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: 1026 - 976

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

Quoting mobilegirl81:

The weather channel probably said that it was a nice ploom of convection and nothing to worry about. I dont even watch the tropical update anymore, I just go here for better in- depth information. TWC down plays everything and sometimes they bust thier own forecast.


haha yeah, i know what you mean, i still watch it, but only for Jim Cantore and Dr. Lyons
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting barryweather:
We have a few webcams in Pensacola that look out over the Gulf. I use them to check the surf pretty much everyday. During Hurricane Dennis the eye passed to the East of one of the cams and the wind was blowing offshore. We were able to see the waves until the power went out and the waves were very clean and large due to the winds blowing offshore, out of the North at our location. It was not like the washing machine effect describes above because the wind cancelled out many of the choppy background waves that would normally hit the beach. The only waves reaching shore at that location were the longer period waves which contain more energy.

Hurricane Ivan however hit to the West and as a result onshore winds out of the South were hitting the beach. As the winds increase so did the various waves' sizes and directions. This caused for the classical washing machine effect that one would see in the middle of a storm out at see. A close approximation to this type of wave action at sea can be seen on just about any episode of deadliest catch when they have to fish during a storm - minus the ice.


Well, if the wind was Offshore then conditions were very Ideal, which tends to happen after a cane, or in key places around it. But when the thing is passing thru, the surf gets all windblown and crappy. Just like when it's at sea - like someone pointed out with people cannonballing into a pool from all angles.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
Quoting tornadodude:


as opposed to the Weather Channel

The weather channel probably said that it was a nice ploom of convection and nothing to worry about. I dont even watch the tropical update anymore, I just go here for better in- depth information. TWC down plays everything and sometimes they bust thier own forecast.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting homelesswanderer:


Well what caught my eye is they didn't show another immediate trough. So anything that did develop wouldn't recurve out to sea. So yes we would need to watch out if something was out there.


ok,thanks. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting serialteg:


Shear over there is very high.


Looks like a rooster...lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jeffs713:

In TX:
Green means :"go after approximately 30 seconds"
Yellow means : "Go faster"
Red means : "it looks yellow to me" (unless there is a red light camera, then it means "slam on your brakes as hard as you can")


LOL....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Floodman:


Mine too (the years, not the numbers)...not like I disoplay the heads in my den or anything...LOL


I am 97% sure I'm on Ike's list :D

Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
Does the Panama flare up have a chances are time to develope
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ameister12:

Yeah. It does seem interesting.




Shear over there is very high.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
THX 1002 :-)

is it updated frequently? Can I watch it during the next storm to see how far down things change?

side note... how do they monitor sub sea temp?
Member Since: September 3, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 71
Quoting mobilegirl81:

That could be a problem. The flow takes it straight to the Yucatan channel


as opposed to the Weather Channel
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ameister12:

Yeah. It does seem interesting.



That could be a problem. The flow takes it straight to the Yucatan channel
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Floodman.Just had a flashback from the 60's.I remember now......It was "Poof the Magic Dragon"
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Boca:
However, temperatures in the Arctic began to rise around the year 1900.

Was the greenhouse effect in place then or when the population exploded, cars and planes and the industrial age expanded?





Greenhouse effect has been always in effect since we have an atmosphere that can trap gases, probably for 4.3 or more BILLIONS of years. The problem is that instead of nature causing the runaway greenhouse effect (planet Venus, the early fully frozen planet Earth) now humans are contributing greatly to it.

Just think about how exponential things are becoming.

In the 1900's, people lived to be up to 40-45 years old. This was an improvement over our 10,000 year history as modern humans (and maybe beyond), maybe by a decade. Obviously exceptions ocurred.

Nowadays, a hundred - only a hundred - years after, we live to be double that age.

Apply that to the carbon emmisions, the population boom worldwide, the amount of WunderTrolls, etc.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
Quoting IKE:
Ignore feature really helps. I have 81 on mine. Goes back 2-3 years.


Mine too (the years, not the numbers)...not like I disoplay the heads in my den or anything...LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TexasHurricane:


I'm not the best at reading all these different maps. But, from what it looks like we may need to be keeping an eye out in the Carribean and GOM?


Well what caught my eye is they didn't show another immediate trough. So anything that did develop wouldn't recurve out to sea. So yes we would need to watch out if something was out there.
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
Quoting squish66:
Anyone interested in the disturbed area that's been developing north/northwest through Panama today?

Yeah. It does seem interesting.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
We have a few webcams in Pensacola that look out over the Gulf. I use them to check the surf pretty much everyday. During Hurricane Dennis the eye passed to the East of one of the cams and the wind was blowing offshore. We were able to see the waves until the power went out and the waves were very clean and large due to the winds blowing offshore, out of the North at our location. It was not like the washing machine effect describes above because the wind cancelled out many of the choppy background waves that would normally hit the beach. The only waves reaching shore at that location were the longer period waves which contain more energy.

Hurricane Ivan however hit to the West and as a result onshore winds out of the South were hitting the beach. As the winds increase so did the various waves' sizes and directions. This caused for the classical washing machine effect that one would see in the middle of a storm out at see. A close approximation to this type of wave action at sea can be seen on just about any episode of deadliest catch when they have to fish during a storm - minus the ice.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting justalurker:
WOW..love that ignore user thingy..POOF


Remember now, the correct usage is **POOF!**

LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting serialteg:


That intense pink thing... what would a 1040 high cause up there in Spain/England?

Extremely clear weather? hehe... for a UK change?


Nah.

Nature would still conspire to rain on us somehow.

(We do tend to get a period of nice weather in September, called an 'Indian Summer', in relation to the period of nice weather after the monsoon trough in that part of the world. Might even hit 20C. What a novelty.)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1004. NRAamy
973. SQUAWK 1:34 PM PDT on September 04, 2009
Will someone tell me what this "XD" thing is all about. I have no clue.


you're dating yourself, SQUAWK....

