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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Wow, I cannot believe I have never used the Ignore feature before. It is so nice not to see the endless dripple coming from a particular person.
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LOL, I'm batting 1000!

I predicted no hurricanes to hit CONUS this season (I did not predict no TS)..
(my island friends, that does not mean I want them to hit you either.. I want us all to have a storm free year)

so far our only hurricane "bill" went out to sea..

Hope this keeps it up... and we have a peaceful year!

Yeah for Wind Shear and Saraha Dust/Dry Air
and our friend El Nino!!!
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WOW..love that ignore user thingy..POOF
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Hi Storm

So quiet it is a little scary. I keep waiting for something like what happened in 2004 where all of a sudden near perfect conditions become aligned and one system after another spins up.

Having said that, I have not seen such hostile conditions prevail for so long in many years. This season could end real early at this rate.
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Quoting StormW:


GeauxGirl,
Did anyone ever answer your question a few posts ago?


No one except a troll...LOL...
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Kmanislander, thanks for the response. Will try to pop up a little more when things aren't so crazy in here.
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Quoting druseljic:
Just curious, I've posted a few questions this season and don't seem to get answers. I know this place gets crazy and a lot of long timers here have long ignore lists (and we can all see why), but I usually only pop up out of lurking if I am trying to learn something. Since I don't usually ignore folks, I don't really know how the system works. Is anyone seeing this or maybe I just don't get a response since no one knows (or remembers) me?


Hey, drsue...you're not my ignore...what would you like to know? If I have the information in my meager styore of weather knowledge I'll happily answer it!
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see, kman, one of the "good ones" did get to your question.. sometimes we do miss them because of the speed of the blogs and we go thru the 200 posts so quickly.
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910- "Kman" right?

Thank you!

I was wondering the same thing as Druseljic
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Quoting justalurker:


doesnt matter contribution to WU isnt a bad thing..
fair enough, I'm just sayin... you don't have to in order to use ignore.
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Quoting druseljic:
Just curious, I've posted a few questions this season and don't seem to get answers. I know this place gets crazy and a lot of long timers here have long ignore lists (and we can all see why), but I usually only pop up out of lurking if I am trying to learn something. Since I don't usually ignore folks, I don't really know how the system works. Is anyone seeing this or maybe I just don't get a response since no one knows (or remembers) me?


I just stopped by to lurk and saw this and I understand. Sometimes this blog does ignore post and sometimes some of the good ones here just are not present or they never saw your post.

If you have a direct question and it doesn't get answered, you could use "mail" and ask a couple of the ones here that do have a sense of knowledge of the subject and perhaps get an aswer that way.

We do have many more nice people here than jerks but sometimes it just appears that only the jerks and trolls have taken over the blogs.

Good luck and hope you get your question answered. I'm not really here that much in posting mode.

Have a great weekend,
Gams
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Thanks Jeffs! I usually don't post too much because my questions get answered just by watching long enough and I'm not knowledgeable enough to answer newbie questions yet. I've lurked consistently since 2006 and I still learn new stuff every day (thanks everyone).
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:
You don't have to pay to use the ignore.


doesnt matter contribution to WU isnt a bad thing..
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Quoting justalurker:


thanks, but it brings me to create a blog page..
Click "create blog" first (but you dont really have to create one)and then you can use ignore...
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Quoting druseljic:
Just curious, I've posted a few questions this season and don't seem to get answers. I know this place gets crazy and a lot of long timers here have long ignore lists (and we can all see why), but I usually only pop up out of lurking if I am trying to learn something. Since I don't usually ignore folks, I don't really know how the system works. Is anyone seeing this or maybe I just don't get a response since no one knows (or remembers) me?


The reason you may not get a reply sometimes is that when the blog is moving very fast nearly a dozen posts may show up between the time someone reads the blog and then posts their own reply. If you are one of the dozen posts you may get overlooked particularly if bloggers do not read back more than 4 or 5 posts.

The other issue is that the regulars tend to look for comments from bloggers they are familiar with and a newbie can have a hard time breaking in.

The best thing to do is stop lurking and join in when times are slow, like now. That way, when the pace picks up, you will be recognised right away. If you are looking for answers, ask the questions during slow periods. In a fast moving blog everyone is busy giving their own take on things or commenting on the prognostications of others. There is little time then to answer questions but if you do have a question while the blog is busy send a WU e mail to a blogger who looks like they know what they are talking about and when the pace slows you should get a reply.

Hope this helps.
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Quoting justalurker:
had enough where the H*** do i pay the $10 bucks, i need to use ignore feature?
You don't have to pay to use the ignore.
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Quoting Peacefulbon:

Under the response, there will be a tab that says, "Ignore User". Click it and then Save changes. It is very useful, even to us lurkers!


thanks, but it brings me to create a blog page..
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
to all trolls

you shall be replaced with empty space just like whats in your head


Just pay them the 50 cents to cross the bridge and move on with it.
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Quoting toasterbell:
druseljic, you're not coming up minimized automatically, if that's what you're asking. I guess that means that you haven't riled anyone up. Maybe people just didn't know the answer to your questions? I know mine rarely get answered either, but I think that's just how it goes.

