Massive storm swirls over the region in early August
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With rapid melting in early August, it seem almost inevitable that Arctic sea ice will dip to a new record low sometime in September, barring a major turnaround in the weather.
Extremely rapid melting was observed between Aug. 4 and Aug. 8, about the same time an unusually strong storm formed in the region, but scientists said they’re uncertain whether the storm contributed to the rapid decline, according to a mid-month update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
As of mid-month, the ice extent was the lowest on record during the satellite era (dating back to 1979), at 1.04 million square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average and 186,000 square miles below the previous record for the date, set in 2007 — the year that subsequently tallied to lowest-ever sea ice extent.
The biggest areas of open water are on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, as well as rapid ice loss in the East Siberian Sea, with near-normal levels of ice off the northeastern coast of Greenland.
Despite the overall low level of ice, the Northwest Passage is still blocked by ice at the McLure Strait.
This summer’s weather conditions are significantly different from 2007, when an area of high pressure persisted over the central Arctic Ocean. This summer has been marked with variable weather, but leading toward the same result.
Since June, ice has been melting at the rate of about 38,000 square miles per day and doubled for a few days in early August. The speed-up coincided with formation of a strong cyclone that formed over the east Siberian coast and strengthened rapidly over the central Arctic Ocean.
Read more about the storm and its potential impacts on sea ice extent at the UCAR blog.