Arctic sea ice melting season begins

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 03:24 (GMT)

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The annual Arctic melting season has begun. We've just passed the Spring Equinox, so the North Pole is now in 24-hour daylight. Will the melting of Arctic sea ice this year surpass last year's record? Well, we have a greater areal extent of ice over the Arctic this month compared to April of last year, thanks to some cool Arctic temperatures this winter. In particular, the ice in the Bering Straight between Alaska and Russia extends quite a bit further south than in 2007. This extra ice will likely delay the melting season a bit this year, giving some hope that we won't surpass last year's record melt. However, if weather similar to last summer occurs--unusually clear skies and high pressure over the Arctic--this extra ice will not help much, because it is all thin, first-year ice. It is the thick, 2-9 year old ice that is most able to resist summer melting, and the amount of old multi-year ice is only about half of what it was in 2007. This is apparent from images taken by the QuikSCAT satellite, which carries the SeaWinds scatterometer. This instrument emits a pulse of microwave energy that bounces off the ice and returns to the satellite. Old, multi-year ice is thicker, and reflects a different amount of microwave energy back to the satellite than thin ice, resulting in a whiter image. Thin, first-year ice appears a darker grey. It is apparent from Figure 1 that we have only about half of the old, multi-year ice that we had last year. In fact, thin first-year ice extends past the North Pole, raising the distinct possibility that this year's melt will allow one to sail a ship all the way to the North Pole in September, for the first time since humans began testing Arctic waters with ships in 1497. In addition, a large region of the old ice north of Alaska is highly fractured, making it vulnerable to melting.


Figure 1. QuikSCAT images of the Arctic from April 4, 2007 and April 4, 2008. The boundary of old, multi-year ice is marked in yellow, and 2008 has about half the old ice of 2007. Image credit: NOAA/NESDIS/ORA.

How did we lose so much old ice in the past year?
Part of the lost old ice melted during the record-breaking melt season of 2007, which was fueled both by global warming and a natural (but unusual) sunny summer. Another big chunk of old ice was lost due to natural wind patterns between September 2007 and March 2008. An animation of the sea ice available from Environment Canada's sea ice page (click on "Updated QuikScat animation") reveals that strong winds pushed large amounts of old ice out of the Arctic southward along the east coast of Greenland. So, we can't blame the melting of the Arctic sea ice entirely on global warming--natural weather patterns also played a significant role.

The forecast
It's impossible to guess what the dominant Arctic weather pattern will be this summer, and what level of melting we will get. With the loss of so much old ice over the past year, though, even an average summer has the potential to melt much more ice this summer compared to last summer--all the way to the North Pole. There's also a good chance that we'll see the fabled Northwest Passage open up again, since most of the ice along the Passage is young, first-year ice. We'll just have to wait and see how the summer unfolds.

Jeff Masters

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984. all4hurricanes
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 19:48 (GMT)
OK place your bets what places will get hit by a devastating hurricane this year

1. The Carolinas
2. Texas
3. New England
4. Puerto Rico
5. Florida
6. Hispaniola
7. Cuba
8. Mexico
9. Leeward Islands
10. Central america
11. Jamaica
12. Gulf Coast
Member Since: 29.03.2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2338
983. Altestic
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 17:17 (GMT)
1. The GOM/Tatl is still cool, but not below average for this time of year.

2. I've raised my forecast dramatically. From 3 tropical storms to 13, and from 0 hurricanes to five.

3. If the Bermuda High swings too far east we might see all fish storms again...ONOZ!

4. StormTOP/StormKat won't be here this hurricane season, because he died.

5. AWL is VERY hot.

6. I'm going to a basketball game tonight, so I won't be around.
982. quasigeostropic
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:54 (GMT)
Next strong cold front by the beginning of next week should somewhat cool down the GOM and Western Atlantic .....in and out....bye
Member Since: 20.11.2007 Posts: 21 Comments: 192
981. quakeman55
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:44 (GMT)
Yeah, a weaker Bermuda high would mean more bends to the right in the track of hurricanes, which means more landfalls on the Gulf Coast and up the East coast, versus being driven deep down into Central America and Mexico like what happened last year.
Member Since: 31.03.2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
980. weathermanwannabe
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:39 (GMT)
The actual "numbers" at the end of the day/season will not be as critical as the higher probability for formation (and a threat to land) due to very favorable conditions for an active season (at present) which makes hightened awareness and preparedness all the more important this coming year..............Seems to me that weaker highs (Azores and Bermuda) may be the biggest factor in terms of where the greatest potential for a threat will emerge..........
Member Since: 8.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8278
979. stormdude77
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:35 (GMT)
It looks like SSTs in the Atlantic, are finally beginning to warm up, we'll see if it continues (although it should)...

