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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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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1875. Dakster
Quoting 954FtLCane:

and the wifey will wait till a cloud slips by and the sun comes out to say...."hey the grass is high go cut the lawn before the kids trip over it"


Trip over it, more like get lost in it... LOL..

She's actually not that bad, it bothers me first.
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Quoting Dakster:
Lightning Charmer - You're in Homstead, FL?

Up in Palmetto Bay (rarely do I get to say "up" in Palmetto Bay...) it is raining hard now.

No hail, and hopefully none will fall.
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.
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so like I said early nothing to worry in the GOM... because the GFS was try to develop something early next week
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Quoting Dakster:


True and it is preventing me from having to cut the grass!

and the wifey will wait till a cloud slips by and the sun comes out to say...."hey the grass is high go cut the lawn before the kids trip over it"
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1871. Dakster
Quoting 954FtLCane:

Same boat here Dak, ft Laud area. Honestly the rain beats the 95 degree weather if it was sunny.... rain rain rain


True and it is preventing me from having to cut the grass!
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Quoting Dakster:


100% chance of rain here. As it is raining, and looking like it will be quite nasty...

South Florida area.

Same boat here Dak, ft Laud area. Honestly the rain beats the 95 degree weather if it was sunny.... rain rain rain
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
img

We haved recieved between 2-5 inches of rain since the overnight hours.Some isolated areas more than that.Many rivers are close or over flood stage.Lets see if this tapers off this afternoon.


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1868. 7544
have a felling ericka will be in the spotlight again soon
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1867. Dakster
Lightning Charmer - You're in Homstead, FL?

Up in Palmetto Bay (rarely do I get to say "up" in Palmetto Bay...) it is raining hard now.

No hail, and hopefully none will fall.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

Hail

Hey that's my backyard. It is rather stormy here, and appears more is on the way.
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1865. Dakster
Quoting NWHoustonMom:
50% chance for rain today here...

hope it's enough to wash away the "amazing" chalk art in my cul-de-sac

been there a few weeks now, tired of looking at strange animal-like scribbles :-)


100% chance of rain here. As it is raining, and looking like it will be quite nasty...

South Florida area.
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Quoting Patrap:

Hail

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Only issue across the caribbean is the fast westerlies in order of 40kts in some places.95L should have plenty of opportunities for a recurve out to sea with very little ridgeing out there.The atlantic as a whole just does not look to conducive to say the least.

Have a great labor day weekend. adrian
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95L is entering the NE Atlantic Ocean graveyard. Good bye 95L.
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Quoting barryweather:


It appears that the low angle of the sun is casting shadows from jet contrails onto the upper layer of cirrus clouds.
I know but conspiracy theories and space aliens are so much fun to discuss. Why'd you have to ruin it with reality? LOL
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Quoting Orcasystems:
Some of us have to go to work, so I will be back on from work in an hour or so..



AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI


Some of you blessed people, I wish I had a job...
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1983
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
img

We haved recieved between 2-5 inches of rain since the overnight hours.Some isolated areas more than that.Many rivers are close or over flood stage.Lets see if this tapers off this afternoon.


Showers are south of us, wind was forecasted to be south all day... is it?

Obs in NHC airports and such tell me the only south winds are being observed in LMM airport, and I don't trust those things that much...

I see the south blob of rain moving over me.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1983
Quoting AllStar17:
What would the NHC do if Erika regenerated? They already got the system completely wrong......and they would have to deal with it again! (if it regenerated)


they would probably hire stormno to "put a fork in it"
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1983
img

We haved recieved between 2-5 inches of rain since the overnight hours.Some isolated areas more than that.Many rivers are close or over flood stage.Lets see if this tapers off this afternoon.
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Quoting LightningCharmer:
Space Alien Weather!


It appears that the low angle of the sun is casting shadows from jet contrails onto the upper layer of cirrus clouds.
What would the NHC do if Erika regenerated? They already got the system completely wrong......and they would have to deal with it again! (if it regenerated)
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What are the conditions in the Gulf near and around the "blob" off sw coast?? Sorry if this is a repeat, had to restart comp.
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Quoting palmbaywhoo:
yeah we usually have rocket launches from the cape or jets, but the shadow is something i havent seen. i will have to read up on that.. nothing like a good conspiracy theory!
Space Alien Weather!
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Shear over waves in E Atl



The blob forward of 95L has more chance to keep west than 95L
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1983
Some of us have to go to work, so I will be back on from work in an hour or so..



AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1850. Patrap
Quoting palmbaywhoo:


crazy clouds from this morning over my house.. never saw a shadow like that


Nothing but a Jet Contrail being Shadowed from a rising Sun,.. on the cloud deck above it.

Not much of a conspiracy there.

I bet the Pic was taken before 9am Local.
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yeah we usually have rocket launches from the cape or jets, but the shadow is something i havent seen. i will have to read up on that.. nothing like a good conspiracy theory!
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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


Erikas remnants are curremtly in an unfavorable area for development. However, the environment is favorable for thunderstorm development due to divergence aloft and aided by ventilation from the passing UL to the north. This should allow for increasing thunderstorms and lowering pressures north of the Islands. The pattern aloft improves as the area moves further to the WNW and NW as Storm states in his synopsis.
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Quoting palmbaywhoo:


crazy clouds from this morning over my house.. never saw a shadow like that


Looks like remnants from jets. There's a whole documentary / conspiracy thing on that. I think you can find it on Stagevu.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1983
According to Accuweather, ex-Erikas low pressure is drifting W.
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Good Morning. I see som'tn turn'n around FLA. Hasn't stopped raining in Ponce, PR since yesterday @ 7PM.



Probly around 8 inches. Storm total radar

Quoting TampaSpin:


the models are trying to pick up StormW


So it's confirmed, StormW is actually a tropical cyclone! :)
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1983


crazy clouds from this morning over my house.. never saw a shadow like that
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Quoting Tazmanian:
95L has had it wind shear will be takeing overe on it soon


Hmm how many times have we heard that this week?
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
95L has had it wind shear will be takeing overe on it soon
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how do you upload a personal picture on here for the blog?
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1839. 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
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Hmmm...Interesting week ahead. Potential for at least 2 separate US threats--Near the SE Coast(1)ahead of the regeneration of Erikas remnants(2).
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Gotta run ........I would watch things very close as that trough lifts out......The tail in of those are we tend to see alot of action......everyone have a good day....and NO FIGHTING KIDS!
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1836. Patrap
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50% chance for rain today here...

hope it's enough to wash away the "amazing" chalk art in my cul-de-sac

been there a few weeks now, tired of looking at strange animal-like scribbles :-)
Member Since: September 3, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 71
Quoting LightningCharmer:
I wouldn't be so modest from what I've read of your blog. If you're not, your becoming one JMHO. Anyway even if it's not becoming more tropical, it certainly has produced some incredible lightning in South Florida and the Florida Keys.


Then do me a favor and don't visit nor read it.....Please LOL....j/k!
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1833. Patrap
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1832. Patrap
ESL by LSU
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It looks like the Trough is lifting out of the GOM.....things will begin to change!
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1829. Patrap
NexSat African Wave,Vis Loop
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Quoting LightningCharmer:
Any of the experts here watching the increase in cloudiness off the coast of Naples, Florida? Radar showing many little swirls over the last couple hours. This is just my untrained eye observations but is it worth watching?


NO expert! But nothing to worry about. It appears to be just upper Divergence caused by the ULL to the West in the GOM! There is nothing in Vorticity at the LOWER or Middle levels at all!
I wouldn't be so modest from what I've read of your blog. If you're not, your becoming one JMHO. Anyway even if it's not becoming more tropical, it certainly has produced some incredible lightning in South Florida and the Florida Keys.
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Quoting DoubleAction:


It's certainly worth watching, conditions right around florida are pretty ideal, I would watch the area off Jacksonville as well.
I agree. The area off Jacksonville appears to be another area to watch.
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Quoting Drakoen:
The wave over Africa exhibits strong 850mb vorticity maximum. Satellite derived winds indicated a closed mid level low with the system. An upper level anticyclone is vertically stacked with the mid level circulation. Lower level convergence is over the wave's axis.


Was looking it too Drak i was thinking to myself, i could almost qualify that as an Invest over Land........LOL
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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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