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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375. atmoaggie
1:09 PM GMT on April 22, 2009
Just stopping by.

Nice cherries, Dr. M.

Nah, the Antarctic isn't at all important.

No hits for the ad revenue from me for one week. Voting with my numbers. Bye.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
374. biff4ugo
12:30 PM GMT on April 22, 2009
What a beautiful SUNRISE!
Looked like the flag of Turkey.
Member Since: December 28, 2006 Posts: 115 Comments: 1599
373. IKE
12:13 PM GMT on April 22, 2009
Earth below us
drifting, falling.
Floating weightless
coming home...
Earth below us
drifting, falling.
Floating weightless
coming, coming
home...
home.....
earth day...Major Tom
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
372. WxLogic
12:03 PM GMT on April 22, 2009
Good Morning...
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 5038
371. stillwaiting
12:01 PM GMT on April 22, 2009
its been 1 hr since sunrise,I can still see a crescent venus about to be eclipsed by a crescent moon,now I have to use binoculars,but can still see her!!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
370. Dakster
11:57 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
So the little bright dot by the crescent moon this morning is venus? I was wondering what that was when I was driving in to work.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10655
369. KEHCharleston
11:56 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
It is a gorgeous spring day in the Carolina Low Country.

It's OK to Hug a Tree Today. In fact, get into the spirit and sing a song to your plants.
Happy Earth Day.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 2490
368. stillwaiting
11:30 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
early morning west coast risers:in about 1 hr look to the east,you should be able to see the crescent moon accult venus(move in front of)for about an hour........I had no idea the sun could be up this long and I can still see venus,barely!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
367. stillwaiting
11:28 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
27 minutes,and I can still barely see her!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
366. stillwaiting
11:20 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Yo!!,its earth day everyone,plant something and enjoy!!!!.............oh yea amazing waning crescent moon/venus combo,the sun has been up for 15 minutes and I can still see venus,amazing,I didn't think you could see the planets when the sun is up,amazing!!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
365. Cavin Rawlins
10:47 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Happy Earth Day
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
364. natrwalkn
8:43 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Happy Earth Day everyone!! I'm no tree-hugger, but I do see problems with the exponential growth of the human population on the Earth. No matter how much we recycle, put pollution controls on factories, or if we shift completely to "clean energy", there is a limit to how many humans the planet can support. I think we have reached that limit and are simply waiting for Mother Nature to thin out the herd. I believe we are causing global warming and we've passed the "tipping point", or at least we're not going to do anything soon enough to stop us from passing the tipping point. GW or no, I think there will be something very drastic, be it disease, climate, or something we haven't imagined that will thin-out the herd of humans on the Earth within the next hundred years, or so.
Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 67
363. KoritheMan
6:56 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Quoting HurricaneKing:
Lot of convection near Panama. A little spin also. sorta alma arthur ish just a slightly different area.


I would closely watch the East Pacific in the coming weeks, as the upward MJO pulse will gradually be moving eastward toward that general area during the aforementioned time frame.

If a widespread area of moisture is able to develop, then a tropical disturbance could result, particularly if a tropical wave interacts with said disturbed weather, and the convection subsequently becomes more organized.

Don't forget also that the season starts much earlier in that basin than it does in the Atlantic. On May 15, to be exact.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 602 Comments: 21231
362. HurricaneKing
5:29 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Lot of convection near Panama. A little spin also. sorta alma arthur ish just a slightly different area.
Member Since: July 6, 2005 Posts: 71 Comments: 2485
361. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:46 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
WHAT IT BECOME
Link
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 176 Comments: 55665
360. Orcasystems
3:44 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
THE BEGINNING


Sweeeeeepppp :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
359. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:30 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
THE BEGINNING
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 176 Comments: 55665
358. Orcasystems
3:24 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Quoting npenta519:
Never mind...cut to me jumping to conclusions that this is the only thing to ever be called weather underground


Oh thats a big one... have you never heard of the terrorist group... the Weather Underground...
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
357. npenta519
3:19 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Never mind...cut to me jumping to conclusions that this is the only thing to ever be called weather underground
354. npenta519
3:13 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
I just caught the end of a news clip about the co-founder of WU on my local news...anyone know anything?
353. Orcasystems
3:11 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Quoting Ossqss:
346 Hockey/Golf , your Canuckts !
\
336,7,8 the stretch police are gonna get ya !

Make it a good Wed. L8R


Your a Bad person
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
352. stillwaiting
3:03 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
meteor shower tonight....look to the NE after midnight,enjoy everyone!!!!!.....
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
351. beell
2:54 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Photobucket
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 145 Comments: 16919
350. Ossqss
2:53 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
346 Hockey/Golf , your Canuckts !
\
336,7,8 the stretch police are gonna get ya !

Make it a good Wed. L8R
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
349. Patrap
2:26 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
April 22 2009




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129446
348. homelesswanderer
2:07 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
343. HIEXPRESS
Good job being prepared there.I'm glad the water didn't get into your house. Yours sounds like a good idea too. I was wondering about the moisture that would seep under the slab. And I also didnt think the door dams could be completely watertight. I never thought about wrapping the furniture in tin foil or about the sewer lines reversing. Great tips thanks.

The show I saw earlier, where I saw the door dams, also showed a water proof fence of some kind. I can't remember the name of the product specifically.

And there was also this thing that looked like a giant waterbed mattress filled with water. They were demonstrating it at a college. I want to say Michigan State but I could be mistaken. Anyway they can fill it up with water and surround their computer building when a flood threatens. They said it lowered their flood insurance enormously.
A lot of amazing products out there. First time Ive ever heard of fighting water with water. LOL.
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
346. Orcasystems
2:06 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
ya i notice it
its right over my head
was lots of rain and wind taz
with below normal temps now


Snow :)
Oh I guess not... your in Toronto... the rest of the country is playing hockey still.. your golfing :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
345. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:58 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Quoting Tazmanian:
any one noted that vary nic low overe the Great Lakes??? its so nic that it sure looks like a TS sining a round
ya i notice it
its right over my head
was lots of rain and wind taz
with below normal temps now
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 176 Comments: 55665
343. HIEXPRESS
1:32 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
305. homelesswanderer
Found this kind of interesting. Door Dams to replace sandbags.

I built the same kind of system last year when the St. Johns River was flooding. Sheet plastic over plywood supported by raker shores butted against steps, sills, and anchors. Sealed with silly foam. Didn't think to get a picture. We came within about 6" of testing it. I had a sump pump behind each dam, though. AC & Battery. I don't believe you can get it watertight. This was a CBS structure on a slab with "real" stucco. Still, water seeping in between the slab and the block, and up under the slab, could cause a lot of damage, even limited to 1" by the pumps. We had the furniture up on 8" blocks(wrapped with foil because they wick moisture). You need a plumbers bulb to block off the sewer line, as it will reverse (the manhole covers down the street floated off). We put the outside A/C unit up on blocks, in a tub.

A FEMA page with mitigation recommendations.

It is sort of a remote location & it would have taken a lot to get that many sandbags in place. We priced a water filled system like this, but to surround the house est. at around $30,000, and the ground sloped away from the structure too much on one side for it to stay put unless it was filled JIT. I think you would want to rent sometning like that, but we could not find any.

Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
342. homelesswanderer
1:19 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
I was just reading the archives from a year ago...It's very interesting what was being predicted for the 2008 season, when it would start, how many storms..and what actually materialized.

Lol. Ya made me look too. It is interesting. This time last year CSU predicited 15 named storms,8 hurricanes,4 majors. And by my calculations We actually had 16 - 8 & 5. They thought all areas, the east coast,gulf coast, and the Caribbean had above average chance of being hit by a major hurricane. So they did pretty good.
TSR predicted 14.8 - 7.8 - 3.5 They predicted 4 storms would hit the U.S. But only 1 hurricane. And 1 storm to strike the Caribbean, But zero hurricanes.
This will be my first full season of hurricane watching on WU. It should be interesting.
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
341. Orcasystems
1:13 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Blog Refresh
Mirror Site

Daily Area of Interest
Click to enlarge
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
340. Patrap
12:57 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Click on the avatar and follow the prompts
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129446
339. lakeEFX
12:56 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
If anyone could tell me how to put a picture in that lame, anonymous, looking avatar, I'd be much obliged. (in layman terms, please) Gotta go- new "Deadliest Catch" is coming on. Love that show.
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 114
338. Patrap
12:56 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Larger Image

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129446
337. Patrap
12:54 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Larger Image

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129446
336. Patrap
12:52 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Larger Image

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129446
335. Seastep
12:49 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Quoting severstorm:
So how much rain did ya get in the south Fl timberbox today. I saw there were some nice storms down there.


Depends on where you are, but I'll take it. Most probably around 0.3in. Nice and steady and light, relatively speaking, though.

For fire hazard, think it was great. For water table? Better than nothing.
Member Since: September 9, 2008 Posts: 6 Comments: 3414
334. lakeEFX
12:41 AM GMT on April 22, 2009
Quoting Tazmanian:
any one noted that vary nic low overe the Great Lakes??? its so nic that it sure looks like a TS sining a round

Yeah, not only did I notice it, I'm living with it, too. It may look nice, but the weather here is any but nice... cold, windy, rain squalls and hail storms all day.
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 114
333. GeoffreyWPB
11:45 PM GMT on April 21, 2009
I was just reading the archives from a year ago...It's very interesting what was being predicted for the 2008 season, when it would start, how many storms..and what actually materialized.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11520
332. hahaguy
11:35 PM GMT on April 21, 2009
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
hahaguy, they just show the tracks close to landfall--some were Cape Verde storms.


Oh ok thanks
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
329. Tazmanian
11:15 PM GMT on April 21, 2009
any one noted that vary nic low overe the Great Lakes??? its so nic that it sure looks like a TS sining a round
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115437
328. severstorm
11:15 PM GMT on April 21, 2009
So how much rain did ya get in the south Fl timberbox today. I saw there were some nice storms down there.
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 963
327. Drakoen
11:07 PM GMT on April 21, 2009
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
hahaguy, they just show the tracks close to landfall--some were Cape Verde storms.

A lot of them formed near the northern Lesser Antilles or around the Greater Antilles. Close to home storms that intensify because of more conducive conditions closer to home.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30727
325. Tazmanian
11:02 PM GMT on April 21, 2009
talking about hurricane that strorm overe the back E sure looks like one nic baning on it too
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115437

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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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