Arctic sea ice in record retreat

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:42 PM GMT on July 08, 2011

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The summer melt season is in full swing in the Arctic, and sea ice there is in record retreat. Arctic sea ice is currently at its lowest extent on record for early July, according to estimates from the National Snow and Ice Data Center and University of Bremen. Moreover, Arctic sea ice volume is at its lowest on record, according to the University of Washington Polar Science Center, and during June 2011, was reduced by nearly half (47%) compared to its maximum at the beginning of the satellite era, in 1979. The latest surface analysis from Environment Canada shows a 1039 mb high pressure system centered north of Alaska, which is bringing clear skies and plenty of ice-melting sunshine to the Arctic. The combined action of the clockwise flow of air around the high and counter-clockwise flow of air around a low pressure system near the western coast of Siberia is driving warm, southerly winds into the Arctic that is pushing ice away from the coast of Siberia, encouraging further melting. This pressure pattern, known as the Arctic Dipole, was dominant over the Arctic during June, leading to June having the 2nd lowest extent on record, and the record low extent observed at the beginning of July. The Arctic Dipole began emerging in the late 1990s, and was unknown before then; thus climate change is suspected as its primary cause. The Arctic Dipole has become increasingly common in the last six years, and has contributed significantly to the record retreat of Arctic sea ice.


Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent as of July 7, 2011, as estimated by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Ice extent during the first week of July was slightly less than the previous record low set in 2007 (dashed green line.)

The previous all-time record year for sea ice loss: 2007
The all-time summer Arctic sea ice melt occurred in 2007, when a "perfect storm" of weather conditions came together to cause a stunning amount of ice loss. Unusually strong high pressure over the Arctic led to clear skies and plenty of sunshine. Arctic winds, which usually blow in a circular fashion around the Pole, instead blew from the south over Central Siberia, due to the Arctic Dipole pattern, injecting large amounts of warm air into the Arctic. Sea ice loss, which had been 20% in the summer of 2006 compared to the summer of 1979, doubled to 39% in 2007, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. In one year, as much ice was lost as in the previous 28 years. Compared to the 1950s, over half of the Arctic sea ice had disappeared.


Figure 2. Arctic sea ice extent since 1900, as estimated from satellite and ship reports compiled by Walsh and Chapman (2001). Image credit: University of Illinois cryosphere group.

The forecast
Summertime Arctic sea ice loss since 2007 has not been as severe, due to cooler and cloudier conditions. However, ice loss in 2008 - 2010 was worse than any year prior to 2007, and the amount of old, thick, multi-year ice has suffered steep declines. How often, then, might we expect to see a "perfect storm" of weather conditions capable of triggering record sea ice loss like in 2007? Well, at the December 2008 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. 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.

The latest 1-week forecast from the Canadian GEM model shows the Arctic Dipole pattern continuing, but with high pressure gradually weakening over the Arctic. This should decrease the southerly winds blowing warm air into the Arctic, and help slow down the current record retreat to just below record levels. However, the latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model shows high pressure will build back in over the Arctic during the last half of July, which would tend to increase the flow of warm air into the region again. Overall, it appears that the weather conditions during July 2011 will end up not being as favorable for ice loss as July 2007 was, but the ice is more vulnerable to melting than in 2007 due to the significant loss of old, thick, multi-year ice since 2007. It is too early to tell what may occur during August, but the forecast for July leads me to believe that we will come very close to breaking the 2007 record for all-time ice loss in September, but fall just short. Of the seventeen outlooks issued in early June by various scientific groups, only four called for 2011 to exceed 2007 for summer Arctic sea ice loss.


Figure 3. Distribution of individual Pan-Arctic Outlook values (June Report) for September 2011 sea ice extent. Image credit: ARCUS.

