climate in crisis

Arctic Sea Ice Decline Impacting California

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When we hear about our climate changing and warming temperatures, arctic sea ice is one of the topics that many people think about.

You can see in the image below the 1981 to 2010 arctic sea ice average is the grey line and look at how we continue to run below average this year. The data coming in for 2021 shows that arctic sea ice is now the 7th lowest on record. The sea ice loss is now larger than the state of Texas with a loss of 268,597 square miles.

You can see what the sea ice loss looks like much better in the image below. The sea ice right now is in white and the median sea ice is the yellow line.

So what does this arctic sea ice loss mean for the Bay Area and California as a whole? Well, the melting sea ice and warming ocean temperatures will bring a faster sea level rise to our communities. This will also bring warmer Winter storms and less Sierra snow. And overall temperatures will get warmer if sea ice continues to decline. Sea ice helps to reflect sunlight back into space, so without sea ice, earth is absorbing more of the heat from the sun, which is warming our temperatures.

You can find out more about how the Bay Area climate is changing in a series of stories the Microclimate Weather Team worked on across the Bay Area.

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