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How far off is abrupt Climate Change?

By Keith Antonysen

The debate about coal verses renewables can go on for a long period, but, nature makes the decisions in the end.

Previously, I have written about volume of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean; providing figures only for the break down of volume, the graph and comments by Dr Joe Romm ( physicist) put more of a perspective on it through comments and graph (1).

The headline from the article is:

“A collapse in Arctic sea ice volume spells disaster for the rest of the planet. Global warming drives a stunning collapse in sea ice volume.” (2).


“The sharp decline in Arctic sea ice area in recent decades has been matched by a harder-to-see, but equally sharp, drop in sea ice thickness. The combined result has been a warming-driven collapse in total sea ice volume — to about one quarter of its 1980 level.” (3).


“Unfortunately, what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. The accelerated loss of Arctic sea ice drives more extreme weather in North America, while speeding up both Greenland ice sheet melt (which causes faster sea level rise) and the defrosting of carbon-rich permafrost.” (4).

Europe also is impacted by what happens in the Arctic, and ultimately the rest of the globe is affected.

PIOMAS is supported by data created by satellite … CryoSat-2 . (5).

Supporting incidental information comes from the thawing of permafrost; it occurs when temperature has been high for a considerable time. Islands off the Siberian coast are disappearing as permafrost is thawing and wave action is eroding them. (6).

A British yacht sailed both routes of the North West Passage in 2016. In a press release it was stated :

“The Polar Ocean Challenge successfully completed their quest to sail the North East Passage and North West Passage in one season. The North West Passage was completed in an astonishing 14 days due to the fact that it was almost totally ice free. They encountered ice only twice in their 1800 mile NW Passage part of the voyage. This highlights an extraordinary loss of sea ice in the Arctic in the 30 years that David Hempleman-Adams has been coming to the area….” (7).

Methane explosions have been reported by the Siberian Times and Western sources.

What is the significance of the Arctic sea ice breaking down?

Remember, Dr Romm’s article uses observed data to provide a fearsome headline indicative of the future.

The cryosphere (snow and ice) has a moderating impact on temperature and is a determinant of climate. We do not know what tipping points will be reached as the Arctic sea ice disappears. The trend line is not appearing healthy and is suggestive that the Arctic Ocean could be ice free in a decade plus/minus. Meaning worse extreme weather; damage to crops, fresh water being contaminated, war, and creation of climate change refugees.

Deniers have delayed a sequential approach to tackling climate change for about two decades. Action is becoming increasingly more urgent.


2. ibid
3. ibid
4. ibid
5. ibid

Keith Antonysen is retired. He is a keen gardener, photographer, and recreational fisher. The Vietnam War and later the flooding of Lake Pedder created an interest in politics which led to a passion for social justice issues. Currently very concerned about lack of action on climate change. Not a paid up member of any political party.

This article was published on and has been reproduced with permission.



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  1. Miriam English

    I’m amazed at how many climate change deniers I meet. It is a worrying time for our species… and for all the other species we are impacting with our collective insanity. We have the power to fix our problems, but we delude ourselves into thinking either that we don’t need to, or that it won’t make any difference.

    We can fix this. We just have to want to. Yeah, we’ve left it so damn late due to the criminal propaganda of fossil fuel companies that it will be painful. Nevertheless, it can be done. We humans are astonishingly ingenious. We each need to be part of that change.

  2. Harquebus

    The Arctic is something that I also am worried about and I follow the melt there closely. When the clathrate gun fires, the methane monster will make our lives a hell. Positive feedback mechanisms are accelerating the onset of this looming threat.

    This page I visit almost every day.

    “The Arctic region is currently showing the fastest moving response to global warming and climate change anywhere on the planet. This presentation provides a definitive overview of the situation”

    “Arctic methane gas emission ‘significantly increased since 2014′”

    “Polar warming is already melting the permafrost and warming the polar sea beds, thereby triggering the release of large volumes of the potent greenhouse gas methane. This has the potential of initiating positive feedback loops that could lead in fairly short order to runaway global warming.”
    “In addition to the acidification threatening the bottom of the oceanic food chain, we have already stripped off the top of the food chain. 90% of the apex predators in the ocean are gone, fished out and eaten by humans over the last 100 years. The ocean is now largely a garbage-filled desert, favored by ever-increasing numbers of jellyfish.”
    ” From the evidence in the ice core records, natural processes take about 1000 years to remove 1 ppm of CO2 from the air. So it would take the planet 120,000 years to remove the CO2 we’ve added over the last 200 years. And we’re adding another 2,500 years to that planetary bill every single year.”