You aren't being ignored. I try to monitor the blogs during the day and answer questions, but when it gets busy, some posts tend to get lost in the shuffle. (especially when you are on a slow computer, running IE6, and only have 50 comments per page displayed)

If you have any questions that haven't been answered quickly, you can always WUmail one of the knowledgeable people on here, or post a question on one of the other knowledgeable blogs.
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Quoting justalurker:
new member..how do you use ignore feature?

Under the response, there will be a tab that says, "Ignore User". Click it and then Save changes. It is very useful, even to us lurkers!
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Dujuan looking impressive IMO
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to all trolls

you shall be replaced with empty space just like whats in your head
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Quoting tropicofcancer:

This is what Crown said:
"The final item I want to mention is the fact that some of the computer forecast guidance is hinting at one to two trough splits over the next week or so in the Gulf of Mexico. Wind shear values in the Gulf of Mexico are unfavorable for development and are forecast to remain unfavorable for at least the next 3 to 4 days. It was interesting to note that the latest European model (12Z) shows some sort of low pressure development towards later next week in the northern Gulf of Mexico. With forecasted high pressure over New England, this would be a possible scenario of a homegrown system forming at the end of a trough split in the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is something to keep in the back of your mind, but for now it is a remote possibility. "
Quoting tropicofcancer:

This is what Crown said:
"The final item I want to mention is the fact that some of the computer forecast guidance is hinting at one to two trough splits over the next week or so in the Gulf of Mexico. Wind shear values in the Gulf of Mexico are unfavorable for development and are forecast to remain unfavorable for at least the next 3 to 4 days. It was interesting to note that the latest European model (12Z) shows some sort of low pressure development towards later next week in the northern Gulf of Mexico. With forecasted high pressure over New England, this would be a possible scenario of a homegrown system forming at the end of a trough split in the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is something to keep in the back of your mind, but for now it is a remote possibility. "
?
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new member..how do you use ignore feature?
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898. JRRP
Quoting Drakoen:
The ECMWF does not develop 95L. It is showing another system.

true...

the wave over africa
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Quoting Floodman:


Pays for itself the very first day



Yup!
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Quoting stormsurge39:
Crown weather talks about possible developement in N GOM next week. He mentioned troughs split.

This is what Crown said:
"The final item I want to mention is the fact that some of the computer forecast guidance is hinting at one to two trough splits over the next week or so in the Gulf of Mexico. Wind shear values in the Gulf of Mexico are unfavorable for development and are forecast to remain unfavorable for at least the next 3 to 4 days. It was interesting to note that the latest European model (12Z) shows some sort of low pressure development towards later next week in the northern Gulf of Mexico. With forecasted high pressure over New England, this would be a possible scenario of a homegrown system forming at the end of a trough split in the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is something to keep in the back of your mind, but for now it is a remote possibility. "
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Thanks for the answer Toasterbell. Back to lurking and learning...
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Apocalyps2...Poof,RIP
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Quoting iceman55:
hi


hello

the troll hunters are coming

gonna fly in the trolls
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druseljic, you're not coming up minimized automatically, if that's what you're asking. I guess that means that you haven't riled anyone up. Maybe people just didn't know the answer to your questions? I know mine rarely get answered either, but I think that's just how it goes.
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Quoting iceman55:
i dnot know what think about ECMWF


Why? What is it showing?
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
trolls fixing to be poof

holds on to HER DRESS

The Trolls hunters are coming
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Quoting GeauxGirl:


Scroll to the top and click on "Upgrade".


thank you..
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Quoting justalurker:
had enough where the H*** do i pay the $10 bucks, i need to use ignore feature?


Scroll to the top and click on "Upgrade".
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Quoting justalurker:
had enough where the H*** do i pay the $10 bucks, i need to use ignore feature?


just click action

ignore

its the dust of the 2005 troll season
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had enough where the H*** do i pay the $10 bucks, i need to use ignore feature?
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alot of people are happy for this calm season

ana poof
bill fish
clauddette EDWARD PART 2 just hitting florida
erika poof


that is it this season

Atleast bill look better then IKE EVER DID

Ike was the ugliest hurricane
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HPC 7 day graphics
HPC has not dismissed the low formally known as Erika.
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Just curious, I've posted a few questions this season and don't seem to get answers. I know this place gets crazy and a lot of long timers here have long ignore lists (and we can all see why), but I usually only pop up out of lurking if I am trying to learn something. Since I don't usually ignore folks, I don't really know how the system works. Is anyone seeing this or maybe I just don't get a response since no one knows (or remembers) me?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.

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