Washington, March 21 2015 -
Arctic sea ice typically reaches its summer minimum extent in September, and its winter maximum extent in early March. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Arctic sea ice extent reached 14.54 million square kilometers (5.61 million square miles) on February 25, and then began to decline, signaling that the spring thaw was underway. Unless a late growth spurt takes place, it will be the smallest maximum extent in the satellite record.
This map shows sea ice concentration on February 25, 2015. The yellow line is the 1981-2010 median extent for that date. Satellites orbit near but not directly over the poles, so there is a data gap over the North Pole, and NSIDC calculations treat this area as completely ice covered. > www.climate.gov.: Arctic sea ice winter maximum may be smallest on record
Combined Arctic ice observations show decades of loss
The average annual sea ice thickness, in meters, for the central Arctic Ocean. Red dots are submarine records. The green line is the long-term trend. Credit: phys.org / R. Lindsay / Univ. of Washington
Washington, March 03 / 04 2015 -
It's no surprise that Arctic sea ice is thinning. What is new is just how long, how steadily, and how much it has declined. University of Washington researchers compiled modern and historic measurements to get a full picture of how Arctic sea ice thickness has changed.
The results, published this month in The Cryosphere, show a thinning in the central Arctic Ocean of 65 percent between 1975 and 2012. September ice thickness, when the ice cover is at a minimum, is 85 percent thinner for the same 37-year stretch.
“The ice is thinning dramatically,” said lead author Ron Lindsay, a climatologist at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory. “We knew the ice was thinning, but we now have additional confirmation on how fast, and we can see that it’s not slowing down.”
The study helps gauge how much the climate has changed in recent decades, and helps better predict an Arctic Ocean that may soon be ice-free for parts of the year.
Locations of sea ice thickness measurements by aircraft (AIR-EM and IceBridge), fixed points (other panels on the left), satellite (ICESAT) and submarines.R. Lindsay / UW
The project is the first to combine all the available observations of Arctic sea ice thickness. The earlier period from 1975 to 1990 relies mostly on under-ice submarines. Those records are less common since 2000, but have been replaced by a host of airborne and satellite measurements, as well as other methods for gathering data directly on or under the ice.
“A number of researchers were lamenting the fact that there were many thickness observations of sea ice, but they were scattered in different databases and were in many different formats,” Lindsay said. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funded the effort to compile the various records and match them up for comparison.
(www.climate.gov.), January 20, 2015 -
Each winter, sea ice expands to fill nearly the entire Arctic Ocean basin, reaching its maximum extent in March. Each summer, the ice pack shrinks, reaching its smallest extent in September. The ice that survives at least one summer melt season tends to be thicker and more likely to survive future summers. Since the 1980s, the amount of this perennial ice (sometimes called multiyear) has declined. > www.climate.gov.: Old ice in Arctic vanishingly rare
Rising air and sea temperatures continue to trigger changes in the Arctic
Polar bears depend on sea ice for dens, food and mating. The loss of sea ice is affecting some polar bear populations and health. Credit: www.noaanews.noaa.gov / Kathy Crane
Last countdown to the SWERUS-C3 Arctic expedition
(Imau), June 26, 2014 -
In the first week of July 2014, a group of about forty international researchers will board the icebreaker Oden in Tromsø to cross the Arctic Ocean and hopefully reach Barrow in Alaska at the end of August. The aim of the SWERUS-C3 campaign is to investigate the interactions between the thawing cryosphere, the carbon cycle and the climate system. > phys.org: Last countdown to the SWERUS-C3 Arctic expedition
The unprecedented policy issues emerging as melting sea ice opens up new opportunities for deep-sea mining
(Phys.org), June 19, 2014 -
Our planet's crown of Arctic sea ice may disappear for entire summers by midcentury as the North Pole warms, opening up brand-new opportunities to mine rich stores of oil, gas, and coveted mineral deposits, including rare earth metals used in cell phones. The emerging situation is unprecedented: There are legal and policy questions about how conflicts over national boundaries, concerns about environmental damage, and threats to the well-being of indigenous peoples will be handled.
Oceans at MIT brought these questions to Lawrence Susskind, the Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at MIT, director of the MIT Science Impact Collaborative, and vice chair of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. He specializes in environmental policy and resolution of water conflicts, and sees a unique need for new Arctic agreements. > phys.org: The unprecedented policy issues emerging as melting sea ice opens up new opportunities for deep-sea mining
September Arctic sea-ice minimum predicted by spring melt-pond fraction
Meltwater ponds on the sea ice around the Northpole
(Nature) 20 April 2014, - (by David Schröder, Daniel L. Feltham, Daniela Flocco & Michel Tsamados) -
The area of Arctic September sea ice has diminished from about 7 million km2 in the 1990s to less than 5 million km2 in five of the past seven years, with a record minimum of 3.6 million km2 in 2012.