    “As of August 17th U.S. Naval Research Lab measurements of Arctic sea ice over a 30-day period “shows that the multi-year sea ice has now virtually disappeared,” Storms over Arctic Ocean, Arctic News, August 19, 2016. This means the Arctic has lost its infrastructure. It’s gone.”
    “Ever since the last Ice Age, the Arctic has performed a huge favor by serving as a deep freeze over gigatons of frozen methane (CH4).”

    Arctic Death Rattle

    I have lots of links on this subject. In my opinion, large scale Arctic methane release is our greatest threat.

    Good article.

  3. Miriam English

    Agreed. Methane is the worst multiplier. What is most disgusting is that I read about this in Scientific American many decades ago. We’ve had ample warning, but have been seduced by the fossil fuel vampires.

  4. mark

    Our own death,like this planets’,is terrifying.Probably why we push it to the back of our mind.mark

  5. Keith

    In the 1980s the amount of multi year sea ice was about 20% of all sea ice, in 2016 it was around 3%. Multi year sea ice provides a foundation for new ice. The lowest maximum sea ice extent ever was recorded during the 2015/2016 season, in September the second lowest minimum sea ice extent had been recorded. It enabled two ice breakers to travel all the way to the North Pole.

    After the mimimum sea ice extent had been recorded, initially there had been rapid formation of sea ice, that has completely changed currently. Temperatures being measured in the Arctic are generally quite high at present; should the trend continue another record low sea ice extent will be recorded in March/April 2017.

  6. Keith


    Should Trump be elected and carry through with dismantling climate science Agencies it definitely places us in further danger.
    But, scientists are still saying if radical measures are taken we can survive climate change.

    Measures such as:

    No new coal mines
    Close coal powered Energy Plants
    Reduce aircraft flights
    Plant forests suitable for particular environments
    Emphasis on research into extraction of CO2 out of atmosphere, the research is not looking positive at present

    What happens to us is mainly in the realm of politics at present, I believe.

  7. keerti

    A major change in australia’s antiquated “farming” practices would help. Clearing land which is already marginal and grazing it extensively leads to less local rainfall and growing desertification, a continuation of the ravages of firestick farming. Intensive grazing with cattle or sheep where they are confined to a limited area until the grass is grazed down to about 80% and then moved on and the area left creates the best results. The ground gets well manured. Much better in fact than leaving it alone. Tree planting in rows wide enough to provide tractor and machinery movement with the trees managed by occassional pruning of lower branches improves pasture and soil. It provides a faster, better quality timber crop as well as beef, mutton or grains.

  8. Greg

    Full agreement with all comments to this point.

    Keerti, you have hit the nail on the head when it comes to the widespread land clearing & grazing very marginal areas of Australia. Have witnessed this first hand in Western Qld. Sad.

    Apart from gross denudation & subsequent erosion of fragile soils, when such areas eventually experience a good season, the resulting livestock numbers undermine the market for graziers spending money properly maintaining the quality of sound, more sustainable country.

  9. John Brame

    I watched Leo DiCaprio’s climate change doco on you tube. It was up to about 11 million views. There was one interesting comment which said ‘ And someone gets 142 million views for some story about fruit and a pen ‘ Wow and here I was thinking 11 million was a lot.
    Another story re the warming ocean. Not only is the barrier reef suffering, mangroves across the top end have taken a massive hit. This doesn’t get the constant coverage that the reef gets. No glamorous dive expedition amongst the poor ole mangroves. Personally I felt the usual emotions when I heard this news about the mangroves, anger and sadness. 700 kilometres of almost complete die off is no small event. It’s becoming a waiting game of what will happen next as Australia continues along it’s merry fossil fuel extraction and burning path.

  10. Miriam English

    Oh dear. I hadn’t heard about mangrove die-offs. That’s a huge problem as the mangroves are fish nurseries. Without them fishstocks will plummet. With 90% of large fish already gone and reefs and mangroves no longer replenishing stocks, heaven help fishermen and traditional fishing communities.

  11. Harquebus

    I have just came across and finished reading these.