;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting homelesswanderer:
Say hello the negative NAO? Watch the difference between the first and last frame. That's a whole lotta high.

Link


The whole screen turns red in the last frame. Impressive.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NWHoustonMom:

is it bad blog etiquette to quote yourself?
but I'm still really curious about this ...


RE:Does anyone know of any images or graphics with what water looks like below the surface of a TC? TIA

This might be what you are looking for. Love this NOAA site. You will see where you can change the depth (0, 100, 500.....4000)

SURFACE TEMP


700 METERS


You can run loops for different depths and these factors:
Temperature, Surface Height, Mixed Layer,
Salinity, Horizontal Current, Vertical Velocity

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CybrTeddy:
This isn't exactly a good indication of were 95L is going to go.


rofl

quoting orca from before:

"gotta love the loop-de-loop 95l track"
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
Poor Ex-Erica. In the last few frames (RGB) she's firing up a few pitiful places that may have once been a COC. "Never give up..." should be her motto.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting serialteg:


Well, red means go in some countries...
Quoting tornadodude:


and in some communities here in the US.... ha

In TX:
Green means :"go after approximately 30 seconds"
Yellow means : "Go faster"
Red means : "it looks yellow to me" (unless there is a red light camera, then it means "slam on your brakes as hard as you can")
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
998. Boca
However, temperatures in the Arctic began to rise around the year 1900.

Was the greenhouse effect in place then or when the population exploded, cars and planes and the industrial age expanded?



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting homelesswanderer:
Say hello the negative NAO? Watch the difference between the first and last frame. That's a whole lotta high.

Link


That intense pink thing... what would a 1040 high cause up there in Spain/England?

Extremely clear weather? hehe... for a UK change?
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
Quoting homelesswanderer:
Say hello the negative NAO? Watch the difference between the first and last frame. That's a whole lotta high.

Link


I'm not the best at reading all these different maps. But, from what it looks like we may need to be keeping an eye out in the Carribean and GOM?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting serialteg:


Yup, I was just in a WTF loop for a while until I got it.


WTF loop? lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
This isn't exactly a good indication of were 95L is going to go.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NEwxguy:


That would be true for Massachusetts drivers too.


I can attest to that. ;)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tornadodude:


D-Max Puerto Rico


Yup, I was just in a WTF loop for a while until I got it.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
Say hello the negative NAO? Watch the difference between the first and last frame. That's a whole lotta high.

Link
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 10 Comments: 3665
Quoting squish66:
Anyone interested in the disturbed area that's been developing north/northwest through Panama today?


StormW discussed it about 20-40 posts above, if you want to check it out! :)
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
Quoting serialteg:


Well, red means go in some countries...


That would be true for Massachusetts drivers too.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting serialteg:


Don't worry, happened to me.

When I got here solidly for this season and people were talking about Dmax and Dmin, I was like what... Dmax is an Internet service provider in my country. Never had heard that meteorological term before, although I was used to see it happen.


D-Max Puerto Rico
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeauxGirl:


That would give a whole new meaning to the term
"Fish Storm" wouldn't it? LOL...

Don't feel bad, I kind of thought the same thing. :0)


hehe, yeah it would!
Member Since: September 3, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 71
Quoting serialteg:


It's a smiley character. Like this :) only XD in a Japanese animation style. If you see some manga, anime or asian cartoons you'll notice sometimes they draw the eyes as an X when characters laugh.

XD


An interesting article pertaining to a similar topic...

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NWHoustonMom:
OK thanks, I had this vision of a great underwater tornado flinging fish all around :-)

Well, that *would* be pretty cool, you have to admit.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting serialteg:


Well, red means go in some countries...


and in some communities here in the US.... ha
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Anyone interested in the disturbed area that's been developing north/northwest through Panama today?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JupiterFL:


I thought an X for eyes meant you were dead. I learn something new everyday.


Well, red means go in some countries...
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
Quoting NWHoustonMom:
OK thanks, I had this vision of a great underwater tornado flinging fish all around :-)


That would give a whole new meaning to the term
"Fish Storm" wouldn't it? LOL...

Don't feel bad, I kind of thought the same thing. :0)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SQUAWK:

Thank you. That has been making me nuts. I just could not figure it out.


Don't worry, happened to me.

When I got here solidly for this season and people were talking about Dmax and Dmin, I was like what... Dmax is an Internet service provider in my country. Never had heard that meteorological term before, although I was used to see it happen.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 1975
Quoting serialteg:


It's a smiley character. Like this :) only XD in a Japanese animation style. If you see some manga, anime or asian cartoons you'll notice sometimes they draw the eyes as an X when characters laugh.

XD


I thought an X for eyes meant you were dead. I learn something new everyday.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
OK thanks, I had this vision of a great underwater tornado flinging fish all around :-)
Member Since: September 3, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 71
Hey guys, finally had a chance to read up. Many thanks to Dr. M and all you wunderbloggers for the great info. All you new folks: please keep asking questions, I learn something new everytime.

So, I guess MJO and NAO will keep things somewhat subdued for a little while. Thanks for your analysis StormW - I vote for the weak suptropical system in the gulf (I need some surf in P'cola). Also sounds like we may see some late September through October developments if the climatic conditions turn around a bit as forecasted. Hopefully nothing like my early birthday present in 2004.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting serialteg:


It's a smiley character. Like this :) only XD in a Japanese animation style. If you see some manga, anime or asian cartoons you'll notice sometimes they draw the eyes as an X when characters laugh.

XD

Thank you. That has been making me nuts. I just could not figure it out.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 1026 - 976

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.