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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yes its over for now, cant wait for DR. M to do an update, so we can put this issue or entry blog behind us!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1672. LUCARIO
Quoting Weather456:
The wave behind 95L will likely become 96L


95 is dead

put a sock in it
1671. LUCARIO
95 LOOKS SO sick, it won't last the next hour
The wave behind 95L will likely become 96L
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1668. LUCARIO
i told yall 95 WOULD BE ON YELLOW, MARK MY WORDS HE WILL BE GONE TODAY AT 2PM

RIP 2009
1667. Ossqss
Mornin, is it safe to talk about the tropics in here :)



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1666. CapnK
Mornin', y'all!

Storm - Carolinians have much the same feelings as Floridians, these days. :D

Regarding GW/CC - Lots of data pointing both ways as to where we are right now, and it is obvious that the planetary climate changes a lot throughout history. Seems to me that the current 'discussion' comes down to whether a participant thinks that humankind is capable of / guilty of being a large enough force on the planet to be able to affect planetary climate.

What surprises me is that there are all these 'fixes' proposed for man-created GW/CC, but nobody addresses the root issue which is inherently implied by such: there are just too many people, and they are making more all the time.

In an illness or disease, you don't treat the *symptoms*, you treat the *cause*. I'm not saying we should kill off lots of people :), But I do think that the brainpower devoted to changing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would be better used addressing the issue of overpopulation and intelligent, informed reproduction.

Food for thought!

Great book to read, here between weather alerts, one that will likely give you a viewpoint you never experienced before: "Ishmael", by Daniel Quinn.
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I see we have a new Yellow ball.....seen that coming 2 days ago as i had noted on my blog. I knew it was coming when i posted late last nite. Here is my Tropical Update!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1664. IKE
Quoting futuremet:
The topic of Global warming appears to becoming as personal as politics and religion.

Just ask MichaelSTL...

GW brings too much drama here.


Amen. I stay out of it.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
AL 95 2009090512 BEST 0 159N 299W 25 1008 DB



AL 95 2009090512 BEST 0 160N 299W 25 1008 DB



They change their mind fast (15.9 to 16.0)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting futuremet:
The topic of Global warming appears to becoming as personal as politics and religion.

Just ask MichaelSTL...

GW brings too much drama here.


yea we use to had some intense debates on the subject.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
The topic of Global warming appears to becoming as personal as politics and religion.

Just ask MichaelSTL...

GW brings too much drama here.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
WOW..what a difference in this blog from yesterday, i thought i was reading a book on global warming, sure came out in full force yesterday..LOL

nice to see the blog back to normal, lets hope it stays that way..

btw, looked up wind shear on google, no need to answer my question..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Autistic2:


Just trying to get a little (social) therapy in on a beautiful Sat. morning. I don't know much about the weather but Storm W, Drakster, Ike, and many others are helping me learn.

I learn REAL FAST but have problems dealing with social issues. Not the handle name.

Did not mean to offend!


none taken, I'm that much into the topic.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
StormW, the CFS seems to be anomalous troughing over the east coast, and shows above average shear conditions. Assuming my data may be old, please provide me a link of where you got your data.

500mb anomalies



Wind shear anomalies

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Weather456:
Climate Change and Global warming is a very sensitive topic and every time we have post related to it, 2 things happen.

95% of post are about something else

5% are about global warming

2% of that 5% are reasonable posts

while the other 3% is something about politics and some personal issue.


The topic of Global warming appears to becoming as personal as politics and religion.


Just trying to get a little (social) therapy in on a beautiful Sat. morning. I don't know much about the weather but Storm W, Drakster, Ike, and many others are helping me learn.

I learn REAL FAST but have problems dealing with social issues. Not the handle name.

Did not mean to offend!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


With my hands...mostly! LOL!

Just kidding...I'm feeling a whole lot better. Thank you for asking!!

LOL!! Good glad to hear it!!
Member Since: February 14, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 663
1654. LUCARIO
Quoting IKE:


I wouldn't say the USA is safe the rest of 2009. Even I'm not that stupid...I hope.


there will be nothing

this season is over
1653. LUCARIO
Quoting Weather456:


you also said it was going to Bermuda



95 is going to die

duh
BahaHurican
Morning, CRS. We've clear skies so far this morning in Nassau.

Morning Baha, It was squally for about an hour, I came to computer to look at satellite image after closing windows. Looks like it was an isolated thunderstorm. Bar is holding high so far.

CRS

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1651. IKE
Quoting Dakster:


Is this your prediction for the remainder of the season or just for now?


