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 Patrap:


Saintsly played on 4 regulars whole Game...They Have the Opener against Detroit next Sunday.

I left at Half to go to Sons Jesuit High School Game,here at City Park Stadium, Jesuit Over Douglas,55 to 6.


Well I am sure that your sons game was a lot more interesting, man #9 on oregon has got some issues, so tropics.....
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1. Come on Erika! Hang in there!

2. ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDE!
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With all that ice melting,does a pinguin also melt?
Or will the pinguins form a new COC?
Is it not possible global warming is a kind of eye wall replacement for the world?
Have you seen erika lately?
Impressive convention.
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Quoting tornadodude:


the starting QB is pretty much an idol here at Purdue ha


Saints played only 4 regulars whole Game...They Have the Opener against Detroit next Sunday.

I left at Half to go to Sons Jesuit High School Game,here at City Park Stadium, Jesuit Over Douglas,55 to 6.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
72. LBAR
I appreciate the fact the Dr. Masters indicates the Arctic ice melt is due to natural causes of the Earth's orbit.

Erika's remnants are a fighter! Thank goodness for wind shear because by all indications she'd have been a bad one!
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I have no idea why that came out in bold type...
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how far deep is this trough going to go? to the equator!! am i in the right month of sept.. or is it november..huh
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 157
Quoting mikatnight:


Morning Patrick -
Tuff luck last night, but you get a rematch on Oct. 25th (you might even get to use your starting QB then).


the starting QB is pretty much an idol here at Purdue ha
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Floodman is 68 Dont let him Kid You!!
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Quoting TriniGirl26:
here this. why don't u all build a bridge from Africa coast to florida? that way the waves off the african coast can reach florida. I am say this cause i notice everytime a wave leaves the Coast of Africa the florida casters come out in full force.

All I'm gonna say is this is partly because a large percentage of folks on here are from FL. I would take a guess that the percentage of island wishcasters is probably equal to the precentage of of island people that are on here so y'all need to chill on florida wishcasters!!!
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Quoting Patrap:em>


Morning Patrick -
Tuff luck last night, but you get a rematch on Oct. 25th (you might even get to use your starting QB then).
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National Data Buoy Center
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
Hey floodman, how about that wave off of Africa? How strong do you think it will be? Do you think it will hit South Florida? Should I pack up grandma and head for the hill;)
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Quoting WeatherStudent:
Back later.


no, more like "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc"
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
"For the most part...GOMEX is upper level stuff, however close up RGB loop indicates there could be some spin in the lower clouds. I'll take a clsoer look at things after my synopsis. Ya may want to take a look at some buoys in the area in the meantime."

Thanks... Great idea. Pat, can you dial us up a quick ling to some bouy data in the Northern Gomex? I know you have one readilly available in your tool box!
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Quoting tigerfanintexas:
They get a good quarterback every now and then. But this year yeah you are pretty screwed. Not that the big ten is great this year but Purdue will be pretty bad. I actually prefer Purdue over anyone else in the Big ten, just don't think they have the squad this year.


yeah, we have a knack for good qbs, but yeah, yhis year wont be good. we play at home against notre dame here in a couple of weeks,

Erika is pretty dead
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here this. why don't u all build a bridge from Africa coast to florida? that way the waves off the african coast can reach florida. I am say this cause i notice everytime a wave leaves the Coast of Africa the florida casters come out in full force.
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Quoting futurenavymet:
should blount play the rest of the season?
a. yes
b. no
its off topic but its football season and there is no storms.
if you dont know what im talking bout watch you tube key word boise state punch

i think he should take a jeanne or francis route right to the bench.... so much for your preaching!
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Quoting Floodman:


How old are you?


probably older than you... and your correct..there will by someone that says the CV storm will be a threat cause this is Wunderground ...where everyone is a meteorologist/wishcaster/guesscaster/westcaster. lol
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Good Friday everyone!

Blount was just frustrated about Erika. LOL

Back to lurking.

Have a great weekend bloggers!
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Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
801 am CDT Friday Sep 4 2009


Update...
..sounding discussion...


The atmosphere is slightly unstable and slowly becoming moist with
the bulk of the moisture below 750 mb...precipitable water value
is 1.85 inches and lifted index is -3.7. Scattered showers and
thunderstorms are expected to develop inland later in the day...a
few showers have already developed over the coastal waters this
morning. A surface inversion is present along with light and
variable winds in the lower levels and westerly winds aloft.


&&


Previous discussion... /issued 425 am CDT Friday Sep 4 2009/


Short term...
moisture is rapidly moving back into the area this morning. We
should get a better coverage today with heating than the last
several days. This continues over the weekend as baroclinicity
increases over the western Gulf. An easterly wave will interact
with the old frontal axis to help develop a long fetch of sh/ts
activity from the SW Gulf into the central Gulf Coast. A few
convective circulations look to develop with the most intense
blowups and move NE along the surface frontal boundary. The first of
these will be seen Sunday. Confidence is low on exactly where the
bulk of the precipitation will eventually come ashore but looks to be
mainly from ala back into the east areas of southeast la. But everyone
will be getting their share of rain by the time this one is in the
books.


