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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1926. zuglie


The Blob is really blowing up..
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Quoting nishinigami:


Do you have a link to that?

Thanks


Accuweather pro

Paid subscription site.
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1923. Patrap
12 Z Dynamic Models 95L



12 Z Statistical/Simple Models (CLIPER,BAMs,LBAR,other Statistical Models)

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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


No its from the trough split.


Do you have a link to that?

Thanks
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looks like weak rotation forming on key west radar about 50 miles nw of key west
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Quoting 7544:
have a felling ericka will be in the spotlight again soon

ya think? I hope it's far away from PR
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1918. IKE
12Z CMC...
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting Vortex95:
Thanks chaser2007 my mind was right!!! :P anyways whats the reliabiilty of that model anyway?


I wouldn't trust it.

Its only good for extra-tropical cyclone genesis.
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1915. Dakster
7544 - Great, just what I need... More rain. At least it isn't coming with a whole lot of wind too.
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1914. Patrap
Quikscat Movies,Polar and More,a Decades worth
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1913. 7544
blob over sw fla. filling in the the est side now going up the state get ready for more so fla rain this evening
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1912. zuglie
The system has some spin to it off the coast in South Florida.

What you guys think?
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Question for all.....
Is it normal for the northern Indian ocean to be active this early?
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Quoting Stormchaser2007:


No its from the trough split.


old frontal boundaries ftw?
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Quoting Patrap:
On Quikscat,,..


from Last Night,


RECOVERY OF THE INSTRUMENT THIS MORNING AND HAD UNEXPECTED RESULTS. WE`VE BEEN ANALYZING DATA, AND WILL PICK UP THE RECOVERY FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. WE ARE HOPEFUL THAT WE WILL HAVE GOOD SCI DATA BACK ON LINE BY THE END OF THE DAY TOMORROW.

im a quicksat doomcaster but quicksat1 is RIP
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Quoting Dakster:
Patrap - As long as it didn't go to "scat", we should be ok... Good thing this didn't happen during a critical time. I know it isn't the end of the world if it did die, just makes forecasting a littl easier.


I was just thinking about that - a quick scat is just a quick trip to the john...
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1905. Patrap
Quoting Dakster:
Patrap - As long as it didn't go to "scat", we should be ok... Good thing this didn't happen during a critical time. I know it isn't the end of the world if it did die, just makes forecasting a littl easier.


I agree,..as its a good confirmer of Winds and circs,but not the end all.

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Quoting hydrus:
That system over FL, is that the remnant low from Erika?


No its from the trough split.
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1903. 7544
Quoting serialteg:


heh... not at all

i see you around, how can you be that lost? erika's remnants are still here close to PR


yeap and shes not moving much just hanging out maybe shes a fraid of the shear and is waiting for it to lessen then she will make her move wnw to nw
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1902. Dakster
Patrap - As long as it didn't go to "scat", we should be ok... Good thing this didn't happen during a critical time. I know it isn't the end of the world if it did die, just makes forecasting a littl easier.
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1901. Patrap

Scatterometer Data Sets

The Scatterometer Climate Record Pathfinder currently archives selected image and data products from these scatterometer missions. First select a sensor below, then the study region. Alternately, you can first select the study region then the sensor.
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sorry, bad post
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1899. Patrap
On Quikscat,,..


from Last Night,


RECOVERY OF THE INSTRUMENT THIS MORNING AND HAD UNEXPECTED RESULTS. WE`VE BEEN ANALYZING DATA, AND WILL PICK UP THE RECOVERY FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. WE ARE HOPEFUL THAT WE WILL HAVE GOOD SCI DATA BACK ON LINE BY THE END OF THE DAY TOMORROW.
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1898. hydrus
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
DGEX 168 hours.

Has the system crossing over Florida then re-deepening into a Hurricane over the Gulf stream.


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That system over FL, is that the remnant low from Erika?
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1897. Dakster
Good thing they have a backup QScat...

I guess this is where Proenza gets his kicks in.
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Thanks, CRS! I know QSCAT has already far exceeded its lifetime expantancy - hope this thing is not finally on its last leg. It surely has been a useful tool.
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...no more recent notice than this (issued Friday eve):

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/SATS/SPBULL/MSG2480114.01.txt
====================================
Topic: *Quikscat Data Outage
*

Date/Time Issued*: September 05, 2009 0110 UTC*

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

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

Date/Time of Expected End: *Until Further Notice*


Length of Event: *Until further notice
*

Impacts on Users and Significance: *Users will not receive Quikscat
data.
*

User Actions: *None.*

Details/Specifics of Change:

Recovery of the instrument this morning and had unexpected
results. We've been analyzing data, and will pick up the recovery
first
thing in the morning. We are hopeful that we will have good SCI
data back
on line by the end of the day tomorrow.





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1893. Dakster
MLC - haven't seen you in awhile...

QuickScat has been down for the past couple. They re-started her today, but got bad data back.

Maybe tomorrow??
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:


Very interesting...I don't know what could of happened?

Quicksat had to much propofol
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1889. kachina
Link

Brief video on home page showing the latest largest convection over western Africa....
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QScat dates are also lagging one day. Yesterday it said the 3rd and today it is reading the 4th.
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Quoting sarahjola:
why hasn't the nhc updated their sat. imagery? still showing from last night. erika still has not gone away. she is still lurking like a serial killer in the night gonna pop up on us and catch us all off guard
They are updated read the time and date
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:


Has QScatt finally bit the space dust? No imaging shows up on either ascending or descending pass. It showed ascending yesterday (I think), but no descending last night or either today.


Very interesting...I don't know what could of happened?
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Has QScat finally bit the space dust? No imaging shows up on either ascending or descending pass. It showed ascending yesterday (I think), but no descending last night or either today.
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1884. Relix
Hey... it's actually raining in PR =P
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95L and her partner will probably die out in less than 72 hours, the AOI in front of 95L will probably die out sooner due to very unfavorable shear and poor organization. Intensity models with 95L never take her above TD status...and she is expected to continue a NW track over cool waters and high shear...95L i think will be much of nothing.

The remnants of 06L are over Puerto Rico and will die out in the next 24 to 36 hours.


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Quoting 7544:
hmm ex ericka looks good on the visable and has a spin goin on around 18/ 69 is she heading nw at this hour

yeap, Here in Puerto Rico we've been feeling "Erikas" punch since yesterday and now I see a swirl on the satelite about 40 miles South of the city of Ponce.
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DGEX 168 hours.

Has the system crossing over Florida then re-deepening into a Hurricane over the Gulf stream.


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Agree a monster in the making, my humble take on this, I think if the weakness on the ridge persist west of the CV island this system will follow 95L steps to the NW.
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Quoting Dakster:


Could be? It seems to be accurate in other area of country (going by bloggers statements) Maybe it is hail in the upper atmosphere and because it is some hot here it melts and becomes cold rain before it hits the ground!
Good point. You're probably right. Most like it's very small hail that melts before reaching the surface.
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Master's log is such a wake up call. When your going through your everyday life and dealing with your minor problems... you then read a new report about climate change and ya think "oh yeah, there's that!!!" It seems to put everthing into perspective.

The weather is getting crazy here in Key West!!!
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Some west tending winds in the south Florida AOI. Will keep looking for more.
Pressure is not changing much though.

Station NFBF1 - NFB - Northwest Florida Bay, FL

Wind Direction (WDIR): NNW ( 340 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 1.0 kts
Wind Gust (GST): 2.9 kts
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 30.09 in
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1876. Dakster
Quoting LightningCharmer:
Florida City actually but travel all over South Florida and the Keys for work. See quite a bit of weather.

Didn't experience any hail today. I think those Wunderground radar hail echos are a little too sensitive. Have never seen hail when their radar shows hail. Once when Wunderground radar showed a vortex, did see a waterspout so that product or function might work a little better.


Could be? It seems to be accurate in other area of country (going by bloggers statements) Maybe it is hail in the upper atmosphere and because it is some hot here it melts and becomes cold rain before it hits the ground!
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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.