This amazing video shows graphically, the loss of arctic sea ice. Disturbing, yet almost hypnotic is the portion showing the disappearance of older ice starting at about the 54 second point.
Looking at this it is hard to imagine that we won’t see an ice free arctic within 10 years. And when that happens, there is no more temperature buffer. The implications are stunning. What will happen to storm intensity? And even more disturbing, what are the implications for the gulf stream?!
To raise the temperature of water one degree requires one Joule of energy. To melt a gram of ice at 0 degrees Celsius requires 334 Joules (this is due to something called the latent heat of fusion). So the ice at the poles acts as a huge buffer. If the ice goes away, the rate of heating of the pole will increase dramatically. It is a tipping point, or what scientists like to call a non-linear event. Non-linear events are highly unpredictable. Modeling them can be difficult. When the icecap is gone, things will happen much more quickly. Given the conservative predictions of scientists to date, it is beyond disturbing thinking about what will happen to our weather during that first ice free year.