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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With those kind of temps in Calif. Wildfires will be coming......don't need that.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
I just find it amusing that they actually post this thing.
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
123. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
I saw that "Heat Advisory" for California.. was like **** summer heat this early in the year?
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RECORD HIGH AND HIGH MINIMUM TEMPERATURES…

CITY BAKERSFIELD FRESNO

APRIL 20 98 IN 1906 94 IN 1950
64 IN 1939 62 IN 1989

APRIL 21 99 IN 1931 96 IN 1931
63 IN 1950 64 IN 1931

APRIL 22 97 IN 1987 95 IN 1910
62 IN 1982 60 IN 1998

APRIL 23 * 100 IN 1910 * * 100 IN 1910 *
60 IN 1982 61 IN 1981

* EARLIEST 100-DEGREE DAY ON RECORD *
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is this a joke ??? San Francisco ca is at 96 right now???

LA CA at 98??

all so i see Palo Alto is at 101

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Quoting Ossqss:
My appologies on the dart board analogy. No harm intended. I guess I should stop the photoshop workup on the dress item and your pic for the WU photo thing. J/K :)


No appology! We will need everything throwed at the dart board.......LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting Tazmanian:
here is some good news i think


Link


Inaccuweather please. LOL
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here is some good news i think


Link
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My appologies on the dart board analogy. No harm intended. I guess I should stop the photoshop workup on the dress item and your pic for the WU photo thing. J/K :)
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8185
Quoting NEwxguy:


Are you saying I shouldn't use my dart board?I had such high hopes.


Oh hell no! Don't throw that DArt Board away. I'm sure we will need it.....LOL! You can bet on it.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
The Excel file is alot more cleaner and user friendly. Sorry i cannot figure out how to post an Excel file to be interactive. This is using Google Docs as HurricaneKing was so kind to point out for me to try.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting TampaSpin:


It might be better than the Dart throwing that one was doing earlier.......LOL


Are you saying I shouldn't use my dart board?I had such high hopes.
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Quoting hahaguy:


Ya it is LOL.


I played with it alot today and pluged in the values from the blob in the GOM and it came back as a -25% chance of anything to develop....takes wishcasting out of the air at least for me.......LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting TampaSpin:


It might be better than the Dart throwing that one was doing earlier.......LOL


Ya it is LOL.
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Quoting hahaguy:
It looks good tampa.


It might be better than the Dart throwing that one was doing earlier.......LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
what if the WMO waits till may like last year
also I want to hear about Paloma and her chance of retiring Can someone give me a reason why she wouldn't
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Quoting plywoodstatenative:
haha, fill me in if you can on what you mean by the 24th. You all completely lost me.


They're going to retire the hurricane names from 08 some time this week.
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It looks good tampa.
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I have been working on a project. This may not work but, i have developed a spreadsheet to input some subjective values and some defined values to see how many storms will form. There are 2 tabs on the spreadsheet at the bottom. The 2 tab will take a potential storm and by inputting some subjective values and some defined values it will give a probablity of a storm possbily forming. Guess you would call it my own model....LOL

Its at my website under the Tab Tropical Analysis

IMPORTANT THAT YOU ONLY CHANGE THE VALUES AS OUTLINED ON THE SPREAD. I CANNOT LOCK DOWN CELLS AS ONE CAN DO IN EXCEL.

Again this may not work but, it makes one think of all the things that it takes to develop a storm.

http://tampaspinsweather.webs.com/index.htm
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
I hate to say this to you all, but living in South florida I have learned this about hurricanes and our ecosystem.

If you think about it, our ecosystem here is based in a sense as to whether we get any type of tropical weather the year before. If not we get a drought and a bad fire season.
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Quoting plywoodstatenative:
haha, fill me in if you can on what you mean by the 24th. You all completely lost me.


Release of retired names from last year.
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haha, fill me in if you can on what you mean by the 24th. You all completely lost me.
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Quoting HurricaneKing:


A google docs spreadsheet can be made like that...... I think. My chem professor put the link to one on his website one time we all worked on.