I wouldn't say the USA is safe the rest of 2009. Even I'm not that stupid...I hope.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting IKE:


At least 94L/ex-Erika didn't hit the USA. I may a prediction...post 736, last Sunday morning that it wouldn't and got hammered for it. You didn't think it would either........... Unless the pattern were to somehow completely revearse itself - FL and probable the CONUS is safe.


Good guess...
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Good Morning Storm Hope You have a good Week end
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:


At least 94L/ex-Erika didn't hit the USA. I may a prediction...post 736 last Sunday morning that it wouldn't and got hammered for it. You didn't think it would either........... Unless the pattern were to somehow completely revearse itself - FL and probable the CONUS is safe.


you also said it was going to Bermuda

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1645. Dakster
Quoting IKE:


At least 94L/ex-Erika didn't hit the USA. I may a prediction last Sunday morning that it wouldn't and got hammered for it. You didn't think it would either........... Unless the pattern were to somehow completely revearse itself - FL and probable the CONUS is safe.


Is this your prediction for the remainder of the season or just for now?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1643. IKE
Quoting clwstmchasr:
86 days...
18 hours...
17 minutes...and it's over.


With conditions so unfavorable in the tropics -who knows, maybe it is already over....


At least 94L/ex-Erika didn't hit the USA. I may a prediction...post 736, last Sunday morning that it wouldn't and got hammered for it. You didn't think it would either........... Unless the pattern were to somehow completely revearse itself - FL and probable the CONUS is safe.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting StormW:


The rise of Atlantis.

GM Storm! How you feeling??
Member Since: February 14, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 663
Climate Change and Global warming is a very sensitive topic and every time we have post related to it, 2 things happen.

95% of post are about something else

5% are about global warming

2% of that 5% are reasonable posts

while the other 3% is something about politics and some personal issue.


The topic of Global warming appears to becoming as personal as politics and religion.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting Dakster:
GOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING WUNDERBLOG!

Looks like another good week for Florida. (Any week a 'cane isn't about to hit us is good, IMHO)



agread! I live in Fl
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1638. IKE
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN JUAN PR
836 AM AST SAT SEP 5 2009

.UPDATE...SEVERAL FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS AND OTHER FLOOD PRODUCTS IN
EFFECT. EXPECTING HEAVY RAIN TO CONTINUE UNTIL AT LEAST MID
AFTERNOON. WILL EXTEND THE FLASH FLOOD WATCH TO COVER THE ENTIRE
FORECAST AREA AND EXTEND THE TIMING. THE MOST AREAS OF HEAVIEST
RAINFALL AND MOST DESTRUCTIVE FLOODING SO FAR HAVE BEEN AROUND
THE CAGUAS AREA...BUT EXTREMELY HEAVY THUNDERSTORM COMPLEXES NEAR
PONCE AND FAJARDO ARE CLOSING IN ON THE ISLAND. MOVEMENT OF THE
LOWER LEVEL FEATURE OF EX TROPICAL CYCLONE ERIKA SHOULD START TO
LIFT NORTHWARD TONIGHT...BUT THE MODEL SOLUTIONS HAVE BEEN
PROBLEMATIC SO CONFIDENCE REMAINS LOW. HEAVY RAIN FOR THE NEXT 24
HOURS IS VERY LIKELY OVER MOST OF THE FORECAST AREA.

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
No real, tropical threats just, Read DR. Masters blog, so a few thoughts on Global Warming.

Isn't global warming responsible for,

Al Gore becoming a movie star and getting an award (verified)
New Hybrid cars (verified)
Fall of George Bush
Rise of His royal highness, The Lord Obama
Artic melting
Antarctic Freezing
All the new super mega canes we are having (going to have) havent seen one yet.
Costal flooding on the entire planet or at least a sand bar in Alaska.
The demise of the Polar Bear.

What did I miss?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1636. Dakster
Quoting clwstmchasr:
86 days...
18 hours...
17 minutes...and it's over.


With conditions so unfavorable in the tropics -who knows, maybe it is already over....


One can only hope... Although I know better than to let my guard down.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1631. Dakster
GOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING WUNDERBLOG!

Looks like another good week for Florida. (Any week a 'cane isn't about to hit us is good, IMHO)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1630. Prgal
Good morning Storm. Good to see you!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


Great updated my friend!

I was looking at the updated steering layers a few minutes ago...00Z run from the PSU e-WALL site. They post these so the 00Z run you use for morning analysis, so the valid time is for 12Z, and same for the 12Z run, ealry evening to use for the valid time of 00Z.

Anyway, th new steering layers forecast shows a very good weakness now in the ridge as you have mentioned. What looks to be happening is, we get a ridge with 2 distinct centers, one of them near Bermuda, and the second wel north of the Azores, almost near the Canaries, creating a large weakness in the middle.



Great minds think alike...I posted this last night

Post#1389

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076

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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.