Arctic temperatures the warmest in 2,000 years; 2009 Arctic sea ice loss 3rd highest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:32 PM GMT on September 04, 2009

Share this Blog
9
+

It's time to take a bit of a break from coverage of the Atlantic hurricane season of 2009, and report on some important climate news. The past decade was the warmest decade in the Arctic for the past 2,000 years, according to a study called "Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling" published today in the journal Science. Furthermore, four of the five warmest decades in the past 2,000 years occurred between 1950 - 2000, despite the fact that summertime solar radiation in the Arctic has been steadily declining for the past 2,000 years. Previous efforts to reconstruct past climate in the Arctic extended back only 400 years, so the new study--which used lake sediments, glacier ice cores, and tree rings to look at past climate back to the time of Christ, decade by decade-- is a major new milestone in our understanding of the Arctic climate. The researchers found that Arctic temperatures steadily declined between 1 A.D. and 1900 A.D., as would be expected due to a 26,000-year cycle in Earth's orbit that brought less summer sunshine to the North Pole. Earth is now about 620,000 miles (1 million km) farther from the Sun in the Arctic summer than it was 2000 years ago. However, temperatures in the Arctic began to rise around the year 1900, and are now 1.4°C (2.5°F) warmer than they should be, based on the amount of sunlight that is currently falling in the Arctic in summer. "If it hadn't been for the increase in human-produced greenhouse gases, summer temperatures in the Arctic should have cooled gradually over the last century," Bette Otto-Bliesner, a co-author from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in a statement.

The Arctic melt season of 2009
Arctic sea ice suffered another summer of significant melting in 2009, with August ice extent the third lowest on record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. August ice extent was 19% below the 1979 - 2000 average, and only 2007 and 2008 saw more melting of Arctic sea ice. We've now had two straight years in the Arctic without a new record minimum in sea ice. However, this does not mean that the Arctic sea ice is recovering. The reduced melting in 2009 compared to 2007 and 2008 primarily resulted from a different atmospheric circulation pattern this summer. This pattern generated winds that transported ice toward the Siberian coast and discouraged export of ice out of the Arctic Ocean. The previous two summers, the prevailing wind pattern acted to transport more ice out of the Arctic through Fram Strait, along the east side of Greenland. At last December's meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the world's largest scientific conference on climate change, J.E. Kay of the National Center for Atmospheric Research showed that Arctic surface pressure in the summer of 2007 was the fourth highest since 1948, and cloud cover at Barrow, Alaska was the sixth lowest. This suggests that once every 10 - 20 years a "perfect storm" of weather conditions highly favorable for ice loss invades the Arctic. The last two times such conditions existed was 1977 and 1987, and it may be another ten or so years before weather conditions align properly to set a new record minimum.

The Northeast Passage opens
As a result of this summer's melting, the Northeast Passage, a notoriously ice-choked sea route along the northern Russia, is now clear of ice and open for navigation. Satellite analyses by the University of Illinois Polar Research Group and the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that the last remaining ice blockage along the north coast of Russia melted in late August, allowing navigation from Europe to Alaska in ice-free waters. Mariners have been attempting to sail the Northeast Passage since 1553, and it wasn't until the record-breaking Arctic sea-ice melt year of 2005 that the Northeast Passage opened for ice-free navigation for the first time in recorded history. The fabled Northwest Passage through the Arctic waters of Canada has remained closed this summer, however. An atmospheric pressure pattern set up in late July that created winds that pushed old, thick ice into several of the channels of the Northwest Passage. Recent research by Stephen Howell at the University of Waterloo in Canada shows that whether the Northwest Passage clears depends less on how much melt occurs, and more on whether multi-year sea ice is pushed into the channels. Counter-intuitively, as the ice cover thins, ice may flow more easily into the channels, preventing the Northwest Passage from regularly opening in coming decades, if the prevailing winds set up to blow ice into the channels of the Passage. The Northwest Passage opened for the first time in recorded history in 2007, and again in 2008. Mariners have been attempting to find a route through the Northwest Passage since 1497.


Figure 1. Sea ice extent on September 2, 2009, with the Northwest Passage (red line) and Northeast Passage (green line) shown. The Northeast Passage was open, but the Northwest Passage was blocked in three places. The orange line shows the median edge of sea ice extent for September 2 during the period 1979 - 2000, and this year's ice extent is about 19% below average. Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Commercial shipping begins in the Northeast Passage
This year's opening marks the fourth time in five years that the Northeast Passage has opened, and commercial shipping companies are taking note. Two German ships set off on August 21 on the first commercial voyage ever made through the Northeast Passage without the help of icebreakers. The Northeast Passage trims 4,500 miles off the 12,500 mile trip through the Suez Canal, yielding considerable savings in fuel. The voyage was not possible last year, because Russia had not yet worked out a permitting process. With Arctic sea ice expected to continue to decline in the coming decades, shipping traffic through the Northeast Passage will likely become commonplace most summers.

