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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347. AinFLA
7:47 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
dakster'

In the begginning..........

The earth was a molten blob of stuff. It was warm.

Then it cooled...

Then it warmed...

Then it cooled...

Then it warmed...

Then it cooled...

Then it warmed...

Then it.... Well you get the point.
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345. Chicklit
7:41 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
From the 2 p.m. NHC Discussion:
THIS AFTERNOONS VISIBLE IMAGERY SUGGESTS ANOTHER LOW MAY BE FORMING ALONG THE FRONT NEAR 28N54W. THE FRONT IS ASSOCIATED WITH A SHARP UPPER TROUGH ALONG 50W N OF 27N. TYPICAL UPPER RIDGING DOMINATES THE E ATLC OUT TO NEAR 50W. Link
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342. icepilot
1:39 PM CST on August 24, 2007
Posted By: quante at 1:36 PM CST on August 24, 2007.

From NWS Miami:

THERE COULD BE A WEAK COLD FRONT THAT COULD WORK DOWN INTO NORTH
FLORIDA LATE NEXT WEEK FROM THE GREAT LAKES AREA.

Hope so.
I'm outa here - this time for shur
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341. austxanne
7:35 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
please ignore my question about geological contributions to weather patterns...
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340. icepilot
1:33 PM CST on August 24, 2007
Thats a bit much austxanna, but thanks and I'm sure the last part ain't so...

Posted By: austxanne at 1:31 PM CST on August 24, 2007.

icepilot,
i honor you for your service in the uscg, your commitment, accomplishments, skills, and knowledge which far exceed mine in any area, i'm sure
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339. quante
7:32 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
From NWS Miami:

THERE COULD BE A WEAK COLD FRONT THAT COULD WORK DOWN INTO NORTH
FLORIDA LATE NEXT WEEK FROM THE GREAT LAKES AREA.

Pretty strange for August.
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338. Weather456
7:31 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Nice View of Rock Bay, The Bahamas

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
336. Dakster
7:17 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
When the earth was ice free in the past what was that blamed on? I'm sure the dinosaurs weren't driving gas powered engines...

Ohh and how or what started the Ice Age and how did it end?

These are tough questions that need to be answered before you can blame (or not blame) man for global warming. THe other question is what can we do about it or should we do anything about it? I seem to remember that trying to control nature can have disasterous side effects.
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335. CCTXangel
2:30 PM CDT on August 24, 2007
Good afternoon everyone!! anything new going on in the tropics??
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334. austxanne
7:21 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
icepilot,
i honor you for your service in the uscg, your commitment, accomplishments, skills, and knowledge which far exceed mine in any area, i'm sure.

to any here:
does the geological ever come into play regarding weather cycles, i.e. i vaguely remember something about the sea floor in the pacific...it was something to do with el nino maybe but they weren't sure what was causing the elevated temperatures ?? sorry to not remember...maybe i'll search and come again later if i find what i'm looking for..
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333. rentyotboy
7:18 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Trees, Signs and mainly power poles age and deteriorate, a source at FPL tells me,logically, another Wilma would not have the same impact to the grid as many of the questionable power poles were already knocked down and replaced I imagine same is true for rusted signs dilapidated roof and overgrown trees.
Sorry for pointing out the obvious but i guess I'm reminding myself.
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332. extreme236
7:19 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
and also that apparent circulation in the catl looks interesting as well. if this persists for 24 hrs we may have to watch it more closely
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
331. extreme236
7:19 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
wow, thats an interesting visible loop of that low pressure center off the virginia coast
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
329. icepilot
12:50 PM CST on August 24, 2007
Posted By: austxanne at 12:45 PM CST on August 24, 2007.

icepilot, is you're gone, then you won't see this but since there's no one here with the handle "jesus" and I made the ergregious error of posting such basic information as, "water expands when heated"...let me comment on your post:

"Jesus, study physics before you make comments about the physics of a process

- water expands when heated duh - But I don't think it will be enough to raise sea levels significatly"

First you chide me/us for not studying the physics of a process, then you make the elevated criticism of 'duh'. THEN, you tell us, "I don't think it will be enough...."

