The state of global polar sea ice in July 2010 is fairly good compared to climatological conditions (1979-2008). The Antarctic sea ice extent is rebounding very nicely from its Southern Hemispheric fall minimum. It has passed the climatological median as well as the +2 standard deviation (meaning there is much more ice than is normal for this time of year). Heat isn’t simply making the east coast swelter this week. At the same time that dozens of American cities set daily record highs, the Arctic sea ice extent continues to set calendar-day record lows. Conditions there are the worst on record for July, substantially beating out years such as 2006 and 2007 for record low extent throughout most of June, as this time series shows.
I didn’t issue this earlier this month because I was waiting for the NSIDC monthly report, which was issued during a well-deserved vacation. I had originally written most of it to reflect conditions in early June, but apparently forgot to download the necessary graphics to complete the post. As such, I’m updating some of it for conditions through yesterday, which have only grown worse in the Arctic region. I’ll issue a similar post in early July to get back on my regular schedule.
The state of polar sea ice in mid-June 2010 is fairly good compared to climatological conditions (1979-2000). The Antarctic sea ice extent is rebounding very nicely from its Southern Hemispheric fall minimum. It has passed the climatological median and is approaching the +2 standard deviation (there is much more ice than is normal for this time of year). The Arctic sea ice extent is a different story altogether, however. Conditions there are the worst on record for June, beating out years such as 2006 and 2007 for record low extent in recent days, as this time series shows.
The state of polar sea ice in April 2010 is fairly good compared to climatological conditions (1979-2000), which strongly contrasts with the past few months when global conditions were below climatology. As it has done this time of year for a few years in a row, the global sea ice extent increased to the point where it is near climatological values, as this graph demonstrates. The anomalies observed in 2006 and 2007 become more obvious each time the globe’s sea ice increases in March/April.
The state of polar sea ice in March 2010 is fairly good compared to climatological conditions (1979-2000), which strongly contrasts with the past few months when global conditions were below climatology. As it has done this time of year for a few years in a row, the global sea ice extent increased to the point where it is near climatological values, as this graph demonstrates. The anomalies observed in 2006 and 2007 become more obvious each time the globe’s sea ice increases in March. The most recent data show that global sea ice covers ~15.25 million sq. km., compared to 15.75 million sq. km. normally.
I’ve waited until the NSIDC released their Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis report for February instead of posting something one month after my last post, then waiting for the NSIDC’s report to fill in some of the blanks in my discussion. From now on, I’ll wait for their reports to come out before posting.
The state of polar sea ice in February 2010 is bad compared to climatological conditions (1979-2000). The global sea ice extent continues to track well below climatological values, as this graph demonstrates. The most recent data show that global sea ice covers ~15.5 million sq. km., compared to 16 million sq. km. normally. That’s a recovery of 500,000 sq. km. from January, but still below average conditions. As I wrote last month, the last two times the annual minimum didn’t fall below climatological norms were in 2008 and 2004. In a nutshell, the annual minimum extent has shifted in behavior in a significant way in the last decade.
The state of polar sea ice in late January 2010 is bad compared to climatological conditions (1979-2000). For the fifth time in the past six years, the global sea ice extent minimum has fallen well below climatological values, as this graph demonstrates. The most recent data show that global sea ice covers ~15 million sq. km., compared to 16 million sq. km. normally. The last two times the annual minimum didn’t fall below climatological norms were in 2008 and 2004. In a nutshell, the annual minimum extent has shifted in behavior in a significant way in the last decade.
The state of the Arctic sea ice in late December 2009 remains the 2nd worst of any recorded December. The areal extent of sea ice continues to be well below the climatological average, and as it has for most of 2009, significantly below the negative 2nd standard deviation of the 1979-2000 area. The areal extent of Arctic sea ice continues to be anomalously low, as it has for well over a year now. The Hudson Bay has finally iced over. The late freeze this year was due to anomalously warm waters in the Bay in 2009. The Barents Sea remains relatively ice-free for this time of year. Remember, the Arctic Ocean hasn’t seen sun in a couple of months now.
The state of the Antarctic sea ice in late December 2009 is less disturbing. After reaching a high value of ~19 million sq. km. back in late September, the 2009 melt season exceeded that of the 2008 season. That trend shifted slightly as December drew to a close – the areal extent has increased from the 1979-2000 average to the positive 2nd standard deviation. The exact value of areal extent in 2009 remains below the value measured in 2008 by a small amount. The trend found in December is likely due to this year’s storms: both tracks and intensities vary year to year.
