Arctic sea ice volume now one-fifth its 1979 level

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:52 AM GMT on February 19, 2013

Share this Blog
59
+

The stunning loss of Arctic sea ice extent in recent years is undeniable--satellite measurements have conclusively shown that half of the Arctic sea ice went missing in September 2012, compared to the average September during 1979 - 2000. But the extent of ice cover is not the best measure of how the fire raging in Earth's attic is affecting sea ice--the total volume of the ice is more important. But up until 2010, we didn't have the measurements needed to say how the total volume of ice in the Arctic might be changing. Scientists relied on the University of Washington PIOMAS model, which suggested that the loss of Arctic sea ice volume during September might be approaching 75% - 80%. The model results were widely criticized by climate change skeptics as being unrealistic. However, in April 2010, a new satellite called Cryostat-2 was launched, which can measure ice volume by beaming pulses of microwave energy off of the ice. With two years of data to Cryosat-2 data to analyze, the results of the PIOMAS model have now been confirmed by a study published on-line in February 2013 in Geophysical Research Letters. In a University of Washington news release, co-author Axel Schweiger said, "people had argued that 75 to 80 percent ice volume loss was too aggressive. What this new paper shows is that our ice loss estimates may have been too conservative, and that the recent decline is possibly more rapid." The U.K.'s Natural Environmental Research Council reported that the team of scientists found that from 2003 to 2012, the volume of Arctic sea ice declined 36% in the autumn and 9% in the winter. The measure of sea ice volume is a good indicator of how the Arctic's most stable, "multi-year" ice is fairing. As the multi-year ice declines, sea ice extent, the total area covered by sea ice, in an "Arctic death spiral". The new study shows that thick, multi-year ice has disappeared in areas north of Greenland, around the Canadian Archipelago, and to the northeast of Svalbard, Norway.


Figure 1. Arctic sea ice volume in thousands of cubic kilometers during the September minimum in 1979 compared to 2012, as estimated by the University of Washington PIOMAS model. Arctic seas ice volume has declined by more than a factor of five. Image credit; Andy Lee Robinson.


Figure 2. The Polar-5 aircraft, carrying the EM instrument that was used to validate Cryosat-2 sea ice thickness measurements, flying over the validation site. Image credit: R. Willatt.

Why care about Arctic sea ice loss?
If you remove an area of sea ice 43% the size of the contiguous U.S. from the ocean, like occurred in September 2012, it is guaranteed to have a significant impact on weather and climate. The extra heat and moisture added to the atmosphere as a result of all that open water over the pole may already be altering jet stream patterns in fall and winter, bringing an increase in extreme weather events. The record sea ice loss in 2012 also contributed to an unprecedented melting event in Greenland. Continued sea ice loss will further increase melting from Greenland, contributing to sea level rise and storm surge damages. Sea ice loss will also continue to crank up the thermostat over Arctic permafrost regions. This will potentially release a significant fraction of the vast amounts of carbon currently locked in the permafrost, further accelerating global warming.

Related Posts
Earth's attic is on fire: Arctic sea ice bottoms out at a new record low (September 2012)
Half of the polar ice cap is missing: Arctic sea ice hits a new record low. September 6, 2012 blog post
Wunderground's Sea Ice page
Arctic Death Spiral Bombshell: CryoSat-2 Confirms Sea Ice Volume Has Collapsed by Joe Romm at climateprogress.org.

Jeff Masters and Angela Fritz

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: 1097 - 1047

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 | 25Blog Index

If you want to stay out of the GW/AGW debates here I completely get it. That's your right and many here echo that sentiment. Often I find it necessary to strongly defend the Dr's position and that of the vast vast majority of climate scientists. I find his posts call for that discussion at least some of the time and it's a discussion that really does need to be had. That said, it can be quite contentious, and that is not what many come here for. I'm out for the night, good luck to ya, and keep on keepn on.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1086 Tribucanes: Why do I always have to open your posts tornadodude? Who dislikes you so. What's the closest you've ever come to a twister during your chasing?
1088 tornadodude: I'm not really sure who keeps clicking "-" on my posts. There are a few older members here who dislike my storm chasing, assuming that's the problem.

