Climate: Arctic sea ice near record low in December

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Arctic sea ice extent in December hovered near the record low.

Significant negative trend seen in peripheral seas

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Arctic sea ice extent stayed well below average during December, especially in the Kara, Barents, and Labrador seas. For the month, the extent was the second-lowest in the satellite record, dating back to 1979.

Sea ice extent is slightly above average on the Pacific side of the Arctic edging farther south into the Bering Sea — the only part of the Arctic that has shown a slightly positive trend in ice extent during the winter months, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Continue reading

Arctic sea ice stayed near record low levels during November

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Arctic sea ice grows fast in November, but the average extent is decreasing from year to year. Graph courtesy NSIDC.

Despite above-average growth, the ice sheet did not catch up to average

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Even though Arctic sea ice grew at an above-average pace during November, the overall extent still remained one of the lowest on record during the satellite era, reaching 9.9 million square kilometers. Only a couple of other years have seen a lower sea ice extent at the end of November, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

During November, the ice sheet grew at an average rate of 98,600 square kilometers per day. The ice extent remained below the all-time record low for most of November before just matching those record low levels at the end of the month. Continue reading

Climate: Arctic sea ice near record low

Spring northern hemisphere snow cover extent has been dropping rapidly for 15 years.

Arctic air temps soaring well above average

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with the heat wave gripping a large part of the lower 48 states, some exceptional mid-June warmth in the far north helped speed Arctic sea to some record daily low levels in mid-month.

The ice extent on June 30 (3.70 million square miles) would not normally be expected until July 21, based on 1979-2000 averages. This puts extent decline three weeks ahead of schedule.

While weather patterns over the Arctic varied widely, air temperatures in the area stayed above the 1981 to 2010 average by as much as 7.2 degrees, and as much as 12.6 to 16.2 degrees above average over northern Eurasia and near southern Baffin Bay.

Continue reading

Global warming: Arctic sea ice extent dips toward new lows

Arctic sea ice in early June melted quickly after lingering near average levels in April and May.

Too early to tell if ice extent will reach new record low, but long-term downward trends are clear

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Arctic sea ice extent, which hovered near average in May, has declined rapidly in the past few weeks to dip well below average and below the level it was this time of year in 2007, when it reached a record low in September.

“Basically, right now, we’re quite a ways below 2007, and neck and neck with 2010, which was the lowest for this time of year … we’re very near record low levels for this time of year,” said Dr. Walt Meier, a sea ice expert with the Boulder-based National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The steady decline of Arctic sea ice extent is considered to be one of the key symptoms of global warming, with serious implications for climate, weather, ocean currents and sea level rise. Several recent studies suggest that the warming in the Arctic is directly affecting seasonal weather patterns by changing air pressure gradients that drive the speed and shape of the jet stream. And just last month, atmospheric scientists reported monthly average carbon dioxide levels at remote Arctic sensing stations hovered above 400 parts per million for the first time on record. Continue reading

Climate: May Arctic sea ice extent dips below average

Arctic sea ice extent dipped down toward historic low levels by the end of May. GRAPH COURTESY NATIONAL SNOW AND ICE DATA CENTER.

Average May sea ice extent has been declining by 2.3 percent per decade

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After hovering near average in April, Arctic sea ice melted rapidly in early May, dipping to near the extent seen in 2007, when the year ended with a record low sea ice extent.

But in the monthly update, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center said there is little historic correlation between May levels and the extent at the end of the melt season in September.

For the month, Arctic sea ice extent averaged 5.07 million square miles, which is about 185,000 square miles below the 1979 to 2000 average. Record low sea ice extent during the satellite measurement era was in 2004. Continue reading

Climate: Seasonal Arctic ice cap meltdown begins

 Arctic sea ice starting melting quickly in late April

Sea ice extent in Antarctica has been above average during the Austral summer.

Antarctica. IMAGE COURTESY NASA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After staying near average levels during much of April, the Arctic sea ice extent started a rapid decline late in the month, marked by the meltdown of freshly formed thin ice that can’t persist from year to year.

The linear rate of decline for April ice extent over the satellite record is 2.6 percent per decade.

For the month, the ice extent averaged 5.69 million square miles. Because of the very slow rate of ice loss through the last half of March and the first three weeks of April, ice extent averaged for April ranked close to average out of 34 years of satellite data, according to the latest update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Continue reading

Climate: Arctic sea ice peaks for the season

Thin ice formed in late season expected to melt quickly; thick, multi-year ice continues to decline

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Arctic sea ice extent peaked in late March, reaching its highest level in the past 10 years, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s monthly update.While sea ice extent in March was higher than in recent years, most of the ice that formed late in the season is very thin and expected to melt rapidly.

The average March sea ice extent of 5.87 million square miles is ranked ninth lowest out of the 34 years of satellite data for the month, but it was the highest March average ice extent since 2008 and one of the higher March extents in the past decade. Continue reading

Arctic sea ice near record low levels in January

Bering Sea ice is the exception, with well above-average ice

This NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image, acquired in mid-January, shows heavy sea ice conditions in Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea, off the western coast of Alaska. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Other than the Bering Sea, Arctic sea ice remained below average in January, with the extent totaling about 5.3 million square miles, the fourth-lowest January sea ice extent in the satellite record going back to 1979.

Since satellite records started, the linear rate of decline for January ice extent over the satellite record is 3.2 percent per decade, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which posted its latest update this week. Continue reading

Climate: Arctic sea-ice extent lags below average

Despite rapid October growth, ice remains near record-low levels

http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Arctic sea ice grew about 40 percent faster than average in October, but after an extensive summer melt-off, large areas of open water remained in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, leading to unusually warm conditions along parts of the Siberian coast.

At the end of October, the ice extent was the second-lowest in the era of satellite records, trailing only the record low year of 2007. During that span, average October sea ice extent has declined about 6.6 percent each year, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Arctic sea ice extent is on a long-term downward trend.

Continue reading

Global warming: Arctic sea ice decline continues in August

Arctic sea ice still trending down.

Northwest passage open for shipping

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The August sea ice extent in the Arctic reached the second lowest level for the month and tracked near record low levels for much of the summer. The latests readings underscore the continued decline in Arctic ice cover, according to the monthly update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The Arctic sea ice extent w  ill probably reach its lowest level in the next few weeks before starting to reform in the cold autumn and winter days ahead.

Average ice extent for August 2011 was 5.52 million square kilometers (2.13 million square miles). This is 160,000 square kilometers (61,800 square miles) above the previous record low for the month, set in August 2007, and 2.15 million square kilometers (830,000 square miles), or 28 percent below the average for 1979 to 2000. Sea ice coverage remained below normal everywhere except the East Greenland Sea. In addition, several large areas of open water (polynyas) have opened within the ice pack.

On August 31, 2011 Arctic sea ice extent was 4.63 million square kilometers (1.79 million square miles). This is 100,000 square kilometers (38,600 square miles) higher than the previous record low for the same day of the year, set in 2007.

As of September 5, ice extent had fallen below the minimum ice extents in September 2010 and 2008 (previously the third- and second-lowest minima in the satellite record). If ice stopped declining in extent today it would be the second-lowest minimum extent in the satellite record.

Conditions in context
In August, sunlight wanes in the Arctic and the sea ice decline starts to slow down. Although the decline slowed somewhat during August, ice extent retreated at a faster pace than average, at a pace of 67,700 square kilometers (26,100 square miles) per day. In comparison, the average rate of decline for August 1979 to 2000 was 53,700 square kilometers (20,700 square miles) per day.

Air temperatures were 1 to 4 degrees Celsius (2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average (relative to the 1981 to 2010 climatology) over the Arctic Ocean (measured approximately 1000 meters above the surface). The strongest anomalies were over the Northwest Passage region. High pressure persisted over much of the central Arctic Ocean, associated with a wind pattern that helped to push ice from the Beaufort Sea westward into the Chukchi Sea. This may have slowed some ice loss in the Chukchi Sea region. However, the wind pattern also transported ice into open waters warmed during the summer, fostering melt.

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