978. sullivanweather
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:33 (GMT)
If anyone hasn't read as of yet...

My forecast for the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season - Issued March 10th.
Member Since: 8.03.2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
977. quakeman55
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:31 (GMT)
I'm sure the good Doctor is currently working his blog posting regarding Dr. Gray's latest forecast, and will post a new blog later today discussing his expert opinion on it. I do expect that we will get a more active year this time around. We got a break in 2006 and in 2007, but it's probably not going to last for a third year. I think someone's bound to get whacked this time. So heads up.
Member Since: 31.03.2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 1276
976. TheCaneWhisperer
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:29 (GMT)
Excerpt from the CSU REPORT

5 Current Atlantic Basin Conditions
Current conditions in the Atlantic basin are quite favorable for an active hurricane
season. Both of our early April predictors call for a very active hurricane season in 2008.
The current sea surface temperature pattern in the Atlantic is a pattern typically observed
before very active seasons. Waters off the coast of Iberia as well as the eastern tropical
Atlantic are very warm right now (Figure 6). The Azores High has also been quite weak
during the month of March. Typically, a weakened Azores High leads to weaker trade
winds that enhance warm SST anomalies due to reduced levels of evaporation, mixing
and upwelling in the eastern tropical Atlantic.
Our final April statistical model calls for a hyper-active season with an NTC of
190 (Table 10). Due to the uncertainty with current ENSO conditions, we do not feel
confident enough to raise our forecast that high at this point, however, if current trends in
the Atlantic persist, there is a possibility that the forecast could be increased more in early
June.

Yikes!!!
975. stormdude77
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:23 (GMT)
If you want, you can discuss the April Hurricane forecast on my blog... Link
974. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:21 (GMT)
also in 1848 a eastward moving major from gom made landfall on fla panhadle on oct 11 also an early season major made land fall in s cen la aug 18 cotton crop destroy that year as well thats 3 majors in one season
Member Since: 15.07.2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52265
973. stoormfury
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:18 (GMT)
april forecast 15 named storms 8 hurricanes and 4 intense hurricanes. released 20 mins ago
Member Since: 22.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2552
972. stormdude77
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:15 (GMT)
the surface trough in the CATL is beginning to look like a tropical wave with an axis near 36w which will bring showers to the winwards and trinidad on the weekend.

Yes, and I can't wait... it's been pretty dry here (in Barbados)...
971. stoormfury
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:12 (GMT)
the surface trough in the CATL is beginning to look like a tropical wave with an axis near 36w which will bring showers to the winwards and trinidad on the weekend.
Member Since: 22.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2552
970. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:10 (GMT)
1848 sept 25 landfall cat 3 or greater near fort brooke tampa bay storm was so strong surge so great that it create a new water way now in our time called new pass
Member Since: 15.07.2006 Posts: 165 Comments: 52265
969. weathermanwannabe
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 16:06 (GMT)
Just scanned Dr. Gray's report and it goes without saying that it is just a "prediction", and an early one at that, although it will be analized by us and Dr. M for days to come.........It also goes without saying (as, personally, I am not going to engage in "number speculation" this season) that I truly hope that what we do not get (reverse wishcasting...sorry)is a storm that disrupts oil production in the Gulf which would affect so many Americans nationwide in this time of high gasoline prices..........(not to mention any people, in the US or anywhere in the Carribean, which would have to deal with such an unwelcome calamity as Patrap mentioned earlier)...
Member Since: 8.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8278
967. weathers4me
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:54 (GMT)
Link
Member Since: 24.05.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 118
966. all4hurricanes
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:42 (GMT)

