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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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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596. sceerdycat
7:42 PM EST on August 24, 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???
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595. Drakoen
12:41 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Maybe next week we will have development of the coast of Africa. The GFS 18z run and the ECMWF 12z run shows something developing. Just something to note.
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594. weatherwonderer
12:39 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Sceerdy, same thing here in our power outages in St. Louis. Makes life worth bearing unfortunate circumstances. When times get rough we have always come together, hope it stays that way.
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593. kmanislander
12:41 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Here is the quikscat for this evening. No surface low near 50W

You can all sleep well tonight

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15842
592. BahaHurican
8:37 PM EDT on August 24, 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
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591. sammo
12:38 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: sceerdycat at 12:33 AM GMT on August 25, 2007.
Posted By: sammo at 7:31 PM EST on August 24, 2007.
Wow, what the hell happened in here? Is this the weather blog?
What weather? We're bored!


Yeah, I suppose it's a bit slow.......lots of rain over south FL??
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590. boobless
12:38 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: BahaHurican at 12:37 AM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Wow. Those are some of the SHORTEST Twave paragraphs I've seen on the ATWD for a very long time.

Wonder what took them so long to post it?


They got stuck in a GW depression/discussion.
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589. sceerdycat
7:36 PM EST on August 24, 2007
animalrsq: Was that fun? One thing I did like about '04: all the neighbors came together. We would gather and drink beer (or soda), share food, and be in misery together!
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588. weatherwonderer
12:37 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
If we knew more about the weather in general, our models would be much better. However, knowledge is growing rapidly. Even planetary exploration has contributed.
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585. BahaHurican
8:32 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
Wow. Those are some of the SHORTEST Twave paragraphs I've seen on the ATWD for a very long time.

Wonder what took them so long to post it?
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584. weatherwonderer
12:36 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
lat, agreed, microbiology is a more mature science.
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583. latitude25
12:30 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
There is a huge difference in decoding trends though.

WW's example of resistant bacteria is a trend that scientists have enough knowledge that they can narrow the causes down.

With weather, climate, etc trends we just flat out do not have the knowledge. Trying to reverse engineer climate trends - seeing an effect and then looking for a cause - when you do not know what those causes could be, and have no knowledge of what effect those different causes can have.

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582. animalrsq
8:32 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
Some roof damage, about 4 months of cleaning up debris, couoldn't get out (due to flooding and downed trees for two days) but destroyed...no.
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581. sceerdycat
7:32 PM EST on August 24, 2007
Posted By: sammo at 7:31 PM EST on August 24, 2007.
Wow, what the hell happened in here? Is this the weather blog?

What weather? We're bored!
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579. BahaHurican
8:24 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
Posted By: AinFLA at 8:20 PM EDT on August 24, 2007.

What're you 12 ??? (now that's sarcasm)


Don't I wish, as it would at least justify even getting into such a specious conversation . . . LOL

At least u didn't accuse me of being a 12-year-old TROLL . . . LOL

I'm blaming it all on the GW debate . . .

Anyway, I'm calling it quits on this line of conversation here. This is really not advancing the blog at all. Maybe the 8:05 will be out now and we'll have something real to discuss . . .
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578. sceerdycat
7:30 PM EST on August 24, 2007
Posted By: animalrsq at 7:30 PM EST on August 24, 2007.
I lived in Florida for 15 years NOT using AC (I had it) in my house or in my car. Not for conservation purposes - I just didn't think it was that bad without it. And went through Frances and Jean 7 days each without electricity (and no water from the well) - actually thought it was fun. Of course I was prepared.

I guess YOUR house wasn't destroyed. Glad to hear it.
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576. weatherwonderer
12:26 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Hopefully, nobody is casting blame. We all do more of our share of wasting. I do, you do, we all do. :) It is we want more, China is beginning to experience what we have for a long time... prosperity. All I'm saying is prudence is not a bad thing.

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575. sammo
12:26 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Wow, what the hell happened in here? Is this the tropical weather blog?
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573. sceerdycat
7:29 PM EST on August 24, 2007
Good point weatherwonderer!
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572. animalrsq
8:22 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
I lived in Florida for 15 years NOT using AC (I had it) in my house or in my car. Not for conservation purposes - I just didn't think it was that bad without it. And went through Frances and Jean 7 days each without electricity (and no water from the well) - actually thought it was fun. Of course I was prepared.
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570. latitude25
12:27 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: weatherwonderer at 12:25 AM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Hmmmm....I wonder why Dr. Masters puts these topics in his post?"

To have a discussion.
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569. sceerdycat
7:21 PM EST on August 24, 2007
Yes, trends are very important in science and understanding our environment. It is alarming when we see unpredicted and unprecedented spikes that have positive correlation with advances in our society. The behaviors of humankind is impacting our world. FYI:I am not a politician, just a concerned republican.
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568. HiWay
12:17 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
For the group of people who deny global warming, that's just plain wrong. The people who deny global warming is because of human influence, that I cannot prove one way or the other. Nothing wrong with that, but the fact is the planet is warming up.

The problem I see, like Dr. Masters said, "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,"however, is that this problme is going to keep steam rolling. Unless the planet moves farther from the sun or the sun itself cools off, there is no way to stop this from steam rolling since the balanace seems upset.

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566. seafarer459
12:23 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Maybe Avila is trying to figure a prof way to say

AINT SPIT HAPPENING

LATER TATERS...
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565. weatherwonderer
12:25 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Its called education and to make people aware (maybe the same thing).
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564. weatherwonderer
12:24 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Hmmmm....I wonder why Dr. Masters puts these topics in his post?
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563. BahaHurican
8:09 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
Nash, it seems these GW debates bring out the best and worst in everybody. Even me LOL (Never wrote so much off topic foolishness in one blog since Wilma hit).

