Arctic temperatures the warmest in 2,000 years; 2009 Arctic sea ice loss 3rd highest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:32 PM GMT on September 04, 2009

Share this Blog
9
+

It's time to take a bit of a break from coverage of the Atlantic hurricane season of 2009, and report on some important climate news. The past decade was the warmest decade in the Arctic for the past 2,000 years, according to a study called "Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling" published today in the journal Science. Furthermore, four of the five warmest decades in the past 2,000 years occurred between 1950 - 2000, despite the fact that summertime solar radiation in the Arctic has been steadily declining for the past 2,000 years. Previous efforts to reconstruct past climate in the Arctic extended back only 400 years, so the new study--which used lake sediments, glacier ice cores, and tree rings to look at past climate back to the time of Christ, decade by decade-- is a major new milestone in our understanding of the Arctic climate. The researchers found that Arctic temperatures steadily declined between 1 A.D. and 1900 A.D., as would be expected due to a 26,000-year cycle in Earth's orbit that brought less summer sunshine to the North Pole. Earth is now about 620,000 miles (1 million km) farther from the Sun in the Arctic summer than it was 2000 years ago. However, temperatures in the Arctic began to rise around the year 1900, and are now 1.4°C (2.5°F) warmer than they should be, based on the amount of sunlight that is currently falling in the Arctic in summer. "If it hadn't been for the increase in human-produced greenhouse gases, summer temperatures in the Arctic should have cooled gradually over the last century," Bette Otto-Bliesner, a co-author from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in a statement.

The Arctic melt season of 2009
Arctic sea ice suffered another summer of significant melting in 2009, with August ice extent the third lowest on record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. August ice extent was 19% below the 1979 - 2000 average, and only 2007 and 2008 saw more melting of Arctic sea ice. We've now had two straight years in the Arctic without a new record minimum in sea ice. However, this does not mean that the Arctic sea ice is recovering. The reduced melting in 2009 compared to 2007 and 2008 primarily resulted from a different atmospheric circulation pattern this summer. This pattern generated winds that transported ice toward the Siberian coast and discouraged export of ice out of the Arctic Ocean. The previous two summers, the prevailing wind pattern acted to transport more ice out of the Arctic through Fram Strait, along the east side of Greenland. At last December's 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, and 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, and it may be another ten or so years before weather conditions align properly to set a new record minimum.

The Northeast Passage opens
As a result of this summer's melting, the Northeast Passage, a notoriously ice-choked sea route along the northern Russia, is now clear of ice and open for navigation. Satellite analyses by the University of Illinois Polar Research Group and the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that the last remaining ice blockage along the north coast of Russia melted in late August, allowing navigation from Europe to Alaska in ice-free waters. Mariners have been attempting to sail the Northeast Passage since 1553, and it wasn't until the record-breaking Arctic sea-ice melt year of 2005 that the Northeast Passage opened for ice-free navigation for the first time in recorded history. The fabled Northwest Passage through the Arctic waters of Canada has remained closed this summer, however. An atmospheric pressure pattern set up in late July that created winds that pushed old, thick ice into several of the channels of the Northwest Passage. Recent research by Stephen Howell at the University of Waterloo in Canada shows that whether the Northwest Passage clears depends less on how much melt occurs, and more on whether multi-year sea ice is pushed into the channels. Counter-intuitively, as the ice cover thins, ice may flow more easily into the channels, preventing the Northwest Passage from regularly opening in coming decades, if the prevailing winds set up to blow ice into the channels of the Passage. The Northwest Passage opened for the first time in recorded history in 2007, and again in 2008. Mariners have been attempting to find a route through the Northwest Passage since 1497.


Figure 1. Sea ice extent on September 2, 2009, with the Northwest Passage (red line) and Northeast Passage (green line) shown. The Northeast Passage was open, but the Northwest Passage was blocked in three places. The orange line shows the median edge of sea ice extent for September 2 during the period 1979 - 2000, and this year's ice extent is about 19% below average. Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Commercial shipping begins in the Northeast Passage
This year's opening marks the fourth time in five years that the Northeast Passage has opened, and commercial shipping companies are taking note. Two German ships set off on August 21 on the first commercial voyage ever made through the Northeast Passage without the help of icebreakers. The Northeast Passage trims 4,500 miles off the 12,500 mile trip through the Suez Canal, yielding considerable savings in fuel. The voyage was not possible last year, because Russia had not yet worked out a permitting process. With Arctic sea ice expected to continue to decline in the coming decades, shipping traffic through the Northeast Passage will likely become commonplace most summers.

