Prediction: The Arctic Will Melt Suddenly

So far, the Arctic sea ice has melted at a pace which is best fitted with lines. 10.4% per decade, more exactly. It sounds reasonable, in first approximation, to suppose that will keep on that way. However, most changes start, in first approximation, linearly, before fitting higher power curves.

In the case of Arctic sea ice, a number of mechanisms seem possible to go from linear to nonlinear.  For example, the more sea ice melts, the warmer the sea gets, the harder it is to form sea ice. Such a self-feeding mechanism is an exponential.

However, we, humanity just found a huge new mechanism to potentially melt all ice, and it is operative. It is even of our own making! As with the Fall of Rome, one cause leads to others, which then can feed back on the first.

The discovery?

A blob of warm water, 50 meters below the surface of the Arctic ocean. Why does not come to the surface, if it is warmer than the water above it? Because it is abnormally salty, thus denser.

How was it created? The Chukchi Sea has become ice-free much too much of the year. It is just north of the Bering Strait, and lies on top of the flooded Beringia land bridge between Eurasia and North America. So it is shallow: average depth, 71 meters only, and warms up well. The Chukchi Sea warms up so much it becomes salty, and that salty water sneaks north below cold upper waters (it is blocked from going south by the Strait.

The redder, the more heat content in the Chukchi sea… When the Arctic Ocean starts to churn, the sea ice will all melt…Study lead author Professor Mary-Louise Timmermans, of Yale University (yes, a woman) said: We document a striking ocean warming in one of the main basins of the interior Arctic Ocean, the Canadian Basin… the upper ocean in the Canadian Basin has seen a two-fold increase in heat content over the past 30 years.

The researchers traced the source to waters hundreds of miles to the south, where reduced sea ice has left the surface ocean more exposed to summer solar warming.

Professor Timmermans added: This means the effects of sea-ice loss are not limited to the ice-free regions themselves, but also lead to increased heat accumulation in the interior of the Arctic Ocean that can have climate effects well beyond the summer season.


What next? A strong storm, an Arctic hurricane (they happen!)  could push cold waters out, and that would force the warm water up. I would venture to say that this is exactly what happened in August 2012 (generating thereafter the smallest Arctic sea ice ever recorded, by a long shot).

The same will happen again in the future, on a grander scale.

And all the Arctic sea ice could melt, thus warming the Arctic ocean enough to melt all ice, and that in turn, could warm up the ocean enough that summer to prevent the return of the ice thereafter…

It goes without saying that, after the Arctic ocean is ice-free, trillions of tons of methane hydrates laying inside the shallow sea floor will fiercely erupt, freeing trillions of tons of methane. It has happened in the past, and can be violent enough for tsunamis. It is actually already started, albeit on a small-scale, relative to what it could become. Methane is a greenhouse gas with more than 25 times the warming power of CO2 (the “forcing” effectiveness to be a bit more technical). Thus our effort to engineer a man-made Jurassic climate will make great strides. Maybe we will see class 5 hurricane strike Canada?

Fun springs eternal!

Let’s re-engineer a few dinosaurs and pterosaurs, once Canada’s Arctic archipelago is covered with forests, as we are at it…

Patrice Ayme



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8 Responses to “Prediction: The Arctic Will Melt Suddenly”

  1. Paul Handover Says:

    Must stop reading your blog posts last thing before turning out the bedside light!


  2. Paul Handover Says:

    Seriously, after reading your latest last night I turned the pages of this week’s Nation magazine and there down the left hand side of page 4 were 6 numerical facts (one trusts they are factually accurate) pertaining to the permafrost of the Northern Hemisphere.


  3. Paul Handover Says:

    Let me offer a response I gave last night to two readers of LfD.

    As in:

    “It struck me that both Monika’s reply and yours, Val, could be best responded to together. I’m researching the history of temperature trends for our planet going back 500,000 years or more. Going to turn it into a blog post one day.

    But your idea, Val, about looking at the planet as a whole resonated with my research findings. For there have been 4 peaks of high global temperatures over many thousands of years. The present warming trend has not, so far, overtaken the previous one.

    Yet the present rising trend does seem, uniquely, to be partly the result of human activities in the last 100 years. But in a 1,000 years from now our human influence on global conditions may seem both minuscule and temporary.

