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: 2526 - 2476

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

Quoting Orcasystems:


You notice I stopped and went looking for the Halo polish


Hopefully not too late LOL

Hi StormW.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StormW:
Hi!

Hi Storm.. quick say something weatherish and get me out of trouble.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2524. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
evening stormw
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kmanislander:


This is starting to sound like dangerous territory LOL


You notice I stopped and went looking for the Halo polish
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
all the excitement will happen next year cuz El Nino will be GONE!!!!
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 :)


This is starting to sound like dangerous territory LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2519. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting kmanislander:


You're right. I had enough to last me a lifetime LOL
well deserved break kman lets hope the last 6 weeks are the same but as you said theres not much more time left to go lets hope it remains the same
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.
Thanks Kman. It is interesting to hear tropical weather analyzed using knowledge and experience by those of you who know how to apply it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hmm where did I put that Halo polish.. I haven't needed it all season...
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.


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

heheh sorry Kate :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i don't mine the lack of excitement an i sure you don't either


You're right. I had enough to last me a lifetime LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i don't the lack of excitement an i sure you don't either
Yep, anyone who needs to get their excitement here, needs to get a life.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Evening everybody.
Quoting zoomiami:
We had about one hour of sun today, and the rest was rain. Lots of thunderstorms. Not our usual weather for Miami.
It's been cooler than normal here today also, though we did have mostly sunny weather. I wonder if we will get any of Erika's moisture now with that ULL apparently syphoning it off to the N of PR....

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEHCharleston:
Early October sounds great.
That would give me about 8 months to consolidate what I have learned this season.
In another 10 years or so, I may actually know something!


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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Say goodnight, Gracie.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2510. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting kmanislander:
In another 3 weeks or so the CV season shuts down. I also believe the entire season will probably come to an end by early October. Just too much shear out there and it will only get worse once we pass the third week of September.

Those looking for excitement may have to come back next year.
i don't mine the lack of excitement an i sure you don't either
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEHCharleston:
LOL ; )


Go look at #387 in my blog.. you will like it :)
I wanted to post it a few times in here... was trying to figure out if it was worth a 24
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:


ummmm
ahhh
oh yeah.. him.

Umm he got whacked with a stir stick :)
. LOL ; )
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEHCharleston:

Hey... what happened to sensitive guy?


ummmm
ahhh
oh yeah.. him.

Umm he got whacked with a stir stick :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:


Nah hehehe

Hey... what happened to sensitive guy?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEHCharleston:
Early October sounds great.
That would give me about 8 months to consolidate what I have learned this season.
In another 10 years or so, I may actually know something!


Nah hehehe
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kmanislander:
In another 3 weeks or so the CV season shuts down. I also believe the entire season will probably come to an end by early October. Just too much shear out there and it will only get worse once we pass the third week of September.

Those looking for excitement may have to come back next year.
Early October sounds great.
That would give me about 8 months to consolidate what I have learned this season.
In another 10 years or so, I may actually know something!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
In another 3 weeks or so the CV season shuts down. I also believe the entire season will probably come to an end by early October. Just too much shear out there and it will only get worse once we pass the third week of September.

Those looking for excitement may have to come back next year.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2502. RJT185
Quoting Stoopid1:
I have a new blog entry up of high importance. I hope you all will read it and help spread the word of such a event, as it has been inexplicably under reported. Have a good night y'all.

Lake Kivu


I actually read the Wikipedia article on Limnic Eruptions this past week. Small World!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
BamD has 95 doing a full 360 and coming back for a second try
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Don't let them sneak up on us 456.
Watch em!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Seems like we are going to have some left turning or stair-step scenarios with 95L and soon to be 96L.

The ridge weakness is clearly evident through 108 hrs and that takes both system more towards the north.




By 168 hrs, the trough passes and the ridge rebuilds, 95L which was located at 30N at 108 hrs is till located at 30N but further west.



a 2nd and 3rd weakness completes re-curvature.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2497. JLPR
well im out again xD
later
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
First plot from QuikScat after recovery.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just got back from a full day on the water in E Central Florida. 40 miles up river to a barbecue, and back. No rain, no lighting. Being able to do good spot forecast is so handy. Do not try this at home, young people.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2494. JLPR
Quoting Dakster:


Ahhh... I thought that was coming from the same sat...

How's PR holding up from all the rain?


Well I have no idea =\
to the south of me I saw on radar that 8 inches or more fell but on my area it was close to 1 inch so it wasn't that much.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2493. Dakster
Quoting JLPR:


while Quickscat is down you can use Ascat =]

its not as good but it will have to do xD


Ahhh... I thought that was coming from the same sat...