When was the Northeast Passage ice-free in the past?
People have been attempting to penetrate the ice-bound Northeast Passage since 1553, when British explorer Sir Hugh Willoughby attempted the passage with three ships and 62 men. The frozen bodies of Sir Hugh and his men were found a year later, after they failed to make it past the northern coast of Finland. British explorer Henry Hudson, who died in 1611 trying to find a route through Canada's fabled Northwest Passage, (and whom Canada's Hudson Bay and New York's Hudson River are named after), attempted to sail the Northeast Passage in 1607 and 1608, and failed. The Northeast Passage has remained closed to navigation, except via assist by icebreakers, from 1553 to 2005. The results published in Science today suggest that prior to 2005, the last previous opening was the period 5,000 - 7,000 years ago, when the Earth's orbital variations brought more sunlight to the Arctic in summer than at present. It is possible we'll know better soon. A new technique that examines organic compounds left behind in Arctic sediments by diatoms that live in sea ice give hope that a detailed record of sea ice extent extending back to the end of the Ice Age 12,000 years ago may be possible (Belt et al., 2007). The researchers are studying sediments along the Northwest Passage in hopes of being able to determine when the Passage was last open.

References
Belt, S.T., G. Masse, S.J. Rowland, M. Poulin, C. Michel, and B. LeBlanc, "A novel chemical fossil of palaeo sea ice: IP25", Organic Geochemistry, Volume 38, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 16-27.

Darrell S. Kaufman, David P. Schneider, Nicholas P. McKay, Caspar M. Ammann, Raymond S. Bradley, Keith R. Briffa, Gifford H. Miller, Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, Jonathan T. Overpeck, Bo M. Vinther, and Arctic Lakes 2k Project Members, 2009, "Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling", Science 4 September 2009: 1236-1239.

Howell, S. E. L., C. R. Duguay, and T. Markus. 2009. Sea ice conditions and melt season duration variability within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: 1979.2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L10502, doi:10.1029/2009GL037681.

Tropical Weather Outlook
The remains of Tropical Storm Erika are bringing heavy rain to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today, and this activity will spread to the Dominican Republic on Saturday. Radar-estimated rainfall shows up to three inches of rain has fallen in eastern Puerto Rico from the storm. Long range radar out of Puerto Rico shows no surface circulation or organization of the echoes, and redevelopment of Erika over the next three days is unlikely to occur due to high wind shear of 25 - 30 knots. By Monday or Tuesday, shear may drop enough to allow redevelopment, depending upon the location of Erika's remains. Redevelopment is more likely if Erika works its way northwestward into the Bahamas.

A large tropical wave with plenty of spin is located a few hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verdes Islands, off the coast of Africa. Heavy thunderstorm activity has increased slightly in this wave over the past day, and it has the potential to gradually develop into a tropical depression by early next week. NHC is giving this wave a low (less than 30% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday. The GFS model continues to predict development of this wave into a tropical depression early next week.

I'll have an update Saturday or Sunday, depending upon developments in the tropics.

Jeff Masters

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: 426 - 376

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 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57Blog Index

Quoting presslord:
...btw...What, exactly, is a "Golden Panther"?


Its the same thing as a Florida Panther but the name:
Florida International University Florida Panthers just sounds ridiculous.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What this blog needs is for Art Bell to come back to life and straighten everyone out here. Seriously I think Erica wore this blog out this week. Everyone have a nice safe holiday weekend.No ones 3 day weekend has been spoiled by a storm. We can all be thankful for that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Elena85Vet:


Awe, come on. He just parlayed the cash he made off inventing the internet.

