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:
I think the way to save the earth is to breed less

yes keep them pants zip
I will never have chids
if ma husband DOESNT keep his pants zip
he is going to see me chasing him with a frying pan

me not having a kid= one less human


From the bottom of my heart...Thank You
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:


If you think there isn't big business and money to be made and is being made and exchanged over "global warming" you're fooling yourself.


Yeah, you tell it. After all, everyone knows that your average research scientist rolls around in giant money pit like Scrooge McDuck after cashing in those big checks from their lucrative job at the local public university....

(Do you actually believe that scientists who do basic research are in it for the money? *What* money?)
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Quoting Ossqss:
I will offer this and then duck !

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/surfacestationsreport_spring09.pdf

Is the U.S.
Surface Temperature
Record Reliable?
lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Alright, outta here for now. One for the road...that didn't work, oh well...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I am all for Global Warming. If it was warmer in New York then maybe their residents would stay there...
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Yeah you can pretty much get away from anything if you move to a small enough island and forget you computer ask Murko. Exception being weather.
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I will offer this and then duck !

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/surfacestationsreport_spring09.pdf

Is the U.S.
Surface Temperature
Record Reliable?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think the way to save the earth is to breed less

yes keep them pants zip
I will never have chids
if ma husband DOESNT keep his pants zip
he is going to see me chasing him with a frying pan

me not having a kid= one less human
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TreasureCoastFl:
Dr M's blog post is about global warming which pertains to politics. Even he said to take a break from the tropics and it's his blog!


ok, check back later...ya'll have fun.
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Wow lots of pinko whacados on here today...Conch, like a few here, actually fought for your right to free speech...glad to see some can use it responsibly and with credible basis...and not some whacko conspiracy stuff like "Bush blew up the levee" :-0
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365. Murko
Quoting tornadodude:


ok, well "erika" might bring you some rain in about 5 days, but i highly doubt that she will impact you much at all, she is dead


Well that is the current situation, sure. It's been changing all the time, which is why I'm checking in regularly, but having to wade through football and now political posts to get my info.

While I don't think this storm is going to be a life or death situation, there are various things that I'm going to need to do depending on whether it's a direct hit by a 30mph storm or not.
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Quoting nishinigami:
Hi Tampa,

Last night I read that you thought Erika might make it's way to the gulf. What is your opinion about it this morning?

Thanks :)


Good chance it could!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CycloneOz:


All I'm trying to get across is that as an individual, it's impossible to have a positive impact in "reducing CO2." (Remember, water vapor is the main greenhouse gas.)

As a nation, significant reduction in CO2 emmisions could possibly be done, but it would take decades and decades of serious technological advances.

Planet-wide...centuries at best.

I do not look at our use of fossil-fuels as having "eaten from the Tree of Knowledge," and we're destroying our Eden.

In fact, I look at it this way:

1) Fossil fuels are a naturally occurring energy source on our planet. As natural as air and water.

2) There is no incontrovertible evidence that their use is causing irreparable harm to our planet.

3) Until something better comes along...in great quantities, at relatively inexpensive cost and can generate the "torque force" that only fossil-fuels can for now...then we use it.

I can go out right now and buy gas-powered cars...as many as I want...and fill them up whenever and wherever I want...as long as I have the money to do so.

I do not consider that an irresponsible behavior.

I consider it capitalist behavior.

I pledge alligance
To the Flag
Of the United States of America.
And to the republic for which it stands.
One nation, under God, indivisible
With Liberty and Justice for all.

I'm with Oz on this. Just letting the recod show.. lol
And Flood , did you ask who has to gain monetary-wise?
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Quoting Cotillion:
Uh...

Capitalism and irresponsibility often occur together...

Just ask the banks...


not to mention car makers, its silly to assume that the government is not interfering with all aspects of free democracy..
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2000 years of record keeping! Thats amazing! I wonder what libraray was found to have those records in. I'm all mixed up in time now. Is that before of after CHRIST was born!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I am back, I know Y'all miss me

I heard threw the grapevine
Miley is pregnant, it is on topic

pregnant= another human
another human= ruin earth
ruin earth= more hurricanes
more hurricanes= loss of life and material things
Loss of life= less humans, and less overpopulation
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so the new study--which used lake sediments, glacier ice cores, and tree rings to look at past climate

*time not wasted reading the rest*

One: Tree rings? Seriously? Thought temperature by tree ring had been thoroughly debunked. Cooler due to more rainfall makes bigger rings, too.
So, here we have a Hockey Stick by a different researcher using the same proxies.

Two: just how treed is the Arctic?

Three: Does anyone question the underlying assumptions made to make these conclusions?

Four: This is why I am not a paid member and have a full copy of my blog and it's links and plots elsewhere. Wunderground has received a one week ban on revenue from my hits for spouting previously debunked "science". Just because it is in Science doesn't mean it is actually science or needs to be in the tropical blog.

See y'all sometime after Friday, September 11, 11:35 AM CDT.
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Quoting justalurker:


unfortunate is part of our lives, since when does a government have the right to monopolize or destroy capitalism?
uhm since 1962 or so?
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Quoting Murko:
"ok, are you referring to Erika or the wave of the coast of Africa?"