Australian storm?
Member Since: 29.03.2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2338
965. weathermanwannabe
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:40 (GMT)
Yeah....A lot of the East Coast storms like to "ride" the Gulf Stream as they head up towards the Carolinas (Floyd in 99 comes to mind)...............
Member Since: 8.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8278
964. heavyweatherwatcher
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:35 (GMT)
If you look at the SSTs you'll see a tongue of cooler water inland of the Gulfstream from where it bears off from the FL coast @ ~Stuart to where it passes off- paralleling- the NC coast. South of Stuart a storm stays over very warm, shallow water; north it is a bit deeper and cooler... observational data, but I'm sure it is relevant.
Member Since: 15.07.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 137
963. heavyweatherwatcher
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:32 (GMT)
Hit- yes, by a major, not probable... anything is possible... I've lived in FL since 1955. I grew up in S FL (Hollywood) during the middle to end of the last big 'cane cycle- we had a 'cane every year (it seemed) whether we needed them or not- and many were majors. I now live in Titusville. I live here for a reason. I understand and respect the big pinwheels...
Member Since: 15.07.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 137
962. weathermanwannabe
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:31 (GMT)
957. heavyweatherwatcher 9:21 AM CST on April 09, 2008
As a matter of factual data, in the 151 yr history of hurricanes ther has NEVER been a MAJOR hurricane (Cat III or greater) make a landfall north of Fort Pierce,FL or south of Savannah, GA.
The strike probabilities do not include that tidbit...


I have no idea if there is any scientific basis for it (or merely a matter of geometry/trajectory analysis in terms of when, and from where, storms approach the SE US coast) but I am intrigued by the fact that the majority of storms seem to follow "the curve" of the Florida Big Bend in the Gulf, or, the "the curve" from Mid-Florida up through the Carolinas before they are taken inland (to parts West of Panama City or parts North of Savannah)..........
Member Since: 8.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8278
961. weatherfromFlorida
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:29 (GMT)
Apparently the 2008 Season will be,
15 Named Storms
80 Named Storm Days
8 Hurricanes
4 Intense Hurricanes
ACE 150.
With a higher risk for Landfall in the US than last year.
Member Since: 22.03.2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 77
960. homegirl
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:25 (GMT)
Dr. Gray's forecast is up...

Link
Member Since: 1.08.2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 7425
959. weatherfromFlorida
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:23 (GMT)
957. heavyweatherwatcher 3:21 PM GMT on April 09, 2008 Hide this comment.
As a matter of factual data, in the 151 yr history of hurricanes ther has NEVER been a MAJOR hurricane (Cat III or greater) make a landfall north of Fort Pierce,FL or south of Savannah, GA.
The strike probabilities do not include that tidbit...


New Orlenes "We never get any damage from Hurricanes, they never hit there." It can happen, Hurricanes can hit anywere on the US coast, from Maine to Texas.
Member Since: 22.03.2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 77
958. heavyweatherwatcher
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:22 (GMT)
Make that 151 yr history of recorded hurricanes... obviously the beasties themselves have been around quite a bit longer...
Member Since: 15.07.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 137
957. heavyweatherwatcher
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:21 (GMT)
As a matter of factual data, in the 151 yr history of hurricanes ther has NEVER been a MAJOR hurricane (Cat III or greater) make a landfall north of Fort Pierce,FL or south of Savannah, GA.
The strike probabilities do not include that tidbit...
Member Since: 15.07.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 137
956. atmoaggie
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 15:04 (GMT)
Hey guys, NOAA wants us to comment on the new experimental TC windfield graphic to be used this season. See an example posted at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnhcgraphics.shtml#initialwind

This product will be produced for all storms this season.

From email:

"PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT...COMMENT REQUEST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HEADQUARTERS WASHINGTON DC
1030 AM EDT WED APR 9 2008

TO: SUBSCRIBERS:
-FAMILY OF SERVICES
-NOAA WEATHER WIRE SERVICE
-EMERGENCY MANAGERS WEATHER INFORMATION NETWORK
OTHER NWS PARTNERS...USERS AND EMPLOYEES

FROM: THERESE Z. PIERCE
CHIEF...MARINE AND COASTAL SERVICES BRANCH

SUBJECT: SOLICITING COMMENTS FOR EXPERIMENTAL TROPICAL
CYCLONE WIND FIELD GRAPHIC THROUGH NOVEMBER 30 2008

BEGINNING MAY 15 2008 AND CONTINUING THROUGH NOVEMBER 30 2008
... NWS IS SEEKING USER FEEDBACK ON AN EXPERIMENTAL TROPICAL
CYCLONE WIND FIELD GRAPHIC.

