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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No Record Low Sea Ice Extent this Season

In all likelyhood, there will not be a new record low Arctic sea ice extent at the end of this melt season. It also looks like the 2009 minimum will even be higher than last year's minimum, but not by much. Check out the latest chart below, courtesy of the national Snow and Ice Data Center.

According to the NSIDC, the decrease in sea ice in the Arctic Basin slowed significantly during the first two weeks of August due to natural changes in the atmospheric circulation pattern over the Arctic.

Early in the summer, the circulation pattern promoted winds that helped push ice out of the Siberian coastal seas, and also brought clear skies and warm temperatures that helped induce melt.

By late July the pattern started to change and led to winds that redirected the motion of the ice cover, pushing the ice edge outward toward the Siberian coast and discouraging ice from exiting the Arctic Ocean through Fram Strait.

One question I hear from time to time..........

Why don’t we hear much about Antarctic sea ice?

Thanks to the NSIDC, here is the answer............

NSIDC scientists do monitor sea ice in the Antarctic, and sea ice in the Antarctic is of interest to scientists worldwide. While many have published peer-reviewed journal articles on the topic, it has received less attention than the Arctic. There are several reasons for this.

Unlike Arctic sea ice, Antarctic sea ice disappears almost completely during the summer, and has since scientists have studied it. Earth’s climate system over thousands of years has been "in tune" with this annual summertime disappearance of Antarctic sea ice. However, satellite records and pre-satellite records indicate that the Arctic has not been free of summertime sea ice for at least 5,500 years and possibly for 125,000 years. So Earth’s climate system and ecosystems, as they exist today, did not develop in conjunction with an ice-free Arctic. Such an ice-free Arctic summer environment would be a change unprecedented in modern human history and could have ramifications for climate around the world.

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