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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Quoting LUCARIO:


0


Obvious answer
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anything new on the wave near the cape verde islands just logged in
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1223. LUCARIO
Quoting GTcooliebai:
Here is a poll for you all:
How many storms will form in Sept?

A)4+
B)3
C)2
D)1
E)0


0

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Quoting StormW:


I was kidding LOL! The one that is lower in latitude, over almost mid continent should come pretty far west.


Sense of humor is great. I'm watching it too.
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Here is a poll for you all:
How many storms will form in Sept?

A)4+
B)3
C)2
D)1
E)0
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1219. LUCARIO
1983 part 2

Alicia = Bill


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Seems like the 2nd Major of this season is forrescast by two reliable models like GFS & ECMWF already, the wave behing 95L. Almost the same Ana & Bill Scenario Based on the forrescast sterring current for the next two weeks could be more westward than Bill. I dont see a big through comming out from the east coast over the next two weeks in the long term models forrescast like was the case with Bill. Let's see what happends.
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..........and trolls post troll images...right?

AVN CIL Loop

Link
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This almost feels like October already. Season winding down due to an el-nino that hasn't even peaked yet.

I can't wait for the giant and monstrous el-nino enhanced Nor'Easters that "bomb-out" at Sable Island.

always a pleasure reading here. ciao 4 now.

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1214. LUCARIO
bill was a gust of wind

thunderstorms worse then him
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1213. JLPR
Quoting Weather456:


I remember when i stated that Erika will not go out to sea becuz her intensity was uncertain with shear. A blogger said i dont what Erika to go to sea becuz I wanted rain. My basis was simply based on the fact that models were not initializing Erika correctly....the basis of the other blogger was that everything this year should be fish.


Sadly there are people that want you to think like them, taking your right of giving your opinion, but one true thing is: If we have mostly fishes this year it doesn't mean we couldn't have a hurricane hitting land at anytime.
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1212. Brillig
It's raining! We got 0.29 inches for the entire month of August. This is the first rain since then. (northwest Austin)
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A joke?

I have friends up there who I have not heard from since, there was a lot of damage along the coast

Maybe next time the storm will just destroy your house, than you will think twice about the crap you post on here
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FYI

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Quoting Weather456:


I remember when i stated that Erika will not go out to sea becuz her intensity was uncertain with shear. A blogger said i dont what Erika to go to sea becuz I wanted rain. My basis was simply based on the fact that models were not initializing Erika correctly....the basis of the other blogger was that everything this year should be fish.


People look for a reaction that is all, they have no clue what they are talking about; its been proven over and over
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1208. LUCARIO
Quoting KerryInNOLA:
You obviously have never been in a severe hurricane, or had to deal with the horrible aftermath of prolonged recovery. You enthusiasm for a busy season is childish. El Nino, for those of us who live on the coast, is great. But El Nino can be devastating to Californians.


yes, it is a nightmare

and the smell so horrible

and tons of dead fish... oh gosh

Ike will always haunt me

but Rita for some reason upsets me alot worse.
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Quoting Weather456:


Making it hard for persons looking for valuable info.


Exactly my point, if this blog wants to be considered a serious one, a good place for people to come for info; they need to do something about the trolls. Obviously admin does very little.
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Quoting JLPR:


lol
if that happens I will go nuts
Erika was confusing xD


I remember when i stated that Erika will not go out to sea becuz her intensity was uncertain with shear. A blogger said i dont what Erika to go to sea becuz I wanted rain. My basis was simply based on the fact that models were not initializing Erika correctly....the basis of the other blogger was that everything this year should be fish.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting SykKid:


No Hurricanes will make landfall this year.


Ana and Erika made landfall on Guadeloupe as TS.
Bill made landfall as a Cat 1 on the Burin Peninsula, Newfoundland. Claudette made landfall at Santa Rosa Island, Florida as TS.

