Old ice at a record low in Arctic as melting season begins

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:33 PM GMT on April 20, 2009

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March 2009 Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent was the 6th lowest since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The record March low was set in 2006, and it has now been nearly two years since we have set any record monthly minimums for Arctic sea ice. While it is good news that the area of sea ice coverage has not been reaching record lows recently, there is concern about the recent record loss of thick, multi-year ice in the Arctic. Strong winter winds pushed a considerable amount of multi-year-old ice out of the Arctic this year, leaving the Arctic Ocean with its lowest amount of old sea ice on record (Figure 1). Sea ice more than two years old fell below 10% for the first time since satellites began observing the ice in 1979. This is a factor of three lower than the 30% coverage for the period 1981 through 2000.


Figure 2. These images show declining sea ice age, which indicates a thinning Arctic sea ice cover more vulnerable to melting in summer. Ice older than two years now accounts for less than 10% of the ice cover. Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center, courtesy J. Maslanik and C. Fowler, University of Colorado.

As the ice melting season begins this year, the exceptionally low amount of old, thick ice leaves the Arctic very vulnerable to melting. Air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean this past winter were 1 - 2°C (1.8 - 3.6°F) above average, and a continuation of conditions this warm would probably cause record melting of the Arctic ice cap this summer. On the other hand, the amount of 1 - 2 year old in the Arctic increased in 2008 compared to 2007, so if the Arctic experiences below average temperatures this summer and throughout 2010, the potential exists for old ice to make a comeback. However, the Arctic has experienced very warm temperatures in excess of 1°C above average for most of the past decade (Figure 2). The latest Arctic Report Card 2008 concludes that "it is becoming increasingly likely that the Arctic will change from a perennially ice-covered to an ice-free ocean in the summer". The best hope I see for the Arctic sea ice to recover in the next few years is for a major volcanic eruption in the tropics to create a "Volcanic Winter" cooling effect for a year or two. Such an eruption would probably not allow for a complete recovery of Arctic sea ice, but might delay the transition to a summertime ice-free state by several years.


Figure 2. Arctic-wide annual averaged surface air temperature anomalies (60°-90°N) based from 1900 - 2007 on land stations north of 60°N relative to the 1961 - 1990 mean. From the CRUTEM 3v dataset, (available online at www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/). Note this curve does not include ship observations. The year 2007 was the warmest year on record in the Arctic. The year 2008 (not plotted) was cooler than 2007. Image credit: Arctic Report Card 2008.

As usual, I'm saying little about Antarctic sea ice, since the ice at the bottom of the world is not changing much and has a small impact on global climate compared to Arctic sea ice. Antarctic sea ice is currently quite a bit above average in extent, making total global sea ice above average this month. However, as I explained in a post earlier this year, drawing attention to this statistic is not a very intelligent thing to do, and hides the important fact that Arctic sea ice is in serious danger.

My next post will be on Wednesday--Earth Day--when I'll pick my top wunderphotos from the past year. I'll talk more about "Volcanic Winter" on Friday.

Jeff Masters

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169. searcher14 12:53 AM GMT on April 21, 2009
Jeff - your global warming scare mongering really sucks .... and is very boring



if you dont like what dr m talks about then dont come here any more
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115235
Somebody has been elevating their diction lately...
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Quoting hahaguy:


Just put him on ignore he's been here before.


Thanks, now I can't see his comments anymore =D
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Quoting futuremet:
Searcher14

You need to understand that you are not the owner of this blog, so don't go around and superciliously ordering others to subject themselves to you. I admit, I am not a supporter of GW and even think it is pseudoscience, but that does not mean I have the right to order Jeff Masters what to write.

You should be thankful for this blog, for it helps individuals that desire to know current atmospheric conditions, specifically during hurricane season. SO STOP WHINING!


Just put him on ignore he's been here before.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Searcher14

You need to understand that you are not the owner of this blog, so don't go around and superciliously ordering others to subject themselves to you. I admit, I am not a supporter of GW and even think it is pseudoscience, but that does not mean I have the right to order Jeff Masters what to write.

You should be thankful for this blog, for it helps individuals that desire to know current atmospheric conditions, specifically during hurricane season. SO STOP WHINING!
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Complete Blog Refresh, with New Weather/CritterCam
Mirror Site
Current Home weather station data.

Daily Area of Interest
Click to enlarge
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Yep but, it was in the very upper levels nothing close to the surface.


