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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2776. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number EIGHT
DEEP DEPRESSION BOB04-2009
8:30 AM IST September 6 2009
======================================

Subject: Deep depression over Jharkhand and adjoining West Bengal

At 3:00 AM UTC, Deep Depression BOB 04-2009 over Gangetic West Bengal moved slowly northwestwards and lay centered about 100 kms north of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand. The system is likely to move in a northwesterly direction
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Link
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http://www.kdkaradio.com/Accuweather-Releases-Winter-Forecast/4816311
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2773. Fshhead
Wow Pat!! Seeing your post made me run to the sat. page. I have not looked since erika poofed. That is some ULL!! Its as big as Fla. & parked off the coast. lol Well I know we are protected from the East for a few but, what happens with that ULL being in proximity of the stalled front?? TIA..
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Patrap you sure post some neat graphics. Don't know half of what I'm looking at but neat regardless.
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2771. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129908
2770. Patrap
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2769. msphar
me too. just passing through. need to sleep. MDR nice and quiet. finished taking my meds. off to bed.
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2764. msphar
Iceman - I was in NOLA this past July. It was pretty hot and humid. I recall going out to do a swamp tour. We passed through Slidell. It was amazingly flat there and low. Now I understand the impact of flooding better.
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Quoting iceman55:
Link

here ukmt


Looks like Ukmet does the same thng as CMC. El Nino is just weird! Lol.
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2757. Patrap
From the NHC 2 AM Discussion...


GULF OF MEXICO...
THE GULF REMAINS MOIST TONIGHT WITH ISOLATED SHOWERS ACROSS MUCH OF THE BASIN.

A SURFACE TROUGH IS IN THE NW GULF EXTENDING
ACROSS LOUISIANA FROM 31N90W TO 27N94W.

SURFACE CONVERGENCE NEAR THE TROUGH ALONG WITH UPPER LEVEL DIFFLUENCE BETWEEN AN UPPER RIDGE DOMINATING THE MAJORITY OF THE GULF CENTERED OVER MEXICO NEAR 18N99W AND AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH OVER THE CENTRAL UNITED STATES ARE SUPPORTING ISOLATED SHOWERS/POSSIBLE THUNDERSTORMS NW OF A LINE FROM 30N85W TO 19N92W INCLUDING THE BAY OF CAMPECHE.

A SHORTWAVE UPPER LEVEL TROUGH IS OVER THE ERN GULF WITH AXIS ALONG 30N86W TO 22N81W.
UPPER LEVEL DIFFLUENCE BETWEEN THIS UPPER TROUGH AND THE UPPER RIDGE IS ALSO SUPPORTING THE AFOREMENTIONED SHOWER ACTIVITY. EXPECT SHOWERS/THUNDERSTORMS TO PERSIST FOR THE NEXT 24 HRS.
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2754. Patrap
731
fxus64 klix 060434 aaa
afdlix


Area forecast discussion...updated
National Weather Service New Orleans la
1134 PM CDT Sat Sep 5 2009



Short term...
most land based convection should dissipate within a couple of hours
after sunset. Trough and deep moisture will remain over the area
through Monday...and expect daily convection each of the next 3
days. Likely probability of precipitation during the day and chance at night. High temperatures
will be near or slightly below normal...with overnight lows just
above normal due to clouds and precipitation threats. 35


Long term...
still seeing differing scenarios on evolution of pattern from European model (ecmwf)
and GFS...even run to run within a model suite. One thing is
definite...no widespread drying or cooling to be seen in the
models. Will be broadbrushing chance probability of precipitation across the long term
portion of the forecast. Mex guidance temperatures are very close
to climatology...and previous forecast...and have been accepted.
35 &&
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Night BT. :)
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2750. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129908
Quoting iceman55:
homelesswanderer thank forupdate


You're welcome. I'd take all this with a grain of salt. ALL of the models have been changing daily. But most still bring some kind of convection to the LA coast and east. Even if the CMC were to play out, the timing of everything could bring whatever they're showing right into N.O. before it could turn around. Enough to drive ya buggy. :)
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2745. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129908
2742. Patrap
For the Story and Truth on what occurred here,there is only one site to consider.

Levees.org




Sandy Rosenthal,Founder of Levees.org talking with Harry Shearer at Rising Tide 4 here Aug 22nd,Pic by Patrap




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129908
Ah. This may be why the CMC shows the low going right up to N.O. then turning right bk around and moving SW to the S. TX coast. Not usual for this area.



MARINE WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1245 PM EDT SAT SEP 05 2009

MARINE WEATHER DISCUSSION FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO...CARIBBEAN SEA
AND SOUTHWEST NORTH ATLC S OF 31N W OF 55W.

GULF OF MEXICO...A WEAK LOW LEVEL TROUGH EXTENDING E TO W ALONG
ROUGHLY 28N WILL CONTINUE TO MOVE W AND NW AND IS EXPECTED TO
DISSIPATE INLAND OVER THE NW COASTAL PLAINS SUN NIGHT. A RIDGE
WILL BUILD FROM NW FL TO NE OLD MEXICO EARLY NEXT WEEK. THE WEAK
REMNANT TROUGH OF ERIKA WILL MOVE THROUGH THE FL STRAITS MON
THROUGH WED WITH A SLIGHT NE TO SE WINDS SHIFT AND INCREASE IN
CONVECTION.


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I just added a youtube (click my blog link Methane Mike) which is a tale of two cities, Sacramento and New Orleans, and how flooding in both cities is consistant with added CO2 from human activity/fossil fuels. That is, New Orleans flooding occurred during peak lightning whereas the flooding in Sacramento occurred before increases in CO2 but during the valley of the seasonal lightning patterns. We get rain out here on the left coast when global electrical currents are at their lowest levels--in the winter and early spring.

Enjoy.

BTW, I will debate this with ANYONE. The electrical forcing on tropical storms and on the melting Arctic--when it is occuring in particular, how it matches the MSU data showing warming in the northern hemisphere, how Antarctica is net zero--all consistant with this. That CO2 feedsback on cloud behaviors, but NOT as a green house gas, but rather electrically.
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2737. Patrap
Quoting btwntx08:

hmmm will our forecast discussion did mention that there was gonna be a low on our coast and mention alot of convection on the coast and possibly inland


Thats a true statement Taz,..a wave can Look real good over Africa,but if it dosent make the transition over water,it cant do much.

And if they form too fast off Africa,they Spin Poleward out the Alley quickly..
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Your welcome Ice. :)
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2733. Patrap
Quoting Tazmanian:
like all ways the waves may look good on land then when it hits the water POOF




Thats a true statement Taz,..a wave can Look real good over Africa,but if it dosent make the transition over water,it cant do much.

And if they form too fast off Africa,they Spin Poleward out the Alley quickly..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129908
I know I'm probably the only one who didn't know about this but I found a new model. The cimss?

Link
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Quoting btwntx08:
2708. homelesswanderer 5:44 AM GMT on September 06, 2009
Quoting btwntx08:

hmmm will our forecast discussion did mention that there was gonna be a low on our coast and mention alot of convection on the coast and possibly inland


Well the rain is still welcome there I would imagine. At least your locals talk about whats out there. Ours said the forecast would be a tricky one. Basically said it might rain. UGH! Lol. I might have to put my application in there. I can do that. :)


yep hopefully it does rain and supposely its our rainiest month so we garanteed it will rain :)


It has been way too dry in TX just now the more north western parts are starting to get rain. Y'all got a little boost from Jimena. I'm glad there's more on the way. :)
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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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