Arctic temperatures the warmest in 2,000 years; 2009 Arctic sea ice loss 3rd highest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:32 PM GMT on September 04, 2009

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It's time to take a bit of a break from coverage of the Atlantic hurricane season of 2009, and report on some important climate news. The past decade was the warmest decade in the Arctic for the past 2,000 years, according to a study called "Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling" published today in the journal Science. Furthermore, four of the five warmest decades in the past 2,000 years occurred between 1950 - 2000, despite the fact that summertime solar radiation in the Arctic has been steadily declining for the past 2,000 years. Previous efforts to reconstruct past climate in the Arctic extended back only 400 years, so the new study--which used lake sediments, glacier ice cores, and tree rings to look at past climate back to the time of Christ, decade by decade-- is a major new milestone in our understanding of the Arctic climate. The researchers found that Arctic temperatures steadily declined between 1 A.D. and 1900 A.D., as would be expected due to a 26,000-year cycle in Earth's orbit that brought less summer sunshine to the North Pole. Earth is now about 620,000 miles (1 million km) farther from the Sun in the Arctic summer than it was 2000 years ago. However, temperatures in the Arctic began to rise around the year 1900, and are now 1.4°C (2.5°F) warmer than they should be, based on the amount of sunlight that is currently falling in the Arctic in summer. "If it hadn't been for the increase in human-produced greenhouse gases, summer temperatures in the Arctic should have cooled gradually over the last century," Bette Otto-Bliesner, a co-author from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in a statement.

The Arctic melt season of 2009
Arctic sea ice suffered another summer of significant melting in 2009, with August ice extent the third lowest on record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. August ice extent was 19% below the 1979 - 2000 average, and only 2007 and 2008 saw more melting of Arctic sea ice. We've now had two straight years in the Arctic without a new record minimum in sea ice. However, this does not mean that the Arctic sea ice is recovering. The reduced melting in 2009 compared to 2007 and 2008 primarily resulted from a different atmospheric circulation pattern this summer. This pattern generated winds that transported ice toward the Siberian coast and discouraged export of ice out of the Arctic Ocean. The previous two summers, the prevailing wind pattern acted to transport more ice out of the Arctic through Fram Strait, along the east side of Greenland. At last December's meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the world's largest scientific conference on climate change, J.E. Kay of the National Center for Atmospheric Research showed that Arctic surface pressure in the summer of 2007 was the fourth highest since 1948, and cloud cover at Barrow, Alaska was the sixth lowest. This suggests that once every 10 - 20 years a "perfect storm" of weather conditions highly favorable for ice loss invades the Arctic. The last two times such conditions existed was 1977 and 1987, and it may be another ten or so years before weather conditions align properly to set a new record minimum.

The Northeast Passage opens
As a result of this summer's melting, the Northeast Passage, a notoriously ice-choked sea route along the northern Russia, is now clear of ice and open for navigation. Satellite analyses by the University of Illinois Polar Research Group and the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that the last remaining ice blockage along the north coast of Russia melted in late August, allowing navigation from Europe to Alaska in ice-free waters. Mariners have been attempting to sail the Northeast Passage since 1553, and it wasn't until the record-breaking Arctic sea-ice melt year of 2005 that the Northeast Passage opened for ice-free navigation for the first time in recorded history. The fabled Northwest Passage through the Arctic waters of Canada has remained closed this summer, however. An atmospheric pressure pattern set up in late July that created winds that pushed old, thick ice into several of the channels of the Northwest Passage. Recent research by Stephen Howell at the University of Waterloo in Canada shows that whether the Northwest Passage clears depends less on how much melt occurs, and more on whether multi-year sea ice is pushed into the channels. Counter-intuitively, as the ice cover thins, ice may flow more easily into the channels, preventing the Northwest Passage from regularly opening in coming decades, if the prevailing winds set up to blow ice into the channels of the Passage. The Northwest Passage opened for the first time in recorded history in 2007, and again in 2008. Mariners have been attempting to find a route through the Northwest Passage since 1497.


