The Big Melt
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reports that the Arctic ice cap is fully one-third smaller than usual for this time of year, and there are still some weeks of melting ahead. We don't need to worry that this will lead to sea level rise as the Arctic ice was already floating (think ice in a glass of water), but meteorologist Jeff Masters thinks it could profoundly affect weather this fall and winter.
Another noteworthy trend: The long-coveted Northwest Passage, which appears to be dawning as an important sea lane, is much clearer than usual. That development, along with the opening up of the mineral and fossil fuel potential of the region explains all the recent posturing by Arctic nations over who owns the continental shelf, (most notably those wily Russian aquanauts planting flags on the north polar seafloor). No actual sabers rattling yet, but that could be next. See Mackenzie Funk's piece in Harper's, entitled, Cold rush: The coming fight for the melting north" to learn more about that. (Sorry: online version only available to subscribers.)
Over at Gristmill, David Roberts chokes on the irony.