One third of Arctic ice cap now missing; Midwestern floods; tropical update

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:46 PM GMT on August 24, 2007

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Sea ice in the Arctic continues its record decline, thanks to unusually cloud-free conditions and above-average temperatures. For August 21, the National Snow and Ice Data Center estimated that fully one third of the Arctic ice cap was missing, compared to the average levels observed on that date from 1979-2000. Sea ice extent was 4.92 million square kilometers on August 21, and the 1979-2000 average for the date was about 7.3 million square kilometers. Arctic sea ice has fallen below the record low absolute minimum of 4.92 million square kilometers set in 2005 by about 8%, with another 3-5 weeks of the melting season still remaining. Reliable records of sea ice coverage go back to 1979.


Figure 1. Extent of the polar sea ice on August 21, compared to the average for the date from the 1979-2000 period (pink line). Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

With one third of the Arctic ice cap already gone, and another month of melting to go, we need to consider what effect this will have on weather, climate, and sea level rise. Well, we don't need to worry about sea level rise, since the polar sea ice is already in the ocean, and won't appreciably change sea level when it melts. However, the remarkable melting of the ice cap will likely lead to unusual weather patterns this fall and winter. The lack of sea ice will put much more heat and moisture into the polar atmosphere, affecting the path of the jet stream and the resultant storm tracks. Expect a much-delayed arrival of winter to the Northern Hemisphere again this year, which may lead to further accelerated melting of the ice cap in future years.

Last week, I remarked that the most recent images from the North Pole webcam show plenty of melt water and rainy conditions near the Pole. It turns out that was misleading, since the webcam is on a ship that was headed towards the pole, but had not reached it. There have been rainy conditions at the Pole this summer, and there is some open water there, but this is not uncommon in summer. Shifting ice frequently opens up leads (cracks) with open sea water at the Pole. It was one of these open leads that British swimmer Lewis Gordon Pugh swam in for 18 minutes this July to draw attention to global climate change.


Figure 2. Total rainfall from August 10-22 as estimated by NASA's TRMM satellite.

Midwest flooding
To get an idea of the magnitude of the flooding that has hit the Midwestern U.S. during the past ten days, take a look at the total amount of rain from August 10-22 (Figure 2). We can blame Tropical Storm Erin for the rain in Texas and Oklahoma (up to 11 inches), and for the nine flooding deaths that occurred in those states. However, the unbelievable rain amounts in excess of 20 inches in Minnesota and Wisconsin were primarily due to a frontal system--with the help of some copious moisture pumped northwards by the counter-clockwise circulation around Erin while it spun over Oklahoma.

Tropical update
There are no threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss. Two of our four reliable forecast models, the NOGAPS and ECMWF, are predicting that a tropical depression could form off the coast of Nicaragua on Sunday. The models forecast that this system would move inland over Nicaragua and Honduras by Monday.

I'll have an update on Saturday morning.
Jeff Masters

After Hurricane Dean (sprinter)
Bulldozer trying to clear sand and debris from Norman Manley Highway(Airport Road)
After Hurricane Dean
Findlay Ohio flood (prairieview)
The flood is over, now the cleanup
Findlay Ohio flood

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697. extreme236
2:49 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
it appears that the 18z gfs is developing two african waves, within the next 6 days or so
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
696. Chicklit
2:47 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Mississippi...If we're altering the atmosphere, then we're having an effect on the planet's environment.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11358
695. extreme236
2:46 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
the media wouldnt cover anything with ozone crap until after the 08 election lol. the media is too busy reporting on the war and on presidential politics than anything else
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
694. Chicklit
2:46 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but as a layperson, I thought it was common knowledge that the ozone layer was disappearing, and this was directly related to chemical reactions in the atmosphere due to human energy use...
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11358
692. mississippiwx23
2:43 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Ozone layer disappearing? Not quite. Again, it is a cycle that is very normal over the south pole. Also, if it is disappearing, dont you think the media would still be all over it? In today's media craziness, definately. Let me see if I can find anything on it to make sure nothing new has come out.
Member Since: August 20, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 683
691. Chicklit
2:42 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Hi LLJ...I hate to disillusion you, but there has probably been a successor to Castro chosen years ago already well in place and probably even more dangerous to American interests than his predecessor.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11358
690. putintang3
2:42 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
well the Castro rumors have to be right one of these days. I mean man, he is older that dirt, it is like this man has lived for ever.
I remember when I was little and would hear his name in the tv, I liked to say his name.
Fidel Castro, I would make it roll on my tounge. My sister would tell me to shutup. lol
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 2 Comments: 309
689. JRRP
2:41 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
YEAH
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5995
687. Chicklit
2:40 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Dakster, at this point we need to pray for rain. Unfortunately, often when you pray for something you get more of it than you bargained for...particularly at this time of year!
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11358
685. Chicklit
2:39 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Hi Mississippi...Didn't the scientists establish years ago that the ozone layer was disappearing (due to hydrocarbons???) and this leads to the warming of the poles?
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11358
684. Dakster
2:38 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Where's Rick Sanchez when you need him. Breaking, breaking news...

