Arctic Crisis 2018 in Charts and Graphs


Introduction. This is the first “blog” that I have posted on this website in well over a year. That’s because I have shifted to the next generation of blogging–something that I call “Bite-Size Blogs,” or BSBs, that go out as emails instead of blogs. Since launching those BSBs in June of 2016, I have posted 158 of them. Lately I have been averaging about one per week.

You can click here to view the page where I have posted links to all of those BSBs. And, if you would like to start receiving them on a regular basis, please join my mailing list. Don’t worry, it’s very easy to unsubscribe.

What about that Crisis in the Arctic?

When we’re talking about something this serious, I always like to have hard data, like the “charts and graphs” mentioned above. To convey my preference for data over opinions, this image has been sitting on my desk for the better part of twenty years.

The first graph below is a preview of my next Arctic update to be posted in a BSB later this week. It’s another “Oh My God” illustration out of the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington.

The gray bars below represent the volume of Arctic sea ice in thousands of cubic kilometers at the minimum level each year (occurs in September). For the past eight years, it has been about 75% less than the volume in 1979, when satellite imaging began. When the blue line touches the red line, there will be no ice in the Arctic Ocean.

Where will we be this September? We’ve been dodging bullets for the last eight years. Stay tuned.

Last week I reached out via email to Dr. Peter Wadhams of the University of Cambridge to get his input on some alarming events that were taking place in the Arctic. His response appears just below his image.

Dr. Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean Physics, University of Cambridge

July 16, 2018

Dear James,

Many thanks for your message. The Arctic ice has been behaving in a new way. In terms of annual mean extent, it is lower than ever before, but the decline in volume is spread throughout the year rather than being focused on September. 

The above graph shows this – the ice extent is paralleling the average at a lower level rather than diverging from it as summer approaches, but you can also see this if you go right back to last autumn. The ice is switching to a significant decline at all seasons, so an ice-free September, previously thought to be a dire warning, may not happen . 

Instead the ice just declines at all seasons until finally it goes altogether.

Best wishes, Peter

So, based on his recommendation, I went to nsidc.org to research the “average monthly sea ice extent” in the Arctic Ocean since August of 2017. Each of the eleven graphs that appear below cover the period since 1979 when satellite imaging of ice cover began.

Note that all of the following eleven graphs reveal that Arctic Sea Ice extent is following the same downward trend that Dr. Wadhams mentioned.

Aug. 2017. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2017)

Sept. 2017. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2017)

Notice in both the August and September graphs, that 2012 had by far the lowest extent on record in terms of millions of square kilometers. Since then, the five data points have had greater “extent” areas than 2012.

But don’t let that fool you. Since 2012, the temperature in the Arctic has been rising over three times as fast as the rest of the world. The ice is also thinner, which means that it could disappear much more quickly.

Below this September graph, I provide a Sam Carana graph of the temperatures in the Arctic and how sharply their rate of increase has been, and continues to be–compared to the rest of the world.

I reviewed this Sam Carana chart with Dr. Wadhams in Feb. 2018, See one minute video below.

Candid Camera: One minute with Dr. Wadhams–NYC Feb. 2018

While we’re on the topic of rapidly warming Arctic temperatures, take a look at the graph below that was recently created and posted at the Arctic News Blogspot by Sam Carana. The last datapoint is July 6, 2018. Note that this graph is just a snapshot look at one particular date (July 6) for each of  the past five years.

Given that it’s only one day over a five-year pereiod, I would like to think that the sharp temperature increase in this graph is a fluke. But given all the other data, like the above chart, I fear that these numbers may spell big trouble.

Notice that the following nine “ice extent” graphs (from October to June 2018), all seem to be telling the same grim story regarding the disappearance of ice at the top of the world.

October 2017. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2017)November 2017. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2017)December 2017. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2017)January 2018. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2018)

February 2018. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2018)

March 2018. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2018)April 2018. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2018)

May 2018. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2018)

June 2018. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2018)

July 2018. Average Monthly Arctic Sea Ice Extent (1979-2018)

What’s next? I am unusually nervous about the data for the next three months (July, August and September) that will be posted between now and the first week of October. By then, we will know whether or not we will have an ice-free Arctic Ocean, this year, for the first time in millions of years. Here are two recent BSBs on this topic.

An Arctic Alert for your Friday the 13th  (7-13-18)

From Curiosity about Food Choices to OMG! (7-20-18)

J. Morris Hicks on Fishers Island Sound

Finally, this Friday I will be posting an update BSB on this topic that features a recent (April 2018) Ted Talk video where Dr. Wadhams explains what he calls the Arctic Death Spiral.

I welcome your feedback and questions at jmorrishicks@me.com

Best Regards, J. Morris (Jim) Hicks

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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