When was the Northeast Passage ice-free in the past?
People have been attempting to penetrate the ice-bound Northeast Passage since 1553, when British explorer Sir Hugh Willoughby attempted the passage with three ships and 62 men. The frozen bodies of Sir Hugh and his men were found a year later, after they failed to make it past the northern coast of Finland. British explorer Henry Hudson, who died in 1611 trying to find a route through Canada's fabled Northwest Passage, (and whom Canada's Hudson Bay and New York's Hudson River are named after), attempted to sail the Northeast Passage in 1607 and 1608, and failed. The Northeast Passage has remained closed to navigation, except via assist by icebreakers, from 1553 to 2005. The results published in Science today suggest that prior to 2005, the last previous opening was the period 5,000 - 7,000 years ago, when the Earth's orbital variations brought more sunlight to the Arctic in summer than at present. It is possible we'll know better soon. A new technique that examines organic compounds left behind in Arctic sediments by diatoms that live in sea ice give hope that a detailed record of sea ice extent extending back to the end of the Ice Age 12,000 years ago may be possible (Belt et al., 2007). The researchers are studying sediments along the Northwest Passage in hopes of being able to determine when the Passage was last open.

References
Belt, S.T., G. Masse, S.J. Rowland, M. Poulin, C. Michel, and B. LeBlanc, "A novel chemical fossil of palaeo sea ice: IP25", Organic Geochemistry, Volume 38, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 16-27.

Darrell S. Kaufman, David P. Schneider, Nicholas P. McKay, Caspar M. Ammann, Raymond S. Bradley, Keith R. Briffa, Gifford H. Miller, Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, Jonathan T. Overpeck, Bo M. Vinther, and Arctic Lakes 2k Project Members, 2009, "Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling", Science 4 September 2009: 1236-1239.

Howell, S. E. L., C. R. Duguay, and T. Markus. 2009. Sea ice conditions and melt season duration variability within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: 1979.2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L10502, doi:10.1029/2009GL037681.

Tropical Weather Outlook
The remains of Tropical Storm Erika are bringing heavy rain to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today, and this activity will spread to the Dominican Republic on Saturday. Radar-estimated rainfall shows up to three inches of rain has fallen in eastern Puerto Rico from the storm. Long range radar out of Puerto Rico shows no surface circulation or organization of the echoes, and redevelopment of Erika over the next three days is unlikely to occur due to high wind shear of 25 - 30 knots. By Monday or Tuesday, shear may drop enough to allow redevelopment, depending upon the location of Erika's remains. Redevelopment is more likely if Erika works its way northwestward into the Bahamas.

A large tropical wave with plenty of spin is located a few hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verdes Islands, off the coast of Africa. Heavy thunderstorm activity has increased slightly in this wave over the past day, and it has the potential to gradually develop into a tropical depression by early next week. NHC is giving this wave a low (less than 30% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday. The GFS model continues to predict development of this wave into a tropical depression early next week.

I'll have an update Saturday or Sunday, depending upon developments in the tropics.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 2576 - 2526

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57Blog Index

sorry - disappeared - had to go talk with the police officers that were giving my kids a hard time.

Daughter was having her 18th birthday party & for some reason the police decided that they weren't happy with it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Funkadelic:


Are you a canucks fan? lol I know it's a random question


You mean there are other teams?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2573. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
like the tropics iam going to take a nap as well later all
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54390
2572. luigi18
Quoting JLPR:


I didn't exist XD
i remenber it was around 77-79?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:
Models...yea...I always figured...they work off mathematical solutions. One thing about Mother Nature, and especially tropical systems...They don't care if you know calculus and physics...the atmosphere is fluid in nature and changing every minute. 'Specially upper air data...they send a balloon up twice a day. Takes about an hour for the info to comback. What's goin on the other 11.
Storm, I had a dream about Erika.
We sent up a balloon (in my dream it looked like a regular balloon, but could go up to upper levels of atmosphere)
Any way, up it is drifting, then all of a sudden it it shoved back down.
Ahh.. I thought. That is the cold air dropping down on us.
Too much WU Blog reading, I think

Quoting Chucktown:


Just keep an eye on the pressure and winds the next day or two. We'll see how this all pans out. Even if something spins up, most likely will be weak and just mainly a rain event. Interesting hand drawn how they handle this system and watch how it retrogrades by day 6 & 7.
Link
Thanks. Will be watching.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good evening!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting msphar:
KMan good words - the voice of wisdom. I hope others can learn from example rather than the school of hard knocks. My calendar has this year end on Sept 26th. Hope we are both right.