Nope, trolls have been trying to knock many of the better informed bloggers off this site.
You join KeeperOfTheGate, Neapolitan, Patrap, StSimonsIslandGuy, MichaelSTL amongst others in being thus targetted.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tribucanes:
That's really exciting stuff. Sounds like your qualified and doing more than glory chasing. The research ground sounds intriguing. There is a strong argument for why people shouldn't chase. The dad with no experience who loads up the wife and kids, or the teenagers with no experience, and the many many who fall in the middle of with no experience. You don't fall in any of those categories. Doing the right moral thing in helping the injured too; good for you. Hope it goes well for you, stay safe this year.


You're absolutely right. There are most definitely many people out there who don't know exactly what they are doing. I love helping people learn more about it. I just wish some people weren't so stubborn and would take help when it's offered. It's the people who think they know all they need to know who get hurt.

I am proud of my videos and chases, but in no way am I in it just for that. I've gone on chases with no cameras, just to go out and enjoy it. Nothing more adrenaline rushing than to be standing under a meso in the great plains, feeling the inflow rushing into a powerful thunderstorm, it's exhilarating. I love it.

The research aspect is amazing. The guy who heads it is finishing up his PHD this spring (just have to narrow down 450 pages of a dissertation first haha)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1094. Bielle
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jedkins01:
Ok it should work now :)




that's pretty funny haha
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
That's really exciting stuff. Sounds like your qualified and doing more than glory chasing. The research ground sounds intriguing. There is a strong argument for why people shouldn't chase. The dad with no experience who loads up the wife and kids, or the teenagers with no experience, and the many many who fall in the middle of with no experience. You don't fall in any of those categories. Doing the right moral thing in helping the injured too; good for you. Hope it goes well for you, stay safe this year.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Or I could be getting the "-" because I tend to shy away from GW, AGW, and CC talk.

To me, that talk is similar to politics and religion, just something I'd rather not discuss.

Anyway, severe threat could ramp up over north central Texas overnight
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tribucanes:
Sweet, I'll check it out. They dislike your chasing? Do you have a meteorology background or relative field of study? Not that it's a must; I'm guessing you've at least gone to spotter classes, right?


I have attended several spotter classes, and I have a year of MET school as well as 4 years of chasing.

I have been studying meteorology on my own since 6th grade. It has always been a passion, particularly the severe weather aspect.

I always stop to help. I have tended to injured people, come back to places to help with recovery, as well as donated to disaster areas. I am also currently a part of a research group. We are working on proving the wind speeds inside the mini suction vortices inside tornadoes.

Pretty fascinating stuff
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Sweet, I'll check it out. They dislike your chasing? Do you have a meteorology background or relative field of study? Not that it's a must; I'm guessing you've at least gone to spotter classes, right?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tribucanes:
Why do I always have to open your posts Tornadodude? Who dislikes you so. What's the closest you've ever come to a twister during your chasing?


I'm not really sure who keeps clicking "-" on my posts. There are a few older members here who dislike my storm chasing, assuming that's the problem.

I've been inside a weak tornado, I posted the video on the last page
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tribucanes:
Why do I always have to open your posts Tornadodude? Who dislikes you so. What's the closest you've ever come to a twister during your chasing?


that is a good question...happens to me too
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Why do I always have to open your posts Tornadodude? Who dislikes you so. What's the closest you've ever come to a twister during your chasing?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


they are not connected.


what are you talking about?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tornadodude:




they are not connected. as far as snow goes. Altitude may play a role here
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jedkins01:



Ok, I'm not along then.

To get Facebook or Twitter images to show up you have to take out the "s" in https.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ok it should work now :)


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


no lake effect related from it either..


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tornadodude:


I've noticed that if you try to share an image from Facebook or Twitter, it won't show.




Ok, I'm not along then.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tornadodude:


Sounds like an upslope snow event


no lake effect to work with before it happens...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
There is an area being monitored for a watch, link.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
this is odd...for a small area inland. Vermont

* LOCATIONS...THE WESTERN SLOPES OF THE GREEN MOUNTAINS TO
INCLUDE THE WESTERN PORTIONS OF ORLEANS...LAMOILLE AND
WASHINGTON COUNTIES.

* HAZARD TYPES...MODERATE TO OCCASIONALLY HEAVY SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS...8 TO 14 INCHES OF DRY FLUFFY SNOW.

* MAXIMUM SNOWFALL RATE...1 TO 2 INCHES PER HOUR...MAINLY TONIGHT
INTO THURSDAY MORNING.