The strength of this decrease is greater than expected by the scientific community, the reasons for this are not fully understood, and its simulation is an on-going challenge for existing climate models2.
With growing Arctic marine activity there is an urgent demand for forecasting Arctic summer sea ice4. Previous attempts at seasonal forecasts of ice extent were of limited skill. However, here we show that the Arctic sea-ice minimum can be accurately forecasted from melt-pond area in spring. We find a strong correlation between the spring pond fraction and September sea-ice extent.
This is explained by a positive feedback mechanism: more ponds reduce the albedo; a lower albedo causes more melting; more melting increases pond fraction.
Our results help explain the acceleration of Arctic sea-ice decrease during the past decade. The inclusion of our new melt-pond model promises to improve the skill of future forecast and climate models in Arctic regions and beyond. > www.nature.com: September Arctic sea-ice minimum predicted by spring melt-pond fraction
PIOMAS April 2014: Last year's rebound has been fully negated
Climate.gov, April 3, 2014 -
It’s finally here! Yesterday, scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced the ultimate sign of spring: Arctic sea ice reached its winter peak on March 21, 2014, and the annual melt season is underway.
This winter’s maximum sea ice extent in the Arctic was 14.91 million square kilometers (5.76 million square miles), making it the fifth smallest winter maximum since satellite records began in 1979.
Meanwhile, Southern Hemisphere sea ice reached its annual low point on February 23, 2014. This year’s summer minimum extent was 3.54 million square km (1.37 million square mi), which was the fourth largest in the satellite record. > www.climate.gov.: Sea ice update: 2014 Arctic winter maximum, Antarctic summer minimum
Arctic sea ice falls to fifth lowest level on record
Seasonal Arctic summer ice extent still hard to forecast, study says
An image of an area of the Arctic sea ice pack well north of Alaska, captured by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite on Sept. 13, 2013, the day before the National Snow and Ice Data Center estimated Arctic sea ice to have reached its minimum extent for the year. A cloud front can be seen in the lower left, and dark areas indicate regions of open water between sea ice formations. Credit: NASA
Storms whip up differences in polar sea ice
Hobart, 11 March 2014 -
Frequency of storms could help explain why sea ice is spreading around Antarctica but melting rapidly in the Arctic, say Australian researchers.
Melting continental ice shelves in Antarctica could also encourage the growth of sea ice there, adds climate scientist Professor Ian Simmonds from the University of Melbourne.
Simmonds presented the hypothesis today at the 2014 International Glaciological Society Conference in Hobart. > www.abc.net.au: Storms whip up differences in polar sea ice
New data confirms Arctic ice trends: sea ice being lost at a rate of five days per decade
London, 4 March 2014 -
The melt season across the Arctic is getting longer by five days per decade, according to new research from a team including Prof Julienne Stroeve (Professor of Polar Observation and Modelling at UCL Earth Sciences). New analysis of satellite data shows the Arctic Ocean absorbing ever more of the sun’s energy in summer, leading to an ever later appearance of sea ice in the autumn. In some regions, autumn freeze-up is occurring up to 11 days per decade later than it used to. > www.ucl.ac.uk: New data confirms Arctic ice trends: sea ice being lost at a rate of five days per decade
Study: Arctic getting darker, making Earth warmer
This handout photo provided by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Arctic sea ice in 2013. The Arctic isn't nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that's turning out to be a global problem, a new study says. With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun's heat is reflected back into space. So the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Underestimating global warming: gaps in Arctic temperature data lead scientists and public astray
Melting Arctic sea ice in 2000. The light blue areas are melt ponds lying on the sea ice; the dark blue areas are open water. Both Arctic sea ice extent and volume have plunged in the recent years. Photo: news.mongabay.com / NASA.
(Mongabay.com) January 15, 2014 -
No place on Earth is heating up faster than the Arctic, but just how fast has remained an open question due to large gaps in temperature data across the vast region.
Now, a recent study in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society finds that not only is the Arctic warming eight times faster than the rest of the planet, but failure to account for temperature gaps has led global datasets to underestimate the rise of temperatures worldwide.
