Arctic sea ice bottoms out near all-time low; August was Earth's 4th - 8th warmest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:11 PM GMT on September 17, 2011

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Arctic sea ice extent hit its minimum on September 9 this year, falling to its second lowest value since satellite measurements began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center . More than one third (35%) of the Arctic sea ice was missing this summer, compared to the 1979 - 2000 average. This is an area about the size of the Mediterranean Sea. The 2011 sea ice minimum was very close to the all-time record low set in 2007; in fact, the University of Bremen rated the 2011 loss the greatest on record. For the fourth consecutive year, and fourth time in recorded history, ice-free navigation was possible in the Arctic along the coast of Canada (the Northwest Passage), and along the coast of Russia (the Northeast Passage.) Mariners have been attempting to sail these waters since 1497.

While the record low sea ice year of 2007 was marked by a very unusual 1-in-20 year combination of weather conditions that favored ice loss (including clearer skies, favorable wind patterns, and warm temperatures), 2011's weather patterns were much closer to average. The fact we pretty much tied the record for most sea ice loss this year despite this rather ordinary weather is a result of the fact that large amounts of thicker, multi-year ice has melted or been flushed out of the Arctic since 2007. As a result of the loss of this old, thick ice, both 2010 and now 2011 set new records for the lowest volume of sea ice in the Arctic, according the University of Washington PIOMAS model. Given the very thin ice now covering most of the Arctic, we can expect truly dramatic sea ice loss the next time 1-in-10 year or 1-in-20 year warmth and sunshine invades the Arctic. We are definitely on pace to see the Arctic virtually sea ice-free in summer by 2030, as predicted by several leading Arctic sea ice scientists. I expect we'll see more than half of the Arctic ice gone and the North Pole liquid instead of solid by the summer of 2020, and probably sooner.


Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent in 2011 (blue line) compared to the record low year of 2007 (dashed green line) and average (thick grey line.) Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center .

When was the last time the Arctic was this ice-free?
We can be sure the Northwest Passage was never open for ice-free navigation--particularly ice-free navigation for multiple years in a row--between 1900 and 2000, as we have detailed ice edge records from ships (Walsh and Chapman, 2001). It is very unlikely the Passage was open between 1497 and 1900, since this spanned a cold period in the northern latitudes known as "The Little Ice Age". Ships periodically attempted the Passage and were foiled during this period, and the native Inuit people have no historical tales of the Passage being navigable at any time in the past.

The Northwest passage may have been open multiple years in a row for ice-free navigation at some period during the Medieval Warm Period, between 1000 and 1300 AD. A better candidate was the period 6,000 - 8,500 years ago, when the Earth's orbital variations brought more sunlight to the Arctic in summer than at present. Funder and Kjaer (2007) found extensive systems of wave generated beach ridges along the North Greenland coast that suggested the Arctic Ocean was ice-free in the summer for over 1,000 years during that period. Prior to that, the next likely time was during the last inter-glacial period, 120,000 years ago. Arctic temperatures then were 2 - 3°C higher than present-day temperatures, and sea levels were 4-6 meters higher.

However, it is possible that the recent summer low-ice conditions in the Arctic are unprecedented for the past 800,000 years, according to a 2011 press release by Project CLAMER, a European group dedicated to climate change and European marine ecosystem research. They found that a tiny species of plankton called Neodenticula seminae that went extinct in the North Atlantic 800,000 years ago has become a resident of the Atlantic again, having drifted from the Pacific through the Arctic Ocean thanks to dramatically reduced polar ice. The 1999 discovery represents "the first evidence of a trans-Arctic migration in modern times" related to plankton, according to the UK-based Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science, whose researchers warn that "such a geographical shift could transform the biodiversity and functioning of the Arctic and North Atlantic marine ecosystems."

It is possible we'll have a better idea of historical ice-free conditions in the Arctic in the next few years. 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 open during the past 12,000 years.

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.

Funder, S. and K.H. Kjaer, 2007, "A sea-ice free Arctic Ocean?", Geophys. Res. Abstr. 9 (2007), p. 07815.

Walsh, J.E and W.L.Chapman, 2001, "Twentieth-century sea ice variations from observational data", Annals of Glaciology, 33, Number 1, January 2001 , pp. 444-448.

August 2011: Earth's 4th - 8th warmest on record
August 2011 was the globe's 8th warmest August on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies rated August the 4th warmest on record. Land temperatures during August were the 2nd warmest on record, and ocean temperatures were the 12th warmest on record. Ocean temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean's Main Development Region (MDR) for hurricanes, from the coast of Africa to the coast of Central America between 10°N and 20°N latitude, were 0.8°C above average, the 4rd warmest August on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the 6th or 3rd warmest in the 34-year record, according to Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH). For more details on global extremes during August, see the details from weather historian Christopher C. Burt.


