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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147. GaleWeathers
4:28 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
OT: I'm looking for a small 'current conditions' box for the side bar of a website I'm working on. I was hoping to use one from WUnderground, but it does not seem that they have one available. Can someone e-mail me if they have any suggestions? A free one would be preferred. Thanks!
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146. cpaman
4:27 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Don't worry about Arctic Ice and Sea levels. As Dr. Masters' states "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"

All worries related to sea level focus on Antarctica NOT Arctica. But today good data on ice change is hard to get from Antarctica. Some think global warming will create more ice in Antarctica due to increase snow to add to the ice.

As Earth's fifth largest continent, Antarctica is twice as large as Australia and contains 70 percent of Earth's fresh water resources. The ice sheet, which covers about 98 percent of the continent, has an average thickness of about 6,500 feet. Floating ice shelves constitute about 11 percent of the continent.

The melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet alone - which is about eight times smaller in volume than the East Antarctic ice sheet -- would raise global sea levels by more than 20 feet, according to researchers from the British Antarctic Survey.
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145. NRAamy
9:27 AM PDT on August 24, 2007
Lastly, as far as ice and California in the same sentence is concerned, Ice or lack thereof in CA would be absolutely disastrous should there be none to be had due to Global warming . What would they put in pineapple Mimosa's ?

Ok, SW...is this what you were talking about?
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144. kmanislander
4:27 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
TCC

Your image is still showing as 1024 x 768

Try sizing again
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140. DallasGumby
4:18 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Posted By: sullivanweather at 4:10 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.

Thirdly, there are no trends in Antarctic sea-ice. We haven't been monitoring sea-ice for long enough to see if the slight increase in antarctic sea-ice is a trend that'll last for centuries to come or whether it's a multi-decadal oscillation that'll soon reverse.


The same applies to Arctic ice. In fact, Dr. Masters' post was premised upon only 28 years of monitoring. Certainly not enough to determine "a trend that'll last for centuries" or whether it's a "multi-decadal oscillation."
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139. AinFLA
4:21 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
jphurrican, exactly my point. "not an exact science". You know it and I know it, but the majority of people think it is. They believe it and nothing happens. Now what ? They don't believe and it happens. Now what ? ---disaster.

"Damn right jp. Its prbly the freaking hardest thing to predict it always changes. its a frustrating science it is."

This is why weather so intrigues me. It's a combination of the complexities that no man will ever understand and the social-psychological effects it has on people. i.e., Global Warming. I won't get into that here.

I never said I knew a great deal about climatology/meteorology/weather. Just what I was able to garner flying F-16s for 11 years. And ya know, some of that stuff came in kinda handy. When the weather guys gave us our daily briefing, we did pay attention.

As for preparedness...I live in Fl where being prepared is a fact of life here, 365 days a year. Personally, I don't rely on the Gov't for anything. And, I'm not pissed because it missed.

The reliability of the Mayan's prediction for 2012 is probably as good as it gets.

Lastly, as far as ice and California in the same sentence is concerned, Ice or lack thereof in CA would be absolutely disastrous should there be none to be had due to Global warming . What would they put in pineapple Mimosa's ?
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138. Bonedog
12:18 PM EDT on August 24, 2007
post deleted by poster anfter opening his eyes better :)~
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137. kmanislander
4:20 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
TCC

Your 3:01 post is stretching the blog
Pls resize
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136. kmanislander
4:19 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
This is looking better with every frame.

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135. Weather456
3:48 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Tropical Disturbance Summary

Broad area of scattered clouds and showers over the area from 90W to 75W north of 20N associated with an upper level low nover the East Gulf of Mexico and a tropical wave near 88W-89W. This disturbed area will continue west during the next 12-24 hrs merging with a broad area of low pressure in the Bay of Campeche in 24 hrs. Wind shear is currently 5-10 knots over the area and expected to remain so while it moves over the Bay.

Convection is over the Gulf of Darien and Gulf of Panama where a passing tropical wave is enhancing lift along the EPAC monsoon trough. Two models, the CMC and NOAGAPS develops this area into a weak to moderate tropical cyclone in 24-48 hrs. By 60 hrs, the disturbance is moving ashore Nicaragua and beyond 90 hrs, emerging into the Bay of Campeche. Current wind shear ranges from 15 to 30 knots and expected to drop to 5-10 knots in 24-48 hrs.

A tropical wave is analysed 1200 UTC near 48W south of 15N moving west near 15 knots but recent visible imagery indicate that it maybe further west at 1515 UTC. Visible imagery also indicate a swirl of clouds neat 9.65N/47.35W. Little convection is currently associated with this wave but there has been recent convective bursts. Wind shear is currently 5-10 knots near the the wave but sharply increase as one goes north. This pattern is expected to continue for the next 24-48 hrs.

Lastly, a tropical wave is near 21W south of 19N moving west near 10-12 knots. Moderate to strong convection to the east of the wave between the axis and the African Coast.

by W456

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134. sullivanweather
4:15 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
NRAamy,

Honestly, if someone wants to be making those statements then they should leave it in their personal blogs. Dr.Masters tries to run a blog where people can comment and debate REAL issues, not fantasyland 'Greenland will melt in 5 years' stuff.

And maybe he/she isn't a troll, maybe he/she is...who knows. But in my opinion someone making statements to instagate, which is how I took it, so maybe I'm wrong, deserves to have it thrown back at them.

Nash28, what are you trying to say? That Greenland was named Greenland because it was green?
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133. NRAamy
9:12 AM PDT on August 24, 2007
SW,

Ok, I understand that...but to say someone is a troll simply because they are not correct in their theories is not fair...

that would make most everyone on here a troll!

All I am saying is please reserve that term for the bloggers who deserve it...and then just flag them for Admin....

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132. boobless
3:55 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
805 AM EDT FRI AUG 24 2007
TROPICAL WAVE IS ALONG 47W S OF 14N MOVING 10-15 KT. LOW
AMPLITUDE WAVE WITH WEAK INVERTED-V CURVATURE WITH NO ASSOCIATED
DEEP CONVECTION.

So does this mean they saw the wave ahead of the swirl but missed the swirl at the tail end?

Good information and upright folks "on the job" earlier this morning.
131. nash28
4:13 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Ok, read a couple of comments, and I am giving my six pesos here....

Greenland was named Greenland for a reason...

And it wasn't the abundance of ice.....

Ok, that's the extent that I want to get into GW. Back to wave watching.
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130. HurricaneMyles
4:11 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
I'm pretty sure franck was being a little cycincal. I've seen him here for a long time.
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129. chilliam
4:11 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
"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."

Umm, that's not misleading, that's just plain wrong. If a non-global-warming person had posted a picture of massive ice from Antarctica and claimed it was the North Pole, you'd be crying foul.
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128. sullivanweather
4:10 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Posted By: NRAamy at 4:06 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.

franck is not a troll! I have seen him post several times on RickyRoods blog before...



I'm sorry NRAamy, but comments like 'Greenland will be ice-free in 5 years' is either someone trolling or something making a stupid uneducated statement.
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127. Bonedog
11:59 AM EDT on August 24, 2007
also to add my two cents...

Look at what their governments did BEFORE the storms. They shut down power grids they shut down water supplies, they activated their national defense force, they called the red cross and had supplies on standby. The PREPARED.

Now look at us...
We just have to have that power right up to the last second to watch the storm on our flat screens, we better have water because we have to flush the toilets during the hurricane party, lets wait and see where we need help, when it is all said and done we can then get the red cross fema and everyone else allocated to exactly where we need them. In other words WE react not prepare.

And then like others have said we wait for the government to come bail us out.

Also structures... how many homes have been built to hurricane standards in prone areas? I mean BUILT. Ever stayed at an island resort in the Carib or the Mexican Riviara? 16 to 18 inch thick reinforced concrete walls, hurricane film on each and every window. Buildings built BACK from the water. Ever ride a storm out in one of those resorts? I have.. they move everyone off the lower floors to the upper floors, they bring up as many nonperishable supplies they can, every bottle of water in the place is also brought up high and I dont mean the second floor I am talking 4 to 5 floors and if its only a 4 story guess what everyone is upstairs. They dont want to hear it about staying behind.

Folks we each need to prepare for ourselves and learn to be more self reliant. The gov assistance was set up for just that assistance not the whole job.

We as a whole are to damn complacent. We have to relearn to be self reliant. Why do you think most disaster services say to make a GO bag for AT LEAST a week. Not just seven bottles of water but enough for everyone for seven days.. talking over 7 gallons. Medicines not 7 pills but have a whole prescription filled and stored.

thats my two cents...

(flame suit ON)
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126. sullivanweather
4:03 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Posted By: AinFLA at 3:38 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.

Why don't we just extend the Official Hurricane season from Jan 1st to Dec 31st just so the forecasting guys here and elsewhere can have half a chance to get their predictions correct ? Better yet, how about a 24 month cycle ??

Why not just face facts ? Predicting the weather is not a skill. It's not even a black art. It is just a WAG. When the model isn't correct enough, what do we do ? We just get more models. Now we have several to choose from. Like a jockey and horse, just pick your personal favorite and watch in run. You will lose more than you will win every time.

We can crank in all the ULL's and ITZC's and the rest of the alphabetic acronyms we want and most of the predictions will still flop.

What makes matter worse is, the weather folks are going to keep yelling wolf until they get lucky and then say "I told you so". In the mean time human nature kicks in. People are going to loose confidence in forecasters because they are so wrong, so often. Then naturally and inevitably, disaster hits and most are unprepared. Hell, they can't even get a 5 day right !

On Dean: How come Mexico weathered the Cat. 5 storm better than we did in NO ? We have steel and concrete and the have huts. Shops and hotels open and back to biz the next day. Must have been lack of Gov't intrusion.

Oh, anybody have any info on why the heck the Antarctic ice seems to be growing and what disastrous effects this might have on the climate ???

Does this mean my Mean Low Tide property line will move further out to sea and I will gain some real estate ?? Global cooling ??? Anybody ???


That was perhaps one of the most ignorant statements I've heard since coming to these blogs.

Seriously, do you actually believe that countries in rest of the world considered a 'developing country' actaully have a populous that lives in huts? Can we grow up?

Secondly, forecasters are more often right, not wrong! It's only the wrong forecasts that ignorant folks tend to focus on.

Thirdly, there are no trends in Antarctic sea-ice. We haven't been monitoring sea-ice for long enough to see if the slight increase in antarctic sea-ice is a trend that'll last for centuries to come or whether it's a multi-decadal oscillation that'll soon reverse.
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125. DallasGumby
4:06 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Posted By: HurricaneMyles at 3:52 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.

Also, according to theory, Antartic sea ice is growing since air is warmer but almost never above freezing there. Warmer air causes more unstability, which causes more precipitation, in this case snow.


So, according to "theory", if polar ice decreases, it's because of warming; but, if polar ice increases, it's because of warming.
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124. welshcayman
4:00 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Posted By: franck at 3:59 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.

Yep, there will be a whole continent of land soon for exploitation. Greenland will be ice free in about five years.


It would take almost 1,000 years for Greenland to melt even at the current dramatic rates. I don't think we need to lose any sleep over it right now.
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123. austxanne
3:59 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
welsh. and others: this is a complicated topic and you can't compare the two countries' experiences. NO is dependent on levees (levees that were inadequate and in need of repair). Mexico wasn't hit in any area like this. Also there are differences in infrastructures depending on where you are. US and other countries are highly dependent on infrastructures and technologies that may not exist in some places in Mexico. And yes, the Mexican coast has tons of new development which is far newer than NO and many places on US coast. You just can't compare.
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121. DallasGumby
4:00 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Posted By: franck at 3:59 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.

