little bit of datum, it's impossible to draw a conclusion and say that it's our use of fossil fuels that is causing this.

    Cities submerged under seas, oceans and lakes around the world show the the human race has been around a lot longer than scientists originally thought and that we've adapted and survived through several major cataclysmic climate changes.

    We're still learning about climate in the same way that we're still learning about everything else and in the grand scheme of things we've only been around for the most briefest moment of time.

    I'm not saying lets ignore it and keep burning up resources that are precious to our Earth but if you just look at Climatology without looking at Geology, Anthropology and all the other ologies, you're not going to see the big picture.

  4. Auki says:

    When the glaciers in the Himalayas all melt due to global warming and there is no longer a snowpack runoff to serve the water needs of billions of people and small farmers, the knuckleheads who are in denial, or worse yet, those who are excited about having a warmer local climate, may finally wake up from their shameful slumber!

  5. gerardo says:

    Yeah, unless you have every last piece of evidence, every particle of soot that has been spewed from a power plant in the last hundred and twenty years? Unless you have every molecule of CO2 that came out of the worlds automobiles? Every calorie of heat accounted for? Everything, every piece of hard evidence that anyone could possibly ask for? In other words, unless you are God himself, this is not true. Humans have never ruined anything before, not land, creek, stream, river, forest. There has never been an actual case where human activities have polluted the air over a city, mountain, or desert. It's just not possible. Nature is in charge. Nature is in charge of everything. If anyone blame her, Mother Nature!

  6. Giuseppe says:

    That's not a good thing

  7. Stan Bladams says:

    The only small silver lining in this, and it is by gawd a small one, is that the denialists that have been so resistant to addressing this issue over the last 2 decades will ACTUALLY be forced to eat crow and recognize that they are going to be held responsible for this by future generations….not those of us that have spent 20 years trying to do something about it, no…many of us have done everything they can. No, it'll be those that, to quote Joel Plaskett, deny deny deny because they didn't want to give up their opulent lifestyles. SO it's not much of a silver lining, but they'll actually get to see how badly they screwed up rather than it happening after they were dead. Have fun explaining your screw-up to your grandkids.

  8. Paul Beckwith says:

    What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. – Paul Beckwith

    Unlike Vegas. I first said this almost a year ago to a TV reporter; too bad they never went with it. I have noticed Greenpeace use it recently.

    Human emitted greenhouse gases warm the planet but the Arctic warms much faster since the snow cover over land and sea ice cover over the ocean decrease rapidly in area. The white cover reflects most (>80%) of sunlight; when gone the underlying land or ocean reflects way less, <10% for dark ocean. So way more sunlight energy is absorbed, heating the Arctic as much as 6x higher than before. So the rest of the snow and ice melts faster. All in the Arctic so far.

    Problem is the temperature change between the equator (which only warmed a little) and the Arctic (which warmed like crazy) is now much smaller. So the jet stream winds that guide our weather patterns slow down. So instead of moving west to east (cold north of them; warm and moist south of them) they go all wavy and the waves can sometimes extend from the Arctic to Florida. South of the wave you are warm and moist; north of the wave you are cold and snowy. And the wave moves to the east so you may switch from cold to warm to cold over a week or so. Kind of makes it harder for farmers to grow stuff.

  9. David Scott Lynn says:

    I've read extensively on both sides of the issue, and it is not easy to just say what's true. For example, right now, the SOUTH pole, according to a number of researchers — including people who actually LIVE there much of the year — has far more ice on it than ever. Like 50 feet thicker. (!!! – That's a lot of ice!) The icebergs breaking off you saw in Al Gore's movie were of the northern peninsula, which juts north up into the warmer ocean waters, is only about a fifth of the land mass of Antarctica. … There are RECORD cold & snow events all over the planet now-a-days, currently more in Europe, Russia and Far East than in the U.S. In the United States, though, ski resorts that thought they would never see much snow again are having too much snow. Several states are having really long winters. A very wide band stretching across much of souther Canada is buried in 40 or more inches of snow. ( See ) But you do not hear about these events on the mainstream media. … Based on what I've read and observed, those who think the earth is due for another mini-ICE AGE are very possibly going to be proven correct. There are numerous signals that is occurring, and according to a number of independent researchers, we are OVER-due for the 11,500 year ice age cycle. And thousands of underwater volcanoes are erupting, warming the oceans, which releases more CO2, and evaporates water, creating more … snow! … And more climatologists, astrophysicists, etc., are switching sides on this issue toward the cooling side. … And the reason the planet has been warming is because we are coming out of the last mini-ice age ending in the (I think it was) 1600s. But 1,000 years ago, the Vikings had farms on the coast of Greenland, until the planet cooled and they were pushed out of Greenland around the year 1,300 by the glaciers. … I also think the idea that carbon dioxide is a pollutant is one of THE worst pieces of DIS-information of the last century. CO2 is the fuel for plant growth, which is what provides much of the oxygen for human beings and other animals. Greenhouse growers like to get their CO2 levels up to about 3 times what is present in our atmosphere because that is most beneficial for plant life. In a world where we are warned about possibly running out of food, more CO2 would be a good thing. ( ) Plus, CO2 is such a tiny portion of the atmosphere, and the predictions of warming from CO2 are based mostly on computer projections, not actual, measurable data. … Even some of the most aggressive pro-AWG theorists have had to admit the temperature has been stable for the last 10 to 15 years, and the question is whether or not that's significant. We shall see. … Personally, if it gets either too hot or too cold, we will ALL need more energy, and getting it from wind, solar, wood, hydro, or whatever will be VERY difficult, if it can be done at all. … If you believe we should eliminate all sources of CO2, be very careful what you wish for, and make sure you are dead certain. Ice ages kill a LOT more people than do warmer temperatures.