Figure 2. Departure of temperature from average for August 2011. Image credit: National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

Maria hits Newfoundland
Hurricane Maria hit Newfoundland, Canada yesterday afternoon near 3:30 pm local time as a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds. However, the hurricane's strongest winds were over water, and the storm brought very little in the way of strong winds or heavy rain to the island. Cape Race at the southeast tip of Newfoundland saw sustained winds of 41 mph, gusting to 54 mph at 3:30 pm Friday as the center of the storm passed. Winds in the capital of St. John's peaked at 37 mph, gusting to 46 mph, at 10:30 am local time. Maria's strike makes this Newfoundland's second consecutive year with a hurricane strike, something that has never occurred since hurricane record keeping began in 1851. Last year, Hurricane Igor killed one person on Newfoundland, and damage exceeded $100 million, making Igor the most damaging tropical cyclone in Newfoundland history.


Figure 3. Satellite image of Hurricane Maria taken at 12:15 pm EDT September 16, 2011. At the time, Maria was a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds. Image credit: NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab.

Invest 97L
For the first day since August 18, we don't have a named storm in the Atlantic. However, we have a new area to watch. A tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa Friday and is now 300 miles south of the Cape Verde Islands is moving west at 10 - 15 mph. The wave has developed a modest amount of heavy thunderstorm activity and spin, and has been designated Invest 97L by NHC. Wind shear as diagnosed by the SHIPS model is light, 5 - 10 knots, and is predicted to stay light to moderate through Tuesday morning. Ocean temperatures are 27.5°C, one degree above the threshold typically needed for a tropical storm to spin up. Water vapor satellite images show 97L is embedded in a moist environment.

Most of the models develop 97L into a tropical depression by Tuesday; NHC gave the disturbance a 20% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Monday in their 2 pm Tropical Weather Outlook. 97L should head west or west-northwest towards the Lesser Antilles over the next six days, and could arrive in the islands as early as Friday--though most of the models predict a later arrival. It is likely 97L will encounter the usual troubles storms this year have had with wind shear and dry air on the long trek across the Atlantic.

I'll have a new post on Monday, when I'll discuss the long-range hurricane outlook for the rest of September.

Jeff Masters

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At 24 hours the GFS shows a strong low pressure riding up the north wall of the Gulf Stream south of Nova Scotia. There is a small chance this will be subtropical. 98L is near 11.5 N 38 W as a small closed low.
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00z GFS 69 Hrs
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Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Yes it is Taz! Let's check it out!





ok
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115453
Yes it is Taz! Let's check it out!
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1223. Tygor
SWEET SWEET RAIN IN TEXAS :) Hope everyone gets a little soaking!
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1222. WoodyFL



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1221. JLPR2
Ha! And now there are three.



GFS is insisting on bringing 97L back from the dead.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747


You should try to research the subject before you make a statement like that...

By COURTNEY HUTCHISON, ABC News Medical Unit
Sept. 1, 2011

For many of the nearly 50,000 9/11 first responders, the wounds of the Twin Tower attacks are far from healing. According to two studies published Thursday in the British journal Lancet, these rescue workers continue to struggle with respiratory illness, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many of them may be at increased risk for developing a number of cancers.

ABC News


I wanted to point out how misinformed he was. Way to set in his waysclass='blogquote'>Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


I wanted to point out how misinformed he was. Way to set in his ways.
PTSD is something you have to learn to live, with i was a firefighter for 30 years. Still pull the 12 year old boy out of the swimming pool everynight. But it was not the pool builders fault or the fence people. it just happened, so sometime when you take a job things happen to you so you need to learn to get over them
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1219. JLPR2
Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Figures. Peek in to check on the tropics and there's every conversation going on except tropics. How very typical. Enjoy. L8R!


Same old WU. XD
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 8747
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Hi Taz :)



00z comeing in and hi
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115453
Hi Taz :)
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Quoting moonlightcowboy:
Figures. Peek in to check on the tropics and there's every conversation going on except tropics. How very typical. Enjoy. L8R!


Hey I came in to talk about the tropics!
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TampaSpin's model graphic for 98L looks interesting.
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Figures. Peek in to check on the tropics and there's every conversation going on except tropics. How very typical. Enjoy. L8R!
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Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
Hello all. What's the word on the tropics tonight?