One thing I have wondered about the "models". As I understand it these are GCMs, yet they are used for a more specific focus - the Atlantic TC season. Seems weird to me.
Most of the GCMs get used for tropical forecasting in other basins too, though I'm not sure exactly how they are applied in each case.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2566. hydrus
Quoting JLPR:


I didn't exist XD
Quoting JLPR:


I didn't exist XD
I remember. It was very bad,we evacuated for david.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEHCharleston:
Hello Chucktown.
What should we be watching for here locally? I have the Folly Beach Buoy combined wind/pressure bookmarked for quick reference. And good lawd, I will not forget to watch the ants etc. LOL.


Just keep an eye on the pressure and winds the next day or two. We'll see how this all pans out. Even if something spins up, most likely will be weak and just mainly a rain event. Interesting hand drawn how they handle this system and watch how it retrogrades by day 6 & 7.
Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ossqss:
2535 - Halosystems



Halosystems.. I like that :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
later kman


Thanks. Take care now
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:


WS, I don't think kman has his crystal ball anymore. LOL! Got replaced with Orca's Halo.


He took my Halo?? Gasp??

Storm..did you see my 2536 remark.. have you seen the model?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting WeatherStudent:
So no TC threats for FL in Nov. then, Kman?


If I knew the answer to that one I would also tell you where to go to buy the lotto ticket for next week LOL.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2560. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
later kman
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54390
2559. msphar
I thought the topic was ice in the Arctic. I see that JAXA hasn't reported any data for the 4th. They should be updating their chart in the next 2.5 hours. Funny, I suspect they won't get around to it until Tuesday.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2558. JLPR
neither 95L or the wave in front of it have a nice LLC

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2557. Ossqss
2535 - Halosystems

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chucktown:
Keep an eye off the SE coast the next 48 hours. NAM and GFS both spin up an area of low pressure along the front. This is the set up for a "home grown" system as we call it here in Charleston. Strong NE fetch north of the front combined with deep tropical moisture streaming from the south. This is normally and overunning setup as well, but this time of the year and the proximity to the the Gulf Stream could provide an interesting interaction.
Hello Chucktown.
What should we be watching for here locally? I have the Folly Beach Buoy combined wind/pressure bookmarked for quick reference. And good lawd, I will not forget to watch the ants etc. LOL.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Have a good sleep, K'man! Hit 'em good!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2553. JLPR
Quoting lordhuracan01:
30TH Anniversary, another moment CHAOTIC in the Dominican Republic.

5 days after the passage of Hurricane DAVID the country was visited by tropical storm FRDERIC, multiplying the damage they had caused "Hurricane David" MORE FLOOD, DAMAGES, DEADS AND CHAOS.



I was 5 days old..


I didn't exist XD
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:
Models...yea...I always figured, they work off mathematical solutions. One thing about Mother Nature, and especially tropical systems...They don't care if you know calculus and physics, the atmosphere is fkuid in nature and changing every minute. 'Specially upper air data...they send a balloon up twice a day. Takes about an hour for the info to comback. What's goin on the other 11.


...nother good statement! Yup!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Time for me to turn in. Need my rest to play a $5 Nassau with my pals on the golf course in the morning !.

You all have a great evening and enjoy this quiet spell.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2550. JLPR
well im going to try and get this blog back into topic =P



and



xD
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
30TH Anniversary, another moment CHAOTIC in the Dominican Republic.

5 days after the passage of Hurricane DAVID the country was visited by tropical storm FRDERIC, multiplying the damage they had caused "Hurricane David" MORE FLOOD, DAMAGES, DEADS AND CHAOS.



I was 5 days old..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Yes, and thankful for it, too. Somehow though, I think it's still gonna remind us that there is some power out there, before it's all done.

Good to see you, friend. Hope all is well with you and yours...and the backswing, too! ;P
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
CMC is hinting at multiple startups in the GOM, going to the panhandle
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi MLC

Long time no see my friend. Quiet times the first week of September. How strange !!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting zoomiami:
Actually - I was thinking it was your fault - you kept posting the pics with all the green blobs, I couldn't even find me!