  10. Stan Bladams says:

    >And more climatologists, astrophysicists, etc., are switching sides on this issue toward the cooling side

    Really? Names please. I know of none who are credible climate scientists.

    Your "extensive reading" is a good example of knowing enough to think you know something but not actually knowing enough to know what you don't know.

    Do you question your doctor like this? The guy that built the airplane you fly in? Why not? Exactly what makes you focus on climate science as something that an amateur could understand better than an expert? Shouldn't you question every diagnosis from your doctor? Shouldn't you be a full proponent of rainbow reiki and every other fringe medical practice? Did you know, by the way, that in all likelihood how you think airplanes fly is actually wrong? Doubt me? (See In that and a thousand other areas the understanding of science by the general public is full of misconceptions, particularly when it comes to complex issues that individuals have an overly simplistic understanding of. Most global warming skeptics fall into that category.

  11. David Scott Lynn says:

    You make my point exactly in your comment. And YES, I always question my doctors, especially since they refer people to me when they get stumped on certain kinds of health issues with their Clients. The reason I take this seriously is because so many people adapt the position that THEY are smart enough to pass judgements on what The Truth is. So if the people who are posting on, for example, this website are claiming they are better equipped to pass judgement than others who disagree are, then they are in fact guilty of the very thing they accuse others of.

    Now, if you do not know about, and have not read the papers by these climate scientists who are opposed to the AWG theory, then it is obvious you have not familiarized yourself with their arguments. So if yo udon't even know who they are, hwo can you say you've effectively refuted them?

    Have you never done a Google search and looked at their many websites and examined their evidence? Are you just taking someone else's word for your beliefs about the truth or falsity of their analysis? Can yo articulate their analuysis and explain why it is wrong?

    Even though you know (I hope) that there is BIG money to be made by the Carbon Trading schemes so many people are trying to get passed, including many big, crony capitalist corporations , for whom Al Gore just happens to be a consultant of (see Generation, Inc). For their schemes to work, they NEED for global warming to be caused by humans. That's why many of the global arming skeptics have described how when they attempted to publish their findings, they were blackballed of threatened with termination from their employment? You know about the several dozen of those, right?

    Just in case you have not, maybe you can start by Googling "ipcc scientists dissent" and read about the U.S. Senate Minority Report where they state **More Than 700 [that is seven HUNDRED] International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims: Scientists Continue to Debunk “Consensus” in 2008 & 2009**… Many of them claim that the IPCC panel produced a politicized document that did NOT effectively represent the actual science that had been done by the IPCC researchers.

    Or you could go go… and check out the 35 Errors in Al Gore's movie. You can read Lord Monckton's comments. He was a high official in the British government and is very scientifically oriented. (BTW, there are several offers out there for various scientists who have offered to debate Al Gore in public, but Al will not answer.)

    Or go to and read about the EIGHT International conferences they've sponsored that feature prominent global warming skeptics. Watch some of the videos of the professors, meteorologists, glaciologists, physicists, and so on whom are highly trained in the sciences. (And for those of you who have heard the accusations of Joe Bast at the heartland Institute, well, I know Joe and his wife Diane personally, and I know them pretty well. So I take unfounded accusations of them personally. … Unless, of course, you have proof.)

