Tag: Arctic sea ice

Reaching Paris climate goals would help polar bears survive

New research suggests that capping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius would lower chances of big population decline by preserving critical sea ice

 Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Can these mighty Arctic predators survive the era of human-caused global warming?  Photo courtesy Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Staff Report

Now that the world has a clear target for limiting global warming, scientists say they show how how achieving the goal would protect at least some ecosystems and vulnerable species from impacts.

One newly updated study found that aggressively cutting greenhouse gas emissions would help ensure the survival of polar bears, listed as threatened because of Arctic sea ice declines. Polar bears depend on the ice as platforms for feeding around the biologically rich continental shelves of the Arctic Ocean. Continue reading “Reaching Paris climate goals would help polar bears survive”

Climate: Arctic sea ice on pace for record meltdown

Arctic sea ice
The image above shows a May 21, 2016 view of Arctic sea ice in the Beaufort Sea from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor. Credit: Land Atmosphere Near-Real Time Capability for EOS (LANCE) System, NASA/GSFC.

Melt season is 2 to 4 weeks ahead of 2012, which set record for low extent

Staff Report

Arctic sea ice extent continues to track toward a record low, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported last week, resuming regular updates of sea ice after switching to a new satellite for the measurements.

As of June 7, the sea ice meltdown was ahead of 2012 by two to four weeks. Sea ice extent hit a record low that year and has been near that level every year since. The past two years, it set new record-lows for winter extent.

There was extensive early ice melt in the Beaufort Sea and surging warm air from eastern Siberia and northern Europe are part of what is driving this year’s below-average ice conditions, according the June 7 bulletin from the NSIDC. Continue reading “Climate: Arctic sea ice on pace for record meltdown”

Arctic sea ice maxes out at record low extent

‘The Arctic is in crisis’

This NASA Blue Marble image shows Arctic sea ice extent on March 24, 2016, which averaged 14.52 million square kilometers (5.607 million square miles) on March 24, beating last year’s record low of 14.54 million square kilometers (5.612 million square miles) on February 25. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center/NASA Earth Observatory.
This NASA Blue Marble image shows Arctic sea ice extent on March 24, 2016.  Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center/NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

After a winter that saw average temperatures across most of the Arctic hover between 4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit above average, sea ice in the region peaked at a record low extent for the second year in a row.

“I’ve never seen such a warm, crazy winter in the Arctic,” National Snow and Ice Data Center director Mark Serreze said in a press release that also explained how this year’s maximum sea ice extent came much later than average. See the full NSIDC report here.

“The Arctic is in crisis. Year by year, it’s slipping into a new state, and it’s hard to see how that won’t have an effect on weather throughout the Northern Hemisphere,” said Ted Scambos, NSIDC lead scientist. Continue reading “Arctic sea ice maxes out at record low extent”

Climate: Arctic sea ice sets another record low in February

ice
Arctic sea ice has been near record-low levels all winter long. Graph courtesy NSIDC.

Winter brings extraordinary ‘heatwave’ to the far north

Staff Report

Arctic sea ice was at a record low extent for the second month in a row in February, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Ice researchers said sea ice grew hardly at all during the first three weeks of the month during a time of year when the sea is extent is usually nearing its peak.

According to the NSIDC’s latest monthly update, the ice did expand a bit toward the end of the month, but above-normal temperatures in the Arctic have persisted all winter long. Arctic sea ice usually reaches its maximum extent in mid to late March, but last year, it peaked early, on Feb. 25, and at a record low extent. Continue reading “Climate: Arctic sea ice sets another record low in February”

Federal appeals court upholds polar bear habitat protection

 Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Panel says designation was based on ‘a thorough evaluation of the available science’

By Bob Berwyn

Acknowledging that polar bear populations in Alaska have been declining for many years, a federal appeals court this week reinstated critical habitat protections across more than 120 million acres — more than 95 percent of it sea ice — in the Alaskan Arctic.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling reverses a 2013 lower court decision that shot down the habitat designation, finding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designation met all required legal standards. Continue reading “Federal appeals court upholds polar bear habitat protection”

Climate: Arctic sea ice at record low in January

Antarctic sea ice also below average

sdfg
Arctic sea ice extent is declining at a rate of about 3.2 percent per decade. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Arctic sea ice extent in January  was the lowest in the satellite record, according to the latest monthly update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Scientists said the new record monthly low was likely the result of  unusually high air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean and a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation for the first three weeks of the month.

Meanwhile in the Antarctic, this year’s extent was lower than average for January, in contrast to the record high extents in January 2015.

In the Arctic, the ice extent average 5.2 million square miles, 402,000 square miles below the 1981 to 2010 average and 35,000 square miles below the previous record January low that occurred in 2011.

Across most of the Arctic Ocean, air temperatures ran more than 13 degrees above average for most of January as a cyclical air pressure shift enabled warm air to flow northward toward the Arctic.

Over the long term, January sea ice extent is shrinking at a rate of about 3.2 percent per decade. Sea ice extent has been below 14.25 million square miles every year since 2005, according to the NSIDC.

But some projections suggest that winter sea ice extent could hold steady or even increase in the short term because of changes in a key Atlantic Ocean current that transports cold water northward. Observational data show a slight upward trend in Arctic sea ice extent from 2005 to 2015.

See the full NSIDC update here.

Climate: Arctic sea ice near record-low extent

sadraf
Antarctic sea ice is back to a near average extent after running well above average for several years. @bberwyn photo.

End of year heat wave slowed expansion

Staff Report

Arctic sea ice extent in December ended up as the fourth-lowest on record, and is still hovering near a record low in mid-January, according to the latest monthly update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Through 2015, the linear rate of decline for December sea ice extent is 3.4 percent per decade (about 17,000 miles) per year.

For the month, the sea ice extent averaged 4.74 million square miles, about 301,000 square miles below the 1981 to 2010 average for the month. The rate of sea ice growth slowed slightly throughout December and nearly stopped early in January, federal ice trackers said, suspecting that a period of unusually warm temperatures in the Arctic caused the slowdown. Continue reading “Climate: Arctic sea ice near record-low extent”