I don't think its going to get any better for awhile yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Actually - I was thinking it was your fault - you kept posting the pics with all the green blobs, I couldn't even find me!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SSideBrac:


I sincerely hope that u are 100% correct - I can do without another Paloma or Ivan for as long as I continue to live.

All that said - I would love to get some continuous (12-18 hours), gentle, vertical, rain with perhaps 8-10 Knots breeze out of the SE, here on the Sister Islands - GCM does not seem in a much better state rain wise this year!

Still too many houses not 100% repaired after Paloma.




The NW Caribbean still faces the risk of something spinning up on the end of a cold front during Oct and Nov but hopefully shear will have set in by then. The TCHP is very high around us though so it bears watching.

As for rain, we finally had a good shower last Wednesday. 3 inches in South Sound.
The drought has been the worse I have ever seen it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting zoomiami:
Evening everyone.

I'm confused - is 95L and about to be 96L going to develop or not?

It looks from everything I've seen and read today on the blog that it really isn't possible for any storms to develop the rest of this season.


ZoooOOOooooo good evening... you wet enough yet? You said it was to dry there
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
As an after thought - whilst I have learned that you have an accute eye for developing Systems - I am a cynic so, with respect, will still keep a very close eye on the weather horizon till the end of Nov.

Quite soon - some of these things can just flare up "on our doorstep" as opposed to Atlantic and/or CV
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Keep an eye off the SE coast the next 48 hours. NAM and GFS both spin up an area of low pressure along the front. This is the set up for a "home grown" system as we call it here in Charleston. Strong NE fetch north of the front combined with deep tropical moisture streaming from the south. This is normally and overunning setup as well, but this time of the year and the proximity to the the Gulf Stream could provide an interesting interaction.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEHCharleston:
I am not sure I know the story about the guy selling encyclopedias - Must be a Canadian thing - hahaha
BTW, when do you suppose you will be getting that polish - put a rush order on it!


Found it.. 45 gallon drum in the garage.
I am leaving the rest of that one alone... to dangerous.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good evening StormW...first call is at 0330..preflight 0430...fire up the coffee pot!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2533. msphar
KMan good words - the voice of wisdom. I hope others can learn from example rather than the school of hard knocks. My calendar has this year end on Sept 26th. Hope we are both right.

One thing I have wondered about the "models". As I understand it these are GCMs, yet they are used for a more specific focus - the Atlantic TC season. Seems weird to me.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kmanislander:


I suspect you will know it long before then. I started following tropical weather as a child back when we plotted storms with a map from the gas station LOL. John Hope was king and computer models were in their infancy.

We learned to track using seat of the pants techniques. These days all you can hear is the models this and the models that. Sad really, because most of the time the computers are forecasting based on what has already happened whereas I prefer to base my conclusions on what I see going on out there in real time.

In reality, the human brain is many hours ahead of the computer in terms of available information. We just can't crunch that much of it but then again do you need a million variables to determine where a system is going ?. Probably not.


Aweseome! Well said, K'man! Well said. Thanks.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Evening everyone.

I'm confused - is 95L and about to be 96L going to develop or not?

It looks from everything I've seen and read today on the blog that it really isn't possible for any storms to develop the rest of this season.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kmanislander:


You're right. I had enough to last me a lifetime LOL


I sincerely hope that u are 100% correct - I can do without another Paloma or Ivan for as long as I continue to live.

All that said - I would love to get some continuous (12-18 hours), gentle, vertical, rain with perhaps 8-10 Knots breeze out of the SE, here on the Sister Islands - GCM does not seem in a much better state rain wise this year!

Still too many houses not 100% repaired after Paloma.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:


KEH is a woman, have you not heard the story about the guy selling his encyclopedias after he got married?

heheh sorry Kate :)
I am not sure I know the story about the guy selling encyclopedias - Must be a Canadian thing - hahaha
BTW, when do you suppose you will be getting that polish - put a rush order on it!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pinehurstnc:
was the year 2000 a el nino year? i cannot remember,,,but we had 28 inches of snow on the ground of pinehurst #2, which was amazing,, jan 26, 27, 2000,,,,,,also the wave moving off the coast of africa seems quite formidable,,every 1 stay safe,,


2000 was a La Nina
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:


You notice I stopped and went looking for the Halo polish


Hopefully not too late LOL

Hi StormW.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 2576 - 2526

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
76 °F
Mostly Cloudy