Invest 96L in the Atlantic little threat
An area of disturbed weather (Invest 96L) in the Gulf of Mexico centered a few hundred miles west of Tampa, Florida has become disorganized due to high wind shear of 15 - 25 knots. The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts the shear will be a moderate 10 - 20 knots over the next two days as 96L moves slowly northwards towards the Florida Panhandle. The shear should keep any development slow. Water vapor satellite images show that 96L is located on the east side of an upper-level low pressure system centered over southern Louisiana. This upper level low is pumping dry, stable air into the west side of 96L, which will retard development. There is no sign of a surface circulation in 96L, and none of the reliable computer models is developing it. NHC is giving 96L a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday. The storm has brought a region of 2 - 4 inches of rain to the coast near Tampa, and portions of the Florida Panhandle coast will likely receive 2 - 4 inches of rain this weekend when 96L moves in.


Figure 4. Radar estimated rainfall from 96L as of Friday morning.

My Arctic sea ice page has more info on Arctic sea ice, including why we care about it, and predictions on when it might all disappear.

My next post will be Monday, unless there's some unexpected development to report.

Jeff Masters

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1816. sunlinepr
3:55 PM GMT on July 11, 2011


Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9737
1815. sunlinepr
3:53 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9737
1814. Skyepony (Mod)
2:35 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Orka~ It's odd, the pro oil sites say China will eventually get a pipeline or is eyeing a pipeline, seeing articles back to 2005. In the antipipeline camp it is claimed that the natives have stopped any hope China has of putting a pipe west to the Pacific for China. I'd rather not have the air pollution killing Americans & move on into a new era of clean power. China is buying resources across the globe..

Since like '07, the oil companies are decimating the wild horse herds out west over this pipeline while BLM has turned it's back. Recently I went to see the newest or if it had ended & like before the articles are full of Trojans trying to attack my PC.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37471
1813. MrstormX
2:27 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
I'm on the Anticyclonic side of the derecho, will see what happens.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
1812. Ameister12
2:27 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Nasty storms are gonna hits Cincinnati today. Northern Ohio and Michigan are already getting hit.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4907
1811. Neapolitan
2:26 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
NEW BLOG ENTRY
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13473
1809. TropicalAnalystwx13
2:24 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Good morning everyone.

I wouldn't be so quick to write this tropical wave off, even if it does appear to be weakening. It has a small vort. max, and it has a well-defined inverted V-signature. Even if it won't develop in the next few days, it will need to be watched as it enters the Western Caribbean.



We should have a similar set-up to Arlene in a few days from now, but I'm not so sure we'll get "Bret" this time. When we were watching for Arlene, the Atlantic basin favored lowering pressures, while the Pacific didn't really. This time, the Pacific favors lowering pressures, more than the Atlantic. Thus, instead of the Atlantic getting "Bret", I think the Eastern Pacific will get Dora.



Lastly, there is a strong tropical wave over western Africa, one of the most well-defined so far this season, if not the most well-defined one. This will need to be watched very closely as it exits Africa over the next 2-3 days, as the GFS is beginning to show an area of low pressure develop with the system, a sign that the Cape Verde season is not too far behind. One thing to note, if we get a system in July, which I believe we will (2), and it forms east of 77W and south of 25N, we will likely have at least an average season.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31575
1808. MrstormX
2:24 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
About to get hit with a lovely bow-echo, see you on the other side...
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
1807. drg0dOwnCountry
2:18 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Hot & humid conditions in central US a very dangerous situation. Heat index ~115 degrees
National Weather Hazards
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
1806. Buhdog
2:17 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Greetings from Cape Coral fl....Rain last night from ex 96l's tail last night! dare i say i am missing the sun a little?
Member Since: July 30, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 960
1804. Skyepony (Mod)
2:15 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


No, different storm counts between the two for the same month.


I see now. That could use some more text..

Thanks for the Indian Scatterometer, I've looked for that here & there since they launched it.



Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Hi Skye. CPC today in their weekly update has nino 3.4 down to -0.1C from 0.1C that was last week. In general,the Pacific cooled a tad,even the 1-2 area went down.

Link


It never moves is a straight line up or down for long. The general trend is still there.

This warming should be short lived. ESPI is up to -.33. There is still that lag though. I don't expect substantial cooling til the cool streak moving along the equator though the Atlantic works it's way over South America.

Orca~ you got a link or something? I haven't seen anything like that about Alberta.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37471
1803. CybrTeddy
2:12 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
blog update!
Tropical trouble possible off Africa 7/11/11
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23642
1802. SQUAWK
2:12 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting DestinJeff:
Has anybody seen Ike on hear?


