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

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

Share this Blog
4
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 997 - 947

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27Blog Index

996. MissBennet
7:53 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: cirrocumulus at 7:32 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Miss Bennet: We will have more hurricanes due to global warming. They will be more intense because of warming and they will be more frequent because of warming
.

Cirrocumulous, not true. The scientific community does not have the facts to back up that statement (yet). The only thing they are fairly sure of is that the rise in SST creates a better environment by adding more fuel for the intesification of hurricanes, which creates more sever storms. The warming does not create better conditions to let these storms form in the first place.

In fact there was an article in Yahoo a couple months back (can't find it now) that stated there was a study out claiming that global warming may in fact prevent storms from forming because it causes more sheer. I don't really believe this and the research was weak at best, but my point is this: Scientists don't have enough knowledge about what makes these storms form in the first place, let alone how global warming effects that formation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
995. cirrocumulus
7:50 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
With global warming, the oceans are evaporating more water and hence we have more and bigger hurricanes. Come on, it's not that hard class!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
994. extreme236
7:51 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Amy, I dont think warm waters=dry air. if that was the case the NW caribbean wouldnt be a favorable spot for development
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
992. latitude25
7:44 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: CaptChas at 7:40 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

I think that wobble of the earth's axis has more to do with global warming and cooling cycles than does how much I drive my car or how many cows are out there farting away.

--- CHAS"

LOL

It is funny how it's always cows = man.
Never wildebeest, elephants, and buffalo.
Like all of a sudden we replaced the net/net by adding a bunch of animals, not replacing them with other animals.
Member Since: August 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3654
991. DallasGumby
7:40 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: MissBennet at 7:26 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

the experts aren't prediciting more hurricanes, they're prediciting more intense hurricanes when they do form.


THE experts aren't predicting any such thing. Some people, including SOME experts, are making such a prediction. Many others, including many experts, disagree.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
990. boobless
7:34 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Michael,
Yes, I would agree. Numbers and probabilities are not everything. I think most of us would agree that SST's less than 21C, 100% over land, and 49 knots of shear would greatly limit formation.
I have a basic understanding of the formation probability parameters. Just wondered what the 50% values were. If you don't serve them up on a silver platter for me I have learned something and will persue on my own.
Thanks again.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
989. cirrocumulus
7:36 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I think the next hurricane may drive up through the Galveston area into Arkansas. Go to weather.com and notice how Arkansas has missed rain for about 30 days. Something will fill it in and while the GFS has some heavy rain in Arkansas in about 8 days, it may not materialize leaving a wide gap open for a hurricane. Also, notable are areas around Alabama that have had more rain than Arkansas but nothing extaordinary. I think the hurricanes which are determined by upper level flow which is determined by global warming and changing conditions will form a path for the next one to hit in the marginally dry or near marginally dry areas. A 'cane is not an isolated event even though it is determined by the upper flow regime. There are a multitude of observations at all levels of the atmosphere that change the upper level flow and some are determined by climatology and leftover outflow boundaries. So we can't even isolate upper flow from the changing conditions that create them.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
988. CaptChas
7:05 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I think that wobble of the earth's axis has more to do with global warming and cooling cycles than does how much I drive my car or how many cows are out there farting away.

--- CHAS
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
986. presslord
7:37 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
cirrocumulus...Did you say something?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
985. BahaHurican
3:28 PM EDT on August 25, 2007
Hmmm. . . .

First rain we've had all week, and the sun is shining brightly outside.

Strange, but cool. I'll try to take a pic.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
984. cirrocumulus
7:29 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Miss Bennet: We will have more hurricanes due to global warming. They will be more intense because of warming and they will be more frequent because of warming.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
982. cirrocumulus
7:28 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
People we are going to have a 'cane in the U.S. in about 18 days unless it gets swept out into the Atlantic. Wake up board and blog!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
981. cirrocumulus
7:18 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I'll ask again. Has anyone seen the powerful hurricane that will form and possibly be swept on out to sea between two high pressures in the Atlantic? Or perhaps the cane gets under high pressure and heads toward the United States.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
980. boobless
7:16 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: MichaelSTL at 7:16 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Also, here are the threshold values that are used in the formation probability charts, where the probability of formation drops to zero:


Ok, do you have the 50/50 parameters for formation for the Atlantic?
I may be able to make an informed decision regarding current formation.
Thanks
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
978. ManSaysIgnoreit
7:20 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
You provided no evidence to refute.
1.You said nothing about current TE L-ion batteries which last much longer than Ni-MH batteries.
2.You provided no evidence of core readings that back what you infer.
Heres more evidence.
If you are not prepared to read from acknowledged sources then your only interest in dissent is a political one which has and never will have merit.
http://www.crrel.usace.army.mil/sid/IMB/change.htm
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=13
3. NH batteries are OLD and will NEVER be used again.
But anyway Nickel in NiMH is completely recycled as well as the plastics.
http://www.batteryrecycling.com/nickel.html
http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/17362/
http://www.greenbatteries.com/libafa.html
http://www.edn.com/blog/1470000147/post/1720008572.html
http://www.d-store.com/d-store/product/quest.htm
http://www.epa.gov/msw/battery.htm
We already have a tremendous amount of Lead Acid batteries that power Internal Combustion Engines 90% of which are recycled and 10% disposed of incorrectly. That 10% is a large amount. So to talk about how we are polluting the earth with NiMH and Lithium batteries which are less toxic is ridiculous.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
977. dean2007
7:12 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Dry air is only one reason that hurricanes aren't developing like they had in 2005, but we all have to realize that 2005 was an odd year in which everything was peculiar regarding the weather. The hurricane season to the winter season, the snowiest one here on Cape Cod since records were kept I believe, but hurricanes need a lot of support from the atmosphere and in the oceans and dry air is only a small portion why they aren't developing, and I don't think Global Warming has anything to do with this decrease in activity the past two years. However I expect another above normal year hurricane wise and I expect September and October to be the months of our highest activity, one reason is the SST.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
975. DallasGumby
7:12 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: CaptnDan142 at 5:40 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Since there really isn't any shortage of nutrients for terrestrial plants, and there is plenty of light, wouldn't an increased amount of readily available carbon result in enhanced plant growth, faster CO2 use, and more O2 production like it does in water?