98L is
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115453
Hello all. What's the word on the tropics tonight?
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1210. pcola57
.
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Quoting jpsb:


Hmmm, looks like I'm wrong, I never figure crude was a threat to human health. I mean in the relatively small quantities that one might be exposed to because of a spill. hmmm.


A ball of tar sitting on the ground probably won't kill you, but I'd still pick it up with some gloves.
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1208. jpsb
Quoting nofailsafe:


I would be very hesitant to say that crude is not unhealthy. I would be willing to say that some components are probably more benign than others, but the toxicological properties of some are probably nothing to sneeze at.


For instance, long-chain hydrocarbons are probably less of a concern than short-chain hydrocarbons that can get into the air more readily. There are sulfur-bearing hydrocarbons that may have some unpleasant effects too. Also included are aromatic hydrocarbons, these are the really fun molecules that no one wants floating around in their blood.


One of the really fun effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) is when they get processed by an enzyme in the liver called Cytochrome P450 they get oxidized and make epoxides. Epoxides are pretty reactive beasts and after another step they can bind irreversibly to DNA and prevent replication. It's for that reason that there are recommendations not to eat the burnt bits of food.


Hmmm, looks like I'm wrong, I never figured crude was a threat to human health. I mean in the relatively small quantities that one might be exposed to because of a spill. hmmm.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1273
Quoting jpsb:
Here in Galveston we get tar balls washing up all the time, I guess yall are not taking about tar balls. Crude all by itself in low concentrations should not be deadly or even unhealthy (unless you eat it) so some thing else must be going on. Dispersant?


I would be very hesitant to say that crude is not unhealthy. I would be willing to say that some components are probably more benign than others, but the toxicological properties of some are probably nothing to sneeze at.


For instance, long-chain hydrocarbons are probably less of a concern than short-chain hydrocarbons that can get into the air more readily. There are sulfur-bearing hydrocarbons that may have some unpleasant effects too. Also included are aromatic hydrocarbons, these are the really fun molecules that no one wants floating around in their blood.


One of the really fun effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) is when they get processed by an enzyme in the liver called Cytochrome P450 they get oxidized and make epoxides. Epoxides are pretty reactive beasts and after another step they can bind irreversibly to DNA and prevent replication. It's for that reason that there are recommendations not to eat the burnt bits of food.
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1206. jpsb
Quoting carcar1967:


I pray for BLOG PEACE
peace thru strength, HooRaa.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1273
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Quoting tropicfreak:
Settle down guys.


I pray for BLOG PEACE
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me too g-night
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Quoting Skyepony:


The VOCs in the blood tests are the same in the dispersant & oil...someone living in a clean environment wouldn't have things like m,p-Xylene, hexane, and ethylbenzene in their blood. They are finding that & other markers in really sick people that live around the area or visited & got in the water on the wrong day. Some were in the wrong place & got sprayed by dispersant. Look around links are everywhere.. Here's one FL family that got the typical symptoms..turns out their pool had dispersant in it.. They didn't outlaw that stuff in a bunch of countries for no reason.. the link was made along time ago. If you can't see the link..well Gulf is open..take a swim, enjoy some crabs.


+++100,000
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1199. jpsb
Quoting hcubed:


And, add to that the NUTATION: "...A periodic variation in precession: in other words, a wobble on top of the main wobble of Earth's axis. The chief cause of nutation is the Moon moving in an orbit that is inclined (by 5°) to the ecliptic. This lunar nutation amounts to a +/− 9″ back-and-forth jiggling of Earth's poles every 18.6 years (the time it takes for the Moon's orbit to come around to the same relative position again). The net result is that, instead of describing a perfectly circular path in the sky, every 25,800 years or so, due to precession, the precessional path of Earth's axis is more like the crinkly shape of a cookie-cutter...

From the Wiley book of Astronomy.

So if the larger changes in the earth's tilt can cause ice ages, then smaller "wobbles" COULD cause variations in the insolation, and changes in earth's temps.
Interesting, but 9" inches is pretty small (and not I am not bragging). Hard to imagine a 9" change in the tilt of a 4,000 mile ball having a noticeable effect.
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1273
Quoting gugi182:
Where do you think 98L will head and what will be intensity forecast for 98L?


Here you go
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With absolutely no name calling by me, GefferyWPB...you are "poofed" for that insensitive comment.
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Quoting Patrap:



Thanx,

Blog tuff's like shear, always go null after awhile.

But me tinks a lesson was learned tonight.

Never send someone something you wouldnt want to have posted in the open.

He failed the snuff test, badly.

Any Corporate owner would NEVER post a private e/wu-mail,

Food fer thought.



G'night.


