U.S. sized ice sheet melts in Arctic

Plus more chilling news on warming up there. Algae's growing. Wildfires could come.
Written by Mark Halper, Contributor
There she goes. The Arctic is melting in front of our eyes.


An area of Arctic ice the size of the United States has melted so far this year.

That's according to the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which described a threatening rate of accelerating, real time climate change to negotiators this week at the UN  climate talks in Doha, The Guardian newspaper reports.

"Climate change is taking place before our eyes, and will continue to do so as a result of the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which have risen constantly and again reached new records," WMO's secretary general Michael Jarraud said.

Some scientists have warned that the world could be closer to a global warming tipping point than previously thought.

Soon after Jarraud warned Doha, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported a record loss of Arctic ice and snow from Oct. 2011 through August 2012, the Guardian wrote. That included the loss of almost all of Greenland's surface ice over four days in July.

In more alarming signs of change from NOAA, the Guardian notes that "Blooms of algae sprouted beneath the permanent sea ice in the middle of the Arctic ocean, feeding off the sunlight filtering through melt pools. The report cites a massive bloom of phytoplankton beneath the Chukchi sea ice stretching for more than 60 miles, as well as algae blooms near melt holes in the central Arctic.

"On land, shrubs are spreading across the lower Arctic because of a longer growing season."

Some tundra plants like moss and lichen are declining.

Perhaps most staggering of all: Conditions are building for Arctic wildfires, the article states.

Watch it melt on this NOAA video:


Photo: Screen grab from NOAA video.

More chilling news about warming, on SmartPlanet:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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