    Then, how about Joanne Nova's website, where she has extensive articles on this stuff. (I started to list the links, but I'm sure you'll be able to find them. They are listed in the left margin of her home page at: .) Especially following the money and corruption endemic in the pro-AWG climate scientists world. Her chart following the ClimateGate debacle, where AWG people were caught saying they were trying to hide the warming trends covered up by, for example, Michael Manns' "Hockey Stick" chart that conveniently left out the fact that temperatures on earth were at least as warm as they are now back a thousand years ago — with NO SUVs to warm the atmosphere a thousand years ago. … "Her blog won Best Australian and New Zealand Blog in the 2012 Bloggies Awards. Nearly 430,000 people visited it in 2012."

    Then there is , run by Robert Felix, an architect — who went back to college after he retired — to get a more education so he could pursue his new interests in climate science. Robert wrote two books on the topic, which are getting rave reviews. One of them **Not By Fire But By Ice** received this: "Prentice Hall has included an entire chapter from **Not by Fire but by Ice** in their college-level textbook The Millennium Reader (5th edition)."

    I could go on and on to list the several dozen websites I've visited and spent a LOT of time on regarding these topics. But just like the "average" person will go to websites like or to see what they have to say before they take the advice of their doctors, I too decided that since there was so much controversy and disagreement that I needed to find out for myself.

    And BTW, anyone who says the "consensus" is settled on climate science has only been reading one side of the story. Because that is jut not true. I believe that is mostly propaganda put out, primarily, by the corporatists who've co-opted the government and want more control over the economies and people of the world. … Follow the money. The trail is fresh and … dare I say it … green (with money).

  12. Jezza says:

    Will the author of this piece of junk article stake his qualifications on his projections ?. I doubt he will, for he would be standing by his prediction, and climate alarmists like to have room to move when nature makes them look stupid. I hope many of you save this article and come back and give the author a good serve when the Ice is still there in September

  13. David Scott Lynn says:


    Certain daily News Media in Germany have broken ranks with the AGW band-wagon. They can no longer avoid the long-building reality (over the last few years) of record cold temperatures & snowstorms in Europe, Russia, and beyond. Even the U.S. is getting similar events in a more than few areas of the country. China had horrific ice storms a couple of years ago. … Any wonder the Chinese were not too thrilled about fighting global warming?

    More skeptical scientists are now admitting things that AGW science has been ignoring, and in some cases ridiculing, theories such as that (surprise, surprise) the SUN has something to do with climate change. … Or the effects of sun spot activity on the solar winds that are increased or decreased by solar radiation, or lack of it. … They are also saying the CO2 explanation of AGW is "one-dimensional" and does not explain very much, partly because the percent of CO2 in the atmosphere is so tiny.

    (And every the IPCC reports, if you read them closely, use ambiguous terms like "could" and "may" and such. There is another report, the NIPCC that has extensive refutations, if you care to read it. And there is a summary, too. )

    So, just like most scientific breakthroughs, the minority is often ridiculed to protect The Establishment. And in this case, The Establishment was the AGW community who had received somewhere between 60 and 80 BILLION dollars of public funding with the foregone — and hoped for — agenda to prove global warming, and that humans were causing it. The prime motivation was even many more billions of dollars to be funneled into both pubic and private hands if they could get the various Cap & Trade schemes passed. But that required public acceptance of the Anthropogenic theory of Global Warming.

    It did not help matters that back in the 1970s, we were being warned of allegedly impending global COOLING and an ice age that was going to cause dire consequences. Then they turned around in the early 1980s and said it was global warming. … Even older folks remember back to the dust bowls in the 1930s and 40s, again, we were warned of doom from global warming, again. That led some older folk who remember such flip-flops to be a little suspicious. …

    There is MUCH more to that story, but I'll leave it at that for now. Unless anyone is curious.

    But just like the Climate Cycles, all this is nothing new, folks.

  14. Paul Beckwith says:

    My view on the sea ice, Arctic amplification, jet streams, extreme weather patterns from Oct/2012…

    I started giving presentations on sea ice connections to jet streams and extreme weather in Jan, 2012 to educate the public, well over 50,000 people have accessed this presentation that I gave to the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society back then.

    Once I clear my PhD comprehensives hurdle which is ongoing for the next few weeks I will focus on the publications.

    Remember that the Arctic June snow cover extent has declined at an even faster rate than sea ice area has; in fact much faster. So the albedo collapse is not just from sea ice. Also, the albedo has been dropping very fast on Greenland, especially since the 97% melting coverage back in July last year. Also, the equatorial temperature is fairly constant, so since the high Arctic is warming much faster the polar-equatorial temperature gradient is collapsing, thus the physics dictates that the jets must slow down and become much wavier, and thus start being dominated by ocean/land temperature contrasts which lock them into persistent patterns. Such as for Pakistan in 2010 when it flooded out (persistent L) while Moscow baked (persistent H)and lost 40% of its grain crops. Like the ongoing drought in the US SW and the bizarre patterns now. Yes, it can all be tied directly to GHG slashing the Arctic albedo reducing the temperature gradient bending the jets. This is ongoing, not just indicative of SSW events. The meteorology in the Arctic has become completely fractured, the SSW exacerbates the fracturing.