THIS PRODUCT WILL BE PRODUCED WITH EACH FULL ADVISORY PACKAGE FOR
TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL CYCLONES IN THE ATLANTIC AND EASTERN
PACIFIC HURRICANE BASINS. THIS GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATES THE AREAS
POTENTIALLY BEING AFFECTED BY TROPICAL CYCLONE SUSTAINED WINDS OF
VARYING FORCE.

IN ADDITION TO THE WIND FIELD THE GRAPHIC SHOWS AN APPROXIMATE
REPRESENTATION OF COASTAL AREAS UNDER A HURRICANE WARNING...
HURRICANE WATCH...TROPICAL STORM WARNING AND TROPICAL STORM
WATCH. A WHITE DOT INDICATES THE CURRENT POSITION OF THE CENTER
OF THE TROPICAL CYCLONE AND THE DASHED BLACK LINE SHOWS THE
HISTORY OF THE CENTER OF THE TROPICAL CYCLONE.

DURING PERIODS OF ACTIVE STORMS THE PRODUCT WILL BE ONLINE AT:
/USE LOWER CASE LETTERS/:

HTTP://WWW.NHC.NOAA.GOV/

A COMPREHENSIVE DESCRIPTION AND EXAMPLE IS POSTED AT:
/USE LOWER CASE LETTERS/:

HTTP://WWW.NHC.NOAA.GOV/ABOUTNHCGRAPHICS.SHTML#INITIALWIND

USERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK ON THIS EXPERIMENTAL
PRODUCT BY USING THE BRIEF SURVEY AND COMMENT FORM AVAILABLE AT
/USE LOWER CASE LETTERS/:

HTTP://WWW.WEATHER.GOV/SURVEY/NWS-SURVEY.PHP?CODE=TWFG

A LINK TO ALL NHC EXPERIMENTAL PRODUCTS IS ALSO PROVIDED AT
/USE LOWER CASE LETTERS/:

HTTP://WWW.NHC.NOAA.GOV/ABOUTEXPERIMENTAL.SHTML
"
Member Since: 16.08.2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
955. vortfix
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 14:58 (GMT)
There has been some rumblings that South Florida water restrictions might be eased a little bit.
I don't think anyone has posted this here today....this is the latest from this morning:


S. Fla. water managers may soon allow twice-a-week watering.
By Sally Apgar | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
9:52 PM EDT, April 8, 2008

Three months of rain and countywide conservation efforts have stemmed the drain on Lake Okeechobee and led to a recommendation that water managers ease the tight Phase III restrictions that now allow South Floridians to water their lawns or wash cars only one day a week.

With above-average rainfall since February, the staff of the South Florida Water Management District is recommending that the governing board adopt looser Phase II restrictions. Those restrictions would allow the majority of residents in the 16-county district — about 7.5 million people — to water their lawn two days a week.

The governing board meets Thursday.

"It's very encouraging that conditions are not mirroring what they did last year," district spokesman Randy Smith said. "Last year, the bottom fell out and we hit an all-time low in July."
954. weathermanwannabe
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 14:40 (GMT)
Not sure what the "measuring test" is (in terms of once a storm approaches Florida or what) but here is the average probability for some of the cities in Florida (over time) which supports the earlier post......[this is from floridahurricane net]

Florida Hurricane Strike Probability Statistics
Hurricane strike probabilities are only statistical estimates.