So what are your credientials? Are you a physicist? a meteorologist? fluid dynamicist? how many refereed papers have you published on this topic, that I would believe you?

Many thanks for the temper tantrum.


Whoa austxanne. One, it was not a temper tantrum. and two, I was not even thinking of your post when I said water expands duh - You said it did, and it does...There were several other posts that mentioned that melting Ice would raise sea levels and stuff like put a bottle of water in your freezer...

Posted By: texascanecaster1 at 10:44 AM CST on August 24, 2007.

jp it would be the same regardless. Ice even when its frozen displaces water. However it doesnt quite work that way with the icecaps themsleves.....when they melt water level rises. but in a glass it would be raised regradles. Now if you mean water level alon then it would be higher in the warm one(duh).


.and that sea ice is fresh water - it's not totally.

as for my "Creds" I was a Oceano and Wx tech for over 20 years till I made Warrent Officer in the USCG, I was the Senior Tech on numerous research cruises over a period of 6 years, including at least 5 to the Arctic and 1 to the Antarctia. - My second trip to Antarctic was as a Ship Driver and also I flew Ice recon flights.
I was involved with the collection and reduction of data for the Computer model that forcasts Iceberg drift for the IIP. I have received formal training in Oceanograpy and Weather - including Flight Forcasting, and Sea Ice observation and forcasting. I spent 4 years with the International Ice Patrols as their senior Oceano Tech and as an Ice Observer.
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327. extreme236
7:12 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Im thinking that low pressure near that cold front is what is being watched for the potential that it may get tropical characteristics
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
324. Tazmanian
7:03 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
from the nhc

a 1008 mb low near 32n46w...continues SW to 27n57w.
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319. groundswell
6:59 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
FRI-SUN...12Z GFS RUN CONTINUES TO INDICATE TROPICAL WAVE AXIS WILL MOVE WEST ACROSS THE PENINSULA FRIDAY AND INTO THE ERN GULF ON SAT INTO SUNDAY. A WEAK SFC LOW DEVELOPING NEAR GREAT ABACO SHOULD CONTINUE TO TRANSITION WESTWARD INTO THE EARLY PART OF THE WEEKEND. A MODERATE TO LONG PERIOD SWELL WILL DEVELOP LEADING INTO THE WEEKEND. WAVEWATCH SHOWS PRIMARY SWELL WITH A 9-10 SEC PERIOD BUT ALSO THERE IS A SECONDARY SMALL SWELL FCST FROM THE ESE AT 14-15 SECS. SEAS SHOULD PEAK AROUND 4-5 FT INTO THE FIRST PART OF THE WEEKEND AND THEN DIMINISH INTO THE UPCOMING WORK WEEK.






--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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317. latitude25
6:58 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
"Posted By: boobless at 6:50 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.
Lat25,
Glad you're laughing through it somewhat."

When you get old enough, and have seen enough, you can't help but.

Too many plants producing too much methane will never be blamed.
But isn't that what happens when the planet goes through a warming cycle? It gets warmer and more plants grow.
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315. Weather456
6:48 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
jphurricane2006, I'm not impress either, I like to see things persist for at least 24 hrs before i could be convince.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
314. Weather456
6:47 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
36.64N/71.29W

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
312. gthsii
6:43 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
weatherhunter - been in three Frances, Jeanne and Wilma. The eye itself is spooky cause you've just gone through hell to get to the calm eye...and you know that hell is going to return as the eye moves out. all in all...it;s not fun...but VERY interesting from a scientific point of view
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311. Weather456
6:40 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
9.65N/47.75W

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
309. latitude25
6:38 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
"Posted By: Inyo at 6:10 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.
Is that true about cirrus clouds? If so, that is good news"

Dr. Roy is not stupid enough to go up against all the hype without having all of his T's dotted and I's crossed. ;-)
I mean, you would be taking people's new cars and vacations away from them.