Yes, but we also saw a large complex of Tstorms grow quite rapidly in that area also. No issue, just interesting to see it happen.
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Quoting Ossqss:
OK, so nobody else saw the small distressed spinner at the bottom of the bay of Campeche move over land in the loop?


Yep but, it was in the very upper levels nothing close to the surface.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
Wow 21
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
Quoting Ossqss:
It is not a contagion, it is either something bad in the feed or some type of poisoning. Venezualan owned, Argentine staffed and horsed
No others were affected.


Correct...no other horses were affected and the matches went on....but i can understand anyone's concern not knowing the exact cause.
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OK, so nobody else saw the small distressed spinner at the bottom of the bay of Campeche move over land in the loop?
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It is not a contagion, it is either something bad in the feed or some type of poisoning. Venezualan owned, Argentine staffed and horsed
No others were affected.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
btw...has anyone heard from surfmom today after the tragedy with the polo horses down here?


What happened
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
btw...has anyone heard from surfmom today after the tragedy with the polo horses down here?


Ya 21 horses died, saw it on the news last night.
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
thanks homeless....it's nice that some people help us non-tech people. You and a few others are very helpful!


Your welcome. I'm still learning how all this works too. : )
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btw...has anyone heard from surfmom today after the tragedy with the polo horses down here?
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thanks homeless....it's nice that some people help us non-tech people. You and a few others are very helpful!
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Pat how is the Brother in law doing.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
World Meteorological Day is held annually on March 23.
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115235
http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/gmex/loop-avn.html
Link
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Quoting Weather456:


LINK


Check the cloud patterns (animated) and the transfer of energy in the system as it approached the penninsula. Kinda neat to see clouds move south on the west side considering the shear. I have no idea of the pressure in that area, but I would bet it would be interesting to see what it was comparatively speaking.

Oh, and thanks
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


you will have to copy and paste...do not know how to link a site to here (hint, hint)

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/gmex/loop-avn.html


Geoffrey copy the web address. Then when you go to make a post click on link. And paste it in the box that pops up. Then click ok.
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Quoting Ossqss:
Does anyone have a access to a loop of the Sat over the Yucatan area since this AM. Just curious.




GOES-12 Atmospheric Animations,Yucatan Included


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sorry....lol

http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/GOES/
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
Quoting Ossqss:
Does anyone have a access to a loop of the Sat over the Yucatan area since this AM. Just curious.


LINK
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Quoting Ossqss:
Does anyone have a access to a loop of the Sat over the Yucatan area since this AM. Just curious.


you will have to copy and paste...do not know how to link a site to here (hint, hint)

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/gmex/loop-avn.html
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ossqss:
Does anyone have a access to a loop of the Sat over the Yucatan area since this AM. Just curious.


You can go back several hours on the NASA site
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
AMEN!!Apocalypse-induced Misanthorpic Environmental Nervousness!!!
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Does anyone have a access to a loop of the Sat over the Yucatan area since this AM. Just curious.
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squall line coming through west palm now...not to bad though
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TS Thank you
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Quoting severstorm:
TS,do the pics of the volcano update as time goes on.


Yep it does it automatically just refresh your browser. When a new pic is available it posts automatically all my site also.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
TS,do the pics of the volcano update as time goes on.
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TS, Very nice pic of the volcano up close and personal.
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Quoting Ossqss:
Tampa, just about everytime Tonga shows up we see action from Redoubt. Here it is.

Magnitude Location Time
5.4 Tonga 2 hours ago Map
5.5 Banda Sea 9 hours ago Map
6.6 Kuril Islands 2 days ago Map

We will expect a spread sheet on this soon also :}


Does seem to be a correlation between the two...i probably did not spell that correct....LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
Tampa, just about everytime Tonga shows up we see action from Redoubt. Here it is.

Magnitude Location Time
5.4 Tonga 2 hours ago Map
5.5 Banda Sea 9 hours ago Map
6.6 Kuril Islands 2 days ago Map

We will expect a spread sheet on this soon also :}
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When that new doom collapses in to the lava. There is going to be one very large eruption coming.....Watch!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
Hey all, if you have a chance, give Patrap some support on his blog posted this afternoon. Every little bit helps.

Link
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Check out Redoubt Volcano......i have zoomed into live cam.....really cool pics.



http://tampaspinsweather.webs.com/volcanoearthquakespace.htm
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
San Francisco CA can not take this kind of hot weather i have nevere seen it this hot be for
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115235
With those kind of temps in Calif. Wildfires will be coming......don't need that.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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