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

Share this Blog
9
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 1626 - 1576

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57Blog Index

1625. Prgal
Good morning everyone. PR radar: Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hope we get some rain, or at least some overcast skies, from what's left of Erika, as that will keep down the afternoon high temps.

The way things are going, though, I'm not holding out too many hopes for that......

Later.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good morning again

95L has a LLCC but I dont know how much that would help it.

Tropical Update
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Good Morning everyone from a very foggy Chicago
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1621. viman
Good morning to all - awoke to the sound of thunder but still no real rain to talk about...I see PR getting their share, I really hope we get some more out of this but I think the window is closing rapidly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1620. 7544
pr radar really lighting up this am as ex ericka is trying to gain some convection

18/68
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
....hmmmmm
things going "bump" in the night
or maybe I should say "bump" in the morning
Gusting over 30 mph and driving rain

Good morning from Turks & Caicos
Morning, CRS. We've clear skies so far this morning in Nassau. Don't expect that to last beyond tomorrow....

Morning everybody else, too.....lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
i see 95L has a tuff road ahead with shear, but can someone explain how windshear pattern deviates relaxes, or increases? and how long does it usually take for these occurrences to happen?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1616. IKE
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well, I've looked and I've read and all looks well. Lol. Guess depending on who you wanna believe. I think its going to be rainy. Or maybe not. GFS says a high will be over SE TX. ECMWF says a trough...I could go on and on. Lol. I guess El Nino is driving even the computers mad. Hee hee. Oh well. My advice...Look out your window. Lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good morning everyone
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1613. IKE
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 AM EDT SAT SEP 5 2009

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE IS LOCATED
ABOUT 300 MILES WEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. WHILE THIS SYSTEM
IS SHOWING SOME SIGNS OF ORGANIZATION AS IT MOVES TOWARD THE
WEST-NORTHWEST AT 15 TO 20 MPH...CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO BECOME
LESS FAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT BY TOMORROW AS UPPER-LEVEL WINDS
INCREASE AND THE SYSTEM MOVES OVER COOLER WATERS.
THERE IS A LOW
CHANCE...LESS THAN 30 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

A TROPICAL WAVE LOCATED ABOUT 1000 MILES WEST OF THE CAPE VERDE
ISLANDS IS PRODUCING SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY. UPPER-LEVEL
WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO REMAIN UNFAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT OF THIS
SYSTEM AS IT MOVES WESTWARD AT AROUND 10 MPH.
THERE IS A LOW
CHANCE...LESS THAN 30 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER BRENNAN

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Repost

I was just about to post it but the future of 95L does not look good. Much of the intensity guidance show shear increasing across 95L to 30 knots. Neither the ECMWF nor GFS develops the feature. Some development is expected in the near term but the long-term faith of 95L is uncertain.

One thing I've notice is that the models show 95L moving NW as it develops but then encounter shear near 20N if this does play out then likely it will not pass a moderate TS. However the other solution is that the storm does not develop and track west in shallow steering flow apparently missing some of the heavier shear.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Good Morning all
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Roadblocks, lol.

First time ever that "highway maintenance" brings a smile to most people's faces...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1609. jipmg
Quoting NJNorEaster:


Sigh, yeah and then we're left with talk about global warming...


Isn't it believed that global warming causes wind shear
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting LUCARIO:
for all with rose color lives

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/09/the_short_but_eventful_life_of.html


Good morning. Haven't even seen the NHC models or anything yet. But thanks for that trip down memory lane Lucario. Sigh. The difference a year makes.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:
00Z ECMWF South America......view shows the systems out in the Eastern ATL making it to about 40W and diminishing.

Environment in the western ATL is just not conducive for tropical storms and hurricanes. Season will be over with early.


Sigh, yeah and then we're left with talk about global warming...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1606. IKE
00Z ECMWF South America......view shows the systems out in the Eastern ATL making it to about 40W and diminishing.

Environment in the western ATL is just not conducive for tropical storms and hurricanes. Season will be over with early.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1605. jipmg
Amazing ps3 ad btw...

yes its interesting shear has increased alot, I cant imagine how cold winter is going to be
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1604. IKE
Road blocks everywhere.....

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1603. IKE
86 days...
18 hours...
17 minutes...and it's over.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1602. IKE
30-60 knots of shear over the Caribbean. Can you say El Nino?....

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
....hmmmmm
things going "bump" in the night
or maybe I should say "bump" in the morning
Gusting over 30 mph and driving rain

Good morning from Turks & Caicos
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1600. jipmg
95L moving WNW, potential 96L moving slower to the west with some shear
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1599. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #20
SEVERE TROPICAL STORM DUJUAN (T0912)
18:00 PM JST September 5 2009
=========================================

SUBJECT: Category Two Typhoon In Sea South Of Japan

At 9:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Dujuan (980 hPa) located at 21.9N 134.1E has 10 minute sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts of 70 knots. The storm is reported as moving northeast at 17 knots

RSMC Dvorak Intensity:

Gale-Force Winds
===============
350 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 25.0N 135.7E - 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
45 HRS: 27.4N 135.2E - 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
69 HRS: 30.2N 137.7E - 65 knots (CAT 3/Typhoon)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1598. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
India Meteorological Department
Tropical Cyclone Advisories Number TWO
DEEP DEPRESSION BOB04-2009
8:30 AM IST September 5 2009
======================================

SUBJECT: Deep Depression Over Northwest Bay Of Bengal

At 3:00 AM UTC, The depression over northwest Bay of Bengal moved in a northwesterly direction and concentrated into a deep depression. Deep Depression BOB04-2009 lays centered near 21.0N 87.5E or about 70 kms southesat of Balasore and 150 kms south of Kolkata.