Sounds like an upslope snow event
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
this is odd...for a small area inland. Vermont

* LOCATIONS...THE WESTERN SLOPES OF THE GREEN MOUNTAINS TO
INCLUDE THE WESTERN PORTIONS OF ORLEANS...LAMOILLE AND
WASHINGTON COUNTIES.

* HAZARD TYPES...MODERATE TO OCCASIONALLY HEAVY SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS...8 TO 14 INCHES OF DRY FLUFFY SNOW.

* MAXIMUM SNOWFALL RATE...1 TO 2 INCHES PER HOUR...MAINLY TONIGHT
INTO THURSDAY MORNING.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
unfortunately I see power outages for northern Arkansas from this...

SLEET AND ICE ACCUMULATIONS...BETWEEN ONE QUARTER AND THREE
QUARTERS OF AN INCH OF ICE
AND UP TO ONE QUARTER INCH OF SLEET.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wxgeek723:


It depends on whether or not you already know a Katrina really...


well, kind of true... I'll survey New Orleans first.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


I would only care for it as being a storm of the season, must have impacted a very large area or caused so much damage for me to remember it if it didn't hit my area..

And yes, (sacred?) I don't think someone would come to mind quicker than Hurricane Katrina.. we would have to survey that


It depends on whether or not you already know a Katrina really...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wxgeek723:


If you weren't affected by it then why do you care? Think of it from a layman's view.

And actually I think a lot of people think of a person named Katrina first, lol. But that name is sacred; it's a bit different.


I would only care for it as being a storm of the season, must have impacted a very large area or caused so much damage for me to remember it if it didn't hit my area..

And yes, (sacred?) I don't think someone would come to mind quicker than Hurricane Katrina.. we would have to survey that
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jedkins01:



Well that's weird, its the 3rd or fourth time I've attempted to post images the last few days and haven't been able to. I'm not sure why, it's only been this way recently.


I've noticed that if you try to share an image from Facebook or Twitter, it won't show.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


sharing what? don't see anything



Well that's weird, its the 3rd or fourth time I've attempted to post images the last few days and haven't been able to. I'm not sure why, it's only been this way recently.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The NAM and GFS certainly show a lot more destabilization of the atmosphere across central Louisiana tomorrow when compared to last night's runs. Both models show at least 1000 j/kg of CAPE, which is more than sufficient for severe thunderstorms, especially given the phenomenal wind shear. My main concern about tomorrow is that if supercells develop, and they actually sustain themselves ahead of the squall line that should be pushing through eastern Texas by 21z, then they have great potential to produce significant to violent tornadoes.

Having significant tornadoes move through central Louisiana (populated area) during rush hour is not good. But then again, this is more of a worst-case scenario.

Here's hoping for a rainy mess.


Fortunately (for the people of Louisiana) it appears that the best CAPE will be displaced to the west of the best shear by a couple hundred miles at least.

The best combination of CAPE and shear appears to be in South Central Louisiana between 2-6pm tomorrow, with Baton Rogue, Lake Charles, and New Orleans all in the threat area. I expect the deep moisture to struggle to make it further North than Alexandria, Louisiana.

This is from the 00z run, hour 21 (or 3pm CST Tomorrow)



The red outlined area is where I anticipate the highest tornado threat. The precip shown in the red area could very well be discrete storms, as the NAM isn't great at showing that.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
@ post 1058...

Nemo was an outstanding storm of this season, and ranking close to that of 1978... '22 Knickerbocker, Snowtober 2011 and '93 Storm of the Century are storms with "unofficial" names but named so because of something really outstanding like the time it occurred on, the damage (to a specific location, like the Knickerbocker).. No weather organization came up with names in the old days...

I like the naming system, TWC had to start off the idea much before even coming with the names... With now winter storms named by the media, it would be hard for anyone to forget the unofficial name associated to the storm..

Being directly impacted by a named winter storm is more likely to be longer remembered than by a storm that hits somewhere else...

Q could be the second storm to be remembered by many...
This idea began this season, I could see it being more favored 5 years from now...

example...


If I say Katrina, what does anyone think of? Someone called like that or the hurricane?


If you weren't affected by it then why do you care? Think of it from a layman's view.

And actually I think a lot of people think of a person named Katrina first, lol. But that name is sacred; it's a bit different.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jedkins01:



Although not weather related, please don't ban me for sharing this :)


sharing what? don't see anything
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1065. MrMixon


Well the snow has tapered off here in Nederland for now, which is a bit worrisome because so many of this winter's storms have started off with a promising squall only to shut down earlier than expected. We've only got an inch or two of snow on the ground so far.

