This article discusses Arctic sea ice hitting a record low for early June; worse may come.
- The lowest Arctic sea ice extent in the 40-year satellite record for this time of year was set on June 10 with just 10.901 million square kilometers of ice remaining, dipping just below the previous record set in 2016 of 10.919 million square kilometers. This year’s record is likely to deepen at least for the coming days.
- Some scientists theorize that declining Arctic summer sea ice extent, which has fallen by roughly half since 1979, could be generating a cascade of harmful effects: as the Arctic melts, the heat differential between the Far North and temperate zone lessens, causing the jet stream (high altitude Northern Hemisphere winds), to falter.
- As the polar jet stream loses energy, it can fail to hug the Arctic Circle. Instead it starts to dip deeply into the temperate zone forming great waves which can block and stall weather patterns there, bringing long punishing bouts of rain and floods like those seen in the Midwest this spring, or extended heatwaves and drought.
- Arctic weather variations are too complex to predict in advance, but 2019 has made a strong start toward possibly beating 2012 for the lowest annual ice extent record. Records aside, the Arctic sea ice death spiral and the extreme weather it can trigger are adversely impacting agriculture, infrastructure, economics and human lives.