I figure people overall need to stop being so wasteful with resources. In one sense it is the flip side of lack of preparation for hurricanes. The underlying concept is "there IS no tomorrow" - well, a bit crude, but u get my drift - so I have to spend today; I have to impress everybody right now; I dont' need to prepare for something that will never happen. Unfortunately where people don't "respect the earth" and just use it up and destroy it, they end up with nothing. The best part of the GW publicity is that it is making at least some people more conscious of how they use land and other resources.

Of course on the other hand you have those who simply cast blame but change nothing about the way they live . . .

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562. boobless
12:20 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: LLJ at 12:18 AM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Someone call forecaster Avila and tell him to hit send!


Laughing out loud!
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561. weatherwonderer
12:15 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
lat, I'm not disputing that. Common sense would dictate that how you manipulate your environment will have an effect. You see it all the time in life's most primitive forms. Trends are important in science, we use trends to respond. Take drug resistance in bacteria, the trend is that is increasing. In alarming rates. Vancomycin resistant S. aureus is the hot topic now. After about 40 years of vancomycin use, these little monsters have figured out a way to counter its effect. The number is small now, but reported cases are growing.
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560. AinFLA
12:14 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: BahaHurican at 12:09 AM GMT on August 25, 2007.
AinFL,

You said "But when there is absolutley positiviely diddly squat to discuss, (at the moment)you just have to ask yourself, geez,, lighten up a litle. That's all. I think your anger is somewhat misdirected."

I don't know if the person u were quoting originally felt they were discussing nothing or not - really doesn't matter to me in one sense. I was really responding to the dismissive, "superior" tone of your response.

And actually, I wasn't angry at all. In fact, I was poking fun at YOUR comments. I had a good time, too.

I had an English teacher once. He told us that if you can't take it, don't dish it out (usually while he was dissing us to the max). And he was a man of his word, too.

You asked me to light up. I really, REALLY did. Hope you can do the same . . .


What're you 12 ??? (now that's sarcasm)
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559. lickitysplit
12:15 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: StSimonsIslandGAGuy at 10:42 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.

In the Viking Sagas, it explicitly says that Erik the Red named Greenland that because he thought more people would be likely to settle there with that name.

Accounts indicate that the ice sheet was not smaller than it was today.


This is just so incredibly untrue. Wow.
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557. sceerdycat
7:16 PM EST on August 24, 2007
One concern I have about conservation: I hope people are inclined to use more than one sheet of TP. Now that would be scary!!!
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555. weatherwonderer
12:13 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
Cut back on what??? Electricity? Driving to work? Passing gas???

Yep, I think I'l give up eating chilli. :)
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554. sceerdycat
7:10 PM EST on August 24, 2007
seafarer459: I dislike the hypocrites, too. Thanks.
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553. weatherwonderer
12:11 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
I gave up electricity for two week last year in Saint Louis, one week in the Summer and one in the winter. Yuk, about as uncomfortable as a person could get.
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552. latitude25
12:04 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: sceerdycat at 12:02 AM GMT on August 25, 2007.
It's easy to dismiss the data and deny what's happening, but it is real"

sceerdy, I'm in a position that I get to see all of the data and all of the data is just not there.

We really do not know enough about it to make any claims, one way or the other.

About all we can honestly say at this point in time is that it seems that it might be a trend, or not.

You probably missed my post from a few pages back.
All of the global warming models have figured cirrus clouds as a positive loop. That is more heat creates more cirrus clouds, and that produces more heat, etc. A positive feedback loop.

Just this month, Dr. Roy Spencer released proof that cirrus clouds are a negative feedback loop.

What does that do to all the hard data so far?
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551. sceerdycat
7:06 PM EST on August 24, 2007
Cut back on what??? Electricity? Driving to work? Passing gas???

I really am interested in knowing "how" we can cut back. If you are inferring we as a population are responsible, then how are we to change our lives?


Oh, darlin', it's the little things: carpool, set your thermometer up, combine some trips, just little changes that make you feel like you're making an impact. I'm not talking about giving up electric. I did that for 18 days in '05 after the hurricanes and I wouldn't wish that on my enemies (well, maybe Al-quida)sp
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550. nash28
12:07 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
I understand that weather... I am not saying you are like that. But there are millions of people who have bought Gore's crap hook line and sinker just because of their political affiliation. It's like a cult. It is getting out of control.

And on that note, time for dinner.
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549. weatherwonderer
12:08 AM GMT on August 25, 2007
I meant bacteria in the contribution of cycling the various elements.
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548. BahaHurican
8:00 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
AinFL,

You said "But when there is absolutley positiviely diddly squat to discuss, (at the moment)you just have to ask yourself, geez,, lighten up a litle. That's all. I think your anger is somewhat misdirected."

I don't know if the person u were quoting originally felt they were discussing nothing or not - really doesn't matter to me in one sense. I was really responding to the dismissive, "superior" tone of your response.

And actually, I wasn't angry at all. In fact, I was poking fun at YOUR comments. I had a good time, too.

I had an English teacher once. He told us that if you can't take it, don't dish it out (usually while he was dissing us to the max). And he was a man of his word, too.

You asked me to light up. I really, REALLY did. Hope you can do the same . . .
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547. seafarer459
11:49 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Sceerdycat...

I do believe in global warming..Not so sure it is human caused..

As for the riding around in an suv waaay off base there. I drive a 98 Saturn,26 mpg.

Maybe i can go the Al Gore route $1,200 per month power bill. Globe trotting in a private jet Riding in a limo...

Go ahead and flame on me.

But until I see all the power players on the GW band wagon tone down thier waste, than I may consider using only one sheet of TP,Cheryl Crow Support wind mills ,ala, Bobby Kennedy jr.
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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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