The Arctic sea ice melt and methane feedback situation is a planetary emergency in its own right.
The sea ice melt is passed its extremely dangerous tipping point (T. Lenton 2012), (C. Duarte 2012).
The sources of methane feedback emissions are warming wetlands, thawing permafrost and warmed sea floor methane hydrates.
These regions hold three to four times all the carbon in the atmosphere.
The loss of all the summer sea ice will increase the rate of Arctic warming 3.5 times (D Lawrence 2008) which will boost the rate of methane emissions from the Arctic.
Since the record sea ice loss of 2007, the atmospheric methane concentration has been increasing and the scientists say this increase is due to carbon feedback emissions, some of which are coming from the rapidly warming Arctic.
Wetlands and methane hydrate can both respond rapidly to an increase in global warming. Arctic Methane hydrate has the potential to abruptly release a catastrophic amount of methane to the atmosphere.
Land based permafrost responds slower to warming as the methane is emitted as a result of micro-organisms digesting the thawed organic material.
However at a certain amount of thawing permafrost thaw becomes self perpetuating - irreversible. This because the microbial activity generates heat indide the thawing permafrost.
Nothing makes today's planetary emergency more definite than the rapidly changing state of the Arctic because there are many +ve amplifying feedbacks triggered by Arctic warming. These can cascade as a mighty deadly domino effect (C Duarte 2012)
Loss of Arctic summer sea ice effect on Northern hemisphere PDF.
It is well known that the vast expanse of Arctic summer sea ice (and spring-summer snow) have a cooling effect on the region which moderates the climate and weather of the temperate northern hemisphere. This the Arctic summer air conditioner for the entire Northern hemisphere. The loss of the 'albedo' cooling effect will disrupt the climate and increase extreme weather northern latitudes. Research shows this has started already. Drought is projected to increase. Extreme cold could affect some regions at unseasonal times. Without an emergency response now, crop yields of the world's best food producing regions will progressively decline.
Sept 2012 'Planetary emergency' due to Arctic
melt, experts warn
Arctic sea ice past ice free tipping point.
The first great Arctic amplifying feedback domino is falling and others are starting.
James Hansen made public statements in 2008 and in 2012 following the two record drops in Arctic Summer sea ice- warning the world had entered a state of planetary emergency. The reason is that, as he said in 2008, the Arctic sea ice had crossed its ice free tipping point in 2007, which is a very large +ve amplifying feedback. This will boost Arctic feedback GHG emissions and the rate of the Greenland ice sheet melt, both being planetary catastrophes. Tipping point expert Tim Lenton has also said he thinks the Arctic summer sea ice is past tipping the point.
The sea ice experts and the IPCC are sticking with their very underestimating
model projections saying the year round Arctic summer sea is good for many decades ,while Arctic expert Prof Peter Wadhams says extrapolating the rapid trend of declining Arctic thickness it is only good for a few years.
Two Arctic methane science papers prove we have an Arctic warming planetary emergency. In 2013 A Vask's research of Siberian Permafrost caves determined that the vast Siberian permafrost has a tipping point for thawing of only 1.5C and that global climates only slightly warmer than today are sufficient to thaw extensive regions of permafrost. We are absolutely committed to a 1.5 warming due to the ocean heat lag alone.
Russian scientists have been researching methane emissions venting through the sea surface over the vast shallow East Siberian shelf. Here there is methane hydrate and subsea floor free methane gas. In 2012 the results of years of onsite research was published The Degradation of Submarine Permafrost and the Destruction
of Hydrates on the Shelf of East Arctic Seas
as a Potential Cause of the “Methane Catastrophe”:
Some Results of Integrated Studies in 2011 saying The emission of methane in several areas of the ESS is massive to the extent
that growth in the methane concentrations in the atmosphere to values capable of causing a considerable and
even catastrophic warning on the Earth is possible.
The Arctic at the top of the world is at the center of the planetary emergency and the trigger is the rapid loss of Spring-Summer Far North-Arctic snow and Summer sea ice.
Arctic snow-ice albedo cooling
This albedo cooling effect keeps the Arctic frozen and keeps the enormous pool of Far North and Arctic carbon safely cold and frozen. The shiny white snow and sea ice reflect incoming solar energy back out to space.
Less Arctic albedo cooling results in more Arctic warming, an amplifying feedback
called Arctic/polar amplification.
While the Arctic sea ice provides a vast extent of albedo cooling (which is now declining fast) to its September minimum, Far North snow from Spring to mid Summer provides an equally vast expanse of albedo cooling equivalent to the sea ice albedo (M. Flanner 2011). This is also rapidly declining as the snow declines earlier every year.
Arctic & Far North carbon
Arctic permafrost holds twice the carbon in the atmosphere and subsea floor frozen solid methane gas hydrate holds at least as much carbon as in the atmosphere. All this carbon will be released with too much warming, and that has started already.
All atmospheric GHG are rising. Methane is highest in the Arctic and this powerful GHG since 2007 has been rising due to planetary feedback type emissions, some of which are coming off the Arctic.
While the most talked about Arctic global catastrophe is sea level rise from the meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet, that is the last of our Arctic worries.
Before that is abrupt climate change from the slowing of the deep ocean conveyor current (MOC) from the fresh melt-water, which is slowing faster than expected (research March 2015). The worst case MOC scenario 'Imagining the Unthinkable' was published in 2003.
Long before that happens there is the effect on the Northern Hemisphere (NOAA refs), which includes the world's best agriculture
Worst of all is Arctic multiple amplifying feedback 'runaway', which starts with the snow & ice albedo amplifying feedback.
Known Arctic feedback processes
Arctic permafrost is vast & deep
The Arctic is warming up to 4X the global average
Arctic permafrost carbon
350 PgC by 2100
+1.5C by 2100
(IPCC AR5 WG1 FAQ 6.1)
Sc. Am. 19 Nov 2015Permafrost Meltdown Raises Risk of Runaway Global Warming
April 2014 MOST IMPORTANT Wetlands synthesis. Wetlands from thawed permafrost emit much more methane, which is certain to trigger more warming (article)
MAY 4 2011
Lawrence Berkely LAb
As Climate Changes, Methane Trapped Under Arctic Ocean Could Bubble to the Surface.
March 2004 Disappearing Arctic sea ice reduces available water in the American west
Jan 2016 Big increase in methane from Russian peatlands
April 2017 Arctic Monitoring Assessment Between 1976 and 1996 average sea ice loss in the Arctic was 8,300 square miles per year. Between 1996 and 2013, this number more than doubled to 19,500 square miles per year. April 2017 AMAP SWIPA SPM (AMAP: Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme)