Arctic sea ice in record retreat

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:42 PM GMT on July 08, 2011

The summer melt season is in full swing in the Arctic, and sea ice there is in record retreat. Arctic sea ice is currently at its lowest extent on record for early July, according to estimates from the National Snow and Ice Data Center and University of Bremen. Moreover, Arctic sea ice volume is at its lowest on record, according to the University of Washington Polar Science Center, and during June 2011, was reduced by nearly half (47%) compared to its maximum at the beginning of the satellite era, in 1979. The latest surface analysis from Environment Canada shows a 1039 mb high pressure system centered north of Alaska, which is bringing clear skies and plenty of ice-melting sunshine to the Arctic. The combined action of the clockwise flow of air around the high and counter-clockwise flow of air around a low pressure system near the western coast of Siberia is driving warm, southerly winds into the Arctic that is pushing ice away from the coast of Siberia, encouraging further melting. This pressure pattern, known as the Arctic Dipole, was dominant over the Arctic during June, leading to June having the 2nd lowest extent on record, and the record low extent observed at the beginning of July. The Arctic Dipole began emerging in the late 1990s, and was unknown before then; thus climate change is suspected as its primary cause. The Arctic Dipole has become increasingly common in the last six years, and has contributed significantly to the record retreat of Arctic sea ice.


Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent as of July 7, 2011, as estimated by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Ice extent during the first week of July was slightly less than the previous record low set in 2007 (dashed green line.)

The previous all-time record year for sea ice loss: 2007
The all-time summer Arctic sea ice melt occurred in 2007, when a "perfect storm" of weather conditions came together to cause a stunning amount of ice loss. Unusually strong high pressure over the Arctic led to clear skies and plenty of sunshine. Arctic winds, which usually blow in a circular fashion around the Pole, instead blew from the south over Central Siberia, due to the Arctic Dipole pattern, injecting large amounts of warm air into the Arctic. Sea ice loss, which had been 20% in the summer of 2006 compared to the summer of 1979, doubled to 39% in 2007, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. In one year, as much ice was lost as in the previous 28 years. Compared to the 1950s, over half of the Arctic sea ice had disappeared.


Figure 2. Arctic sea ice extent since 1900, as estimated from satellite and ship reports compiled by Walsh and Chapman (2001). Image credit: University of Illinois cryosphere group.

The forecast
Summertime Arctic sea ice loss since 2007 has not been as severe, due to cooler and cloudier conditions. However, ice loss in 2008 - 2010 was worse than any year prior to 2007, and the amount of old, thick, multi-year ice has suffered steep declines. How often, then, might we expect to see a "perfect storm" of weather conditions capable of triggering record sea ice loss like in 2007? Well, at the December 2008 meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the world's largest scientific conference on climate change, J.E. Kay of the National Center for Atmospheric Research showed that Arctic surface pressure in the summer of 2007 was the fourth highest since 1948. Cloud cover at Barrow, Alaska was the sixth lowest. This suggests that once every 10 - 20 years a "perfect storm" of weather conditions highly favorable for ice loss invades the Arctic. The last two times such conditions existed was 1977 and 1987.

The latest 1-week forecast from the Canadian GEM model shows the Arctic Dipole pattern continuing, but with high pressure gradually weakening over the Arctic. This should decrease the southerly winds blowing warm air into the Arctic, and help slow down the current record retreat to just below record levels. However, the latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model shows high pressure will build back in over the Arctic during the last half of July, which would tend to increase the flow of warm air into the region again. Overall, it appears that the weather conditions during July 2011 will end up not being as favorable for ice loss as July 2007 was, but the ice is more vulnerable to melting than in 2007 due to the significant loss of old, thick, multi-year ice since 2007. It is too early to tell what may occur during August, but the forecast for July leads me to believe that we will come very close to breaking the 2007 record for all-time ice loss in September, but fall just short. Of the seventeen outlooks issued in early June by various scientific groups, only four called for 2011 to exceed 2007 for summer Arctic sea ice loss.


Figure 3. Distribution of individual Pan-Arctic Outlook values (June Report) for September 2011 sea ice extent. Image credit: ARCUS.

Invest 96L in the Atlantic little threat
An area of disturbed weather (Invest 96L) in the Gulf of Mexico centered a few hundred miles west of Tampa, Florida has become disorganized due to high wind shear of 15 - 25 knots. The latest SHIPS model forecast predicts the shear will be a moderate 10 - 20 knots over the next two days as 96L moves slowly northwards towards the Florida Panhandle. The shear should keep any development slow. Water vapor satellite images show that 96L is located on the east side of an upper-level low pressure system centered over southern Louisiana. This upper level low is pumping dry, stable air into the west side of 96L, which will retard development. There is no sign of a surface circulation in 96L, and none of the reliable computer models is developing it. NHC is giving 96L a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday. The storm has brought a region of 2 - 4 inches of rain to the coast near Tampa, and portions of the Florida Panhandle coast will likely receive 2 - 4 inches of rain this weekend when 96L moves in.


Figure 4. Radar estimated rainfall from 96L as of Friday morning.

My Arctic sea ice page has more info on Arctic sea ice, including why we care about it, and predictions on when it might all disappear.

My next post will be Monday, unless there's some unexpected development to report.

Jeff Masters

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

Log In 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: 1616 - 1566

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 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37Blog Index

Quoting caneswatch:


Where've you been Rick? LOL


Just for you canes! Thinking about the balloons for Grothar.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The SOI index reached a milestone tonight as it has crossed into negative territory (-0.1) for the first time since early April 2010. However, is anything significant in terms of El Nino appearing soon, as it has to go down to -8 and below to then have a El Nino in the making.

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 16630
Good Evening from North Florida. So the remnants of ex-96 L looking better over land and bringing us more rain this afternoon than a few days ago when it was moving North off the West coasts of FL givng the rest of the Peninsula the rain.....Perhaps it was meant to be.......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JRRP:
GFS still showing a very strong TW in the CATL

that my friend, is a low end tropical cyclone, what's that date on that ? July 17th?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Where've you been Rick? LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JRRP:
GFS still showing a very strong TW in the CATL

could you send me that link??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Old Chinese Proverb....Put detergent on top shelf.... and you will jump for joy!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
---
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1607. aquak9
yo, Joe.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Day to all
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1604. Grothar
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1603. Dakster
caneswatch +1 - LOL... And so true.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think I have a good joke for everyone tonight.

A guy walks into the gym he belongs too. He's kinda toned, but he wants to be toned enough to attract the ladies. So he walks over to his trainer to ask him something. His question was "What machines do I need to work on to get a bit more toned so I can attract the ladies?" His trainer told him "The ATM machine in the lobby."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Dakster:
Hey Presslord... How are things going? Prepped and ready for the "season"? (I hope you don't need to put plans into action though!)


Hey mon! we are ready....and would like to be unneeded...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1600. Dakster
Hey Presslord... How are things going? Prepped and ready for the "season"? (I hope you don't need to put plans into action though!)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1599. JLPR2
Quoting JRRP:
GFS still showing a very strong TW in the CATL


That's no wave, that's a low, a step ahead from a wave.

Hmm...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1597. aquak9
"I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is."

Best final line I've read in a long time. Good job, 1911.

bappit- you really made me laugh, yes that's it, Levi is always hungry. I forgot what it was like to be his age, eat all ya want, never gain a pound. Now I'm gonna be looking at all his posts for food-related references.

Dak- yeah it's been mizz'rable.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1596. JRRP
GFS still showing a very strong TW in the CATL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Nice and quiet for now.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
must haveLink
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
18z NOGAPS and 18z GFS all continue to agree a Tropical cyclone might spin up in the Caribbean by Saturday. ECMWF ensembles are showing a single area of 1009 mb pressures with a closed isobar in the same time frame in the SW Caribbean. UKMET shows similar.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 25802
1590. bappit
Quoting Dakster:

YIKES AQUAK9... I didn't know that...

I wonder if dog or cat is higher than goat, seeing as how those cultures have more people in the world that any other. I won't knock it, but I sure as heck won't try it either!

The idea of cat or dog milk is a bit scary.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Guysgal:
I have just changed to using IE 7 as my browser and now I have lost part of the right side of the blog and the like, dislike boxes have vanished. Any ideas on how I can make this right again?



sure downlode firefox 5 and it will fix evere thing
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5101 Comments: 118560
1588. Dakster

YIKES AQUAK9... I didn't know that...

I wonder if dog or cat is higher than goat, seeing as how those cultures have more people in the world that any other. I won't knock it, but I sure as heck won't try it either!

This hot weather has got to go... Mowed the grass and about passed out... BTW, that was a high heat index there water dog... I bet you went for a nice dip in the ocean or was that boiling?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1587. bappit
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:

Wikipedia.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Still think we'll see 2 named this month, one next week and one in the last week of July. Maybe a hurricane.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 25802
Given 27 same-size cubes whose nominal values progress from 1 to 27, a 3×3×3 magic cube can be constructed such that every row, column, and corridor, and every diagonal passing through the center, comprises 3 cubes whose sum of values is 42.
Forty-two is a pronic number and an abundant number; its prime factorization 2 · 3 · 7 makes it the second sphenic number and also the second of the form { 2 · 3 · r }. As with all sphenic numbers of this form, the aliquot sum is abundant by 12. 42 is also the second sphenic number to be bracketed by twin primes; 30 is also a pronic number and also rests between two primes. 42 has a 14 member aliquot sequence 42, 54, 66, 78, 90, 144, 259, 45, 33, 15, 9, 4, 3, 1, 0 and is itself part of the aliquot sequence commencing with the first sphenic number 30. Further, 42 is the 10th member of the 3-aliquot tree.
42 is the product of the first three terms of Sylvester's sequence; like the first five such numbers it is also a primary pseudoperfect number.
It is the sum of the totient function for the first eleven integers.
It is a Catalan number. Consequently; 42 is the number of noncrossing partitions of a set of five elements, the number of triangulations of a heptagon, the number of rooted ordered binary trees with six leaves, the number of ways in which five pairs of nested parentheses can be arranged, etc.
It is the reciprocal of the sixth Bernoulli number.
It is conjectured to be the scaling factor in the leading order term of the "sixth moment of the Riemann zeta function". In particular, Conrey & Ghosh have conjectured

where the infinite product is over all prime numbers, p.[1][2]
It is the third pentadecagonal number. It is a meandric number and an open meandric number.
42 is a Størmer number.
42 is a perfect score on the USA Math Olympiad (USAMO)[3] and International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).[4]
In base 10, this number is a Harshad number and a self number, while it is a repdigit in base 4 (as 222).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1583. Levi32
Quoting bappit:
Levi is always hungry. It's always tidbit this and real meat that.


You couldn't be more correct.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1582. Grothar
Quoting Levi32:


Hey, now. I have spoken of July staying fairly active through the first 15-20 days of the month until the MJO leaves (it may hang around longer than that now). With no existing features on the table, one must consult the models for hints on what the next mischief-maker may be.


I was referring to question #2. (Wonder how many will get that?) The models are interesting for the month.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1581. bappit
Levi is always hungry. It's always tidbit this and real meat that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1580. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:


So you let computers do your thinking for you ? LOL Maybe they were on to something.


Hey, now. I have spoken of July staying fairly active through the first 15-20 days of the month until the MJO leaves (it may hang around longer than that now). With no existing features on the table, one must consult the models for hints on what the next mischief-maker may be.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aquak9:
The real meat of the season won't arrive until August, but we may get something respectable here in July.

Goats have real meat. Did you know more goat and sheep meat, and dairy products, are consumed worldwide, than cow products?

(dodges rotting veggies, runs)
As they say on Wikipedia [citation needed]
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1578. Grothar
Quoting Levi32:


1. With the MJO gaining amplitude in phase 1 right now, I would expect a gradual increase in activity right through mid-month and probably until at least the 20th. The models are hinting strongly at another monsoonal development and the African wave train is about to get going, so we may have some activity to deal with this month. The real meat of the season won't arrive until August, but we may get something respectable here in July.

2. 42.


So you let computers do your thinking for you ? LOL Maybe they were on to something. (Wonder how many will get that?)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
interesting tropical wave between 45w and 50w
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1576. Levi32
Quoting aquak9:
The real meat of the season won't arrive until August, but we may get something respectable here in July.

Goats have real meat. Did you know more goat and sheep meat, and dairy products, are consumed worldwide, than cow products?

(dodges rotting veggies, runs)


Lol....you're real funny Aqua.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1575. Levi32
Using the same dates as in #1556, it is interesting to note that the mean temperature anomaly pattern when the MJO is in phase 1 has lots of warmth in the tropical Atlantic. This illustrates what we often talk about, how the MJO will tend to "hang out" where the water is warmest relative to normal.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1573. aquak9
The real meat of the season won't arrive until August, but we may get something respectable here in July.

Goats have real meat. Did you know more goat and sheep meat, and dairy products, are consumed worldwide, than cow products?

(dodges rotting veggies, runs)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1572. bappit
Quoting EYEStoSEA:
My avatar seems to be MIA....for me, anyway....can you see it ? :)

Yes, it's a pretty gray.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1571. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:


Levi, I usually don't have to ask you anything, because I usually know all the answers anyway. I just have two quick questions:

1. When do you expect the tropics to begin getting a little active. (real question)

2. What is the meaning of life?



1. With the MJO gaining amplitude in phase 1 right now, I would expect a gradual increase in activity right through mid-month and probably until at least the 20th. The models are hinting strongly at another monsoonal development and the African wave train is about to get going, so we may have some activity to deal with this month. The real meat of the season won't arrive until August, but we may get something respectable here in July.

2. 42.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting aquak9:

Here is the most common shear pattern.



And maybe it's not gophers, maybe it's goats.



LOLOLOL...now that Is FUNNY :000
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496
Quoting Grothar:


Levi, I usually don't have to ask you anything, because I usually know all the answers anyway.

no need to be so humble grothar
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1568. aquak9
Quoting Grothar:


No wonder lurker is afraid to come on. At least post a shear pattern or something.

Here is the most common shear pattern.



And maybe it's not gophers, maybe it's goats.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


Levi, I usually don't have to ask you anything, because I usually know all the answers anyway. I just have two quick questions:

1. When do you expect the tropics to begin getting a little active. (real question)

2. What is the meaning of life?



1. In two weeks.

2. For us to do whatever we want to do.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


No, at least I cannot. But don't worry EYES. It is the content of one's character that is important, not their avatar. If you still can't get your image, I promise when I return, I will help you restore it.


Well, Otay.....hmmm....gotta put my thinking cap on ~~~~ TY, Grothar :))
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1496

Viewing: 1616 - 1566

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 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37Blog Index

Top of Page
Ad Blocker Enabled

Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog

About

Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Pictured Rocks dunes and clouds
Grizzlies in Lake Clark National Park
Mount Redoubt Lava Dome
Matanuska Glacier