- The top 11 warmest years all occurred in the last 13 years. The provisional global figure for 2007 using data from January to November, currently places the year as the seventh warmest on records dating back to 1850. [story]
- The Arctic Ocean reached record high temperatures, arctic ice diminished to a record low, and ice melted on Greenland for a record number of days. [story]
- The Arctic Sea ice dropped from 7.8 million square kilometers to 4.2 million square kilometers. For comparison, the area of ice is the same as all the states east of the Mississippi River and a broad swath of those to its west. [story]
- 552 billion tons of ice melted this summer from the Greenland ice sheet, according to preliminary satellite data to be released by NASA Wednesday. That's 15 percent more than the annual average summer melt, beating 2005's record. [story]
- A record amount of surface ice was lost over Greenland this year, 12 percent more than the previous worst year, 2005, according to data the University of Colorado released Monday. That's nearly quadruple the amount that melted just 15 years ago. [story]
- The surface area of summer sea ice floating in the Arctic Ocean this summer was nearly 23 percent below the previous record. The dwindling sea ice already has affected wildlife, with 6,000 walruses coming ashore in northwest Alaska in October for the first time in recorded history. [story]
- The Northwest Passage was open to navigation, for the first time in recorded history, ships sailed across water that had been part of the polar ice cap. [story]
- It is the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels that produces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, responsible for man-made global warming. [story]
- Greenland, in particular, is a significant bellwether. Most of its surface is covered by ice. If it completely melted — something key scientists think would likely take centuries, not decades — it could add more than 22 feet to the world's sea level. [story]
Quotes from scientists:
"In 2007 we had off-the-charts warming"
--Michael Steele, a University of Washington oceanographer with the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington.
"The Arctic is often cited as 'the canary in the coal mine' for climate warming. Now as a sign of climate warming, 'the canary has died.' ... At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012."
--NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally
"I don't pay much attention to one year ... but this year the change is so big, particularly in the Arctic sea ice, that you've got to stop and say, 'What is going on here?' You can't look away from what's happening here, this is going to be a watershed year."
-- Waleed Abdalati, NASA's chief of cyrospheric sciences.
"The Arctic is screaming"
-- Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government's snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colo
"2007 set a new record, with melting [in Greenland] occurring for 25 to 30 days longer than the average of 1980 to 2006."
--Marco Tedesco, University of Maryland.
What is different now than in the previous 4 Milankovitch ice age cycles?
THIS DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE PART OF A NATURAL CYCLE:
(click to enlarge)
Resulting in this: