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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Arctic sea ice: possible record-low maximum extent occurring

Dear Readers,

We have a situation here.

In the past, I looked little at the Arctic sea ice extent numbers because I considered the sea ice volume to be a far more important measure of what was going on in the Arctic.  However, consider this -- say 5-10 years ago, the ice in general was much thicker.  There were even land-fast ice shelves attached to the Canadian archipelago that were more than 100 feet thick (those are all gone), and multi-year ice could easily be well over 5-6 meters thick, and there was a lot more of it.

These days, in general, all of the ice is fairly thin, thus making the extent graph much more significant.


During the summer melt seasons, it was often (but not always) the case that when the Arctic Oscillation Index was strongly positive, the rate of melt was much higher, primarily due to warm air masses entering the Arctic via the North Atlantic.

Have a look at the current AO Index -- 2 is a fairly normal number, but above 5 is quite extraordinary:

Then have a look at the satellite photos of water vapor moving into the Arctic via the North Atlantic and the Bering Strait:

Animation of the satellite images here:

And here we can see warm air being pushed into the Arctic at 79 km/h (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE):,75.45,1382

And what does the University of Maine's ever useful Climate Reanalyzer website tell us?

Forecast Image

Forecast Image

Oh, wait! Is that a red beanie baby toad on top of the North Pole?

Forecast Image


Anonymous said...

OMG!!!!! Everything is gonna DIEEEEEEEEEE!!

Tenney Naumer said...

Yeah, sure -- sooner or later.

Snial said...

It's good that Climate Change: The Next Generation is becoming more active again :-)

There's quite a bit of talk on at neven1 typepad about it right now. It's a record low (for this time of year) on every area and extent chart and looks likely to fall further-ish for about a week because of SSTs and other weather features as you explain.

It's possible it'll kick off a new record year; nevertheless the Arctic is erratic around these dates: 2014 jumped up 300,000Km2 between March 12 and March 20; 2010 climbed 120,000Km2 from this date to a peak on April 2; other years have been level from this point well into April (oddly enough, the record breaking 2012 got to above average by April 25, before starting to descend rapidly).

Chemblox said...

I hate to say I told you so. Buuuuuut, I told you COO.

Tenney Naumer said...

I have to say that I no longer have confidence in the PIOMAS sea ice volume algorithms.