    A truly global perspective devoid of vested interests is sorely needed.”

    Thoughts Patrice, and others?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Well, Paul, I was unaware you ran a climate article. I would have already read it otherwise.

      Climate change deniers are just idiots. They like to sound learned and sharp, whereas they are just self-obsessed brutes closed to reality. That today’s temps have not overtaken the Eemian peak (110,000 years ago) is not crucial: we will be there very soon. What’s important is that we have higher CO2, than any time in the last 3 million years, and this leads temps, theory and observation say. All forests in places like the American West, will burn:

      As soon as the Arctic sea ice melts, and that will be soon, and sudden, now we know that for sure:

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paul Handover Says:

        My post has not yet been published and your two contributions in this thread are valuable information for me. Thank you!


        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Thanks Paul, I am delighted to add more. Because sea level was 6 meters higher in the warmest period of the Eemian, they say, naively: it was warmer. No, just wait… It is completely clear that temperatures will go much higher than in the last three millions years, imminently….
          Please don’t hesitate to keep me informed of articles of yours you know I will strongly react to…


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      That temperatures in the Eemian were higher than now is just wishful thinking. Sea level was 6 meters higher, so people say: it was warmer… No, there is lots of inertia in sea level rise. The warmest Eemian period lasted 19,000 years… Plenty of time for the sea to rise…

      Latest science consider temps to be as high now as highest Eemian…
      From Physics-Org:

      Warm climate — cold Arctic? The Eemian is a poor analogue for current climate change
      June 14, 2012, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
      The Eemian interglacial period that began some 125,000 years ago is often used as a model for contemporary climate change. In the international journal Geophysical Research Letters, scientists from Mainz, Kiel and Potsdam, Germany, now present evidence that the Eemian differed in essential details from modern climatic conditions.

      To address the question about how climate may develop in the future, earth scientists direct their attention to the past. They look for epochs with similar conditions to today. The major identified climatic processes are then simulated with numerical models to further test possible reactions of the Earths’ system. An epoch which is often regarded suitable for such an undertaking is the Eemian warm period, which began around 125,000 years ago following the Saalian ice age.

      For about 10,000 years, average temperatures on Earth in the Eemian were rather enhanced – probably several degrees above today’s level. This seems to be well documented in both ice cores as well as terrestrial records from land vegetation. Substantial parts of the Greenland ice had melted, and global sea level was higher than today. “Therefore, the Eemian time is suited apparently so well as a basis for the topical issue of climate change”, says Dr Henning Bauch, who works for the Academy of the Sciences and the Literature Mainz (AdW Mainz) at GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

      However, in a study which appears in the recent issue of the international journal Geophysical Research Letters Dr Bauch, Dr Evgeniya Kandiano of GEOMAR as well as Dr Jan Helmke of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam now show that the Eemian warm period differed from the present day situation in one critical aspect – the development in the Arctic Ocean.

      In our current warm period, also called Holocene, oceanic and atmospheric circulation delivers large amounts of heat northward into the high latitudes. The most well known heat conveyer is the Gulf Stream and its northern prolongation called the North Atlantic Drift. The currents provide not only the pleasant temperatures in Northern Europe, they also reach as far as the Arctic. Studies in the last years have shown that the oceanic heat transport to the Arctic has even increased, while the summer sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean seems to be decreasing continuously. It has long been assumed that such conditions also prevailed 125,000 years ago. Accordingly, the Arctic should have been by and large ice-free in the Eemian summers.

      Dr Bauch’s group examined sediment cores from the seabed in which information about the climate history of the past 500,000 years is stored. These come from the Atlantic to the west of Ireland and from the central Nordic Seas to the east of the island of Jan Mayen. The sediments contain minute calcite tests of dead microorganisms (foraminifers). “The type of species assemblage in the respective layers as well as the isotopic composition of the calcitic tests give us information about temperature and other properties of the water in which they lived at that time”, explains Dr Bauch.

      The samples from the Atlantic delivered the higher-than-Holocene temperature signals so typical for the Eemian. The tests from the Nordic Seas, however, tell quite another story. “The found foraminifers of Eemian time indicate comparatively cold conditions”. The isotope investigations of the tests, in combination with previous studies of the group, “indicate major contrasts between the ocean surfaces of these two regions “,

      Read more at:

      Liked by 1 person

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