Satellite imagery indicates gradual organisation of convection during past 12 hours. The Dvorak Intensity of the system is T2.0. Associated broken intense to very intense convection lies over Bay of Bengal between north of 15.5N and west of 90.0E, coastal Orissa and south Gangtic, West Bengal

3 minute sustained winds near the center is 30 knots with a central pressure of 990 hPa. The state of the sea is very rough to high around the system's center.

Vertical wind shear of horizontal wind over the region is low to moderate (around 10-20 knots) Sea surface temperatures is about 28C. The sysem is supported by upper level divergence and low level convergence. Strong easterly winds prevail over the region in the upper tropospheric level. As observed at 3:00 AM UTC, the 24 hours pressure fall is higher in the north-northwesterly direction and is maximum (-7.6 hPa) over Digha.

Considering all the above, the system is likely to move in a north-northwesterly direction and cross West Bengal coast near Digha between 10:00 AM and 14:00 PM UTC, today
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1597. LUCARIO
for all with rose color lives

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/09/the_short_but_eventful_life_of.html
My public advisory on Dujuan for 5AM
Member Since: April 3, 2009 Posts: 107 Comments: 382
Quoting TexNowNM:
KoritheMan, I am always interested in what you have to say because you get pretty much to the point, too.

Good night all.....



Thanks, I'm flattered.

Good night!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1594. jipmg
I see tropical depression 7? soon, and a yellow circle around the area of low pressure west of 96L?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
KoritheMan, I am always interested in what you have to say because you get pretty much to the point, too.

Good night all.....

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jipmg:
Im definately headed in the meteorologist route, and this blog is quiet interesting, so I will mention it if I ever become a famous meteorologist LOL


Since it is 2:30 in the morning in New Mexico, I feel a little safer in writing something many will consider "sappy." I'm a teacher and I love to hear about kids with aspirations like yours. This may sound dumb, but it is true - Level head, trustworthy meteorologist, on local channels, whom people grow to trust, wield enormous power. People will make huge decisions based on a trusted meteorologist's suggestions. When I read complaints in the Houston Chronicle about the frenzy of weather casters there anytime anything is in the Gulf, I think about Greg Bostwick of KFDM in Beaumont. When he says it is time to start looking at a storm, people listen. He is just a regular guy, but he has so much respect in that part of Texas, I think it would amaze him. It is an awesome responsibility but (and this is sappy) what a great way to be of service to others.

I wish you all the best!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1591. jipmg
Im definately headed in the meteorologist route, and this blog is quiet interesting, so I will mention it if I ever become a famous meteorologist LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It is a nice thought that we may be reading the names of some of the kids now on here signing off on NHC reports.

I heard Bob Van Dillen, meteorologist on HLN, (who I've never actually seen because I listen on sirius) say he took Calculus III. I like math but I had to earn those grades, so that is way over my head! More power to you guys getting your meteorology degrees, especially those who go the math heavy route,
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1588. centex
The biggest convection in tropical Atl is central Caribbean. I've put a yellow circle in that area.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting growe:
"Studies" that show the Arctic is the warmest it's been in 2000 years are meaningless rubbish, considering they can't even agree on what the current global temperatures are. This year, for example, centres such as UAH and NCDC have disagreed by as much as 0.6 C on global average temperatures for various months. If 0.6 C doesn't sound like much, remember this is the total amount of warming that is claimed to have happened during the 20th century, and is what all the fuss is about. The fact is that satellite records, the only records worth paying any attention to, go back at most 30 years, which is not long enough to say anything about "climate" as opposed to "weather".

Also, claiming that the fact that the ice melt in 2009 is much less than in the past 2 years is due to different atmospheric circulation patterns is disingenuous. You could equally well say that the larger melts in 2007/8 were due to anomalous winds and/or ocean currents (studies have indeed reported this). The fact is that these factors contribute to ice cover in *every* year, so trying to drag them in only when it's convenient isn't proper science.



I Agree.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TexNowNM:
StormW

I agree with you about forecaster Avila. He writes in a straightforward way and doesn't get excitable about things. I can always understand what he says.

I also like the way forecaster Stewart wrote his forecast but he hasn't put out any forecast since he got back from Iraq. I guess they have him doing other things.

Good night


Yeah, Stewart is also excellent. He seems to have the most knowledge of non-tropical weather out of the NHC staff as well. Very detailed analysis most of the time.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SykKid:
=O 8[]


Hmm, I strongly appreciate the second emoticon in your post.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TexNowNM:
StormW

I agree with you about forecaster Avila. He writes in a straightforward way and doesn't get excitable about things. I can always understand what he says.

I also like the way forecaster Stewart wrote his forecast but he hasn't put out any forecast since he got back from Iraq. I guess they have him doing other things.

Good night
Forecaster "futeremet" also has a good track record.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
StormW

I agree with you about forecaster Avila. He writes in a straightforward way and doesn't get excitable about things. I can always understand what he says.

I also like the way forecaster Stewart wrote his forecast but he hasn't put out any forecast since he got back from Iraq. I guess they have him doing other things.

Good night
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1580. centex
Thanks doc for data om climate change. I'm amazed how public rights it off, I guess Bush legacy. When all the climate scientist agree and few quacks say something else I don’t understand why so many follow quacks.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1579. JLPR
Well im out
Goodnight anyone who might be lurking or enters after me and reads this post xD
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 5223
1578. JLPR
95L looking decent and the low west of it is getting ready to fire more convection
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 5223
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 1626 - 1576

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57Blog Index

Top of Page

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.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
28 °F
Mostly Cloudy