I think it rained on him and I was waiting for him to report but haven't seen him. Unlike him to miss a rain event.
Member Since: December 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2498
1801. Orcasystems
2:11 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Complete Update

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI





Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1799. nrtiwlnvragn
1:54 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting Skyepony:


I went to this one first & scrolled over all the months, then the one that doesn't mention ENSO & all the months were highlighted like i'd already been there. They the same?


No, different storm counts between the two for the same month.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 10946
1798. ProgressivePulse
1:52 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting DestinJeff:
Has anybody seen Ike on hear?


A bit over the weekend.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5046
1797. Tropicsweatherpr
1:51 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting Skyepony:
90W is 08W now.. I have my doubts that 90C, the 1st invest of the CPAC season, has any chance.

08W (click pic to animate)



Dr Masters got quoted in this article encouraging protesters to come to the White House from August 20-Sept. 3 against the proposed Keystone pipe line from Canada oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico.

During a discussion the other day it was pointed out if we don't burn it up someone else will.. This article says other wise. Apparently the move to pipe it to China or across the Pacific was already blocked.


Hi Skye. CPC today in their weekly update has nino 3.4 down to -0.1C from 0.1C that was last week. In general,the Pacific cooled a tad,even the 1-2 area went down.

Link
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14076
1796. Skyepony (Mod)
1:49 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


There is another webpage, MJO with ENSO. I have not found any text to go with those webpages, so I am not clear what they mean "with ENSO". Nino, Nina or when in either.


I went to this one first & scrolled over all the months, then the one that doesn't mention ENSO & all the months were highlighted like i'd already been there. They the same?
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37471
1795. nrtiwlnvragn
1:48 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
90C from the Indian Scatterometer


Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 10946
1794. Orcasystems
1:48 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting Skyepony:
90W is 08W now.. I have my doubts that 90C, the 1st invest of the CPAC season, has any chance.

08W (click pic to animate)



Dr Masters got quoted in this article encouraging protesters to come to the White House from August 20-Sept. 3 against the proposed Keystone pipe line from Canada oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico.

During a discussion the other day it was pointed out if we don't burn it up someone else will.. This article says other wise. Apparently the move to pipe it to China or across the Pacific was already blocked.


Actually the move is to pipe it to Prince Rupert or Kitimat, and ship it to China, which I believe is the plan they will go with.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1792. presslord
1:44 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting DestinJeff:


The Password is:

Frijole



Beall said it's 'blasphemy'...ya can't have two words...it's confusing...please communicate with each other and simplify this process...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
1791. Skyepony (Mod)
1:43 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
90W is 08W now.. I have my doubts that 90C, the 1st invest of the CPAC season, has any chance.

08W (click pic to animate)



Dr Masters got quoted in this article encouraging protesters to come to the White House from August 20-Sept. 3 against the proposed Keystone pipe line from Canada oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico.

During a discussion the other day it was pointed out if we don't burn it up someone else will.. This article says other wise. Apparently the move to pipe it to China or across the Pacific was already blocked.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37471
1790. Levi32
1:41 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


There is another webpage, MJO with ENSO. I have not found any text to go with those webpages, so I am not clear what they mean "with ENSO". Nino, Nina or when in either.


Hmm. That is rather ambiguous. Thanks though.

The name of the page itself may provide a clue:

"MJO Tropcial Cyclone Formation Composite with Interannual Part Retained"

I'm not sure what the "interannual part" refers to.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26566
1788. nrtiwlnvragn
1:39 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting Levi32:


Very cool. Thanks for the link!