Yep, there will be a whole continent of land soon for exploitation. Greenland will be ice free in about five years.


So, you're saying Greenland will be green again in five years? The Vikings would be thrilled.
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120. NRAamy
9:04 AM PDT on August 24, 2007
franck is not a troll! I have seen him post several times on RickyRoods blog before...

why is someone called a troll simply because you do not agree with their position?
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119. sullivanweather
4:00 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Baha,

No problem! It was the most clear map I could find when I did a fast search. I have seen other with much more detail, but who knows how long it'll take to find one of those on the net. LOL

Franck,

Are you a troll, or something??
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118. boiredfish
3:59 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
welshcayman.....AMEN!!! Pull yourself up by the bootstraps and help yourself and your neighbor, don't cry for the gov't to pull them up for you.
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117. boiredfish
3:57 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
So......that means less ice for the polar bears to roam for a while?
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116. franck
3:55 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Yep, there will be a whole continent of land soon for exploitation. Greenland will be ice free in about five years.
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115. welshcayman
3:51 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
On Dean: How come Mexico weathered the Cat. 5 storm better than we did in NO ? We have steel and concrete and the have huts. Shops and hotels open and back to biz the next day

Where do people get this idea that everyone outside of the US lives in mud huts and will get flattened by storms?

Many of the resorts in Mexico, Cayman Islands and Jamaica that get pounded by hurricanes have sprung up over the past 10-15 years and are therefore built from the latest materials and technology.

I would hazard a guess that most of NO was not built in the last 10-15 years and therefore would not stand up to a storm as well as many of the islands.

Also, the islands and Mexico do not have the government come sweeping in giving billions of dollars everytime there is a disaster. People here know that their business will be up and running when they fix it up themselves - therefore no time is wasted. As soon as you mention government handouts then many people will just sit back and wait for the cheque to come through the mail before they lift a finger.

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114. BahaHurican
11:41 AM EDT on August 24, 2007
sullivan,

Thanks for the great map of ocean currents. That's one of the clearest I've seen.
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113. HurricaneMyles
3:41 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
AinFLA...While hurricane forecasting, and preseason forcasting in particular, can be unreliable, we have made tremendous leaps in forecast accuracy, expecially in intestiy, over the decades.



Also, you dont pick one computer model and only rely on that. You watch them all and come up with what you believe is the best forcast by understanding each model's bais and weakness.

Also, according to theory, Antartic sea ice is growing since air is warmer but almost never above freezing there. Warmer air causes more unstability, which causes more precipitation, in this case snow.

One more thing, with all the death and destruction that came in 04/05, I think if the NHC was so bad with thier forecasts that most people would have already lost confidence. IMO, the NHC does a standup job.
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112. jscs
3:46 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
AinFL... yes, global cooling will open up property that we can't yet see due to water. So you give me a call and I'll sell you some of that property because I own lots of underwater land. I knew global cooling would come along just for folk like yourself.
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110. wfreeck
3:44 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
This should all be considered when looking back at the Mayan's prediction for 2012 (Magnetic Pole Shifts, Climate Changes, World Ending).
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109. Inyo
3:38 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Will the lack of ice keep the high in the Pacific and lead to more California drought? Or will the jet stream remain north but without the high, leading to a strong tropical jet stream in the area and a pounding of 'pineapple connection' type storms?

only time will tell.
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103. stoormfury
3:31 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
if yoy look at the WV loop you will see since it's evolution ths aystem has been creating it;s own moist environment
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101. stoormfury
3:24 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
the system is under 5knots of wind shear, pressures are 1012mb sst 29 deg C and the trade winds are about 15 knots. this is what makes the system worthwhile watching.
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99. RM706
3:06 PM GMT on August 24, 2007
Posted By: stoormfury at 2:42 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.

this is the loop


Link


I see it too, good catch stoor...ow to get some data on the area...

-Bubblehead
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98. icepilot
9:09 AM CST on August 24, 2007
Well I waited around for SW to slam me but I gotta go... grin Have a nice day all
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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.