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What Is a Blue Ocean Event and How Will It Impact Global Climate?

I have been studying the science of global warming with a passion since the late 1970s and earned a degree in Environmental Science in 1992.

A Blue Ocean Event is when sea ice melts in the Arctic and leaves blue water in its place

A Blue Ocean Event is when sea ice melts in the Arctic and leaves blue water in its place

A Blue Ocean Event is Coming

A Blue Ocean Event (BOE) is probably something you’ve never heard of, but in just a few years it will be the biggest story that everyone is talking about. A BOE is when the Arctic Ocean changes from being covered in ice year-round and reflecting most of the sunlight that impacts it back into space to being mostly ice-free blue water for a period of time during the warm season (May through October), which will cause it to absorb most of the sunlight that impacts it.

Such an event, which has never occurred since ancient humans started roaming Earth several million years ago, will have a very large negative impact on the Earth’s climate and human habitat. Once a BOE occurs during a warm season, the Arctic Ocean water will refreeze during the following cold season. However, since the water will be slightly warmer each year, longer Blue Ocean Events are expected with each passing warm season, causing extensive impacts to the global climate and human habitat.

Why Does a Blue Ocean Event Matter?

Why would the annual melting of Arctic Ocean ice matter and why should you care? Because once a Blue Ocean Event starts occurring in the Arctic Ocean during each warm season, the Earth’s atmosphere will warm up even faster than it is currently warming. This rapid warming will have major impacts on Earth’s climate that humans rely upon for stability to grow food and survive.

Blue water, which is dark, absorbs more sunlight than white ice, due to the fact that darker colors naturally absorb more sunlight than lighter colors, a phenomenon known as the “albedo effect.” The additional solar radiation being absorbed will heat up the Arctic region even faster than it is already warming, causing less ice to form during the cold season and additional ice to melt during the following warm season, which will extend the length of BOEs with each passing warm season.

This cycle of an increasingly long ice-free Arctic that causes additional atmospheric and ocean warming is known as a positive feedback loop. It’s not positive because it’s a good thing; it’s positive because it’s a reoccurring self-perpetuating process that over time increases warming effects. Scientists predict this blue ocean positive feedback loop will cause the Arctic Ocean and atmosphere in the Arctic region to be so warm that the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free year-round at some point later this century.

Annual Reduction of Arctic Sea Ice

Spiraling image showing how Arctic sea ice is disappearing each year

Spiraling image showing how Arctic sea ice is disappearing each year

What Does a Blue Ocean Event Mean to Our World?

Most humans don’t live near the Arctic Ocean. We live mainly in the mid-latitudes thousands of miles away from the polar region. Despite the large distance, Blue Ocean Events will have significant negative impacts on humans all over the world. Impacts that could negatively affect life-sustaining water and food supplies in the mid-latitudes.

The jet stream, a river of fast-moving air in the atmosphere, steers storms around the mid-latitudes. These storms provide beneficial rain that is used to grow crops and replenish water supplies. The jet stream obtains its energy and positioning in the mid-latitudes as a result of the difference between the cold Arctic region and the warm tropical region close to the Equator.

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Once BOEs persist for many months and the Arctic warms up considerably, the jet stream will lose its energy due to a lessening of the temperature difference between the Arctic region and the tropical region. At that point, storms that form in the mid-latitudes will be stuck in place or drift very slowly, having little or no jet stream steering currents to move them along. This will cause them to drop excessive rainfall on areas in which they occur, causing so much rain that crops cannot be sustained. In other places, long-lasting heat waves and droughts will occur since the lack of jet stream steering currents will keep rain-free heat domes in place. This would obviously be devastating for humans that rely upon steady sources of food and water since crops cannot grow during extended heat waves and droughts.

Essentially, a catastrophic reoccurring BOE in the Arctic Ocean would end life as we know it. Human civilization has been built on the ability to grow crops reliably and get them to people who live away from farms for sustenance and survival. Civilization has also been built on reliable access to drinking water. If both are no longer available, due to the jet stream’s weakening and accelerated global warming, humans will have to rapidly adapt to survive.

Many will likely die in this scenario, as large portions of crop-growing regions transition to semi-arid or fully arid (desert) climates. Starvation and a lack of access to drinking water will impact billions of humans, causing mass die-offs. Those that remain will have to quickly find ways to produce food and obtain drinking water in the warmer Blue Ocean Event climate.

Blue Ocean Event Poll

An Explanation of What a Blue Ocean Event Is


The following are some of the sources I drew upon to prepare and write this article explaining a Blue Ocean Event.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 John Coviello

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