    Once question regarding methane? Has anyone tried to examine the satellite images for the regions where the methane emissions are the highest to see if there is any sign of bubbles. For example in the Barents sea now. Or in the ESAS region during last summer when the ice left that region where plumes 1.5 km in diameter have been reported by the Russians? It should be visible on the satellite images as very bright white circular areas.

    Anyone read the BAMS, November, 2012 article on the AMOC? The data shows that it basically cratered to zero (even below zero; reversing) in 2010/2011. And then jumped back to more normal behavior. I would expect the AMOC to significantly slow as the Arctic is warming like crazy from above as there is less need for as much heat transport northward via the ocean (which carries 25% or so of the heat) as well as via the atmosphere (75% or so of heat). So of course more heat is transferred to the southern hemisphere, and Oz bakes, for example. Since the temp. gradient increases around the ACC region the SAM polar vortex and ocean currents speed up and further isolate Antarctica, leading to more isolation and decreases in surface temperatures and thus increases in seasonal sea ice extent there. Remember the out-of-phase changes there, for example the ACR Antarctic Cold Reversal that occurred during the Bolling-Allerod warming while we were still in caves. Same see-saw idea. Of course the ice cap is still shedding weight as we know from GRACE since the ice is melting from below due to the higher water temperatures.

    Last of all, I may as well share this link for good measure…

    Oh, and the professional climate denial folks that are dominating the commenting. Best to ignore them. The arguments that they use are same old, same old, nothing new and have all been debunked at numerous authentic sites like ClimateProgress, SkepticalScience, RealClimate, etc…

  15. Speeding up the melting of the Arctic ice pack should not come as a surprise. We have seen this coming for several decades. Initially it looked like our politicians were concerned enough to do something about it. However, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels would hurt profits in that sector and the climate change deniers made it acceptable to do nothing. Canada has reacted by attempting to speed up the extraction and sale of GHG producing coal, oil and natural gas. As a result it is already too late to stop entirely. Some areas, like the Arctic are being hit by a chain reaction of climatic changes that speed up the process. As vast areas of our planet suffer from drought and desertification our biggest challenge will be to produce enough food and distribute it to the two to three billion people in drought stricken areas who will need it. After two to three years of drought already, and loss of forage to feed their cattle, the climate change deniers in Texas are already seeing their ability to produce food reduced dramatically..

  16. Bernhard says:

    With the "knowledge" gained the past 10k years we've come to understand that our behaviour stands above reality.
    More "knowledge" added past 200 hundred years – the more we refuse to adapt behaviour according to reality.
    Outcome clear. Disrupting cycles of life, ends animal life first. Humans are animals after all, no?

  17. Paul Beckwith says:

    Good explanation on the importance of the jet stream…

  18. Paul Beckwith says:

    Extremely good explanations. This video (5 min.) clearly explains with images why there is so much snow and coldness and no sign of spring far south in some regions (where you are sitting in the wave trough, and the wave is south of you) and very little snow and lots of warmth in regions much farther north (where you are sitting in the wave crest, and the wave is north of you)…remember the wave separates cold air (north of it) from warm air (south of it) and guides the movement of storms…

  19. Paul Beckwith says:

    New article today: the sea ice does not lie…

  20. samitee says:

    Is this a joke? Beaufort Sea Ice is above normal and has doubled since last year.

  21. samitee says:

    In related news, Antarctic sea ice area is near a record high for the date, and up more than 10% since 1979.

  22. samitee says:

    "For the record—I do not think that any sea ice will survive this summer."

    Do you even do any homework before you write this stuff? If you look at the DMI records going back to 1958, you will see clearly that we are currently experiencing the coldest start to the Arctic summer on record.

  23. scientist19 says:

    Sadly, the article has 2 flaws:

    It does not mention the 2 main drivers of loss, the postiive natural AMO and black soot.

    The other is, that we know very little about ice conditions in pre satellite era. We know there have been significant losses earlier last century coming out of the little ice age and with posiitve AMO.

    Conditions before the little ice age are unknown, but excluding ice free conditions for 11000 years while many assume the Medieval Warm Period has been wrmer than today and previous warm periods even warmer than the MWP is stepping out of science.

  24. Keith says:

    Wondering if we could get an update from the author in light of data showing this year has a greater extent of ice than expected.

  25. Landbeyond says:

    Yes. Not that I think Paul's overall assessment is wrong, but that rash forecast "for the record" should really be addressed now.

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