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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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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646. kmanislander
1:33 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
LLJ

Why, the climatology speaks for itself LOL
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645. LLJ
1:30 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
At least post a chart Kman...LOL!
644. Drakoen
1:32 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".


The season where waves that come of Africa climatologically start developing.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30674
643. Stormy2day
1:28 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Oh wait, I stand corrected. We won't be able to use the tobacco tax dollars to save the planet because we won't have any land left to grow the tobacco.

I guess I will need to do more research - I'm surprised we are still around to debate the topic! After all, the aerosol deodorants should have sent us to dinosaur land a few decades ago (or so they said).
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642. kmanislander
1:30 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
When shear levels become consistently high and the troughs drop S in the E and CATL those are two clear signals that the CV season is over. Typically we see this near the end of Sept / early Oct
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641. zoomiami
1:30 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
for those of you have more than a passing knowledge of the forecast systems, can you tell us how the problems with Andrews' track changed the forecasting?
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640. LLJ
1:28 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Cape Verde season is over when SST's become too low for development. Simple as it can be explained. Waves flow off the African coast all the time......Hundreds every year.
I'm sure there will be at least 50 charts being posted to prove what I said was incorrect....but that's basically it.
639. latitude25
1:28 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: weatherwonderer at 1:23 AM GMT on August 25, 2007.

lat,like your debate. This is a complex matter one thing can worse then another."

thank you, just the facts ;-)

I don't understand the environmentalists that see corn as the solution. Wait until someone explains to them that all those wetlands and old growth forests have to be bulldozed to grow that corn. That every bit of water has to be used to irrigate it, and we're bring back DDT to keep the bugs off.

97% of the total land mass of this country would have to be used to cultivate that much corn.

Plus, we can't use the corn in cultivation now. That corn is spoken for already.
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638. msphar
1:29 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
CV = Cape Verde
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637. zoomiami
1:29 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
It was 15 years ago today that Andrew hit SFL, here is a site with great now and then pictures of some areas.

http://www.sun-sentinel2.com/graphics/news/andrew/then.html
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636. weatherwonderer
1:25 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
I'm ignorant here. Define "CV season".
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635. LLJ
1:25 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
To produce one mature ear of corn requires seven gallons of water.
634. msphar
1:14 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Question for the weather minded, what signals are normally looked for to signify the ending of the CV season ? Last year I asked this question in another forum but got no response.
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633. webbbeach
1:22 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
freak event not seen since 1880's, august should be the driest month
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632. weatherwonderer
1:21 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
lat,like your debate. This is a complex matter one thing can worse then another.
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631. yankeerebel
12:17 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
I think Al Gore could have saved the dinosaurs!!!!

Obvious sarcasm....
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630. weatherwonderer
1:18 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
At least on this planet.
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629. latitude25
1:15 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: Stormy2day at 1:08 AM GMT on August 25, 2007.
Or, maybe we should use the money to find a way to clone food since we need to use all our farm land to grow corn so we can stop using oil ..."

Actually, it would be a lot more than that. Cornell ran the numbers. If all the cars in the US were run on ethanol, right now, it would take 97% of the entire land mass of the US to grow that much corn.
Corn takes a lot of water, fertilizer, and pesticides too.
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628. weatherwonderer
1:16 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Stormy, I thought both sides have made good points. It's called intelligent conversation. Maybe the Barney site would be more appropriate for you but hey they might discuss such controversial topics such as when to use your "indoor voice". lol Seriously, nothing going on so we discuss current issues, kinda sounds like there are a lot of intelligent people in this blog. I do understand that the topic can get old for some. But as long as it is discussed why not take part. Rubbish is probably a uniquely human condition you will just have to learn to live with it wherever you go.
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627. LLJ
1:14 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
On Friday, the rumors heated up again for the third week in a row: Fidel Castro's death would be announced, first at 2 p.m., then at 4, then at 5.

For many, waiting for proof has become like the low-grade anxiety that comes when you're bracing for a hurricane that may or may not hit.
``In a way, this is going to be like Hurricane Andrew times 10.
626. Stormy2day
1:07 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
why don't we just call it the way it is? GW is certainly caused by smokers! Maybe if we add another 100% tax to the purchase of cigarettes we can end disease, world hunger AND Global Warming. Or, maybe we should use the money to find a way to clone food since we need to use all our farm land to grow corn so we can stop using oil ...

no, actually - now that I think about it - this is the decade for blaming the fall of civilization on gays and lesbians. They did it - blame GW on them!

good grief - I thought this was the one corner of the internet where I could go without hearing the rubbish about how horrid humans are ruining the universe.

out of here.
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625. sammywammybamy
1:05 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Everyone Go to Tropics Chat so we can have a Friday chat party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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624. BahaHurican
9:04 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
Hey, have to make a quick run. Will BBL.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22682
623. Rick54
8:01 PM CDT on August 24, 2007
Ummmm... one third of the polar cap melted and how much has the sea levels increased?

"Run fer da hills!"


Perhaps you should take the time to acutally read what Dr. Masters said in his blog today. Water that is in the ocean currently does NOT raise sea level.
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622. BahaHurican
9:01 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
Not to sound as ignorant as I actually am, but is winter a rainy time for east coast Oz? I thought that was more Perth area . . .
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22682
621. BahaHurican
8:58 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
THE COLD FRONT THAT ENTERS THE AREA
FROM A 1009 MB LOW NEAR 32N45W...CONTINUES SW TO ANOTHER 1012 MB
LOW NEAR 29N52W...THEN W TO 26N57W 30N65W.

This looks more like the OPC map I just looked at . . .

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22682
620. webbbeach
12:45 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
storms and flooding in SE Queensland Australia
713mm at rainbow beach in 24hrs to 9am monday new Australian record for August
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619. LLJ
1:00 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
It will most definitely be a politically inspired religion Nash!
I've been getting all spiritual about the current GW religion for some time myself.
617. nash28
12:56 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
My point exactly.

Well, wonder what the next religion will be???

*wonders*
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616. BahaHurican
8:55 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
About 6 hours old! LOL!!
Just kidding Baha! You can barely make out a circulation on th satellite imagery. I was looking at it earlier when I saw that in the discussion.


Arghh!

Thought I had refreshed the page but apparently I had just opened a new page instead. Then I went back to the old one by mistake . . .

Obviously I only looked at the Twaves the first time . . . LOL
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22682
615. sceerdycat
7:57 PM EST on August 24, 2007
Nash 28: GW GW GW GW GW GW GW GW! lol
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614. 2ifbyC
12:54 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Ummmm... one third of the polar cap melted and how much has the sea levels increased?

"Run fer da hills!"

Oh wait, there are no hills here on the south side of Tampa Bay. But wait!!! The tides are basically no higher than they have been for many generations.

Ummmm..... (grabbing SUV keys, hooking up the dreaded 21' Manatee killer, 2-stroke powered bay skiff and heading to the boat ramp) "Honey, I'm off to verify our doom!"

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613. nash28
12:55 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
As sad as this sounds, we almost need a tropical disturbance to discuss, otherwise the blog discussion morphs into GW. I can't even go to work without television and radio and NOT hear that damn phrase.

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612. sceerdycat
7:52 PM EST on August 24, 2007
LLJ! I don't want another one!!!! (I've been through 3 eyes in 13 months).I was just reminiscing from a time we made the best out of a bad situation.Believe me, I know what they can do and I like my town just as it is!
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611. BahaHurican
8:52 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
Also, that 22/23 N wave is far enough out to be able to take advantage of whatever favorable conditions may exist in the CAR / WATL area by this time next week. IF it can hold together . . .
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22682
610. Tazmanian
5:43 PM PDT on August 24, 2007
by the way summit county co had there 1st snow fall but olny a light dusting to may be a 1" at the most
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608. BahaHurican
8:48 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
THIS AFTERNOONS VISIBLE IMAGERY
SUGGESTS ANOTHER LOW MAY BE FORMING ALONG THE FRONT NEAR 28N54W.

What's this?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22682
607. LLJ
12:50 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
I hope you get another one this year then sceerdycat so you can have some more fun. Hope you don't live anywhere near me......
605. nash28
12:49 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
One more thing...

Instead of beating a dead horse, why can't some of the "quiet time" blogs be about the horrible flooding from TS Erin, or even the storms ravaging the midwest????

At least that is real time weather discussion, rather than the same old beating of global warming.
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603. sammo
12:49 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: sceerdycat at 12:43 AM GMT on August 25, 2007.
sammo: believe it or not, we got about 1 minute of rain today. it looks worse than it is and we need it! Where is the rain???


Good bit of it blowing up from Orlando on down. Y'all have fun venting over GW...
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602. sceerdycat
7:45 PM EST on August 24, 2007
animalrsq: you're right! At the time, I hated it, but by Jeanne I became a "power manager" with the generator and considered myself an expert. I identified people at my local Publix as HPs or NPs (have power, no power). I was an NP as my hair was always squirrely. Looking back, it was "fun" to rough it for awhile. Thank you for your honesty.
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601. Inyo
12:42 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
if there is any chance co2 causes global warming, we need to work on reducing and eventually eliminating our fossil fuel usage. In fact, we need to do that even if all the CO2 is harmless, which i seriously doubt.

Here's something one of my friends is working on...

http://www.pnl.gov/topstory.asp?id=264
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600. latitude25
12:42 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: BahaHurican at 12:42 AM GMT on August 25, 2007.

That's partly why we still have such a hard time with forecasting weather even 3-4 days in advance. There are still far too many variables we just don't understand - and a few, I'm sure, we haven't even identified as yet.

Responding to Latitude's comment"

But these same people seem to have convinced the whole world that not only are they right, but they do know everything.

and they don't.

Cirrus clouds being a negative loop was just discovered this month.
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599. BahaHurican
8:42 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
So what triggered the cold trend about 25-55 years ago? (somebody posted accurate information about it here, but I can't recall the details right now.) Could it have been atom bomb detonations? We haven't had any of those for a while.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22682
598. sceerdycat
7:43 PM EST on August 24, 2007
Weatherwonderer: I agree. I hope it is always that way. I miss the camaraderie (not the hurricanes) that we all shared. Life gets in the way!
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597. animalrsq
8:39 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
It was fun to me. I got all the glitches worked out in Frances and then Jeannne was a breeze. Using water from the jacuzzi to flush the toilet, etc. I know some people are going to take what I say the wrong way but some people like camping and some can't live without a hair dryer. I spent six weeks living in a tent during Katrina. Washed my hair sitting on a coller on a sidewalk in New Orleans pouring a gallon of water over my head. The experience was the most tragic thing I've ever seen for the people I met and I would never wish thaqt on anyone. But do I have a problem living like that doing the work I do...no.
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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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