It worked thank you!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting CybrTeddy:


Not yet, but it should be today/


I thought it was the 24th when they will release the retired names from last yer.
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Windy here in West Palm..No rain yet.
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stillwaiting, what I want that blob in the BOC to do is park its self over south florida. Be another one of those no name systems that takes care of our drought.
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Quoting TampaSpin:


StillWaiting.....looks like your a little over eager for the start of Tropical Season. That blob in the BOC has no chance to develop into anything Tropical over the next 3 days.



I know I'm just seeing who I can get started,w/sheer around 80 and increasing I'm aware that it would be impossible for cyclogenisis to begin or survive......
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
Teddy, whats the TCHP look like for the main part of the season?
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Quoting all4hurricanes:
Have they released the retired names yet?


Not yet, but it should be today/
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WPB: Memories albeit bad ones
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Have they released the retired names yet?
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Thanks Cotillion - back under my big hooded coat with the rest of non-experts :)
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Quoting NEwxguy:
April 20th,and we're trying to stir something up in the BOC.LOL,guess it's been a long winter.


Well the thing is, a lot of the models have been predicting a Sub Tropical storm in the gulf by Sunday so we're a little anxious. Actually very.
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I find it very interesting looking back in time about the origins of historic storms...take this from Tropical Depression 12...Who ever would of thought....

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Quoting TampaSpin:
Everyone hold on, but LaNina may not be going away as fast as many was thinging.....Look at this loop and pay close attention to South America in the Pacific. You will see the waters warm to orange and then is showing signs of a streak of white and blues again. HUM!



456 mentioned it yesterday, interesting.
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Quoting belizeweatherfan:
Hi All. Haven't be lurking for a while but our local radio station mentioned updated 2009 storm predictions by Dr. Grey. I may have heard wrong - didn't get all of it. Anyone knows?


I guess he was referring to the ones earlier this month.

This is the blog from Doc talking about them: Link

I think the next lot are on June 2nd or something like that.
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Several Days??? I think more than that, the entire state needs another no namer with a tropical jet stream attached to it. Remember a month ago when we had that tropical jet sream, rain for a week. We were fine for about a week or so and then went right back into the drought.

What we need are a few things: Start of rainy season most of all, and I hate to say it but most of those who live here would agree: Water restrictions as the restrictions in place have not done that much to keep the water level down. Since November we are I believe 11 inches below normal. For this year alone we are around 5 inches below normal if I am correct on that.
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yup you need a battery operated digital television. The convertor box needs electricity.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


IF... you made it interactive...which BTW you can't... someone would screw it up in about 1 minute.



A google docs spreadsheet can be made like that...... I think. My chem professor put the link to one on his website one time we all worked on.
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Quoting plywoodstatenative:
interesting question, albeit off topic. What does anyone know about those of us who have battery operated Tv's and the switch to digital coming up?


Wont work unless you have a converter or it is a digital TV!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting plywoodstatenative:
NEwx: Well the fact that south florida is as dry as a bone could be a reason. Dade/Broward basically are timber boxes as of right now. The few drops of rain we got are nothing compared to what we really need.


Yeh,I was down there in March and saw how dry every thing is, you guys really need several days of steady rain.
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interesting question, albeit off topic. What does anyone know about those of us who have battery operated Tv's and the switch to digital coming up?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi All. Haven't be lurking for a while but our local radio station mentioned updated 2009 storm predictions by Dr. Grey. I may have heard wrong - didn't get all of it. Anyone knows?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
NEwx: Well the fact that south florida is as dry as a bone could be a reason. Dade/Broward basically are timber boxes as of right now. The few drops of rain we got are nothing compared to what we really need.
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Was smokey here in east Central Florida this morning. Getting some much needed sprinkles now but doesn't look like it will rain very heavily.
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April 20th,and we're trying to stir something up in the BOC.LOL,guess it's been a long winter.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Does anyone know how to post an Excel file on a website so it is interactive.


IF... you made it interactive...which BTW you can't... someone would screw it up in about 1 minute.

Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
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Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Does anyone know how to post an Excel file on a website so it is interactive.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting stillwaiting:
even w/sheer so high in the BOC it looks to be on the increase even higher......


StillWaiting.....looks like your a little over eager for the start of Tropical Season. That blob in the BOC has no chance to develop into anything Tropical over the next 3 days.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439

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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.