Figure 1. Sea ice extent on September 2, 2009, with the Northwest Passage (red line) and Northeast Passage (green line) shown. The Northeast Passage was open, but the Northwest Passage was blocked in three places. The orange line shows the median edge of sea ice extent for September 2 during the period 1979 - 2000, and this year's ice extent is about 19% below average. Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Commercial shipping begins in the Northeast Passage
This year's opening marks the fourth time in five years that the Northeast Passage has opened, and commercial shipping companies are taking note. Two German ships set off on August 21 on the first commercial voyage ever made through the Northeast Passage without the help of icebreakers. The Northeast Passage trims 4,500 miles off the 12,500 mile trip through the Suez Canal, yielding considerable savings in fuel. The voyage was not possible last year, because Russia had not yet worked out a permitting process. With Arctic sea ice expected to continue to decline in the coming decades, shipping traffic through the Northeast Passage will likely become commonplace most summers.

When was the Northeast Passage ice-free in the past?
People have been attempting to penetrate the ice-bound Northeast Passage since 1553, when British explorer Sir Hugh Willoughby attempted the passage with three ships and 62 men. The frozen bodies of Sir Hugh and his men were found a year later, after they failed to make it past the northern coast of Finland. British explorer Henry Hudson, who died in 1611 trying to find a route through Canada's fabled Northwest Passage, (and whom Canada's Hudson Bay and New York's Hudson River are named after), attempted to sail the Northeast Passage in 1607 and 1608, and failed. The Northeast Passage has remained closed to navigation, except via assist by icebreakers, from 1553 to 2005. The results published in Science today suggest that prior to 2005, the last previous opening was the period 5,000 - 7,000 years ago, when the Earth's orbital variations brought more sunlight to the Arctic in summer than at present. It is possible we'll know better soon. A new technique that examines organic compounds left behind in Arctic sediments by diatoms that live in sea ice give hope that a detailed record of sea ice extent extending back to the end of the Ice Age 12,000 years ago may be possible (Belt et al., 2007). The researchers are studying sediments along the Northwest Passage in hopes of being able to determine when the Passage was last open.

References
Belt, S.T., G. Masse, S.J. Rowland, M. Poulin, C. Michel, and B. LeBlanc, "A novel chemical fossil of palaeo sea ice: IP25", Organic Geochemistry, Volume 38, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 16-27.

Darrell S. Kaufman, David P. Schneider, Nicholas P. McKay, Caspar M. Ammann, Raymond S. Bradley, Keith R. Briffa, Gifford H. Miller, Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, Jonathan T. Overpeck, Bo M. Vinther, and Arctic Lakes 2k Project Members, 2009, "Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling", Science 4 September 2009: 1236-1239.

Howell, S. E. L., C. R. Duguay, and T. Markus. 2009. Sea ice conditions and melt season duration variability within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: 1979.2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L10502, doi:10.1029/2009GL037681.

Tropical Weather Outlook
The remains of Tropical Storm Erika are bringing heavy rain to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today, and this activity will spread to the Dominican Republic on Saturday. Radar-estimated rainfall shows up to three inches of rain has fallen in eastern Puerto Rico from the storm. Long range radar out of Puerto Rico shows no surface circulation or organization of the echoes, and redevelopment of Erika over the next three days is unlikely to occur due to high wind shear of 25 - 30 knots. By Monday or Tuesday, shear may drop enough to allow redevelopment, depending upon the location of Erika's remains. Redevelopment is more likely if Erika works its way northwestward into the Bahamas.

A large tropical wave with plenty of spin is located a few hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verdes Islands, off the coast of Africa. Heavy thunderstorm activity has increased slightly in this wave over the past day, and it has the potential to gradually develop into a tropical depression by early next week. NHC is giving this wave a low (less than 30% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday. The GFS model continues to predict development of this wave into a tropical depression early next week.

I'll have an update Saturday or Sunday, depending upon developments in the tropics.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting IKE:


Is it?

Well...then the African blob emerging should be 97L. Maybe they go right to TD though and prove me wrong.


Key word.. I think..
They did it earlier in the year remember.. they were using numbers and had to skip a few. They may not have published the number... but I bet when they made the yellow circle around the one in front of 95.. they called it 96 internally.
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2375. Ossqss
Looks like Africa has the chickenpox :)\


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I doubt many of you live in california but i found this about El Nino patterns

http://www.examiner.com/x-4109-SF-Weather-Examiner~y2009m6d27-El-Ninorealities-and-myths
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2373. IKE
Quoting Orcasystems:


They might.. I think 96 is the one they are using for the one in front of 95


Is it?

Well...then the African blob emerging should be 97L. Maybe they go right to TD though and prove me wrong.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
2371. IKE
Quoting Ossqss:
Ike, do you think they will skip the number?





