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The Arctic

Tim Helweg-Larsen & Richard Hawkins





Arctic Sea Ice Extent

Area of ocean with at least 15% sea ice



Age of Arctic Sea Ice

1989 / 2007

+ 5 years

5 years


late summer sea-ice is projected to disappear almost completely towards the end of the 21st century
IPCC, WG I (2007)

The Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012 Dr Jay Zwally, NASA

Our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.

Dr Wieslaw Maslowski, US Navy Worst-case scenarios about sea-ice loss are coming true: the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summertime as soon as 2010 Louis Fortier, Universit Laval

No matter where we stand at the end of the melt season, its just reinforcing this notion that the Arctic ice is in its death spiral.
Mark Serreze, NSIDC

So what?

Over and above existing model projections



% of radiation reflected

Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal

Permafrost extent in the Northern Hemisphere, http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/permafrost-extent-in-the-northern-hemisphere

billion tonnes

0.1% melt = 1600mtc

80% global cut


Existing coupled climate models lack a robust treatment of soil carbon dynamics.

The [IPCC] range does not include contributions from rapid dynamic processes in the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets which could eventually raise sea level by many meters. Lacking such processes projections based on such models may seriously understate potential future increases. Oppenheimer et al.

Because understanding of some important effects driving sea-level rise is too limited, this report does not assess the likelihood, nor provide a best estimate or an upper bound for sea-level rise therefore the upper values of the ranges are not to be considered upper bounds for sea-level rise. IPCC, Synthesis (2007)


Over and above existing model projections


Tim Helweg-Larsen & Richard Hawkins