Globally, the extent of sea ice in 2009 continued the trend seen throughout the Aught’s: anomalously low extent, as seen in this graph. There were only a handful of times when global ice extent was significantly above the climatological average these past 10 years and none had the magnitude of the record low extents seen in 2007 and 2008. When viewed in the long term, it is clear to see that the state of the poles has shifted in the past 10 years. The majority of that state change has been in the Arctic.
China and the U.S. continue to have a moderate level of disagreement on issues related to verification, namely “measurable, reportable, and verifiable” or MRV as the parlance has developed. China says it isn’t opposed to MRV for actions that receive international financing, technology or capacity building support, which is actually a good thing. International monies and projects should be fully transparent and accountable. The U.S. disagreement stems from the fact that China has already implemented climate change actions since 2005 that are internally funded. If text currently being debated is put in place, those projects wouldn’t be subject to international scrutiny, which I agree would be a bad thing. National sovereignty is one aspect of this struggle, but so is international dependencies. Some nations will literally be swallowed by the seas soon. Those nations rightfully want to ensure that every other nation is doing what they say they’re doing (and legally bound to do by treaty).
The state of the Arctic ice in December 2009 is the 2nd worst of any December in recorded history. As has been the case for months now, the areal extent of Arctic sea ice continues to be nowhere near the climatological average. As I’ve stated before, that’s indicative that a new phase of the Arctic (and Antarctic) has been reached. Arctic ice through the month of November mimicked the behavior seen in 2007, the year the extent reached the record low. Slower ice growth was seen in the first half of the month; faster growth was seen in the second half of the month. Not everything is abnormal. Ice growth has been observed in the expected locations for the most part. There is always variability of where the ice grows and when it grows there from year to year. What hasn’t changed too much since 2007 is the lack of long-term (2-year or older) ice, which resists melting in the summer. A key point many climate change deniers miss is that the ice will appear winter after winter for many years to come. The lack of ice in the summer is the issue: increased solar radiation absorption by dark ocean water (instead of being reflected by white ice) adds to global ocean heat content instead of preventing it. Warmer oceans mean higher sea levels and shifting weather patterns – one aspect of climate change.
For comparison purposes, here is the similar picture from August:
Here is the time series graph with the +/- 2 standard deviations through yesterday:
The NSIDC hasn’t issued their early-month report on the Arctic yet. When they do, I’ll provide a link to it and share anything I find interesting from it. Absent that report, I want to share something else I keep me eye on. The University of Illinois’ Polar Research Group maintains a number of maps and plots for both poles of the cryosphere. Additionally, they track the state of sea ice globally through time. As of today, the maximum global extent of sea ice already occurred a couple of months ago and measured ~21 million sq. km. According to the time series, this is near a record low maximum for the year. The only other times this value was reached was in 2001 and 2007 (the record extends back to 1979). The climatological maximum is over 22 million sq. km. The difference might seem small – 1 million sq. km. – but it’s not. Egypt has 1 million sq. km. of land area. So this year, an area of ice the size of Egypt didn’t form. Of more concern is the low anomalies seen the past three years globally: between 2 and 3 million sq. km. or 2-3 Egypt’s worth of ice. That’s what I’m talking about when I say a new phase of the poles has been reached.
This larger view is probably something I’ll put more focus on in the future, hence the updated title from my ongoing series on this subject. Examining the Antarctic is and will be just as important as examining the Arctic.
Cross-posted at SquareState.
Evidence continues to emerge regarding the effects of declining ice volume and areal extent in the Arctic is affecting weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere. In a general sense, some kind of effects are of course to be expected. But what kind, what are their magnitude, etc. need to be explored. If it were up to the Cons, science would be defunded and we would have no idea what these emerging trends are. This is the critical importance that science plays in our society.
I’m going to link to another diary and allow readers to explore the material there. It’s decently written and links to science centers and refereed journals. Here is the summary:
Today’s Arctic sea ice extent is hovering at the historic record low level for today’s date observed in 2007. Warm water entering the ice free zone from the Atlantic ocean is adding heat to the Arctic, changing the northern hemisphere atmospheric circulation pattern – the weather of the whole northern hemisphere. Even El Nino is different from what it used to be.