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 Floodman:


The issue isn;t whether their natural or not; we added the CO2, SO2 and methane to the environment and it reacted; in that sense it's all natural...my biggest bone to pick with the deialists is this: you can't continually add pollutants to a closed system without some effect; the earth is a closed system
Agreed. I really do purchase "green" as much as I can. I'm just saying I have the tendacy to think it is overblown a bit perhaps from my mistrust of government. So I suppose I am a denier to a degree but not to the extent of not being green :)
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fishcaster - self explanatory...

clowncaster - WSJFV
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95L 18Z SHIPS Shear after 24 hours.
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Quoting SykKid:
95l is RIP


95 is the future cat 5 of the GOM
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Quoting DestinJeff:


like seeing "regurgicaster" on the list there ... i was proud of that one. more, little known casters:

"Bastardicaster"
"Curvecaster"
"Frame-by-framecaster"
"Pull-a-______caster" (comparing system to past major that most closely will bring it posters area)
"Masterscaster" (prevelant in first 100 posts after NEW BLOG! from Dr M)
"Cantorecaster" (wherever he is = where the system goes ... old joke)
"Antcaster" (forecasting based on arbitrary animal behavior, often ants)

and many more.... all fun stuff here.


haha love em all, especially cantore-caster,i remember that
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:

I agree but how do we know that of which is natural vs that of which is not? There are indeed scientist who really do differ on that and I don't think they are all being paid off on either side of the issue. Although I do still hold the belief that the government likes us scared (regardless of which party is in control)


The issue isn't whether they're natural or not; we added the CO2, SO2 and methane to the environment and it reacted; in that sense it's all natural...my biggest bone to pick with the deialists is this: you can't continually add pollutants to a closed system without some effect; the earth is a closed system
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DISCLAIMER...NUMERICAL MODELS ARE SUBJECT TO LARGE ERRORS.
PLEASE REFER TO NHC OFFICIAL FORECASTS FOR TROPICAL CYCLONE
AND SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE INFORMATION.

ATLANTIC OBJECTIVE AIDS FOR

DISTURBANCE INVEST (AL952009) 20090904 1800 UTC

...00 HRS... ...12 HRS... ...24 HRS. .. ...36 HRS...
090904 1800 090905 0600 090905 1800 090906 0600

LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON
BAMS 13.8N 25.9W 15.1N 28.7W 16.5N 31.4W 17.6N 34.3W
BAMD 13.8N 25.9W 15.5N 28.6W 17.7N 30.9W 20.1N 32.6W
BAMM 13.8N 25.9W 15.3N 28.6W 17.2N 31.2W 19.0N 33.6W
LBAR 13.8N 25.9W 15.3N 29.1W 17.4N 32.0W 19.5N 34.1W
SHIP 20KTS 24KTS 31KTS 36KTS
DSHP 20KTS 24KTS 31KTS 36KTS

...48 HRS... ...72 HRS... ...96 HRS. .. ..120 HRS...
090906 1800 090907 1800 090908 1800 090909 1800

LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON
BAMS 18.6N 37.2W 20.0N 41.8W 20.9N 45.3W 21.7N 47.4W
BAMD 22.6N 33.3W 24.1N 32.2W 22.1N 32.3W 22.0N 34.1W
BAMM 20.8N 35.6W 23.6N 38.5W 26.5N 40.0W 29.8N 40.6W
LBAR 21.3N 35.4W 23.2N 36.2W 23.5N 35.6W 23.8N 35.4W
SHIP 36KTS 31KTS 28KTS 30KTS
DSHP 36KTS 31KTS 28KTS 30KTS

...INITIAL CONDITIONS...
LATCUR = 13.8N LONCUR = 25.9W DIRCUR = 280DEG SPDCUR = 19KT
LATM12 = 12.9N LONM12 = 21.9W DIRM12 = 281DEG SPDM12 = 19KT
LATM24 = 12.4N LONM24 = 18.5W
WNDCUR = 20KT RMAXWD = 45NM WNDM12 = 20KT
CENPRS = 1009MB OUTPRS = 1011MB OUTRAD = 120NM SDEPTH = D
RD34NE = 0NM RD34SE = 0NM RD34SW = 0NM RD34NW = 0NM


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18Z AL95

...INITIAL CONDITIONS...
LATCUR = 13.8N LONCUR = 25.9W DIRCUR = 280DEG SPDCUR = 19KT
LATM12 = 12.9N LONM12 = 21.9W DIRM12 = 281DEG SPDM12 = 19KT
LATM24 = 12.4N LONM24 = 18.5W
WNDCUR = 20KT RMAXWD = 45NM WNDM12 = 20KT
CENPRS = 1009MB OUTPRS = 1011MB OUTRAD = 120NM SDEPTH = D
RD34NE = 0NM RD34SE = 0NM RD34SW = 0NM RD34NW = 0NM
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well i have this, and it sucks
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Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Blog Update
Reflector site for those at work, includes Dr. Masters & Weather456, daily update.


AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting xoverau:
@serialteg, since my quote button seems to be faulty: Fascinating interview, wasn't it? I found it interesting that a few days ago Bob Dole, yes, Bob Dole was espousing the same argument.

Should be an interesting next few weeks--in the tropics and out of them.

If the bidding's still out, I'd like to be a Regurgicaster, whatever that is. It has a pleasantly disgusting sound.


I don't know what a regurgicaster is and, really, a part of me doesn't want to know. However, I'm watching all the other parts of that interview and I'll get back to you.

