Climate Tipping Points – Arctic

The term “tipping point” is often applied to a moment of critical change in human history. In ecology, tipping points describe small changes that, over time, force an irreversible change. Yearly lows of sea ice and a startling increase in permafrost thaw in a warming climate signal that the tipping point has already been crossed. We have already lost the frozen Arctic.

At this critical moment of loss, we must use the Arctic tipping point as a hard lesson — as ecosystems worldwide approach tipping points…

As ice and snow are lost, the warming climate makes it difficult to recover. Sea ice that is only a few months old covers gaps in the Arctic Ocean, with yearly loss of old ice greater than the annual gain. In 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that just 1 percent of the Arctic Ocean ice older than four years old remained. A warming atmosphere and sea prevent ice growth, leading to an ice-free Arctic Ocean…

The rapidity of Arctic change has surprised researchers and the public alike. Until recently, climate change models failed to identify that the combination of fire, ice loss, and land clearing would force tipping point thresholds. In many cases, these small-scale, discrete events expand across the landscape to create enduring change.

This has begun to take effect in my neck of the prairie. Though I hadn’t looked northward until I saw this article.

Folks [including me] frequently quote the average changes in Earth’s climate as being a few degrees…and lament the results. Fact is, the change in wintertime here in the Southwest are parallel to the Arctic change. While year-round averages have risen 2-3 degrees F., winter temps are up 8-10 degrees F.