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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2175. IKE
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Ike that's really quite chilly. Hmmmmmmm.


True, but look at the same periods for precipitation...

6-10 day precip outlook.....




8-14 day precip outlook.....

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Quoting reedzone:
Does anybody remember what October to November can do to Florida? Hurricane Season is by any means NOT over for the USA yet. Storms can form off of cold fronts or in the Carribean then get caught on a trough and move northeastward crossing the state.



it is if your in a EL Nino year
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2171. Fshhead
It depends Rich, this year I keep saying I think we are in for a early winter. Just look at the fronts already rollin now ;)
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2169. IKE
Quoting hurricane23:
NWS miami this afternoon...

BY THE END OF THE FORECAST
PERIOD...BOTH THE ECMWF AND GFS AGREE THAT A SUBSTANTIALLY MORE
PROGRESSIVE AND AMPLIFIED NORTHERN STREAM WILL DEVELOP ACROSS
NORTH AMERICA...WHICH MAY BE THE FIRST INDICATIONS THAT THE FALL
SEASON IS CERTAINLY NOT TOO FAR AWAY
.


6-10 day temperature outlook.....




8-14 day temperature outlook.....

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Quoting Stormchaser2007:

It all depends if El nino weakens during the winter or not.

If it does then things should be interesting.


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Does anybody remember what October to November can do to Florida? Hurricane Season is by any means NOT over for the USA yet. Storms can form off of cold fronts or in the Carribean then get caught on a trough and move northeastward crossing the state.
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2165. Fshhead
Quoting Tazmanian:



yup hurricane season is done for FL right 23



LOL Lets not get carried away here. There is still a good month & a half to go yet. Lets not forget Wilma was right before Halloween & driven into Fla by a VERY strong cold front. That one was actually rather pleasant after with the cooler temps.
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Ex-Erika, 95L and possible 96L 1PM update

LINK
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2163. java162
Quoting TexasHurricane:
just curious, anyone have any thoughts of what next year hurricane season may be like?



like 2007
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Quoting TexasHurricane:
just curious, anyone have any thoughts of what next year hurricane season may be like?

It all depends if El nino weakens during the winter or not.

If it does then things should be interesting.
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Post 2148, your bringing back memories...September 12 2006, hours become the Navy change 94L to 08L Noname

94L Update:
A tropical wave along 22W, accompanied by a 1008mbar low near 13N/20.5W is on the verge of becoming TD8. Quiksat pass, visible imagery loops, 850mb streamline winds, buoys and ships and land-based stations in the Verde islands, suggest 94L has a circulation that either closed or almost closed.

Visible appearance revealed outflow developing to the West, banding in almost every quadrant and well established convection around the low.

Though the low is missing on important ingredient - its winds. The winds in 94L are around 20-25knots, and this is suggested by buoys and stations in the Cape Verde Islands along with quiksat.

The system will be mostly under the influence of an upper air high that will provide low wind shear and divergence aloft leading to intensification.

The low will continue west along the southern periphery of a ridge of high pressure near 25-30W, then turn more north after that, providing that it strengthens.
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just curious, anyone have any thoughts of what next year hurricane season may be like?
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Quoting hurricane23:
NWS miami this afternoon...

BY THE END OF THE FORECAST
PERIOD...BOTH THE ECMWF AND GFS AGREE THAT A SUBSTANTIALLY MORE
PROGRESSIVE AND AMPLIFIED NORTHERN STREAM WILL DEVELOP ACROSS
NORTH AMERICA...WHICH MAY BE THE FIRST INDICATIONS THAT THE FALL
SEASON IS CERTAINLY NOT TOO FAR AWAY
.



yup hurricane season is done for FL right 23
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Quoting iceman55:
here we go


A downward phase is very bad for TC development.
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2156. Fshhead
Quoting hurricane23:
NWS miami this afternoon...

BY THE END OF THE FORECAST
PERIOD...BOTH THE ECMWF AND GFS AGREE THAT A SUBSTANTIALLY MORE
PROGRESSIVE AND AMPLIFIED NORTHERN STREAM WILL DEVELOP ACROSS
NORTH AMERICA...WHICH MAY BE THE FIRST INDICATIONS THAT THE FALL
SEASON IS CERTAINLY NOT TOO FAR AWAY
.



WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
Bring it on!!
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In the image above (when animated) it appears that the build up of convection South and East of Puerto Rico is being "drawn" to the Northeast. For our sake here in the Turks & Caicos I am hoping that it curves offshore sufficiently that the heavy rains and wind pass to our East.
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NWS miami this afternoon...

BY THE END OF THE FORECAST
PERIOD...BOTH THE ECMWF AND GFS AGREE THAT A SUBSTANTIALLY MORE
PROGRESSIVE AND AMPLIFIED NORTHERN STREAM WILL DEVELOP ACROSS
NORTH AMERICA...WHICH MAY BE THE FIRST INDICATIONS THAT THE FALL
SEASON IS CERTAINLY NOT TOO FAR AWAY
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2151. Patrap
From the NHC 2pm Discussion

..DISCUSSION...

THE GULF OF MEXICO...
MIDDLE LEVEL TO UPPER LEVEL CYCLONIC FLOW FROM A TROUGH COVERS
THE THE AREA TO THE EAST OF 90W. ONE CLUSTER OF SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS IS ON TOP OF SOUTH FLORIDA. A SECOND CLUSTER
IS IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN FROM 28N TO 32N BETWEEN 76W AND 81W.
DISORGANIZED ISOLATED MODERATE SHOWERS TO POSSIBLE THUNDERSTORMS
COVER THE REST OF THE AREA THAT IS IN CYCLONIC FLOW. A MIDDLE
LEVEL TO UPPER LEVEL CYCLONIC CIRCULATION CENTER IS MOVING
ONSHORE...ON TOP OF MAZATLAN MEXICO...CONTINUING EASTWARD.
LOW LEVEL TO MIDDLE LEVEL CYCLONIC FLOW IS UNDERNEATH UPPER
LEVEL ANTICYCLONIC FLOW FROM 102W IN MEXICO EASTWARD TO 90W.
THE UPPER LEVEL ANTICYCLONIC FLOW EVENTUALLY BLENDS WITH THE
CYCLONIC FLOW ALONG 89W/90W. ONE CLUSTER OF SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS IS FROM 23N TO 24N BETWEEN 90W AND 91W. A SECOND
CLUSTER IS FROM 21N TO 23N BETWEEN 96W AND 98W. ISOLATED
MODERATE SHOWERS ARE ELSEWHERE TO THE WEST OF 90W. A SURFACE
TROUGH WINDS ITS WAY FROM THE NORTHWESTERN GULF OF MEXICO TO
SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA INTO THE NORTHEASTERN CORNER...THROUGH
CENTRAL FLORIDA...AND BEYOND 30N77W IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.

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The GFS shows a huge downward phase.

This should suppress TC activity.
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if fred becomes a major hurricane and recurves well before bermuda then the resemblance between this year and 2006 is pretty remarkable.

at this time in 2006 we were at 6 named storms and 1 unnamed storm for post-analysis.

today we have had 5 named storms and possibly one or two unnamed storms for post-analysis.

claudette and alberto both tropical storms in the gulf that landfalled on the florida panhandle.

erika and chris were both killed by shear around the northern antilles.

tropical depression 1 and tropical storm 2 were both in the same spot in the early season and were minimal in strength

both bill and florence passed just to the west of bermuda and landfalled in newfoundland as a category 1 hurricane.

and in both years the U.K. got battered with extratropical systems.

if fred is anything like gordon and helene then wow.. I'm not calling this season a bust, 2006 was right on average, im merely stating all the similarities between the two years. (which there are a lot of)

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Quoting iceman55:
mjo help storm


What?
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Quoting Weather456:
Orca,

thanks much


Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting iceman55:
TexasHurricane .let wait see


Ok, just was wondering if anything else may be showing anything.
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Quoting MILLERTIME1:
What are the chances of something developing in the GOM early next week?


Some minor models have latched on to GOM development so ill give it 30% chance of verifying.
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What are the chances of something developing in the GOM early next week?
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 65
Orca,

thanks much
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Quoting iceman55:
ECMWF images keep w close to fl ??? help me out


Looks at the date.

That should explain everything.
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2135. Patrap
wavetrak/winds/vorticity
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Erika remnants moving E..that wasn't in the script..so what else is new..lol
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2133. Patrap
18 Z 95L Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)

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so, I guess these storms in the Atlantic should be east coast or sea storms?
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Quoting Weather456:


yea but I cant find it...location and spaghetti.


You have mail :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
2129. Patrap
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Hmm I gave you that stuff... hang on and I will send it to you again :)

Umm models or spaghetti?


yea but I cant find it...location and spaghetti.
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HWRF develops the wave as well.
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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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