ring ring..
*yeah can i have a $50 parlay with bush and gore please*..sure your comeback is 1 billion dollars..*parlay with global warming and oil*..yes thank you.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What in the heck are you people talking about global warming when the hottes it has gotten this summer in the northern states is about 70 degrees. Here is nthe southit has been feeling like fall since mid august and about a week ago the record low was broken with temperatures of 64 degrees. We could be all freezing and there will be people who still argue about global warming. What the heck is that, and the ones who talk down on humanity what the heck are you all Chimps or dogs I mean we might not be perfect, but who are you instead of pointing the greatness of humanity all you do is trash it. Let me make this clear. Whether you like it or not, Humans are the DOMINANT species on the planet. We RULE this planet we USE its resources for our benefit if the polar bear have a problem with that he can go ahead and go enxtinct and so as the LIBERALS it is called NATURAL SELECTION get over that k. Global warming hog wash it has been debunked. Dr. Masters all due respect you are the owner of this blog but if you do nto want your credibility affected I suggest that when you explain a subject like this you also add the other side of the story such as Solar output and the fact that warming was also experienced in other planets such as mars. Please explain that a good expalnation to the melting of the caps in the artci can be due to underwater volcanoes which have been pretty active lately and also explain what in the heck is the problem with warming to start with? LIFE THRIVES IN WARM ENVIRONMENTS.

Thank you all
have a nice day.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting cybergrump:
I see the spin on radar sucking in the convention from its north take a look.Link


Not the convention again...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
...btw...What, exactly, is a "Golden Panther"?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
If you're on the Right then you don't believe manmade global warming due to CO2 emmissions, if you're on the Left or middle, then you do, or at least are willing to listen to the arguments.
To be informed, one must be willing to listen to both sides.
Politics and science somehow are linked on the global warming issue. But then the same people want to link religion with politics.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just to give some of the folks on this blog an idea as to why storms of any strength are feared by us in the mountainous islands in the Antilles. Parts of Dominica had recorded over 12" of rain during the passage of Erika. This morning during a thunderstorm a further 5"+ (my rain guage overflowed)in a 3HR period on the mid east side of the island. This deluge has caused slides & bridge topping on two of the main roads linkin that side of the island to the capital. Something for the wishcasters to think about.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TreasureCoastFl:
Do you really think there’s more money and glory to be won by doubting global warming?


There *literally* is. Defending industry is lucrative. Public research jobs are not. The tobacco industry did the same thing -- hired scientists and paid them top dollar to produce denial "research". Here's info on the information campaign sponsored by $16m Exxon-Mobil, for example. Here's more. They even have a cash prize for publishing denials.

If you have a degree and want to make a mint, start publishing global warming denial for the fossil fuel industry. You certainly won't make that kind of money working at a public university. Where you're *also* allowed to publish denials, so long as they pass peer review.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TreasureCoastFl:
and i'm not sure but I think it might be splitting into two!


Are they making a Fujiwara with themselves?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Afternoon

Here is a little Historical hurricane information that is included in the Key West Weather Office morning forecast. Could this be the early beginnings of naming hurricanes?

Credit National Weather Service Key West

.CLIMATE...
ON THIS DATE IN KEYS WEATHER HISTORY...IN 1842...A HURRICANE...
NICKNAMED ANTJE`S HURRICANE AFTER A SCHOONER OF THE SAME NAME THAT
WAS DISMASTED BY THE STORM...STRUCK THE LOWER FLORIDA KEYS. THIS
HURRICANE DAMAGED SAND KEY LIGHTHOUSE AND NUMEROUS NAVIGATION
BEACONS...BEFORE MOVING WESTWARD ACROSS THE GULF OF MEXICO.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I think Obama posted on the blog last year. Has he been around lately? Maybe he could add some commentary.

Cue guy with all the screen names....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I see the spin on radar sucking in the convention from its north take a look.Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
MURKO--As the weather goes, things are starting to look a little interesting south of you.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just remember one of my favorite quotes to keep things in perspective:

“Sure, the lion is king of the jungle but airdrop him into Antarctica,& he's just a penguin's bitch” Dennis Miller!!

Its all about where you are and what you know. We are all learning!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Worth a peek for all- L8R

And Go Steelers !


http://surfacestations.org/

http://surfacestations.org/
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting justalurker:
maybe we need to have a special speaker here whos made millions on global warming..does that ring a bell..