Hey can excessive smoke from a fire stop a Tropical Storm from forming?? My guess is it could stop a borderline from forming since it is dry.. Miami-Dade may be throwing up a protective curtain to discourage a 'cane from coming.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10534
683. Chicklit
2:35 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
I'm going on record as wishcasting a system at 50-55/20 to bring rain to Central Florida...There's something wrong with my pump to water my grass and I haven't gotten someone out here to look at it...I say it has a 50/50 chance of development. Anyone want to wager a guess?
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11358
682. mississippiwx23
2:34 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Humans are altering the atmosphere, no doubt. But the climate...not so much. Natural variations. And anyway, we really only have MEASURED temp data back about 100 years. Makes it very difficult to determine anything with that short of a dataset. Ice cores are not measured, but they do show times when the Earth was much warmer than it is today.
Member Since: August 20, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 683
680. seafarer459
2:32 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Lets recap shall we?

WE have posted on

global warming.

micro biology.

the death or lack thereof of uncle Fidel.

The finer points of water freezing..

kite/wind surfing..


hell,we even touched on the tropics.

makes ya kinda wish we had a cat 2 fish spinner out there don't it?

Member Since: July 16, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 515
679. Chicklit
2:26 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
It's dry as a desert in Central Florida...I want a system to form between 50-55Long/20Lat and drop a bunch of rain on us...
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11358
678. Dakster
2:25 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
LLJ - Yeah. You are right about that.. Has the smoke reached Homestead yet? It sure has Cutler Ridge covered.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10534
677. Chicklit
2:23 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Oh puhleese! Quit putting politics in the global warming debate. Accept it. Humans are altering the atmosphere.
Do something about it.
I have no patience for posturing.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11358
674. Chicklit
2:20 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Hi Kmanislander! I haven't read the scholarly work on 'why storms form' but am certain a few on here will and appreciate the information.
How is the Grand Cayman post Dean? Are you up and running normally again? So glad you were spared the direct CAT5 hit that was forecast...
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11358
672. 0741
2:16 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
castro is having good time looking at miami cuban on street saying their are all fool
671. Dakster
2:16 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
LLJ.

LOL. ROFLMAO.... Now that there's a funny joke...


-- Hey look at Miami Radar, now look due west. That is not rain it is flipping smoke from the everglades burning. It smells n-a-s-t-y outside. Over 20,000 acres are a burning. A little rain would be nice.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10534
669. zoomiami
2:06 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
I work in Homestead, and did before Andrew. At lunch today everyone was talking about what it was like the day leading up to the storm, and how little notice we had. No one could even imagine the damage that was going to occur. The 11 year old girl that was killed in her home was around the corner from us. We all know have detailed hurricane plans, and watch the forecast very close. Andrew is also why I never believe a forecast until its past us!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 4158
668. weatherwonderer
2:06 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
LLJ, sounds like fun...and for me Duh! Regardless sorry about my rambling. You guys are fun and informing, I've learned a lot here. Its time to share a few beers with the neighbors and talk about something else...

