Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy


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State of the Poles – 11/2/10

The state of global polar sea ice at the beginning of November 2010 is once again poor compared to climatological conditions (1979-2008). The Arctic sea ice extent remains well below average for this time of year.  The Antarctic sea ice extent is above average, but not nearly so much as the Arctic sea ice is below average, which is why the global sea ice extent continues to track below average also.  Global sea ice area has made a nice recovery since the mid-year low of ~17.5 million sq.km.  Some portions of the Arctic Sea weren’t as warm as they were after the 2007 or 2008 melt seasons, which has allowed Arctic Sea ice to refreeze in those areas quite rapidly.  One of the plots below will demonstrate nicely which areas were cooler and which were warmer.  The prime melt season for Antarctic sea ice is about to begin.  The global sea ice area will start to plummet as the southern sea ice melts before bottoming out in a few months’ time.

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State of the Poles – 10/4/10

The state of global polar sea ice at the beginning of October 2010 was once again very poor compared to climatological conditions (1979-2008). The Arctic ice extent was far, far below average for this time of year.  The Antarctic sea ice extent wass above average, but not nearly so much as was the case in the Arctic.  Unfortunately, global sea ice extent fell to ~17.5 million sq. km., something that has happened in only 2 previous Septembers: in 2007 and 2008.  The Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route are largely free of ice, allowing the Arctic Ocean to potentially be circumnavigated.

This post will mostly concentrate on the extremely poor conditions found in the Arctic this fall.  Antarctic conditions are not as extreme, largely and ironically thanks to the ozone hole over the continent which has kept stratospheric temperatures much cooler than they otherwise would be.  Eventually, our forcing leading to global warming will overwhelm the ozone hole cooling effect (and the ozone hole will gradually be “healed” anyway), which will cause long-term changes to Antarctica just like the Arctic.

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State of the Poles – 9/7/10

The state of global polar sea ice at the beginning of September 2010 is once again very poor compared to climatological conditions (1979-2008). The Arctic ice extent is far, far below average for this time of year.  The Antarctic sea ice extent is above average, but not nearly so much as was the case at the beginning of August.  Unfortunately, global sea ice extent has fallen to ~18 million sq. km., something that has happened in only 2 previous Septembers: in 2007 and 2008.  The Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route are largely free of ice, allowing the Arctic Ocean to potentially be circumnavigated.

Each month and each year that goes by provides additional proof that the Arctic has entered into a new state; a different state than has existed for 1,000 years or more.  Monthly and yearly weather conditions have varied considerably over the past few years, as one would expect, but the end result has been nearly the same regardless of any specific condition: Arctic sea ice is declining year-over-year.  It is declining at a rate that exceeds scientific estimates from just a few years ago.  Climate change deniers keep prattling on about increasing sea ice, in direct contradiction to the physical realities before them.  I think most of the areas that have sea ice this September will not have sea ice by 2020.  Specific weather or geologic events might delay the year that occurs slightly, but I don’t think it will take too much longer to witness an Arctic Ocean that is essentially ice-free.

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State of the Poles – 8/7/10

The state of global polar sea ice in July 2010 is somewhat poor compared to climatological conditions (1979-2008).  The Arctic ice extent once again finds itself far below average extent for this time of year.  In contrast, the Antarctic sea ice extent remains significantly above average conditions.  Given those two quite different stories, the fact that global sea ice extent has once again fallen below 19  million sq. km., just as it has the past five consecutive years and eight out of the past nine, speaks to the dangerously poor condition of Arctic sea ice.

A quick aside: it’s not just the regions north of 60 that are experiencing ridiculous warmth this year.  As I’ll detail further in my upcoming post on the NASA & NOAA global temperature datasets, numerous areas across the Northern Hemisphere have experienced record breaking heat this summer.  Washington D.C. has witnessed its warmest June-July on recordMoscow has experienced its warmest temperatures on record, while massive wildfires rage across the Russian countryside – burning both forests and peat bogs (all of which releases even more CO2 into the atmosphere).  All-time record temperatures for country after country has fallen this year – further speaking to the dead seriousness of climate change’s effects now beginning to take hold.

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State of the Poles – 7/7/10

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.

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State of the Poles – 6/21/10

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.

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State of the Poles – 5/5/10

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.

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