Moyer has won 30 Emmys, Maher says... that's probably a Guiness record.
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Previous tracking on AL95

AL 95 2009090318 BEST 0 124N 185W 20 1009 DB
AL 95 2009090400 BEST 0 127N 201W 20 1009 DB
AL 95 2009090406 BEST 0 129N 219W 20 1009 DB
AL 95 2009090412 BEST 0 134N 239W 20 1009 DB
AL 95 2009090418 BEST 0 138N 259W 20 1009 DB
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Quoting RJT185:
With all this --casting you'd figure this was a WoW or GW forum. :-) lol ... but then yinz would have to stick to just one type of --casting.


That would be spellcasting. Also a Harry Potter forum
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The signs of organization continue with possible outflow channels developing and feeder bands. Could be an interesting weather weekend for us nerds. LOL
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95L has a tough road ahead with alot of dry air shear and some SAL. IMO it will fizzle like Erika. I believe 2009 will be one of the lowest activity in years. Atmospheric conditions are not even showing a hint of wanting to change anytime soon.
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Quoting Floodman:


Are you saying that unless there is a determined and appreciable move in one direction that the whole idea is unsound? If that were the case the atmsophere would be homogenous and there would be no weather...climate and weather is about bounds and rebounds...hurricanes and other storms occur as a way for the atmosphere to regulate itself. If there is change it won't occur in a straight line but through "bounces" back and forth...a steady increase in temperature would almost certainly be followed by a commensurate, though somewhat weaker cooling trend, not globally but in large areas...Australia has the warmest winter on record and the States sees the coldest in 30 years...that sort of thing

I agree but how do we know that of which is natural vs that of which is not? There are indeed scientist who really do differ on that and I don't think they are all being paid off on either side of the issue. Although I do still hold the belief that the government likes us scared (regardless of which party is in control)
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Quoting stoormfury:
95L is beginning to look like a classic cape verde storm. conditions ahead of the system looks conducive for continuing development. with the SER showing signs of strenghening this system could track west to westnorthwest at 20mph. with that speed the system could be in the vicinity of the islands early wednesday next week


I know
Fred has got all his ducks in line
he will be a monster
He is going to be a cat 5, I bet ya
his wife was.
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so i have Water Urticaria
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641. WXHam
Thanks Dr M for the discussion of the Artic ice. I enjoyed the historical analysis; it was a great break especially from the past few days of trying to understand what was going on in the tropics. Very well done sir!
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It's a little early in the season for anything which gets started in the SW Caribbean to move N or NW, but with the troughs in place across the southern U.S./Gulf region, it could be a potential trouble spot down the road. I would watch that area to see if the convection in that area tries to develop and move N or NW.
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95L on the Central Atlantic satellite loops shows increasing convection on its western side. An indication of further strengthening. Also it appears to be close to TD status. It shows circular organization with its convection, could future Fred be the ultimate cane this year?
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Quoting vbscript2:
I really hope that you are just posting these conditions in Australia because they are of interest to those who are interested in meteorology and not as some kind of "proof" of global warming, like so many people do. If the latter is your intent, then I hate to inform you, but anecdotal evidence from one relatively small region of the earth does not show proof (or disproof) of global climate change. Incidentally, in this same time period that you are talking about, we've had far below normal temps and above average rainfall where I live in the Southeast U.S. For July, we were nearly 5 degrees F below normal where I live in TN, iirc. August has also been below normal temps (especially highs,) but not by quite as much. Again, anecdotal evidence from one region or another over a few months says NOTHING about global climate change.


Are you saying that unless there is a determined and appreciable move in one direction that the whole idea is unsound? If that were the case the atmsophere would be homogenous and there would be no weather...climate and weather is about bounds and rebounds...hurricanes and other storms occur as a way for the atmosphere to regulate itself. If there is change it won't occur in a straight line but through "bounces" back and forth...a steady increase in temperature would almost certainly be followed by a commensurate, though somewhat weaker cooling trend, not globally but in large areas...Australia has the warmest winter on record and the States sees the coldest in 30 years...that sort of thing
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Quoting Weather456:
Good afternoon

Tropical Update


Nice to hear from you and good update....As Dr. M noted yesterday, some of the higher wind readings with Erika, just before she was declared a TS, may have come from t-storm downdrafts and outflow so the impediments you note really affected her ability to get vertically stacked.....While the convection looked very impressive at times, I'm starting to wonder how long, in terms of hours, she actually qualified as a bona-fide TS...Not long I think.
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Quoting Floodman:


he was never called on half the stuff they had on him...he have erasaed all the tapes, not just 18 minutes. I had a friend in High School that thought Nixon was the greatest president we ever had and declared that the tapes were Democratic Party propaganda, faked to bring the big man down...he did, however, beleive that we landed men on the moon...LOL
lol
..the moon conspiracist crack me up.
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Quoting Weather456:
Good afternoon

Tropical Update


Excellent analysis,interesting information about what happened to Erika,keep up the good work
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With all this --casting you'd figure this was a WoW or GW forum. :-) lol ... but then yinz would have to stick to just one type of --casting.
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95L is beginning to look like a classic cape verde storm. conditions ahead of the system looks conducive for continuing development. with the SER showing signs of strenghening this system could track west to westnorthwest at 20mph. with that speed the system could be in the vicinity of the islands early wednesday next week
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@serialteg, since my quote button seems to be faulty: Fascinating interview, wasn't it? I found it interesting that a few days ago Bob Dole, yes, Bob Dole was espousing the same argument.

Should be an interesting next few weeks--in the tropics and out of them.

If the bidding's still out, I'd like to be a Regurgicaster, whatever that is. It has a pleasantly disgusting sound.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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