    “To many, the warming Arctic is no bad thing: Russia is actively seeking to develop the Northern Sea Route between Asia and Europe, which is possible now because of a longer ice-free season in the summer months. The exploitation of gas fields – and various mineral riches – beneath the Arctic is also arguably made easier.”

    “We are no longer a small world on a big planet,” Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, wrote in the foreword of the report. “We are now a big world on a small planet, where we have reached a saturation point.”

    Some old news. Those on my mailing list are already aware.

    “Close to 10,000 hectares of mangroves have died across a stretch of coastline reaching from Queensland to the Northern Territory.”
    “International mangroves expert Dr Norm Duke said he had no doubt the “dieback” was related to climate change.”
    “These are the most shocking images of dieback I’ve ever seen.”

    “Drought and heat are the apparent culprits in the largest killing of mangrove thickets ever recorded in the world — 17,000 acres along 400 miles of northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria. This catastrophe for all sea life in the region, just reported last week, coincides with the world’s worst ever coral bleaching event, on the Great Barrier Reef, and the death of a 60-mile-long stretch of kelp forest off Australia’s western coast.”

    The Bonfire of the Banalities

  12. Andreas Bimba

    Has anyone else noted something very strange? The posts from Harquebus for this article make perfect sense.

    I saw that climate change denialist idiot Malcolm Roberts on Parliament question time today and unbelievably Arthur Sinodinos made the case for global warming being a real problem.

    Maybe there is hope after all – two miracles in one day.

  13. John Brame

    I recently saw Deepwater Horizon, the movie about the BP oil rig in the gulf of mexico going pear shaped. One or two events like that in the Arctic will make life fun for seals and penguins, NOT. I was flabbergasted at the size of the rig and the depths that it could operate in. BP have been recently applying for exploration licence to drill in the Great Australian Bight. They have been knocked back so far. I am sure they have not given up.

  14. guest

    There are different kinds of climate denialists – those who say it is happening but is not caused by human activity; those who say it is happening and humans are involved but it does not matter, just adjust; those who claim AGW is just a big scam, and those who go further and say it is a conspiracy by the UN in cahoots with Jewish bankers to rule the world.

    I find it it totally impossible to believe that last assertion, yet it is what Malcolm Roberts believes. Why he believes this I have no idea.

    Bob Carter in “Taxing Air’ says that CO2 is a driver in the Greenhouse Effect but goes on to say that the more CO2 there, is the less effect it has. Carter is highly critical of IPCC modelling, but where does he get his idea about CO2 having less effect? Why, from computer modelling MODTRAN at the Uni of Chicago.

    Close examination of denialists’ attempts at refuting Climate Change science does not reveal any success; their science is poor or they agree there is AGW but it is not something to worry about:”Warming is good for us”, “Plants love CO2” – that kind of nonsense. It is interesting to see what vested interests these deniers have, such as fossil fuels of Bible Belt religious beliefs.

    A favourite point made by the deniers is that the IPCC fiddles the data. (Some deniers will not reveal their own data). This accusation is made on the basis of email which are supposed to prove this. I have never seen an email published, only paraphrases to the effect that a question was asked about whether some data would be included. Such as accusation fails to understand what the IPCC does as a clearing house of data. It does not create the data but compiles it, and when statisticians deal with data.they leave some out, such as in drawing a graph line through a cloud of data points.

    It will be interesting to see how Roberts tries to refute the CSIRO, if he ever does.. For him to try would surely reveal the inadequacy of his conspiracy theory. To simply deny without argument is easy. Tony Eggleton (2013) says there is no coherent anti-AGW science.

  15. John Brame

    I recently saw Deepwater Horizon, the movie about the BP oil rig going pear shaped in the gulf of mexico. I was flabbergasted at the sheer size of this rig. Also the depths they can operate is crazy. BP have been applying for an exploration license in the Great Australian Bight. They have been knocked back so far. I heard rumblings from Canavan re loss of jobs etc etc, the usual rhetoric. I think it was something to do with the recent mini-storm in South Australia that turned the tide against BP. Their rig could not cope with such a storm. I have also heard they haven’t given up and want to try a different approach or technique. These companies are relentless. Many green groups were coming out on this one, Sea Shepard, Wilderness Society, Bob Brown Foundation, Greenpeace and maybe others.

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