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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947. JRRP
6:30 PM GMT on Agosto 25, 2007
Link
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945. seafarer459
6:25 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
SJ,

It is a good looking blob..

I know it is nothing to worry about. I do find it interesting to look at,being so close to home. And it's cousin off the southern tip of FL seems to be keeping pace with it.
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944. Morgana
11:26 AM PDT on August 25, 2007
Dr Masters thank you for providing valuable information discussion about Global Warming and it's impacts when there is so much hype out there. Keep up the good work I appreciate getting a better understanding of the dynamics involved and it's impact on Tropical Hurricane development. TWC or Olbermann showed a guy surfing the waves from the calving glaciers. A lurker for several years it has been a pleasure watching this community grow.
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943. boobless
6:21 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
OK, I'm encouragble (pun intended)
Posted By: boobless at 6:24 PM GMT on August 24, 2007.

First and last GW post for me:
I'm sure you've heard variations of the following opinion before. Here or somewhere else. But a good one imo: It is probably too late/impossible to return earth to "normal". If GW is due to some other process we can't/don't see/prove (insert your theory here)then the final doomsdays of extremely high afternoon temps are inevitable anyway. Closed loop system here on earth. Too many fish in the tank.

On a lighter note,cow flatulence has been blamed for a portion of this controversy. This is unfair to cows, but if true we need to thin the herd. If you asked a cow for a root cause I'm sure they would blame it on too many people. Anybody have any data correlating world population w/GW? My kitchen is too hot and crowded at Christmas when all of us get together. Time to thin the herd? Just as long as me and mine make it through the first cut ]

CO2 production from GW discussions (present company excepted) across the globe this very minute would choke a smaller planet.
Things are warmer then they were. I believe this. All I can suggest is that the Met community learn the new rules for heat distribution and tweak the models as required.

So, let's sling some heat around! Bring on the waves,blobs,swirls and storms that affect sparsely populated areas only.
Moo
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942. CaptnDan142
6:18 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: hurricanehamster at 6:02 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.
can u explain a bit more?????????

I'd be happy to - what aspect/angle are you referring to?

BTW - I'll mail you - Probably best to not drag the discussion that far from what Dr. Masters blogged about. :)
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941. Caffinehog
6:20 PM GMT 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.
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939. stoormfury
6:15 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
the wave in the se alt at 11n 51w is gaining some latitude and is now moving north of west. convection is still limited and although conditions are somewhat favourable for development. this will be slow to occur
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938. StormJunkie
6:21 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I am with on that 459! Long live the blob and just come a little closer to the coast and slowly work y'er way up!
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937. weatherguy03
2:19 PM EDT on August 25, 2007
When using Dr. Masters' blog, please refrain from posting material not relevant to the discussion of tropical weather, or the topic of the blog entry itself. This is not strictly a tropical weather blog.
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936. BahaHurican
2:11 PM EDT on August 25, 2007
A question nobody has asked (or not recently, anyway) is, How does the reduced ice pack at the north pole influence the planet's heat distribution system, including TC production north of the equator?

I think some of us are seeing the pole pack information as simply GW discussion, something isolated, when it really does have as much to do with current earth systems and the interaction between warm and cold zones of the earth as anything else.

Also, while we are looking at the decrease in sea ice at the north pole, is there a corresponding increase at the south pole? It's winter there, isn't it?

Maybe our understanding of the tropics is being inhibited by our unwillingness to look at the "big picture".
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22727
935. seafarer459
6:14 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
thelmores,

Let it visit here in chs for a while. We will send it to you soon
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934. dnalia
6:16 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Someone up further on the page asked if anyone has been in the eye of a hurricane. The eye of Katrina passed over the house I was living in in Miami two years ago. It was rather...interesting.
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933. msphar
5:57 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
LLJ, KMANislander thanks for intelligent response to my question yesterday. The 2001 Maria paper on Genesis Parameter was also helpful. It proclaimed about 60 tropical waves per season citing an earlier study by Frank and Clark in 1980. This number sounds reasonable. Waves are usually gapped about 3 to 5 days between each other. LLJ - that means about 75 to 122 waves per year total, so not really "hundreds per year".

So we have a finite and shrinking, as time moves forward, number of disturbences that can lead to cyclone genesis. Aug 25, 16 days left to the first half of this season.
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931. thelmores
6:12 PM GMT on August 25, 2007


hope this blob heads to Myrtle Beach! LOL

need water!!!
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930. BahaHurican
2:05 PM EDT on August 25, 2007
This discussion of the fish tank reminds me of the "biosphere" type tanks - terrariums? - teachers used to have in their classrooms when I was a kid. It was kinda hard to similuate tropical activity in there, but we learned a lot about basic environmental processes as a result of our interaction with those tanks.

Do teachers still do that?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22727
929. CaptnDan142
6:01 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
That does not mean the "tropical weather" blog should turn into whatever anybody wants to talk about.

Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought this was discussion of Dr. Masters' blog entry?
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928. aspectre
6:09 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
"May I conclude from your post that during the "Billary Administration" those records were available?"

Haven't the slightest how you could jump to that conclusion. Transfers of classified data are based upon clearance of both the data and of the persons viewing that data (which takes intelligence personnel, funding, and time) and need-to-know (ie even if the persons viewing initially-cleared raw data were to be fully cleared, more raw data is cleared then released to them only after previously-released raw data has been processed; which takes more time.)
Then there is the time need to obtain scholarly funding to hire personnel and equipment to process the data, which takes time. Once that funding is approved, the scholarly personnel must be cleared before veiwing the data (which takes time, government funding, and intelligence personnel) and the equipment must be cleared as secure.
Once the time to write up the proposal, to obtain scholarly funding, to purchase the equipment, and to hire the personnel is completed, it takes more time to fill in the bureaucratic paperwork, to obtain the government funding, and to have intelligence personnel clear the initial-release of raw data.

Then it takes time to write programs to model that raw data into a map that reflects thickness of the ice. It ain't like goin' to the gas station and buying some maps. It's creating the equivalent of a geodetic map from scratch...which takes time.

Once the initial data set is processed, then it's time for project review both by the scholarly board and the applicable governmental boards for approval of contination of the project, for approval of continued funding.

Then ya get to fill in the paperwork to get the next set of data cleared and sent to ya, which takes time, and the next set of data processed, which takes time.

Repeat for each new set of classified data.

"So, if they were available before the DubyaAdministration, where's the harm?"

So the totality of the classified data was never transferred over for scientific examination during Bubba's days as Prez.

Not that it should matter all that much. As Dr.Masters pointed out, a third of surface which was covered by the summer icepack has melted: most of it off the coast of Russia. The submarine readings on the portions thus far subjected to scientific examination have indicated that a third of the thickness the remaining summer icepack has also melted.

But ya got folks who insist that the disappeared summer icepack could have migrated to join the summer ice that hasn't melted. That the portion nearer to Russia which hasn't been examined has suddenly grown a LOT thicker for no disceranble reason.
Kinda like insisting that ya should stick your hand in a pot of boiling water cuz "You haven't checked all of the water, and some of it might be ice cold."
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927. BahaHurican
1:53 PM EDT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: Caffinehog at 1:14 PM EDT on August 25, 2007.

When it's cheaper to use alternative energy than it is to use oil or coal, developing nations will also switch!


Some developing nations may switch BEFORE the so-called "developed" nations, simply because renewable sources of energy such as solar and hydroelectric power are already potentially cheaper for them than non-renewable ones such as oil and coal. More affluent countries may actually hang on to the old way of doing things longer because they can afford to.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22727
926. hurricanehamster
6:01 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: CaptnDan142 at 5:40 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Posted By: HopquickSteve at 2:03 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

CO2 is not inherently bad -- in fact, plants require CO2 for life.

OK, this got me wondering... In my aquarium I add CO2 to enhance plant growth. This is in conjunction with increased light and nutrients. The result is that the plants have more of everything they need to thrive. About 6 hours into their light cycle they are actually producing oxygen faster than the water can disperse it. Bubbles of O2 begin to form on the leaves.

As plant mass increases, I have to increase the flow rate on the CO2 in order to keep my target level of 30ppm CO2 in the water.

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?


can u explain a bit more?????????
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924. StormJunkie
5:53 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Well they are building up this way press. Maybe y'all will get some too.
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923. seafarer459
5:59 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
presslord'

Yes it does. I don't think it will amount to anything. But man we could use the rain.
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922. nattat11
5:57 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.
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921. presslord
5:59 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
will see Bill Walsh @ mass this evening and pick his brain...wish it were Leigh Spann tho....
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920. presslord
5:57 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Sea and SJ...The Charleston Blob does look kinda interesting....
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919. hurricanehamster
5:54 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
ecmwf shows a weak t.d makeing landfall in w pac in 120 hours

winds @ 35mph 1 in sustained
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918. Caffinehog
5:51 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Scientists don't have a ton of trouble finding jobs. There are PLENTY of human problems that need solving. If those scientists were proven wrong and global warming debate ended tomorrow, the great majority of them would be working on another problem within a year or two.
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916. BahaHurican
1:35 PM EDT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: Weather456 at 11:20 AM EDT on August 25, 2007.

Posted By: Amystery at 3:14 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

456, you are not plagerizing still are you? Sounds awfully close to offiical ones I have read...you do know changing a couple words here and there is still plagerizing?

still? I never did plagerize, i dont read the NHC discussions either to change any words.


456,

Can u say "minus"? How about "ignore"? Some people make no positive contributions here. It's not worth the while to argue with them.
See and follow the admin notice below; it's really the only productive way to deal with entities such as the one u quoted.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22727
915. latitude25
5:45 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: Caffinehog at 5:44 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Lattitude25,
Although I'm sure some scientists have an agenda, most are simply seeking the truth and seeking to improve the human condition - it's their job."

and then reality sets in.

Without funding, they have no job.

Without consensus, there is no funding.
Member Since: August 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3654
914. gippgig
5:30 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
It's the planet Uranus where the poles get about 40 years of continuous sunlight & darkness (because its axis of rotation is almost in the plane of its orbit).
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913. extreme236
5:45 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Well Jupitar, the tropics are mainly quiet now. Once we get a good disturbance out there we will all be fighting over it developing or not
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
911. Caffinehog
5:34 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Lattitude25,
Although I'm sure some scientists have an agenda, most are simply seeking the truth and seeking to improve the human condition - it's their job.

You are right, though, that some scientists will talk up some issue to get more funding. Usually, though, it's because they believe what they are doing is important. Most of the money goes to research, scientists see very little, if any, direct personal financial gain from grants. They only benifit from valuable, well respected, legitimate results. That can get them better jobs. A scientist will only ask for money if he believes he can get him valuable, well respected, legitimate results.
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910. seafarer459
5:38 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Hello All,

SJ. presslord,

Won't be long before we see the beef. Getting a bit noisey here(West Ashley). VIPIR radar is showing some rain easing it's way here
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909. StormJunkie
5:36 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Hey SW!

Thanks, I just thought I noticed some curvature in the radar and what looked to be a little anticyclonic flow on the visible.

Interesting area...Guess it will be moving out to sea? Been busy on some project work, so have not kept up with everything like I normally would.

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908. CaptnDan142
5:39 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: HopquickSteve at 2:03 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

CO2 is not inherently bad -- in fact, plants require CO2 for life.

OK, this got me wondering... In my aquarium I add CO2 to enhance plant growth. This is in conjunction with increased light and nutrients. The result is that the plants have more of everything they need to thrive. About 6 hours into their light cycle they are actually producing oxygen faster than the water can disperse it. Bubbles of O2 begin to form on the leaves.

As plant mass increases, I have to increase the flow rate on the CO2 in order to keep my target level of 30ppm CO2 in the water.

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?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
906. presslord
5:35 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
hey StormJ...lotta sizzle...no steak....much thunder, nothing wet...
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905. Weather456
5:34 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: cirrocumulus at 5:27 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Has anybody noticed the powerful hurricane in the Atlantic in about 300 hours from now?


Can i have a link?
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
902. Weather456
5:26 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
By far the most interesting feature in the Atlantic today....

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
901. latitude25
5:23 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: Caffinehog at 5:14 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Lattitude25,
Don't discount these scientists completely. What they say has a basis in truth."

It has a basis in many agendas.

One agenda might be more honest - cleaning up pollution.

Another agenda might be less - monetary gain.

Member Since: August 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3654
900. icepilot
11:27 AM CST on August 25, 2007
Posted By: Amystery at 11:19 AM CST on August 25, 2007.

I read somewhere that cows passing gas is contributing more to the problem than Humans...true? If so, what will we do about this problem


Eat more steak - sorry could not resist..
Member Since: July 9, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 387
899. ManSaysIgnoreit
5:16 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Skeptik Fool
1.NH batteries when taken out of hybrid vehicles
can be used for smaller power applications.
2.It is over 90% recyclable.
3.NH batteries are OLD news and are NOT planned for future hybrid, plug in hybrid and electric vehicles.
TE Lithium batteries are the reality and will last over 200,000 miles and are not considered hazardous waste.
3.Core readings from ice caps can tell you the CO2, temperature and ice depth from ANY year. The rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap has NOT occurred at its current pace during MANS existence according to these scientific readings.

Post facts not POLITICAL LIB/CON FOOLISHNESS.
Politics is corrupt to its core from ANY DIRECTION and is of no value.
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897. ManSaysIgnoreit
5:28 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Skeptik Fool
1.NH batteries when taken out of hybrid vehicles
can be used for smaller power applications.
2.It is over 90% recyclable.
3.NH batteries are OLD news and are NOT planned for future hybrid, plug in hybrid and electric vehicles.
TE Lithium batteries are the reality and will last over 200,000 miles and are not considered hazardous waste.
3.Core readings from ice caps can tell you the CO2, temperature and ice depth from ANY year. The rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap has NOT occurred at its current pace during MANS existence according to these scientific readings.

Post facts not POLITICAL LIB/CON FOOLISHNESS.
Politics is corrupt to its core from ANY DIRECTION and is of no value to scientific discussion.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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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