Climate: ‘We are headed for a seasonally ice-free ocean’


Sparse ice along the east coast of Greenland during the peak of the summer melt season. @bberwyn photo.

Arctic once again loses thick multiyear ice

Staff Report

At the end of its melt season, the Arctic’s ice cover fell to the fourth lowest extent in the satellite record, both in the daily and monthly average, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Sea ice extent hit 4.41 million square kilometers (1.70 million square miles) on September 11 and averaged 4.63 million square kilometers (1.79 million square miles) for the month of September.

This year edged out 2008 as the fourth lowest extent since satellites started regularly monitoring sea ice in 1979. The lowest Arctic extent on record occurred in 2012, when sea ice measured 3.62 million square kilometers (1.40 million square miles). Continue reading

Arctic sea ice set to bottom out at 4th-lowest extent


Arctic sea will soon reach its seasonal minimum. Map courtesy NSIDC.

August trend shows decline of 10 percent per decade

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists with the National Snow and Ice Data Center say they expect this year’s minimum Arctic sea ice extent to be one of the lowest on record in the satellite area. Through 2015, the linear rate of decline for August extent is 10.3 percent per decade, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The ice dwindled at a steady pace throughout the month of August at a rate of about 29,000 square miles per day, faster than the long-term average rate of 22,100 square miles per day, but slower than in 2012, when the Arctic ice pack reached a record low extent. Continue reading

Climate: Arctic sea ice extent lowest ever for March

Funky jet stream pattern blamed for western snow drought


This map shows the rank of snow water equivalent measured at SNOTEL sites across the western U.S. A rank of 1 (black dots) corresponds to the lowest SWE in the SNOTEL record; a rank of 31 (magenta dots) is the highest. Credit: Andrew Slater, NSIDC

Staff Report

FRISCO — After peaking at a record-low extent in late February, Arctic sea ice extent wavered for a bit but stayed low. That resulted in the lowest average sea ice extent on record for March, at 5.56 million square miles, according to the latest monthly update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

That’s about half a million square miles below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average and about 23,000 square miles below the previous record low, set in March 2006. Looking back several decades, March sea ice extent is declining at the rate of about 2.6 percent per decade. Continue reading

Climate: New book details global glacier losses

Most of the world’s ice rivers are shrinking into oblivion

The Dachstein Glacier in Austria has visibly and dramatically decreased in size in just a couple of decades. bberwyn photo.

The Dachstein Glacier in Austria has visibly and dramatically decreased in size in just a couple of decades. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For mountain dwellers around the world, shrinking glaciers are one of the most vivid symptoms of Earth’s rising fever. Those gleaming mantles of ice have already disappeared from iconic landscapes like Glacier National Park.

Globally, millions of people rely on glacier-regulated stream flows for water supplies, so communities need to prepare for disruptions in the hydrological cycle because it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the meltdown is not going to stop. Continue reading

Climate: July warmup brings quick Arctic meltdown


Arctic sea ice extent dipping near last year’s record low.

Ice melt in early July was 61 percent faster than average rate

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After an up and down start to the Arctic ice melt season, the Arctic summer started to take its toll on sea ice in early July.

With a shift in the large-scale weather pattern bringing warm southerly winds to the region, sea ice melted at a rate of 51,000 square miles per day during the first half of the month. That’s about 61 percent faster than the average rate of decline between 1981 and 2010, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s mid-month update. Continue reading

Study tracks links between sea ice and climate

No smoking gun — yet


Large areas of open water where there historically was ice is affecting regional air temperatures and atmospheric circulation in the Arctic. Image courtesy NASA.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — There’s no doubt that the continuing decline of Arctic sea ice is going to affect climate and weather across the northern hemisphere, but researchers are still trying to pinpoint exactly what the impacts will be.

In one recent study, scientists with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science found that as sea ice disappeared, the areas of relatively warm open water began to strongly influence the atmosphere, increasing surface temperatures in the region, and shifting low- and high-pressure zones around most markedly in the fall and winter.

“The way I see it, it’s one of the wild cards out there,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “The issue is just what those changes are going to  look like. That’s what we’re really still grappling with, we don’t have a handle on this … Is there a smoking gun? No, not yet,” Serreze said, discussing the findings of the new study. Continue reading

April 2013 ranks as 13th-warmest on record

Widespread above-average sea surface temps reported in monthly report


Despite some pockets of chilly weather, April 2013 global temps ranked as the 13th-warmest on record. Graphic courtesy NOAA/NCDC.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Despite a wide swath of cooler-than-average temperatures stretching from Alaska across parts of Canada and into Central North America, the average global temperature for April was well above average, ranking as the 13th-warmest April on record.

For the year to-date, global temperature across land and ocean surfaces are tied with 2009 as the eighth warmest on record, at 1.01 degrees above the 20th century average.

It also marked the 37th consecutive April and 338th consecutive month (more than 28 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average April temperature was April 1976 and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 1985.

Given the absence of El Niño, global sea surface temperatures were especially notable, ranking as the seventh-warmest on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center, which this week released its monthly global climate analysis. Continue reading


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