However, there's still plenty of moisture in the area and I'm encouraged by this forecast...

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tazmanian:





when ices gets up too 3/4" what do we call that ???


doom?

i think a town in TX one time got 3/4" of ices i wounder what year that was


The ice storm in Western KY in January 2009 gave my area 2 inches of pure ice. It did catastrophic damage to the electrical utility system here. Many areas were without power for 2 weeks or more.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
@ post 1058...

Nemo was an outstanding storm of this season, and ranking close to that of 1978... '22 Knickerbocker, Snowtober 2011 and '93 Storm of the Century are storms with "unofficial" names but named so because of something really outstanding like the time it occurred on, the damage (to a specific location, like the Knickerbocker).. No weather organization came up with names in the old days...

I like the naming system, TWC had to start off the idea much before even coming with the names... With now winter storms named by the media, it would be hard for anyone to forget the unofficial name associated to the storm..

Being directly impacted by a named winter storm is more likely to be longer remembered than by a storm that hits somewhere else...

Q could be the second storm to be remembered by many...
This idea began this season, I could see it being more favored 5 years from now...

example...


If I say Katrina, what does anyone think of? Someone called like that or the hurricane?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The NAM and GFS certainly show a lot more destabilization of the atmosphere across central Louisiana tomorrow when compared to last night's runs. Both models show at least 1000 j/kg of CAPE, which is more than sufficient for severe thunderstorms, especially given the phenomenal wind shear. My main concern about tomorrow is that if supercells develop, and they actually sustain themselves ahead of the squall line that should be pushing through eastern Texas by 21z, then they have great potential to produce significant to violent tornadoes.

Having significant tornadoes move through central Louisiana (populated area) during rush hour is not good. But then again, this is more of a worst-case scenario.

Here's hoping for a rainy mess.



What worries me is that if we continue to see systems moving through the U.S. with such impressive dynamics and shear heading into the Spring, the missing "ingredient" instability will no longer be lacking. Imagine mid to late Spring moisture and instability in combination with the type of systems we've seen move through the southern U.S. It's a troubling thought.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The NAM and GFS certainly show a lot more destabilization of the atmosphere across central Louisiana tomorrow when compared to last night's runs. Both models show at least 1000 j/kg of CAPE, which is more than sufficient for severe thunderstorms, especially given the phenomenal wind shear. My main concern about tomorrow is that if supercells develop, and they actually sustain themselves ahead of the squall line that should be pushing through eastern Texas by 21z, then they have great potential to produce significant to violent tornadoes.

Having significant tornadoes move through central Louisiana (populated area) during rush hour is not good. But then again, this is more of a worst-case scenario.

Here's hoping for a rainy mess.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31451
It's snowing tonight at my birthplace, Tuscon AZ!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
"If you're 27 or younger, you've never experienced a colder-than-average month."

http://grist.org/article/hot-in-here-how-the-if-y oure-27-or-younger-meme-took-off/
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Oh come on. Q? That's pushing it TWC. There's no Q hurricane names so they could easily just be like "Winter Storm Quinn" or something.

Telling it like it is - something I try to do best. Here's the bottom line on naming winter storms.

Honestly, I'm NOT 100% against the idea. It's a good idea and it can be a fun way to pass the time before the real naming gets underway. However, I strongly disagree with TWC's orchestration of it.

Rationalizing naming these things is certainly a 'good catch' if you will. TWC claims the purpose is to raise public awareness and encourage preparedness. It doesn't affect certainty in the event. Why is that necessary with a snowstorm? Meteorologists convey their thoughts and try their best to warn the public, and the media sans TWC's naming system hypes the threat of snow to death and towns, counties, states, etc. go to hell and back to prepare accordingly.

People, including on this very blog in the past, have been highly critical of TWC's new direction. Coast Guard Alaska and all that irrelevant crap, where is the weather on that channel? It's spiraling downwards in classic fashion (like MTV, History). So with all this crap to try and rack in new viewers, what do you think this naming winter storms is? Obviously an even bigger attention ploy. You really think public awareness is in their best interest? Look at half the TV shows that play on the channel, even when the weather is acting up.