Recently, some scientists have noted that the pace of global warming appears to have slowed—while many climate change deniers and media groups have erroneously claimed it has stopped altogether. But by adding in new temperature data from satellites over the rapidly-warming Arctic, scientists report that the world's climate is warming as rapidly as predicted, only the Arctic is currently facing the brunt of it. > news.mongabay.com: Underestimating global warming: gaps in Arctic temperature data lead scientists and public astray
CU-Boulder-led study shows unprecedented warmth in Arctic
CU-Boulder Professor Gifford Miller is shown here collecting dead plant samples from beneath a Baffin Island ice cap. (Photo courtesy Gifford Miller, University of Colorado Boulder)
Boulder / Colorado, October 23 / 24, 2013 -
The heat is on, at least in the Arctic. Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years and perhaps as long ago as 120,000 years, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.
The study is the first direct evidence the present warmth in the Eastern Canadian Arctic exceeds the peak warmth there in the Early Holocene, when the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the Northern Hemisphere in summer was roughly 9 percent greater than today, said CU-Boulder geological sciences Professor Gifford Miller, study leader. The Holocene is a geological epoch that began after Earth’s last glacial period ended roughly 11,700 years ago and which continues today.
Miller and his colleagues used dead moss clumps emerging from receding ice caps on Baffin Island as tiny clocks. At four different ice caps, radiocarbon dates show the mosses had not been exposed to the elements since at least 44,000 to 51,000 years ago. www.colorado.edu: CU-Boulder-led study shows unprecedented warmth in Arctic www.huffingtonpost.com: Arctic Temperatures Reach Highest Levels In 44,000 Years, Study Finds
To drill or not to drill – that is not the question
Russia recognizes its responsibility of preserving the Arctic’s stability', President Putin said at the Arctic Forum. Photo: barentsobserver.com / Trude Pettersen
2013 Arctic sea ice minimum compared to the new "normal"
Sea ice concentration on September 13, 2013, compared to the old baseline (1979-2000, green) and the new baseline (1981-2010, orange). The baselines represent the median ice extent (half of the years were larger, half were smaller) for mid-September during the time period. The "normal" extent is smaller than it used to be, especially in the western Arctic. Historically, the North Pole was not well observed by satellites (black hole). Map by NOAA Climate.gov, based on sea ice data analysis by Kevin Beam, NSIDC.
(www.climate.gov.) September 24 2013 -
To be consistent with NOAA's use of 30-year periods for the official "climate normals," the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) switched its baseline period for sea ice analyses from 1979-2000 to 1981-2010. The low ice conditions of the recent past will appear less abnormal when compared to the 1981-2010 average than they would compared to the 1979-2000 average.
In most cases, a 30-year period is long enough to average out short-term variability, so adding and dropping new decades to a "normal" has little influence on anomalies or trends. However, because Arctic sea ice extent has declined dramatically in the past decade, the new normal extent is smaller than the old one. That difference means maps and graphs that Climate.gov publishes going forward may look slightly different than ones we have published in the past. > www.climate.gov.: 2013 Arctic sea ice minimum compared to the new "normal"
Arctic sea ice "recovers" to its 6th-lowest extent in millennia
Average July through September Arctic sea ice extent 1870–2008 from the University of Illinois (Walsh & Chapman 2001 updated to 2008) and observational data from NSIDC for 2009–2013. Graph: www.skepticalscience.com / Walsh & Chapman /NSIDC
(Sceptical Science) September 19 / 20 2013 -
As Suzanne Goldenberg reported in The Guardian yesterday, Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its annual minimum extent, at approximately 5.1 million square kilometers. This is the 6th-lowest extent since the satellite record began in 1979.
But in fact, scientists have also reconstructed Arctic sea ice extent data much further into the past. For example, Walsh & Chapman from the University of Illinois have estimated sea ice extent as far back as the year 1870 using a vast array of data (for example, records kept by the Danish Meteorological Institute and Norwegian Polar Institute, and reports made from ocean vessels). While climate contrarians will sometimes try to argue that Arctic sea ice extent may have reached similar lows to today's in the 1920s or 1930s–1940s, the data compiled by Walsh & Chapman tell a very different story. > www.skepticalscience.com: Arctic sea ice "recovers" to its 6th-lowest extent in millennia
Arctic on course for ice-free summer 'within decades', scientists say
The Arctic could be ice-free in summer within decades, scientists have said. Photograph: Jenny E Ross/Corbis
Arctic sea ice extent for September 13, 2013 was 5.10 million square kilometers (1.97 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 median extent for that day. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Map: nsidc.org
Are we cooling?