Every global warming model is based on the "fact" that heat creates more cirrus clouds, that trap more heat, that creates more cirrus clouds, etc etc.
A positive feedback loop.

Dr. Roy has shown that they are wrong, it is a negative feedback loop.

We do not know enough about our climate to design models with any accuracy at all.

"The widely accepted (albeit unproven) theory that manmade global warming will accelerate itself by creating more heat-trapping clouds is challenged this month in new research from The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Instead of creating more clouds, individual tropical warming cycles that served as proxies for global warming saw a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in UAHuntsville's Earth System Science Center.
"

http://www.uah.edu/news/newsread.php?newsID=875
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308. zingocat
6:39 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
NC codes go by wind. Closer to the ocean, higher wind. Structures have to withstand the wind. I want to say 130 mph on coast, but don't quote me. I am not on top of it because I don't build anymore.
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307. Hernando44
6:38 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Anyone:

It appears convection is building in that area mentioned by others in earlier posts. 9N/48W
Does that mean anything?
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306. bswigg
6:35 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Zingo

I thought Florida had some of the best building codes in the country for hurricane forces. In NC things changed for codes after Fran and Floyd. I don't know how good, time will tell. But I don't think any house could not get damage on a 4 or 5 Cat. Jamaica has concrete houses, they must know something. Very few concrete houses in NC.

Florida is trying to get a unified building code statewide...right now it is only Broward/and Miami Dade that go by the High Wind Velocity Codes and palm beach goes by part of it...they are trying to get the whole state which will be better...and mostly need to switch all the tile and shingle roofs to the stone coated steel roofs...which a metal that looks like a tile...
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305. zingocat
6:37 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Metal roof is being installed on mine as we "write". Husband been meaning to do it for a while. Shingles were on it.

Guess the saying is true, you get what you pay for.
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304. skibrian95
6:34 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
zing---

structurally, houses are fine. the problem is with the guts. electricity is wired poorly...interior walls are thin, builders still use copper pipes when they know the water here will corrode them.

you want all the extras done right, you can pay for it...but the average joe has a pretty average house. it should stand...but damn if things aren't breaking all the time!!!

an i saw a documentary on hurricane winds. they tested the tile vs. shingle, and the tile held up to winds about 40 mph stronger than the cheaper and common shinge. i had tile...so no roof damage except where my solar panels ripped off that heat the pool.
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303. AinFLA
6:35 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
From icepilot:
Is "Gobal Warming" happening -the concensus is yes. (at one time, the concensus was the world was flat and the Sun revolved around the Earth)


Using the same logic one could say the same about the GW people. It's their philosophy and religion.

May be worth pondering:

Marcus Aurelius: "The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."
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302. latitude25
6:30 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
"Posted By: boobless at 6:24 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.
On a lighter note,cow flatulence has been blamed for a portion of this controversy."

There's a lot of humor in the hysteria. ;-)

Methane is a +/-30 times stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, and most methane is produced by plants.

There has to be some humor in planting trees for carbon credits.
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301. Skyepony (Mod)
6:30 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
We had Cat 1 winds here with Wilma & everyone that repaired from Frances & Jeanne had no damage. Our power grid was much quicker to bring back & less damaged. Frances had hardly begun & power was gone. Charley had knocked out power here too. Interesting the business signs~ Charley blew many out here & was less windy than Wilma who blew out only a few. Seems many business upgraded.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 226 Comments: 39441
300. MTJax
6:33 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Taz, for some reason you have me banned in your blog even though Ive never been there.
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299. extreme236
6:31 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
right now we cant really say there is no activity in the atlantic, yes there are no named systems or TD's but there are a few areas of concern that may try to develop in the next couple days
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
298. GoofOff
2:33 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
If you enjoy weather theories, you may find this interesting ---

Link

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297. zingocat
6:30 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
I thought Florida had some of the best building codes in the country for hurricane forces. In NC things changed for codes after Fran and Floyd. I don't know how good, time will tell. But I don't think any house could not get damage on a 4 or 5 Cat. Jamaica has concrete houses, they must know something. Very few concrete houses in NC.
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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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