Pensacola 1 in 8
Apalachicola 1 in 17
Tampa 1 in 25
Ft. Myers 1 in 11
Key West 1 in 8
Miami 1 in 6Palm Beach 1 in 7
Vero Beach 1 in 20
Melbourne 1 in 20
Daytona Beach 1 in 50
Jacksonville 1 in 100


Notice how Miami area has been the most prone in Florida and how Jacksonville has been the least prone........
Member Since: 8.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8278
953. LakeShadow
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 14:25 (GMT)
interesting. thanks weathermanwannabe.
Member Since: 10.08.2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 2134
952. weathermanwannabe
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 14:21 (GMT)
950. LakeShadow 8:08 AM CST on April 09, 2008
morning all. Anyone know the history of hurricane landfalls near Tampa, Fl.? I got into a dispute..Some Tampa residents seem to think they wont get a storm with winds over 60mph... I think thats just silly.
Thanks again.


I can't find it right now but there is an older NWS chart (through 2001) which has all the hurricane strikes on Florida charted, going back to about the 1940's, and the Tampa area is pretty "light" on the map.....The most heavy area of strikes, on the Southern end of FL is from Naples around to Miami/FT. Lauderdale/Palm Beach, and, in the Florida Panhandle from Panama City area westward......The relative "safe zones" for Florida does seem to be from Tampa to the Big Bend on the West Coast, and, from Palm Beach to Jacksonville on the East Coast....
Member Since: 8.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8278
951. stormdude77
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 14:08 (GMT)
Yes I am, CaneAddict! I think there's going to be much discussion, whether he lowers his numbers or not... JMO
950. LakeShadow
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 14:08 (GMT)
morning all. Dont like the looks of that GFSx loop, Pat. But thanks for posting it.
I have to remind myself that the cold weather can still encroach on us here in the NE...I'm getting too used to this warm sunny weather. Yesterday it was over 70...and GORGEOUS!!!

Anyone know the history of hurricane landfalls near Tampa, Fl.? I got into a dispute..Some Tampa residents seem to think they wont get a storm with winds over 60mph... I think thats just silly. They claim there hasnt been any in over 40 years....I thought someone might have some info on this handy here. I just dont buy that arguement.

Thanks again.
Member Since: 10.08.2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 2134
949. vortfix
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 14:04 (GMT)
Thunderstorms are moving into SW and Western Oklahoma from the Texas panhandle.
This chart will self-update:



948. CaneAddict
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 14:03 (GMT)
Good morning stormdude77. Are you awaiting the updated hurricane forecast like i am? I personally believe they are going to aggressively up the forecast based on several factors.
Member Since: 5.10.2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 2151
947. CaneAddict
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 14:01 (GMT)
Or Aweatherlover Click Here.
Member Since: 5.10.2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 2151
946. stormdude77
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 14:01 (GMT)
Hello, CaneAddict and AWeatherLover!
944. CaneAddict
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 14:00 (GMT)
AWeatherLover: Go to google and google search coloradoe state university hurricane april forecast...
Member Since: 5.10.2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 2151
943. AWeatherLover
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 13:58 (GMT)
Where should I go to look for Gray's update today?
Member Since: 2.11.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 431
941. weathermanwannabe
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 13:38 (GMT)
Good Morning All........Guess the weather problem of the day will be the severe weather threat for the Mid-CONUS later today.....Let's hope that it will not be that bad and that the folks out there keep an eye on the weather and news and NWS (especially if the storms get bad after dark in the evening).......
Member Since: 8.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 8278
940. Patrap
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 13:24 (GMT)
Lotsa Wind fetching in from here.Itsa blowing in from the GOM this morning.Link

FAll returns this Weekend too.UNYSIS 10-day GFSx Link

NWS Slidell

Long term...
moderate to strong onshore flow persists through Thursday night
before gradient relaxes as next cold front approaches Friday
morning. This front should continue to push east through the
forecast area by late Friday with a considerable amount of cold
air advection to follow into Saturday. Overnight temperatures in
the interior sections of forecast area will likely challenge the
upper 30s as deep upper level trough digs down the Appalachians.
Mild conditions to continue into early next week with a steady
warming trend through next Wednesday.
Member Since: 3.07.2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125624
937. stormdude77
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 13:11 (GMT)
Good morning, everyone!
936. Patrap
9. huhtikuuta 2008 klo 13:09 (GMT)
Looks like a Bumpy,and deadly afternoon into evening StormW. Good morning to yas.
Member Since: 3.07.2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125624

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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