Night
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1194. j2008
Quoting gugi182:
Where do you think 98L will head and what will be intensity forecast for 98L?

Most likey a slow build up in intensity, and 10mph W. movement, on average. That means one day it might apply and another day it won't apply.
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1192. jpsb
Quoting pcola57:


local people DO Not eat the "catch of the day"
Here in Galveston we get tar balls washing up all the time, I guess yall are not taking about tar balls. Crude all by itself in low concentrations should not be deadly or even unhealthy (unless you eat it) so some thing else must be going on. Dispersant?
Member Since: June 30, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1273
1191. gugi182
Where do you think 98L will head and what will be intensity forecast for 98L?
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For those of us in SE Texas and Louisiana, rain chances are still up for a little while longer. For the Houston area the coastal showers will probably start picking up again. Hooray!
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Patrap, thanks for all the images, models, charts and humor you bring to the blog!

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1188. pcola57
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
blog wars got to luv em


It's like a child care blog sometimes...but you, Skye,Pat and all the reg's(can't name them all...not enough blog space!!) know that this too shall pass...LOL!!
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1186. hcubed
Quoting DFWjc:



Earth's axial tilt or obliquity varies from 24.5 degrees to 22.1 degrees over the course of a 41,000-year cycle. The current angle is 23.4 degrees. Changes in axial tilt affect the distribution of solar radiation received at the earth's surface. When the angle of tilt is low, polar regions receive less insolation. When the tilt is greater, the polar regions receive more insolation during the course of a year. Like precession and eccentricity, changes in tilt thus influence the relative strength of the seasons, but the effects of the tilt cycle are particularly pronounced in the high latitudes where the great ice ages began.


And, add to that the NUTATION: "...A periodic variation in precession: in other words, a wobble on top of the main wobble of Earth's axis. The chief cause of nutation is the Moon moving in an orbit that is inclined (by 5°) to the ecliptic. This lunar nutation amounts to a +/− 9″ back-and-forth jiggling of Earth's poles every 18.6 years (the time it takes for the Moon's orbit to come around to the same relative position again). The net result is that, instead of describing a perfectly circular path in the sky, every 25,800 years or so, due to precession, the precessional path of Earth's axis is more like the crinkly shape of a cookie-cutter...

From the Wiley book of Astronomy.

So if the larger changes in the earth's tilt can cause ice ages, then smaller "wobbles" COULD cause variations in the insolation, and changes in earth's temps.
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1185. j2008
Quoting DFWjc:


But still come on, all of us wishcast, but that doesn't mean that we want a Cat 1-4 hurricane hitting any particular area of CONUS..

Yea very good point, I hate to see any place damaged by a storm, but as much as I wish against it, it happens.
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Quoting bambamwx:


You should try to research the subject before you make a statement like that...

By COURTNEY HUTCHISON, ABC News Medical Unit
Sept. 1, 2011

For many of the nearly 50,000 9/11 first responders, the wounds of the Twin Tower attacks are far from healing. According to two studies published Thursday in the British journal Lancet, these rescue workers continue to struggle with respiratory illness, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and many of them may be at increased risk for developing a number of cancers.

ABC News


I wanted to point out how misinformed he was. Way to set in his ways.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1183. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
blog wars got to luv em
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1182. pcola57
Quoting Skyepony:


The VOCs in the blood tests are the same in the dispersant & oil...someone living in a clean environment wouldn't have things like m,p-Xylene, hexane, and ethylbenzene in their blood. They are finding that & other markers in really sick people that live around the area or visited & got in the water on the wrong day. Some were in the wrong place & got sprayed by dispersant. Look around links are everywhere.. Here's one FL family that got the typical symptoms..turns out their pool had dispersant in it.. They didn't outlaw that stuff in a bunch of countries for no reason.. the link was made along time ago. If you can't see the link..well Gulf is open..take a swim, enjoy some crabs.


This so so sad,
Many of my friends used to be oyster/shrimp/charter boat captains and now they do landscape work or in the local fish markets unloading seafoods from other parts of the country..local people DO Not eat the "catch of the day" anymore..the health problems are occuring and will continue to do so..all you have to do is lay on your beach towel for awhile and then take it home to wash it...it definitely has an petroluem odor...This issue cannot and will not go away by paying people off..This is only my humble view point...for what it's worth
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1180. DFWjc
Quoting j2008:

Especially this year, hardly anything can get above TS status, although I'd better watch what I say. My luck is that everything will be a hurricane from now on.


But still come on, all of us wishcast, but that doesn't mean that we want a Cat 1-4 hurricane hitting any particular area of CONUS..
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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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