(NSIDC) September 16, 2013
After a cool Arctic summer, sea ice at the North Pole has recovered somewhat from last year’s record low extent. While this is a welcome pause in the downward trend of sea ice extent, some are taking it a step further and hailing this rebound as evidence that the Arctic is no longer warming. But does the recent uptick mean that we have entered a period of global cooling? NSIDC scientists point out why we shouldn’t be reading too much into one summer of less sea ice decline. > nsidc.org: A modest recovery (Sep 16)
Oil industry and household stoves speed Arctic thaw
This map shows the surface concentrations of black carbon, from all emission sources, as simulated by the new study. The study shows that residential combustion emissions and gas flaring emissions are higher than previous studies had estimated. Credit: Stohl, et. al. 2013
(Phys.org) September 10 2013 —
The new study, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics by researchers at IIASA and in Norway, Finland, and Russia, finds that gas flaring from oil extraction in the Arctic accounts for 42% of the black carbon concentrations in the Arctic, with even higher levels during certain times of the year. In the month of March for example, the study showed that flaring accounts for more than half of black carbon concentrations near the surface. Globally, in contrast, gas flaring accounts for only 3% of black carbon emissions.
The researchers also found that residential combustion emissions play a greater role in black carbon pollution than previously estimated, after they incorporated seasonal differences in emissions into the model. > phys.org: Oil industry and household stoves speed Arctic thaw
PIOMAS September 2013
Arctic Sea Ice Blog: "Average thickness (crudely calculated by dividing PIOMAS (PI) volume numbers with Cryosphere Today (CT) sea ice area numbers) is still lowest, though. Although a large part of that record amount of first-year ice at the start of the melting season has been preserved, it still is thin, of course."
The Arctic is especially sensitive to black carbon emissions from within the region
(Phys.org), Aug 14, 2013 -
Black carbon, also known as soot, emitted from combustion of fuels and biomass burning, absorbs solar radiation in the atmosphere and is one of the major causes of global warming, after carbon dioxide emissions. When black carbon is deposited on snow and ice, the soot-covered snow or ice absorbs more sunlight, leading to surface warming. Due to the large amount of snow and ice in the Arctic—which has warmed twice as fast as the global average over the past century—the region is likely to be especially sensitive to black carbon. > phys.org: The Arctic is especially sensitive to black carbon emissions from within the region
Noaa report says Arctic sea ice is disappearing at unprecedented pace
Arctic sea-ice loss has widespread effects on wildlife
Annual minimum sea-ice extent (A) has declined dramatically from 1979 to 2012. The percentage concentration loss per year in seasonal sea-ice minimum extent (July to September) has increased most between 1979 and 1999 (B) and between 2000 and 2011 (C) along the coasts of Russia, Alaska, and the Canadian Archipelago. Image: www.sciencemag.org
(Eurekalert.org / Sciencemag.org) August 2 2013 -
With sea ice at its lowest point in 1,500 years, how might ecological communities in the Arctic be affected by its continued and even accelerated melting over the next decades?
In a review article in the journal Science, to be published on 2 August 2013, Eric Post, a Penn State University professor of biology, and an international team of scientists tackle this question by examining relationships among algae, plankton, whales, and terrestrial animals such as caribou, arctic foxes, and walrus; as well as the effects of human exploration of previously inaccessible parts of the region. > www.eurekalert.org: Arctic sea-ice loss has widespread effects on wildlife > www.sciencemag.org: Ecological Consequences of Sea-Ice Decline
Ice-free Arctic winters could explain amplified warming during Pliocene
Boulder (Col) July 30 2013 -
Year-round ice-free conditions across the surface of the Arctic Ocean could explain why the Earth was substantially warmer during the Pliocene Epoch than it is today, despite similar concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to new research carried out at the University of Colorado Boulder.
In early May, instruments at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii marked a new record: The concentration of carbon dioxide climbed to 400 parts per million for the first time in modern history.
The last time researchers believe the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere reached 400 ppm — between 3 and 5 million years ago during the Pliocene— the Earth was about 2 to 5 degrees Celsius warmer than it is today. During that time period, trees overtook the tundra, sprouting right to the edges of the Arctic Ocean, and the seas swelled, pushing ocean levels 65 to 80 feet higher. > Miocene / Pliocene: Ice-free Arctic winters could explain amplified warming during Pliocene
Arctic time bombs
London, July 26 2013 -
While keeping an eye on day-to-day data and speculating about whether 2013 is going to overcome the odds and break last year's records, one tends to forget about the wider implications and what this actually is all about. A tree is incredibly interesting, but in the end it's all about the forest.
It's important to remember that the situation isn't looking good in the Arctic. Not good at all. We're witnessing things that were supposed to happen decades from now. Instead we're looking at a change that is hard to fathom, but takes place during our lifetimes, not on a geological timescale. > neven1.typepad.com / ASIB: Arctic time bombs
An unrecognizable Arctic
(nasa.gov), July 25, 2013 -
In early May 2013, sensors atop a research facility perched on Hawaiian volcano Mauna Loa recorded a sobering statistic. The average daily level of carbon dioxide in the air had reached a concentration above 400 parts per million—a level that hasn’t been seen since around 3 to 5 million years ago, well before humans roamed the Earth.