Long term...
if a surface low does form on the old boundary by Tuesday near the area...it
will likely wait for the second stronger forcing feature provided by
a quickly digging upper long wave trough. The long wave trough is
supposed to move in by next weekend. The line of deep tropical
moisture flowing into the area on a daily basis could set up some
heavy rainfall for some locations. This is something that will
need to be watched.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
Quoting tornadodude:


Im pretty much screwed when it comes to college football, since I go to Purdue, they're intimidating right???? :P
They get a good quarterback every now and then. But this year yeah you are pretty screwed. Not that the big ten is great this year but Purdue will be pretty bad. I actually prefer Purdue over anyone else in the Big ten, just don't think they have the squad this year.
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Is it just me or is Erika passing the hebert box?
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Quoting dolphingalrules:
THIS IS FROM WEATHER 101--8TH GRADE


Guess I'm just a dummy. I posted this in the last blog before I knew of the new one:

Thanks Storm,

Appreciate the input. Lived in SE Fla my whole life and have always been told greatest chance for a tornado was after the main body of the storm passes (be damned if I can find any quotes to back me up though). I was thinking that vortices within the eyewall (miniwhirls, as Tetsuya Fugita described them in Hurricane Andrew) were being confused with the term “tornado” – a distinction I admittedly have a hard time understanding.


CaicosRetiredSailor clarified the point though (thanks again). Don't know if I made things worse...
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129903
CMC doesn't expect much from the WV wave and has it moving west, then WSW, West again and finally WNW-NW passing over Puerto Rico by next week. Hmm... nah.
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Quoting tigerfanintexas:
who cares. I think B, but it is the pac-10. They will still be irrevelant.


Im pretty much screwed when it comes to college football, since I go to Purdue, they're intimidating right???? :P
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Quoting futurenavymet:
should blount play the rest of the season?
a. yes
b. no
its off topic but its football season and there is no storms.
if you dont know what im talking bout watch you tube key word boise state punch
who cares. I think B, but it is the pac-10. They will still be irrevelant.
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Quoting scottsvb:
These Climatologist and their BS global warming!


How old are you?
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Yes, I agree, Great post. Thanks! Dr. M
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Quoting Floodman:


There will be someone today that will mention the "imminent threat to Florida" posed by the CV wave...followed by numerous requests for information about intensity, track forecast and should they pack up grandma and the kids and head for higher ground...bet?


bet you, within 30 posts, watch!!
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 157
Quoting Floodman:


There will be someone today that will mention the "imminent threat to Florida" posed by the CV wave...followed by numerous requests for information about intensity, track forecast and should they pack up grandma and the kids and head for higher ground...bet?


I agree
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:

From previous blog comments




http://hurricanes.noaa.gov/pdf/hurricanebook.pdf

Hurricane
Basics



The Right Side of the Storm
As a general rule of thumb, the hurricane's right
side (relative to the direction it is travelling) is
the most dangerous part of the storm
because of
the additive effect of the hurricane wind speed and
speed of the larger atmospheric flow (the steering
winds). The increased winds on the right side
increase the storm surge. Tornadoes are also more
common here.

Looking at the figure above, pretend you are
standing behind the hurricane with your back to the
steering flow. In this case, the right side is the
eastern section of the hurricane. (If it were travelling
east to west, the right side would be the north
section.) The winds around the hurricane's eye are
moving in a counterclockwise fashion. At Point A,
the hurricane winds are nearly in line with the
steering wind, adding to the strength of the winds. For example, if the steering currents are 30 mph and the average
hurricane winds are 100 mph, the wind speed would be 130 mph at Point A. On the other hand, the winds at Point B
are moving opposite those of the steering wind and therefore slow to 70 mph (100 - 30 mph). Incidentally, National
Huricane Center forecasts take this effect into account in their official wind estimates.



[edit] since this is a .pdf, I was unable to link the illustration.

THIS IS FROM WEATHER 101--8TH GRADE
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Quoting justalurker:
no mention of GOM, erika dissipating, good so lets start talking about if the wave off of africa is going to hit florida..LOL


There will be someone today that will mention the "imminent threat to Florida" posed by the CV wave...followed by numerous requests for information about intensity, track forecast and should they pack up grandma and the kids and head for higher ground...bet?
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Quick we need some Erika regenation talk to get off that other subject.
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Quoting iluvjess:
"Let me see if I can relate weather to football to not be off topic. Remember a few days ago when Erika was looking so good, but never got her act together. Thats kind of like the tide. They look good at first but once they face some adversity they will fall apart. Their line is like Erika's convection, there will be some good bursts but in the long run it will fizzle out. As it has been with many of our overhyped systems in the tropics this year, so to will the tide not live up to their expectations. Tomorrows game will show you what I'm talking about. VT's will be like 30 kt. shear ripping the tides line to pieces ultimately exposing the coc (McElroy) and doing it in once and for all. You see what bans do. I had to incorporate all of this to talk football. Geaux Tigers"

LOL. Funny analogy. what was yall's record last year? Oh yeah 8 - 5. See you in November. Hope your ready for a storm cause the Tide will be coming in hard and fast!



How about y'all win something this century besides the SEC West? Geaux Tigers! Now let's get back to weather talk. That's what this blog is for.
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Maybe Erika will begin a loop today - south -then East - North and return West. Heck, that is about all we need in PR. A storm that just won't go away
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oops thanks DR M..
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 157
Thanks RetiredSailor...I stand corrected.
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These Climatologist and their BS global warming!
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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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