It is approaching the peak so don't be fast at making those kinds of assumptions.
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1202. JLPR
95L and the low in front of it are void of deep convection
but as long as they are spinning, we should watch them closely

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Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:


trolls dont usually think about actual facts, they just say what they want and make it seem real, when they really are shielded in their own fantasy world.

I bet he will next tell you Bill doesnt count cuz it didnt hit the US, so predictable


Making it hard for persons looking for valuable info.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting StormW:


Atlantis


Hmmm, the Bahamas, Chariots of the Gods and all. Personally, I'm looking at the GOM for an unexpected TS. Nothing there now, but the Atlantic Basin is weak. Then the UFO's will come and zap Atlantis with their death rays.......LOL.
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1199. JLPR
Quoting Weather456:
Erika was very fun to track wonder if 95L will bring that kinda of excitement. I need another forecasting challenge.


lol
if that happens I will go nuts
Erika was confusing xD
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ECMWF more interested in the system behind


5 days
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting Weather456:


1 already did


trolls dont usually think about actual facts, they just say what they want and make it seem real, when they really are shielded in their own fantasy world.

I bet he will next tell you Bill doesnt count cuz it didnt hit the US, so predictable
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Quoting hydrus:
Storm.W. What is your thinking on the blob in the S.W. Caribbean Sea?

I'd like to know the same thing!??
Member Since: February 14, 2004 Posts: 2 Comments: 663
Quoting SykKid:


No Hurricanes will make landfall this year.


1 already did
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1193. LUCARIO
Quoting SykKid:


No Hurricanes will make landfall this year.


I agree
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Quoting LUCARIO:
was ike the smallest hurricane ever in the gulf?


lol
Marco was the smallest, though it was is the Bay of Campache. I'm not sure if Ike was the largest or not.
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Erika was very fun to track wonder if 95L will bring that kinda of excitement. I need another forecasting challenge.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1189. hydrus
Quoting StormW:


In the eastern Atlantic for starters
Storm.W. What is your thinking on the blob in the S.W. Caribbean Sea?
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Quoting StormW:


In the eastern Atlantic for starters


Then where? The Mid-Atlantic?
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1186. LUCARIO
was ike the smallest hurricane ever in the gulf?
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Good evening all
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
You can still see Remnant low of Kevin out there in the E Pacific on Visible. Poor thing, stuck in a dry and stable airmass with marginal SST's. TWD says it will be quasi-stationary there for the next 24 hours.
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1181. Brillig
Anyone know what the hurricane hunters were investigating briefly?
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Quoting SykKid:
2009 Hurricane season is RIP


you are a troll, seriously you are a waste of blog space and it really bothers me that admin dont do anything about people like you.

I will save your comments and make sure that someone who is being impacted by a storm before the end of the season knows you said this. Obviously you have no foundation for any of your posts and you post them just for reaction purposes.
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This "Journal Science" reports that this is the warmest decade in 2,000 years? Why are they suddenly having to clump a decades worth of data into a temperature raising comparison article?

If they used models to "re-create" supposed weather 2,000 years ago, what data did they input? We only have about 30 years of somewhat accurate data ourselves to input. Even that is a small portion of the 2,000 years. There is no real accurate way to account for 30 year cycles, 100 year cycles and 1,500 year cyles. Add to that the wobble of the earth combined with it's orbit around the sun, and someone could literally manufacture any data thay want and no can either corroborate or disprove it. You have these people saying the ice core samples show this, but the ice core samples from Greenland show a lush forest once existed under its own ice. How can anyone show a globally accurate report from ice taken in a single spot on earth?

That's the key to this whole argument, no one can either prove or disprove anything until we can get our own actual recorded data for 2,000 years.

I think think nature is going to do whatever it wants when it wants no matter matter what we do.
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Quoting homelesswanderer:


Still on the CMC and GFS. The 850 vort shows it well. Link


Is it my eyes or does that low that goes in to LA look like it is coming from the bay of campeche?

Edit: on the GFS 850 run
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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.