Human burning of fossil fuels continues to increase the amount of carbon, a potent heat-trapping greenhouse gas, in our atmosphere. As a result, our planet is warming, and that warming is pushing Earth systems past critical points. This is especially true within the icy realm of the Arctic, the northernmost polar region of the planet, where the effects of climate change are expected to be most exaggerated and have the biggest impact.
“The changes are dramatic,” said Ron Kwok, a senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “It is indisputable that sea level rise, disappearing sea ice, melting ice sheets and other changes are happening. It’s a call to action in terms of understanding and mitigation.” > climate.nasa.gov: An unrecognizable Arctic>
Ice-free Arctic in two years heralds methane catastrophe – scientist
Arctic Sea Ice During the Pliocene Era
July 10, 2013 —
New research by UM bioclimatology Assistant Professor Ashley Ballantyne models the influence of Arctic sea ice on Arctic temperatures during the Pliocene era. His research was published in the Research Highlight section of the July issue of Nature Geoscience. The full paper will be published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology: An International Journal for the Geosciences. > www.sciencedaily.com: Arctic Sea Ice During the Pliocene Era
Scientists: Arctic sea ice to shrink to record low this summer
(Labequipment) April 18 2013 -
Arctic sea ice has never looked so thin. In the past decade, melting has sped up, shrinking the area where ice floats above the Arctic Ocean to fractions of its previous size and leaving chunks of frozen seawater uncomfortably slender. Recent research confirmed that the extent of Arctic sea ice in September 2012 was the smallest on record. > www.laboratoryequipment.com: Arctic Sea Ice Has Record-Small Footprint
Arctic nearly free of summer sea ice during first half of 21st century
(NOAA), April 12, 2013 -
For scientists studying summer sea ice in the Arctic, it’s not a question of “if” there will be nearly ice-free summers, but “when.” And two scientists say that “when” is sooner than many thought — before 2050 and possibly within the next decade or two.
James Overland of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and Muyin Wang of the NOAA Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington, looked at three methods of predicting when the Arctic will be nearly ice free in the summer. The work was published recently online in the American Geophysical Union publication Geophysical Research Letters.
“Rapid Arctic sea ice loss is probably the most visible indicator of global climate change; it leads to shifts in ecosystems and economic access, and potentially impacts weather throughout the northern hemisphere,” said Overland. “Increased physical understanding of rapid Arctic climate shifts and improved models are needed that give a more detailed picture and timing of what to expect so we can better prepare and adapt to such changes. Early loss of Arctic sea ice gives immediacy to the issue of climate change.”
“There is no one perfect way to predict summer sea ice loss in the Arctic,” said Wang. “So we looked at three approaches that result in widely different dates, but all three suggest nearly sea ice-free summers in the Arctic before the middle of this century.” > www.noaanews.noaa.gov: Arctic nearly free of summer sea ice during first half > onlinelibrary.wiley.com: When will the summer arctic be nearly sea ice free? (Feb 21 2013)
Scientists Study Peculiar Arctic Sea Ice Cracking Pattern
Anchorage, April 11, 2013
It started with an unusual storm that passed over the North Pole on Feb. 8. The National Snow and Ice Data Center says it caused the sea ice to crack, and the cracks to spread in a curving pattern, from the tip of Alaska to Canada. Similar patterns have appeared in the past, though not of this scale. > www.alaskapublic.org: Scientists Study Peculiar Arctic Sea Ice Cracking Pattern
Met Office investigating Arctic link to record low temperatures in UK
(NASA Earth Observatory) April 4, 2013 -
In September 2012, the ice cap over the Arctic Ocean shrank to its lowest extent on record, about half the size of the average summertime extent from 1979 to 2000. That sea ice minimum continued a long-term trend of diminishing ice cover over the past few decades.
During the darkness and bitter cold of Arctic winter, new sea ice forms and older ice re-freezes and grows. This growth typically reaches its maximum extent in late February or early March.
According to a NASA analysis, this year’s annual maximum extent was the fifth lowest in the past 35 years. The yearly maximum—15.09 million square kilometers (5.82 million square miles)—was reached on February 28, 2013, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The 2013 winter extent is 374,000 square kilometers (144,402 square miles) below the average maximum extent for the past three decades.
Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) assert that the Arctic ice maximum occurred on March 15, 2013. Their calculated extent of 15.13 million square kilometers (5.84 million square miles) was less than half a percent from the NASA maximum extent. The two institutions use slightly different methods in their sea ice assessments, but overall their trends show close agreement. In both cases, the 2013 measurement fits with the ongoing trend: nine of the ten smallest ice maximums in the satellite record have occurred in the past decade. > earthobservatory.nasa.gov: Sea Ice Max Continues Downward Trend > phys.org: 2013 wintertime Arctic sea ice maximum fifth lowest on record (w / Video) > www.accuweather.com: Update on the Arctic Sea Ice Age
Melting of the Arctic sea ice
Amsterdam, March 25 2013 - (by Jos Hagelaars) -
This was the title of a discussion that was held on the recently launched website ClimateDialogue regarding the possible causes of the decline in Arctic sea ice over the past decades. Three experts participated in this discussion: Walt Meier, Research Scientist at the NSIDC, Judith Curry, professor at Georgia Institute of Technology and Ron Lindsay, Senior Principal Physicist at the Polar Science Center of the University of Washington.
In this blog post I will start off with a description of the observations of the Arctic region, followed by a short overview of the potential causes of the decline in Arctic sea ice, incorporating the views of the three experts as they were expressed on ClimateDialogue. The final parts concern the uniqueness of this decline in a historical perspective and the possibility of having an ice-free Arctic in the summer in the not too distant future. > ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com: Melting of the Arctic sea ice > klimaatverandering.wordpress.com: Dutch version
Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss
London / New York, March 25 2013 -
Climate scientists have linked the massive snowstorms and bitter spring weather now being experienced across Britain and large parts of Europe and North America to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice.
Both the extent and the volume of the sea ice that forms and melts each year in the Arctic Ocean fell to an historic low last autumn, and satellite records published on Monday by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, show the ice extent is close to the minimum recorded for this time of year.
"The sea ice is going rapidly. It's 80% less than it was just 30 years ago. There has been a dramatic loss. This is a symptom of global warming and it contributes to enhanced warming of the Arctic," said Jennifer Francis, research professor with the Rutgers Institute of Coastal and Marine Science.
According to Francis and a growing body of other researchers, the Arctic ice loss adds heat to the ocean and atmosphere which shifts the position of the jet stream – the high-altitude river of air that steers storm systems and governs most weather in northern hemisphere. > www.guardian.co.uk: Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss
Researchers, students partner with Naval Academy in Arctic training exercises
(Phys.org) - March 1, 2013 -
University of Delaware scientists are embarking to a remote research destination, braving freezing temperatures and high winds to study changes in Arctic sea ice. Their field site is a frozen expanse of the Arctic Ocean along the northernmost shoreline of Alaska. "We will walk out onto the water," explained Cathleen Geiger, research associate professor of geography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. "It's not often you get to stand on the ocean." > phys.org: Arctic sea ice: Researchers, students partner with Naval Academy in Arctic training exercises
New Research: 80 percent of polar ice is gone
(Bergen / Norway), February 23, 2013 - (AP) -
New satellite observations show that the arctic sea ice is getting thinner at an alarming rate. Researchers at the University of Washington have compared data from both an American satellite and from the satellite CryoSat2, launched by the European Space Agency (ESA).
The satellites measure the thickness of the ice and now indicates that as much as 75 to 80 percent of the total volume of summer sea ice has disappeared, the researchers say.
Others have claimed that 75 to 80 percent volume loss of ice was a too aggressive estimate. What the new research shows is that our estimates may have been too conservative, and that the recent decline may possibly take place faster, says co-author Axel Schweiger, polar scientist at the university."
The ice melts faster
Pål Prestrud, former president and now senior adviser at CICERO, called the research remarkable. "This research is remarkable in the sense that they present very good data. A decline of 36 percent in just ten years is very much. The reduction in the amount of ice is more powerful than we thought. The clear results of this research is that the ice is melting faster than the models say, Prestrud says to VG Nett.
Cold winters in Norway
Melting ice will cause local effects in the polar region and effects globally, he believes.
"It affects many species, from plankton to birds and polar bears. The area will be a far greater extent could be opened up to traffic and resource utilization. The negative effect is that it may help to reinforce global warming."
Ice reflects sunlight and cooling. When it disappears, the ocean warms up and amplifies the global warming. It also affects the weather in Norway - in the negative sense.
"These cold winters we have had in Europe since 2007, may have been driven by open water in the Arctic Ocean. It changes the distribution of low pressure and high pressure, and thus the direction of wind directions," says Prestrud.
An important contribution
Sebastian Gerland working at the Norwegian Polar Institute is one of the foremost researchers in the ocean and sea ice in Norway. He calls the study of the international researchers an important contribution to the understanding of melting.
"There is a core group that published the study. It uses a new satellite data from CroSat-2 satellite, and put them in context with previous data," says Gerland told AP.
Several Norwegian scientists working with data from satellites that monitor the polar regions, he said.
In areas around Svalbard have been several winters with little ice. Other observations in the same direction, the ice comes back later in the fall. The report shows a big change, sea ice explains the researcher.
Observations from the last 30 years shows a clear decline in sea ice. "We are now working intensively to see how this goes and what scenarios are envisaged. Some estimates indicate that a large part of the Arctic summer sea ice could disappear already before 2050, other estimates that it will hold on to 2100. "However, the models generally point in the same direction, there is less sea ice in the Arctic over the coming decades, says Gerland." > www.vg.no: New Research: 80 percent of polar ice is gone (Translated by google)
Biologists lead international team to track Arctic response to climate change
(Physorg), February 21, 2013 -
Biologists Jackie Grebmeier and Lee Cooper from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Chesapeake Biological Laboratory have been visiting the chilly area north of Alaska near the Bering Strait for more than 20 years, but it's only in the last few years that they have seen things really start to change. And fast.
Last summer was the highest ice retreat in the Arctic record, and eight of the last ten years have seen the lowest ice on record. "We're seeing the highest sea ice retreat in the whole Arctic," said Jackie Grebmeier, research professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and chair of the International Pacific Arctic Group.
"It's the most productive part of the Arctic, and it's in the U.S.' backyard."
At the end of February, they travel to Seattle gather an international team of scientists to establish a Distributed Biological Observatory in the North American Arctic.
Funded by a five-year award from the National Science Foundation, researchers from Japan, Korea, China, Canada, Russia, and the United States will systematically track the biological response to sea ice retreat and the resulting environmental changes in the Bering and Chukchi Seas to the west and north of Alaska.
"It has been projected that there won't be ice in the summer in the Arctic Ocean by 2050," said research professor Lee Cooper. "But the ice is disappearing faster than all of the models." > phys.org: Biologists lead international team to track Arctic response to climate change > arctic.cbl.umces.edu: Bering Ecosystem Study (BEST) and Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP)
Reduced sea ice disturbs balance of greenhouse gases
(Eurekalert), February 18 2013 -
The widespread reduction in Arctic sea ice is causing significant changes to the balance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is shown in a new study conducted by researchers from Lund University in Sweden, among others.
According to the study, the melting of sea ice in the Arctic has a tangible impact on the balance of greenhouse gases in this region, both in terms of uptake and release. The researchers have studied the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane both in the tundra and in the Arctic Ocean.
"Changes in the balance of greenhouse gases can have major consequences because, globally, plants and the oceans absorb around half of the carbon dioxide that humans release into the air through the use of fossil fuels. If the Arctic component of this buffer changes, so will the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere", says Dr Frans-Jan Parmentier, a researcher at Lund University, Sweden. > www.eurekalert.org: Reduced sea ice disturbs balance of greenhouse gases > www.nature.com: Reduced sea ice disturbs balance of greenhouse gases
Arctic needs protection from resource rush as ice melts, says UN
New York / London, February 18 2013 -
As melting ice makes exploration easier, human activity threatens wildlife and ecosystems.
The Arctic needs to be better protected from a rush for natural resources as melting ice makes mineral and energy exploration easier, the United Nations' Environment Programme (UNEP) said. > www.guardian.co.uk: Arctic needs protection from resource rush as ice melts, says UN
Arctic Death Spiral Bombshell: CryoSat-2 Confirms Sea Ice Volume Has Collapsed
Ice-free Arctic Ocean in 2030?
(Reuters), Februari 15, 2013 -
Vast uncertainty remains over the causes of melting Arctic sea ice and when it may disappear altogether during the summer, which would have consequences for oil explorers, shipping firms and the fight against climate change. > www.reuters.com: Ice-free Arctic Ocean in 2030?
CryoSat-2 mission reveals major Arctic sea-ice loss
(ESA / NERC), 13 February 2013 -
Arctic sea ice volume has declined by 36 per cent in the autumn and 9 per cent in the winter between 2003 and 2012, a UK-led team of scientists has discovered.
Researchers used new data from the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 satellite spanning 2010 to 2012, and data from NASA's ICESat satellite from 2003 to 2008 to estimate the volume of sea ice in the Arctic. > CryoSat-2 mission reveals major Arctic sea-ice loss and confirms PIOMAS volume estimates
On thin ice: As Arctic Ocean warms, a scramble to understand its weather
(CSM), February 12 2013 -
Increasing summer ice melt in the Arctic Ocean could shift global weather patterns and make polar waters more navigable. But scientists say forecasting Arctic ice and weather remains a massive challenge.
The prospect of more ice-free water during Arctic Ocean summers has triggered efforts to improve ice and weather forecasts at the top of the world.
Much of the research into the interplay between the ocean, ice, and atmosphere has centered on global warming and the long-term changes it will impose on the Arctic – including a continued decline in summer sea ice. Researchers are exploring the impact that decline could have on seasonal climate and weather patterns at lower latitudes.
Declining summer sea ice, however, is also expected to lead to an increase in commercial fishing, oil exploration, cargo-ship traffic, tourist cruises, and other activities where short-term weather and ice forecasts are vital to reducing the risks of operating in the 5.4 million square mile ocean. > csmonitor.com / On thin ice: As Arctic Ocean warms, a scramble to understand its weather
Time for Arctic Leadership on Black Carbon
(EarthJustice) February 1, 2013 -
Arctic nations have an extraordinary opportunity to show global leadership to slow regional warming and melting by embracing a proposal to launch talks on an agreement to reduce emissions of the climate pollutant black carbon. Arctic environment ministers have the power to send a strong signal to the Arctic Council when they gather next week, February 5 and 6, in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden—only the second time ever—acknowledging black carbon reductions as a priority for regional environmental protection. > earthjustice.org: Time for Arctic Leadership on Black Carbon (Feb 01 2013)
Melt Ponds Cause Artic Sea Ice to Melt More Rapidly
Melt pond on Arctic sea ice. (Credit: www.sciencedaily.com / Stefan Hendricks, Alfred Wegener Institute)
(Science Daily), January 18 2013 -
The Arctic sea ice has not only declined over the past decade but has also become distinctly thinner and younger. Researchers are now observing mainly thin, first-year ice floes which are extensively covered with melt ponds in the summer months where once metre-thick, multi-year ice used to float. Sea ice physicists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have now measured the light transmission through the Arctic sea ice for the first time on a large scale, enabling them to quantify consequences of this change. > www.sciencedaily.com: Melt Ponds Cause Artic Sea Ice to Melt More Rapidly > news.yahoo.com: Why Arctic Sea Ice Melts So Quickly
Arctic Sea Ice Decline and Ice Export Between Greenland and Svalbard
Current Arctic sea ice (bluish white) compared with the 1979-2010 average sea ice minimum (outlined in orange). The red arrow is superimposed to indicate the southward export of sea ice through the Fram Strait.. (Credit: Illustration courtesy SVS/NASA)
Arctic Sea ice loss will cause ‘pronounced’ future melt, study finds
Brussels, January 3rd 2013 -
A new study has found that Arctic Sea ice melt is creating a warming spiral, with the thinner winter sheets that replace long-term sea ice absorbing more solar heat and energy.
The paper by scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany discovered that solar radiation through ‘first year ice’ was three times greater and allowed 50% more energy absorption than was with the case with ‘multi-year ice’.
This in turn could change the face of the Arctic.
“Ice melt and less sea ice cover will [themselves] make it more likely that more ice will melt in the next years ahead,” Marcel Nicolaus, one of the report’s authors, told EurActiv. “We see that light transmission through sea ice will increase in the future.” > www.euractiv.com: Arctic Sea ice loss will cause ‘pronounced’ future melt, study finds
NASA's Operation IceBridge Data Brings New Twist to Sea Ice Forecasting
A Digital Mapping System (DMS) mosaic of Arctic sea ice. The dark areas are leads, or open areas of water. Identifying leads is one of the necessary steps in preparing IceBridge's quick look sea ice thickness data product. Credit: NASA / DMS team. Left-click to enlarge.
Melbourne, January 3rd 2013 -
On 2 August 2012 a dramatic storm formed over Siberia, moved into the Arctic, and died in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago on 14 August.
During its lifetime its central pressure dropped to 966 hPa, leading it to be dubbed ‘The Great Arctic Cyclone of August 2012’. This cyclone occurred during a period when the sea ice extent was on the way to reaching a new satellite-era low, and its intense behavior was related to baroclinicity and a tropopause polar vortex.
The pressure of the storm was the lowest of all Arctic August storms over our record starting in 1979, and the system was also the most extreme when a combination of key cyclone properties was considered.
Even though, climatologically, summer is a ‘quiet’ time in the Arctic, when compared with all Arctic storms across the period it came in as the 13th most extreme storm, warranting the attribution of ‘Great’. > www.agu.org: The great Arctic cyclone of August 2012 > Arctic Sea Ice Blog: All Arctic storms, great and small > A summer storm in the Arctic > Arctic storm threat to summer ice