How's PR holding up from all the rain?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2492. JLPR
Convection is dying down a little, but that was expected, its making its entry into water.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2491. JLPR
Quoting Dakster:
Any more updates on the QuickScat sattelite?

Maybe the ISS crew can check it out when it zings past them.


while Quickscat is down you can use Ascat =]

its not as good but it will have to do xD
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2490. Dakster
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Last update, they have recovered and data should begin again.


COOL BEANS...

Thanks.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2489. Dakster
Zoomiami - that's for sure...

Hopefully tomorrow won't be the same.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Dakster:
Any more updates on the QuickScat sattelite?

Maybe the ISS crew can check it out when it zings past them.


Last update, they have recovered and data should begin again.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
We had about one hour of sun today, and the rest was rain. Lots of thunderstorms. Not our usual weather for Miami.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2485. mnborn
Quoting iceman55:
Erika r.i.p

you better hope so, iceman!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2484. JLPR
Quoting CybrTeddy:


It has everything going for it including strong model support, strong anti-cyclone, great divergence and convergence, good 850 MB vort, good SSTs. This one could develop quite rapidly once it hits the water sometime tomorrow.


yep GFS says TD tomorrow
...that's nuts xD
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


I think he meant those invest #'s were not cleaned out from the 2008 season.


They would be numbered AL962008. I look at the database daily and the storms from 2008 had been cleaned out.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2482. Dakster
Any more updates on the QuickScat sattelite?

Maybe the ISS crew can check it out when it zings past them.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


I've seen that and I respectably disagree with Max. The slate was clean and there had not been an AL95 or AL96 used yet this year at that time, so how could they have already been used? I think they just got confused with the next number for the Atlantic basin with the next number for the East Pacific basin. As stated there is no requirement for the numbering to be consecutive.


I think he meant those invest #'s were not cleaned out from the 2008 season.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Concerning the missing invests from earlier in the season...I wrote Max Mayfield and asked him why the NHC had skipped them. Here is his reply:

Geoff:

The NHC uses a numbering system for tropical cyclones (depressions, storms, and hurricanes) that starts with 01 and goes as high as needed. There is a separate numbering system for the Atlantic and the eastern Pacific. In fact, this system is used globally which makes it easy for modeling centers and others to grab the information and quickly understand what it refers to. Each tropical cyclone has a seven digit code. For example, the first official tropical depression that we had in the Atlantic back in May was designated AL012009. The AL refers to the Atlantic, the 01 means that it was the first tropical cyclone in the Atlantic, and the 2009 is the year. The next official tropical cyclone in the Atlantic will be AL022009.

For disturbances that are not yet declared a tropical depression, the NHC uses numbers in the 90s, such as AL972009. If AL972009 were to become the second depression of the year, for example, all associated files would be moved to AL022009. And then AL972009 could be use again. I suspect AL962009 was previously used and the data had not been cleaned out yet. There is no
requirement to use the 90 number consecutively. They were initially used
internally at the NHC, but the information is now made available to the world
thanks to the internet.

I have copied James Franklin, the Branch Chief of NHC's Hurricane Unit. James can correct me if I have misspoken.

Regards,
Max



I've seen that and I respectably disagree with Max. The slate was clean and there had not been an AL95 or AL96 used yet this year at that time, so how could they have already been used? I think they just got confused with the next number for the Atlantic basin with the next number for the East Pacific basin. As stated there is no requirement for the numbering to be consecutive.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting zuglie:
Tornadude

That is true. I live in Naples Fl I remember Charlie which they did not get right either. These storms have a mind of there own lol.


exactly lol I live in Indiana, but we have pretty extreme weather too
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8201
2478. zuglie
Tornadude

That is true. I live in Naples Fl I remember Charlie which they did not get right either. These storms have a mind of there own lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Weather456:
12Z ECMWF - soon to be 96L.



And a system behind it too, will be interesting to see if the other models begin to pick up on that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Funkadelic:
Texashurricane, do you want a storm or something? Everyday you seem upset that the shear has been high in the GOM this year, and I dont know I just get the feeling that you want to experience another storm.

I will advise you to not wishcast if you are, remember the old saying "be careful what you wish for"


no, I'm not. Just wondering why....just seemed odd that there has been so much shear for so long.
Member Since: July 2, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 2811

Viewing: 2526 - 2476

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
71 °F
Mostly Cloudy