There is another webpage, MJO with ENSO. I have not found any text to go with those webpages, so I am not clear what they mean "with ENSO". Nino, Nina or when in either.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 10946
1786. RukusBoondocks
1:34 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
The tropics are smokin!! yellow cirlce rock but red ones two tone talks!!
Member Since: February 13, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 294
1784. stoormfury
1:33 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
it appears from latest satelite photos that aLLC istrying to form near 12N 52.5Wwithin the tropical wave approaching the southern windwards.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2635
1782. stormpetrol
1:32 PM GMT on July 11, 2011


Look for yellow circle in SW caribbean at 2pm est.
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7716
1781. islander101010
1:28 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting TaylorSelseth:
When I was a kid my family first got cable in 1996 and I became a compulsive viewer of TWC's tropical update. Hurricane Fran made me obsessed with hurricanes, LOL.
disagree when they got something to talk about they will be there. they got a great crew this yr it for normal people people not like me obsessed with any little clouds during the season
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4373
1780. beell
1:27 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Outlook upgrade to Moderate Risk for damaging winds.

click for full Outlook graphics and text
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 142 Comments: 16293
1777. Levi32
1:22 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


This webpage shows tropical storm formation by mojo phase.


Very cool. Thanks for the link!
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26566
1776. nrtiwlnvragn
1:22 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Verification of medium-range MJO forecasts with TIGGE, unfortunately only an abstract.

Excerpt:

The results indicate that ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts) and UKMO (United Kingdom Meteorological Office) generally yield the best performances in predicting the MJO; however, they do not always show similar skills. ECMWF performs well in simulating the maintenance and onset of the MJO in phases 1–4, whereas UKMO and NCEP (National Centers for Environmental Prediction) perform well in simulating the maintenance and onset of the MJO in phases 5–8. Thus, the best-performing numerical weather prediction (NWP) centre varies with the phase of the MJO.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 10946
1775. Levi32
1:11 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Good morning.

Blog update:

Tropical Tidbit for Monday, July 11th, with Video
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26566
1774. islander101010
1:11 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
this ones yellow circle is alittle bigger than the last one
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4373
1773. presslord
1:09 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting FLdewey:
MJO?

Are we going to start talking about the ridge again?

That's okay obscurity is my middle name.

Ship it!


the whole 'humping the ridge' thing is my territory...Back off!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
1772. srada
1:09 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Progress Energy will stand to make considerable dollars tomorrow with AC units blasting..a scorcher here in Eastern NC tomorrow..the news said this morning some inland counties will feel like 110..nothing like a winds of 13 mph blowing nothing but hot air

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 95. Heat index values as high as 104. West wind between 7 and 13 mph.
Member Since: August 17, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 772
1771. MrstormX
1:08 PM GMT on July 11, 2011


If all that tropical moisture from the Caribbean makes it into the BoC, the shear will not be that bad.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
1769. MrstormX
1:05 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4436
1768. beell
1:04 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting FLdewey:

Sooo... we're still talking global warming? :-p


Sorry, Dewey. That was probably a little obscure on my part. Talking MJO blasphemy.

Quoting presslord:


ah...one of my favorites...


*looks around, checks for lightning*

Good Morning, Press.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 142 Comments: 16293
1767. ProgressivePulse
12:59 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting P451:


Good point. We're about to get a good look at whether or not that southward suppression continues or not with that new big wave coming off Africa quite a bit further north than the others had been so far.





Morning All.

Could be our first signal of neutral conditions taking hold of the atmosphere.


Tracks of landfalling hurricanes indicate that East Coast landfalling storms tend to form in the central Atlantic and curve northward just off the Leeward Islands while Florida landfalling storms are more likely to form further west. There are less storms forming in the central Atlantic, where East Coast landfalling hurricanes tend to form, during neutral years than during cold years. This may explain why there are fewer hurricanes making landfall along the East Coast than in Florida during neutral years.

The physical mechanism(s) that cause the decrease in hurricane landfalls along the East Coast during neutral years are not clear at the present time. Some factors that may contribute to this are lower SST’s and increased vertical shear during neutral years in the central Atlantic, resulting in the reduction of tropical cyclone formation where East Coast landfalling hurricanes are most likely to originate. It is possible that the subtropical high is more elongated during neutral years, blocking hurricanes from hitting the East Coast and causing them to track further south towards Florida. Also, stronger easterlies close to the equator during neutral years may be steering storms on a more zonal path, keeping them at lower latitudes and preventing them from reaching the East Coast.
Member Since: August 19, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 5046
1766. presslord
12:57 PM GMT on July 11, 2011
Quoting beell:


blasphemy


ah...one of my favorites...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479

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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.