Awe, come on. He just parlayed the cash he made off inventing the internet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
yea...but I like Flood...certainly don't wish that on him...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting serialteg:
What are you guys talking about... the blog is as disorganized as Erika :P
and i'm not sure but I think it might be splitting into two!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
bill gates another one who wants to help on global warming..lets just bring tons and tons of cold water in the gulf and flood Louisiana..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What are you guys talking about... the blog is as disorganized as Erika :P
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JupiterFL:
I am all for Global Warming. If it was warmer in New York then maybe their residents would stay there...
YEAH!...and no more black ice!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting stephelcarr:


wow, people need to calm down
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8301
Quoting JupiterFL:


From the bottom of my heart...Thank You


Bwaaaa. You did it again.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaSpin:


I see nothing to worry about. High shear there.


Ok, thanks again :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
42% approval rating and falling like a rock throwed in a deep ocean where there is a bottom!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NRAamy:


LMAO! haha you too tho!!
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8301
Quoting ConchHondros:


I think he invented the internet as well


LMAO
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Murko--believe me, if Erika was getting stronger and heading your way, you would know it because that is all this blog would be talking about. However, nothing is happening now, so why not a little off topic talk!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KarenRei:


Yeah, you tell it. After all, everyone knows that your average research scientist rolls around in giant money pit like Scrooge McDuck after cashing in those big checks from their lucrative job at the local public university....

(Do you actually believe that scientists who do basic research are in it for the money? *What* money?)
Do you really think there’s more money and glory to be won by doubting global warming?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting rareaire:
and the hanging Chad i believe!


No, that was his fluffer
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I've heard someplace that there was some scientific experimentation of creating hurricanes during the George W Bush presidency. What's the story behind that?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Godwin's Law
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ConchHondros:


I think he invented the internet as well


exactly!! ask him about what he thinks of global warming..laughing all the way to the bank..LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ConchHondros:


I think he invented the internet as well
and the hanging Chad i believe!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nishinigami:

Thank you for your response Tampa :)

I live in Louisiana, on that little finger sticking out in the Gulf (unfortunately) and the wind here is starting to pick up. Is this due to the spin in the Northeastern gulf? Is there any new information on that area?

Thanks :)


I see nothing to worry about. High shear there.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting justalurker:
maybe we need to have a special speaker hee whos made millions on global warming..does that ring a bell..


I think he invented the internet as well
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
sorry BILLIONS!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Murko:


Well that is the current situation, sure. It's been changing all the time, which is why I'm checking in regularly, but having to wade through football and now political posts to get my info.

While I don't think this storm is going to be a life or death situation, there are various things that I'm going to need to do depending on whether it's a direct hit by a 30mph storm or not.


ok, well im not sure that i know what to say because "erika" has been extremely unpredictable. sorry that i couldnt help, i tried, just trying to bring some peace back to the blog.
-Matt
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8301
maybe we need to have a special speaker here whos made millions on global warming..does that ring a bell..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:
so the new study--which used lake sediments, glacier ice cores, and tree rings to look at past climate

*time not wasted reading the rest*

One: Tree rings? Seriously? Thought temperature by tree ring had been thoroughly debunked. Cooler due to more rainfall makes bigger rings, too.
So, here we have a Hockey Stick by a different researcher using the same proxies.

Two: just how treed is the Arctic?

Three: Does anyone question the underlying assumptions made to make these conclusions?

Four: This is why I am not a paid member and have a full copy of my blog and it's links and plots elsewhere. Wunderground has received a one week ban on revenue from my hits for spouting previously debunked "science". Just because it is in Science doesn't mean it is actually science or needs to be in the tropical blog.

See y'all sometime after Friday, September 11, 11:35 AM CDT.


k....
Your absolutely right! I'm sure that the scientific evidence was planted there by some higher power to test non-believers faith. Obviously.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting JupiterFL:


From the bottom of my heart...Thank You
lmao!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TampaSpin:


Good chance it could!

Thank you for your response Tampa :)

I live in Louisiana, on that little finger sticking out in the Gulf (unfortunately) and the wind here is starting to pick up. Is this due to the spin in the Northeastern gulf? Is there any new information on that area?

Thanks :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting LUCARIO:
I think the way to save the earth is to breed less

yes keep them pants zip
I will never have chids
if ma husband DOESNT keep his pants zip
he is going to see me chasing him with a frying pan

me not having a kid= one less human


From the bottom of my heart...Thank You
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 426 - 376

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 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57Blog 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.