I doubt it. It'll probably be an invest sometime tomorrow.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting Ossqss:
Ike, do you think they will skip the number?





They might.. I think 96 is the one they are using for the one in front of 95
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2369. IKE
I see where the below-normal temps in the 6-10 day and 8-14 day extended forecasts are coming from. Watch this 18Z GFS run right after 180 hours and the dump of cold-air headed into the SE USA....

Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
2368. Ossqss
Ike, do you think they will skip the number?

Edit, like they did earlier this season... LoL



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I'm thinking pottery and more mini donkeys :) my needlepoint always had knots on the back. A wet spring would be great. I spent 10 months in Jacksonville and my hubby told me they had no rain after I left TX in June til I came back in May. It is surprising how addictive this site is.
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2365. IKE
Quoting iceman55:
GUESS 95L RIP ?


Just a matter of time.

Then pre-96L comes along....

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
95L is RIP


000
ABNT20 KNHC 052332
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT SAT SEP 5 2009

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED ABOUT 420 MILES WEST-NORTHWEST OF
THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS IS MOVING NORTH-NORTHWESTWARD AT 15 TO 20
MPH. ALTHOUGH THIS SYSTEM IS CURRENTLY SHOWING SOME SIGNS OF
ORGANIZATION...UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE FORECAST TO BECOME HIGHLY
UNFAVORABLE
FOR ANY SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT. THERE IS A LOW
CHANCE...LESS THAN 30 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2361. IKE
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT SAT SEP 5 2009

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE AREA OF LOW PRESSURE LOCATED ABOUT 420 MILES WEST-NORTHWEST OF
THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS IS MOVING NORTH-NORTHWESTWARD AT 15 TO 20
MPH. ALTHOUGH THIS SYSTEM IS CURRENTLY SHOWING SOME SIGNS OF
ORGANIZATION...UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE FORECAST TO BECOME HIGHLY
UNFAVORABLE FOR ANY SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT. THERE IS A LOW
CHANCE...LESS THAN 30 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER AVILA

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
2360. aquak9
climatology's definitely not my strong point, CattleB.

But I'd say that next spring might have more severe weather than last spring.

Something to fixate on? Join the crowd. Maybe needlepoint? geeesh I'm near my wit's end...
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


well we got six on the map i wunder how many more myself i think 3 more no more that will make 9 for 09


I have/been thinking since July that there will be 11-13 named. I think, that we're going to see 4 more named this month, and one in October followed by a season shutdown in early October.

Plus, I strongly think that the 90L in May will be classified as a TS. There were even reports (forgot the link) that indicated 90L was likely a TS.
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI
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Will el nino bring lots of rain to west/south Texas? Got a good frog choker yesterday, but it was a long time coming.
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Thanks. :) Guess I will have to find something else to fixate on.
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Repeat data, see 2352
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2353. aquak9
Quoting cattlebaroness:
Howdy yall. I am just wondering. I thought that the GOM is where most canes start this time of year. Can someone please set me straight for the rest of the season. I sure appreciate it. Thanks.


You are right, CB. I'm not the best person to ask, but I will try to answer your question.

We are headed, if not already into, an ElNino winter set-up. That means there will be more shear in the Gulf, and that keeps storms from developing, ie there's too much wind for consolidation.

Now that is pretty simply put. I'm sure others can elaborate at greater lengths.
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http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/SATS/SPBULL/MSG2482304.01.txt

Update: *The Quikscat instrument has recovered.*

Topic: *Quikscat Data Outage
*

Date/Time Issued*: September 05, 2009 2255 UTC*

Product(s) or Data Impacted: *Scatterometer data
*

Date/Time of Initial Impact: *September 03, 2009 2010 UTC*

Date/Time of Expected End: *September 05, 2009 2216 UTC
*

Length of Event: *50 Hours and 6 min.
*

Impacts on Users and Significance: *

*User Actions: *None.*

Details/Specifics of Change: *ESPC received notification from Boulder
stating, "We have finished recovery of the instrument. Orbit SGS 53198
will have a large data dump. This data will have the recovery as
well as
good data toward the end of it. Starting on orbit SGS 53199, the data
dump should be full and have new data in it."*

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2351. GBlet
Wunderful, I will soon be seeing the geese you speak of as we live right in the middle of their route south.
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2349. GBlet
As long as everyone is winter casting, we have had a very cool summer here in central Ks. I can also birdcast. The smaller birds are feeding heavily on the milo fields, which means they will start south soon. All of the larger spiders are out and building elaborate webs as well.
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Quoting futuremet:
I'm out for tonite

see ya tomorrow.
Wait dont leave!
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what see 95L RIP


96E looks good
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Some early winter signs from the Great Lakes -- geese started flocking at the start of August (earliest I've ever seen), and the sugar maples are already turning. Also had a frost advisory in Northern Michigan well before Labor Day. But StormW mentioned what I've also read -- El Nino means milder winter in these parts -- we can only hope! ;-)
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I'm out for tonite

see ya tomorrow.
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2343. mnborn
Hey, y'all, is that the remains of Erica NE of the islands starting to spin?
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Howdy yall. I am just wondering. I thought that the GOM is where most canes start this time of year. Can someone please set me straight for the rest of the season. I sure appreciate it. Thanks.
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Quoting Fshhead:


ANOTHER reason I think we are in for an early winter. I have even seen a couple of vultures down here in Miami already. They are a good fall signal. LOL


ah yea and the "Birdcasters" come out
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2340. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)


well we got six on the map i wunder how many more myself i think 3 more no more that will make 9 for 09
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53827
Because Chief Model ECMWF has been performing the best this season.
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Quoting futuremet:
I've been monitoring this possible setup since yesterday evening: it looks the longwave trough that will traverse across midwest might weaken and split by next Sunday. This trough-split will initiate the development of an upper level anticylone over the Gulf--bringing favorable wind shear across the area and eventually across the Bahamas as the trough travels eastward. The GFS, and the revered ECMWF are expecting a moisture surge in the GOM from the SW to the Northeast. Albeit it is too uncertain to determine tropical cyclogenesis at this time, a developing storm would have had a quasi-Opal track. The next two weeks maybe the last opportunity for tropical cylclogenesis to occur in the GOM, before it closes down due to shear.
Why is the ECMFW revered?
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2337. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
might have pretty well killed everything else
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53827
2336. viman
Good evening everyone, whats up with the QuikSCAT page? Did El Nino also kill the QuikSCAT satellite? lol :)
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I've been monitoring this possible setup since yesterday evening: it looks the longwave trough that will traverse across midwest might weaken and split by next Sunday. This trough-split will initiate the development of an upper level anticylone over the Gulf--bringing favorable wind shear across the area and eventually across the Bahamas as the trough travels eastward. The GFS, and the revered ECMWF are expecting a moisture surge in the GOM from the SW to the Northeast. Albeit it is too uncertain to determine tropical cyclogenesis at this time, a developing storm would have had a quasi-Opal track. The next two weeks maybe the last opportunity for tropical cylclogenesis to occur in the GOM, before it closes down due to shear.

Long range Shear Forecast

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2332. Relix
Quoting Vortex95:


This would have to happen within 50 hours or it is out to seas with it


By the time it reaches the weakness in the ridge I think 50 hours would have passed, or at least it will start feeling the effects then let go. 95L was predicted to go NW, WSW, WNW, W and then NW. I remember the initial models for it a few days ago. Things can also change for 96L. Of course, right now it's more like 75/25 for it to go out to open seas.
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Quoting futuremet:


Yes, it is weakening. A more significant trough should form in the GOM later this week. It looks like the western GOM will be safe, since shear will be marginally favorable for most of the area, except for the eastern GOM.

Where did you get your information that a trough should form in the GOM?
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2329. tramp96
Quoting Jerrob:

That's cool!! My husband is a troubleman in florida


I shot trouble for 8 yrs in San Antonio Tx.
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2328. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Vortex95:


What makes you say that?
with seasonal change occuring now and getting stronger with cold airmasses droppin down over mid plains and interacting with warmer airmasses to the south over gom and fla a setup is coming for some rather intense fall storms to form as we start to get into the pattern of typical deep lows forming over the mainland and sweeping east ne eastward across lower 48 up eastern seaboard with there strong cold fronts lots of warm tropical water good feeding grounds for dev continital lows and there southerly return flow
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53827
was the year 2000 a el nino year? i cannot remember,,,but we had 28 inches of snow on the ground of pinehurst #2, which was amazing,, jan 26, 27, 2000,,,,,,also the wave moving off the coast of africa seems quite formidable,,every 1 stay safe,,
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About

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