... Erika


ok, well "erika" might bring you some rain in about 5 days, but i highly doubt that she will impact you much at all, she is dead
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Uh...

Capitalism and irresponsibility often occur together...

Just ask the banks...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TexasHurricane:


Because I thought this blog was suppose to be about the tropics? Hurricane Season?

Can't we get away from politics anywhere....
Dr M's blog post is about global warming which pertains to politics. Even he said to take a break from the tropics and it's his blog!
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Hi Tampa,

Last night I read that you thought Erika might make it's way to the gulf. What is your opinion about it this morning?

Thanks :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Vortex95:
About the African wave, read StormW's blog post you will get all the info you need from there. This has been a public service announcemnent from Vortex95.


Thank you for your service
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Quoting TexasHurricane:


Because I thought this blog was suppose to be about the tropics? Hurricane Season?

Can't we get away from politics anywhere....


unfortunate is part of our lives, since when does a government have the right to monopolize or destroy capitalism?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
348. Murko
"ok, are you referring to Erika or the wave of the coast of Africa?"

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


Only the far greens advocate for a complete cessation of all the emissions...much you seem to be for "business as usual, let the next generation deal with it" they're for taking the brunt now, like ripping off a bandaid...most people that know the truth and are realists know that it won't be overnight...the situation didn't happen in a decade, it's taken centuries to get here and will take a comarable timeframe to get rid of the problem. The issue, like alcolholism, Oz, is to first admit you have a problem. Most people are still denial and for all my admiration of you I'm afraid I have to put you into the group. First you have to think about who profits by turning a blind eye on something that is rapidly becoming a consensus (and yes, I said a consensus)...


All I'm trying to get across is that as an individual, it's impossible to have a positive impact in "reducing CO2." (Remember, water vapor is the main greenhouse gas.)

As a nation, significant reduction in CO2 emmisions could possibly be done, but it would take decades and decades of serious technological advances.

Planet-wide...centuries at best.

I do not look at our use of fossil-fuels as having "eaten from the Tree of Knowledge," and we're destroying our Eden.

In fact, I look at it this way:

1) Fossil fuels are a naturally occurring energy source on our planet. As natural as air and water.

2) There is no incontrovertible evidence that their use is causing irreparable harm to our planet.

3) Until something better comes along...in great quantities, at relatively inexpensive cost and can generate the "torque force" that only fossil-fuels can for now...then we use it.

I can go out right now and buy gas-powered cars...as many as I want...and fill them up whenever and wherever I want...as long as I have the money to do so.

I do not consider that an irresponsible behavior.

I consider it capitalist behavior.

I pledge alligance
To the Flag
Of the United States of America.
And to the republic for which it stands.
One nation, under God, indivisible
With Liberty and Justice for all.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It's time to take a bit of a break from coverage of the Atlantic hurricane season of 2009


from the first line of Dr. Masters blog...some of you really ought to read it now and then...
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Quoting java162:
when do you guys think we might get an invest out of the wave off africa.


oh i give it 24hrs
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
when do you guys think we might get an invest out of the wave off africa.
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:
aren't they both waves now?


yeah lol
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Quoting justalurker:


why not!! if affecting global warming..


Because I thought this blog was suppose to be about the tropics? Hurricane Season?

Can't we get away from politics anywhere....
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811
Quoting tornadodude:


ok, are you referring to Erika or the wave of the coast of Africa?
aren't they both waves now?
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Quoting Floodman:
Do you guys think that Doc M. wrote the entry he did today to enjoy the carnage that would certainly follow?


Yes.
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Check out that Storm in the Gulf of Alaska on the GFS in 150hrs....955mb winds probably in excess of a Cat 2 or 3....but not tropical (of course).. didnt check the WPAC from this...
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Quoting presslord:



The cure to global warming: nuclear winter...


I knew I could count on you Press ! Now all the bases are covered. LoL
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Quoting Floodman:
Do you guys think that Doc M. wrote the entry he did today to enjoy the carnage that would certainly follow?
Is it carnage? I thought it was friendly banter... lol
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Quoting Floodman:
Do you guys think that Doc M. wrote the entry he did today to enjoy the carnage that would certainly follow?


I'm sure he'd know by now, unless he doesn't read the comments.

Global warming blogs, pretty much without fail, get some hot under the collar...

(And to a previous post, not having an 'explicit' constitution for GB isn't quite right.. though I know what you mean. Not being 'codified' would be a better way of explaining it.)
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Flood, you know Conch Hondros would be the best POTUS...I would pick a terrorist sponsor country by rochambeau...then nuke the crap out of it...go on global tv, and ask whos next...once we all have a good feel for my politics...then I will legalize marijuana and kick it old school in the Caymans with Bjork and the entire cast of Ghost Hunters
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Quoting Floodman:


The dude abides
that's neophytes and hippies are overrated .. lol
(I'm kidding with you Floodman)
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Quoting Murko:


Well, obviously if it's heading my way and is going to strengthen. I'm on Eleuthera, Bahamas.

M


ok, are you referring to Erika or the wave of the coast of Africa?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
Quoting Ossqss:
Hummm, the only thing missing here today is a Nuclear proliferation post ! :)



The cure to global warming: nuclear winter...
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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.