Good night.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
667. JupiterFL
2:03 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
That Andrew link was one of the best things I have seen in a long time. Brings back many feelings from the past. I have vivid memories of the destruction. Things I will never forget as long as I live.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 2146
666. sporteguy03
2:02 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Hey JP,
Rough Night in O-Town from tropical Wave!
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5361
665. sonofagunn
1:58 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
IANAM, but it looks like Tampa radar shows a surface low moving into the GOM. Anything to worry about?
Member Since: June 12, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 169
663. mrmush
1:53 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Thanks Zoomiami for the link. It reminded me of the devestation I worked in as an FPL employee trying to assist other employees for weeks after Andrew struck. The emotional and physical toll was more than I could ever describe. It also taught me to respect and fear the power of what could be. Laurie
662. weatherwonderer
1:53 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Good night stormW.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
661. weatherwonderer
1:52 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
mike, you are right. They do. Thats why space exploration is important, to understand geological processes and weather and my favorite subject life. I'm blabbing too much tonight, I'm not an expert on the subject of GWing but fairly well informed. I am just pro science for the most part. Facts alone do not necessarily make for complete understanding because they are based on what is known. Intuition and experience are important as well.As well learning more...
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
660. JupiterFL
1:50 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
It will be a party all month in Hialeah, Coconut Grove, the Gables and Miami if the rumors are true.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 2146
659. kmanislander
1:48 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
For anyone seriously interested in why storms form where they tend to form and why the CV season runs from mid July to mid Oct can read this article. There is a lot of detail including reference to the so called " dead zone " in the E Caribbean where hardly any systems ever form ( also known as the "John Hope" rule )

Link
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
658. mikester
1:47 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Goodnight stormy
Member Since: April 4, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 134
655. franck
1:46 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Off western tip of Cuba...?
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
654. weatherwonderer
1:44 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Stormy, I have done that. I'm not alway current on the acronyms used. Now that I know what the term is, in 2005 we had develop I believe in December in that area. That was a very unusual year.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
653. NeverPanic
1:43 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Living on the fringes of the Greater vancouver area you get used to no power or heat. Actualy its amazing how much you can accomplish with a good book and candlelight. Especially in the winter when it gets dark a 4 PM and the sun dont rise until 8:30 AM. Barbaques get a whole new meaning when the power goes out and they are probably the best dinners or any meal yopu could make. Nice fire when shes cold, Comforter.....Could I live without power or gas.....Damn rights....Most fun weve had as a family. Go shut down the power in your home for a few hours once a week. Not only saving on consumption but you find ways to adapt to things that just over 100 years ago very few had. They made it to make us....I'm sure most out there could do the same.
Member Since: July 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 834
652. mikester
1:40 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
As for global warming i have seen alot of specials on it and they all have one common thing in them and that is the earth goes through cycles like everything else. We had the ice age and before the ice age we had t-rex's and other dinosaurs. And thanks to improper irrigations in africa they have the biggest desert and it is growing every year. Point being is that there is so much we don't know about our planet that saying global warming is blamed on one thing is ridiculous. Here are a few questions to think about for global warming:
1: is sending satellites/space shuttles/rocket's into space affecting our planet?
2: when we set off those h-bombs and a-bombs, don't you think they have a effect on the environment?
3: does the changes in our solar system like the sun for instance is getting bigger have anything to do with global warming?
They are lot's of other questions that remain to be answered that deal with our planet and global warming. That is my take on this subject.
Member Since: April 4, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 134
651. weatherwonderer
1:40 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Zoom, don't about Andrews influence on how forecasts were changed except one thing. Before Andrew, HH winds were extropolated for surface winds at 80-85%. Now they use 90% as the guide line. Thus, Andrew was upgraded.

lat, those are good examples of how you must be careful in fixing problems. Ethanol can help, but it is not the end all... Better fuel efficiency and possibily hydrogen and solar power will help. Probably like many trouble-shooting problems I deal with, it takes a combination of many things in moderation. Going gung whole on one thing usually increases problems.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 167
650. Stormy2day
1:39 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: weatherwonderer at 1:27 AM GMT on August 25, 2007.

I'm ignorant here. Define "CV season".


First, you suggest this is the place I should be for intelligent conversation then, as I hang on the edge of my seat, you reveal your identity.
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648. JUSTCOASTING
1:33 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Hey guys my sister intern just called she is from Cuba and her brother is a high up in intellegence there and said yes Castro did die yesterday afternoon
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647. StormJunkie
1:34 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Evening all :~)

Hope everyone is well. Thing still quite out there?

I have been pretty busy working on a few new projects I hope to get implemented over the next month or so. Taking this quite time to work while we got it!
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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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