You all play your parts perfectly in this, starting a firestorm because we all have a difference of opinion. The reason the approval of naming the storms is so high on this blog? It's because most of you flap (censorship) to the naming of hurricanes; obviously you'd jump on this opportunity to name snowstorms!

And I know it's true, because I was once a HUGE fan of naming snowstorms in similar fashion to hurricanes. Takes one to know one, and many of the comments I read exhibit the same mentality I once had on the topic.

TWC's handling of the names bothers me too. They would say the name 'Nemo' more than they would the antecedent 'the storm'. I think they would use the name even more frequently than they would a hurricane name in order to enforce their naming system. Like no, you don't own the weather.

It's obvious a lot of people in the general public will pick up on the names. The main body of TWC's viewers is people who aren't into weather, think they give a damn if snowstorms are named? Doesn't change the inconvenience. Since so many people rely on TWC the way they do, they take on these names without much more thought.

Consider our excitement on a hurricane name. For instance, I liked 'Irene' and thought it was friggin' sweet to be threatened by that name. But to everyone else it was like "Irene? WTF" They're totally indifferent to names.

Names should be localized and coordinated with other private sector interests. The storm deemed 'Athena' in the NE was much much different than the run-of-the-mill 'Brutus' storm that affected the Mountain States. As others have said, who died and made them king? Their naming list is arbitrary and all they want out of the names is "OMG IT'S SNOWING!?%&# #Nemo".

Plus, I feel like their names need to be ridiculous, I mean absolutely ridiculous. Like I said, the general public is indifferent to hurricane names. Sandy or Nemo? You and I know which name would belong to a hurricane, but not too many people in the public would because they feel a hurricane would have a funny name like Nemo. They need to disambiguate. I really like NWS Buffalo's strategy of themes each year...Why can't they do something like a weather instruments theme. Winter Storm Barometer? Lol.

I know places like Europe name their windstorms, but they don't have hurricanes and those windstorms pose legitimate threats the way hurricanes do to us. Most of our snowstorms are just nuisances (RIP Oklahoma victim), and meteorologists will certainly alert the public if a storm is more serious. Not to mention tropical cyclones are much more uniform and have a specific life cycle.

Big snowstorms name themselves. Knickerbocker storm, Storm of the Century, Lindsay Storm, Boxing Day snowstorm, etc. TWC just wants to sensationalize and continue veering off their main goal.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JNCali:
When we pull back and look at the larger view of humanity, not limited by the industrialized western culture American Dream consumer driven everything disposable paradigm (if that in fact is possible) we quickly find that happiness can be as basic as waking up, being able to breath, having water and food, having a child survive, not being forced into prostitution, being able to take a bathroom break while working in a factory... etc.. It is just too easy to be detached from reality and think that our biggest problem is deciding whether to eat at McDonalds or Burger King for dinner.. imho




I agree completely!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Strangely, this still fits just fine, lol:



Funny haha

Youtube didn't provide the old embed code for that video, so I had to change it to the old one, so it would show up here
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tornadodude:
Here are my 2012 chase highlights, combination of videos and pictures, pretty neat


Strangely, this still fits just fine, lol:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31451
Bailing for now, stay Safe All, break out the cleats or golf shoes for the ice.
See Ya All on the Flip Side....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:

huh??? Ok, I just tried another uploading site, check below.. if not CLICK HERE


Ok it is working now, thanks.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Here are my 2012 chase highlights, combination of videos and pictures, pretty neat

Warning: There is some language in the video








Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting wxchaser97:

Actually I can't see anything as the image isn't showing up.

huh??? Ok, I just tried another uploading site, check below.. if not CLICK HERE
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31451
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Nice video. Gutsy move, dude. In my younger days I would have liked to have been with you on that ride. These days I find that I break a little easier and I am a little harder to put back together.


Thanks!

Yeah, it will catch up to me one day, but until then I keep chasing.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting tornadodude:


haha this taurus has been through baseball sized hail, inside a tornado, and through a hurricane.





Nice video. Gutsy move, dude. In my younger days I would have liked to have been with you on that ride. These days I find that I break a little easier and I am a little harder to put back together.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
WINTER STORM Q... my 100th update
__________________

Major Plains snowstorm...possibly the worst snowstorm in recent years... Notice the dark purple in there!



caveat emptor... in this case it's not a just purchase for home storing, but also for immediate use. (get it?)

click image for larger view...

Actually I can't see anything as the image isn't showing up.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 1097 - 1047

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 | 25Blog 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.