Great question!

A theory exists, which you don't hear about much (because this theory does not support the "man-is-bad, doomsday is on the way" template), is that increased atmospheric CO2 will, in fact, lead to increased vegetation; which, in turn, will act to moderate global temperatures.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
974. Fshhead
7:12 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Hey STL,seeing that current sea ice graphic in the header is funny...
You posted that in my blog days ago lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
973. boobless
7:07 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
OK.
My interpretation was upside down.
Thanks for your gentle correction.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
971. extreme236
7:05 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Right now, I am thinking we will end up having an above average season in the Atlantic, but below average in the wpac and epac
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
970. boobless
7:03 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: MichaelSTL at 7:01 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

And as for dry air, it is currently drier than average, but it has NOT been that way all season; if anything, it has averaged moister than average since July:


I don't see that in the graphic.
Enlighten me.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
969. extreme236
7:04 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
and as StormW has said, some of the subsidence has been caused by the MJO pulsing downward. He said that it likely wont be that way much longer if the models are correct.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
967. extreme236
7:02 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Wow STL, you sure find all these graphs pretty quick. You must know your way around the web lol
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
966. extreme236
6:59 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
All Amy seems to be doing is trying to make it seem like this year will be a bust. And amy most seasons only have about 4 cyclones at this time
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
964. extreme236
6:59 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Amy subtropical systems count! Last year subtropical storms would have counted as well but there were none. So how about we be real there. Now if this was the first year of them being named, then you would be correct amy
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
963. extreme236
6:57 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
GFS shows a wave developing in 18hrs, on the future cyclone thing anyway.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
960. presslord
6:55 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Coooommmmeee hhhheeeeerrrree little Blobby.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
958. extreme236
6:54 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
For the past couple weeks now Amy you have been constantly saying things that imply that you believe this year will be a dud. You have said comments such as "This year will be known as Dean and the seven dwarfs, if we get that far". I dont think you realize that were ABOVE AVERAGE in terms of storm names now.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
956. Weather456
6:27 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I made this graphic to look at some of the surface features and upper features/flow

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
955. boobless
6:43 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: BahaHurican at 6:36 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.
I'm sure such a reversal will come eventually.


Whether we're included in the reversal is the scary part. True Baja, not much on (mass-wise) regarding the other side of the curve.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
953. extreme236
6:41 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: Amystery at 6:42 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

and we know how accurate 2 weeks in advance model forcast are....


And amy are we forgetting that the gfs was right that a cyclone would develop more than one week in advance? doesnt mean it will develop but you cant rule it out
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
952. latitude25
6:42 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: nattat11 at 6:01 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Hi everyone. I usually dont comment on here, i just enjoy reading the blogs. However, i wanted to clarify something with the global climate change issue and the scientific deabate thats going on. I am an environmental science master's student and have covered this topic in just about ALL of my courses. Right now the scientific community is NOT debating whether or not global climate change is occuring, it IS. By the scientific community i mean research that is being published in primary literature (peer reviewed journals). The debate is if it is human induced or the result of a natural historical trend. "

Nat, the out of the classroom debate is centered on many more levels than just those two.

For starters, will it continue and if it does, what will the effects really be. Are there any negative feedback loops that we don't even know about.

Dr. Roy says the negative feedback loop from cirrus clouds will reduce the predictions of global warming by +/-75%. That info only came out a few weeks ago and is a long way from being throughly studied. Plus, it's a negative feedback loop that you would not have even heard about in school.




Member Since: August 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3654
950. Boatofacar
6:39 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I have the missing portion of the polar ice cap.......im planning to Ebay it soon...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
949. JRRP
6:32 PM GMT on Agosto 25, 2007
THE CMC AND GFS FORECAST A TROPICAL STORM
IN CENTRAL ATLANTIC BY THE NEXT TWO WEEK
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
948. BahaHurican
2:28 PM EDT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: Caffinehog at 2:25 PM EDT on August 25, 2007.

I rather suspect that an open arctic ocean will have a FAR greater impact on climate than the few degrees of warming that it took to get the ice to melt. I suspect that it's too late to stop the total loss of the arctic ice, even if we are the sole cause of global warming and even if we could stop emitting CO2 tomorrow.


This for some reason made me think of an Artic Ocean remaining without summer ice long enough for some intrepid companies to build huge oil rigs and refineries up there - only to have a quick reversal and total loss of investment.

Nobody seems to be talking (or perhaps even thinking?) about what factors are likely to lead to a reversal in the current trend. I'm sure such a reversal will come eventually.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
947. JRRP
6:30 PM GMT on Agosto 25, 2007
Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 997 - 947

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy
45 °F
Partly Cloudy

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron