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Tag Archive: arctic

  1. Arctic in crisis- temperatures 50 F above normal?

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    By Brian Kahn February 6th, 2017  ClimateCentral See full story here

    Weird. Strange. Extreme. Unprecedented.

    These are some of the words that describe what’s been happening in the Arctic over the past year as surge after surge of warm air have stalled, and at times reversed, sea ice pack growth. And the unfortunate string of superlatives is set to continue this week.

    Arctic sea ice is already sitting at a record low for this time of year and a powerful North Atlantic storm is expected to open the flood gates and send more warmth pouring into the region from the lower latitudes. By Thursday, it could reach up to 50°F above normal. In absolute temperature, that’s near the freezing point and could further spur a decline in sea ice….

    …A massive storm is swirling toward Europe. It’s a weather maker in itself, churning up waves as high as 46 feet and pressure dropping as low as is typical for a Category 4 hurricane as of Monday. The storm is to the southeast of Greenland and its massive comma shape has made for stunning satellite imagery. The storm is expected to weaken as it approaches Europe, but it will conspire with a high pressure system over the continent to send a stream of warm air into the Arctic through the Greenland Sea.

    Temperatures are forecast to reach the melting point in Svalbard, Norway, an island between the Greenland and Karas Seas. The North Pole could also approach the melting point on Thursday.

    It’s just the latest signal that the Arctic is in the middle of a profound change. Sea ice extent has dropped precipitously as has the amount of old ice, which is less prone to breakup. Beyond sea ice, Greenland’s ice sheet is also melting away and pushing sea levels higher, large fires are much more common and intense in boreal forests and other ecosystem changes are causing the earth to hyperventilate.

    Together, these all indicate that the Arctic is in crisis. It’s the most dramatic example of how carbon pollution is reshaping the planet and scientists are racing to understand what comes next.

  2. Climate change has mixed effects on migratory geese

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    Posted: 05 Jan 2017 05:27 AM PST Science Daily see full article here

    Climate change improves the breeding chances of migratory geese in the Arctic — but puts mother geese at more risk of death, according to a new study.  Warmer conditions at breeding grounds in north-east Canada help light-bellied Brent geese produce more young… But in years when productivity is highest, the death rate among mothers also increases. The researchers believe this happens because mothers use extra energy laying eggs and face more risk from predators while sitting on their nests, which they make on the ground… warmer years mothers breed more successfully — so more of them remain sitting on nests or waiting on the ground until their offspring are ready to fly.

    Light-bellied Brent geese are shown. Credit: Kendrew Colhoun
    We tend to think of climate change as being all one way, but here we’ve got a population being affected in conflicting ways,” said Dr Ian Cleasby, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.”This population is sensitive to changes in adult survival, so the increased breeding may not be enough to offset the loss of more adult females….we have to understand how animal populations will respond to the changing climate if we want to make decisions about protecting biodiversity.“…

    Ian R. Cleasby, Thomas W. Bodey, Freydis Vigfusdottir, Jenni L. McDonald, Graham McElwaine, Kerry Mackie, Kendrew Colhoun, Stuart Bearhop. Climatic conditions produce contrasting influences on demographic traits in a long distance Arctic migrant. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12623

  3. 10 Most Important Climate Stories of 2016

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    By Brian Kahn Climate Central December 28th, 2016  see full article here

    This year is likely to remembered as a turning point for climate change…Here are the 10 most important climate milestones of the year:

    1. It was the hottest year on record. Again…
    2. The Paris Agreement got real…
    3. Carbon dioxide hit 400 ppm. Permanently…
    4. The world breached the 1.5°C climate threshold…
    5. The Great Barrier Reef was decimated by warm waters…
    6. Divestment and clean energy investments each hit a record…
    7. Arctic sea ice got weird. Really weird..
    8. July was the hottest month ever recorded. Then August tied it…
    9. An extremely potent greenhouse gas is also on its way out (hydrofluorocarbons)…
    10. The world struck an airline carbon pollution deal…
  4. The Arctic is showing stunning winter warmth, and these scientists think they know why

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    December 23, 2016  Wash Post    see full article here

    Last month, temperatures in the high Arctic spiked dramatically, some 36 degrees Fahrenheit above normal — a move that corresponded with record low levels of Arctic sea ice during a time of year when this ice is supposed to be expanding during the freezing polar night. And now this week, as you can see above, we’re seeing another huge burst of Arctic warmth. A buoy close to the North Pole just reported temperatures close to the freezing point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius), which is 10s of degrees warmer than normal for this time of year….

    …But these bursts of Arctic warmth don’t stand alone — last month, extremely warm North Pole temperatures corresponded with extremely cold temperatures over Siberia. This week, meanwhile, there are large bursts of un-seasonally cold air over Alaska and Siberia once again.

    It is all looking rather consistent with an outlook that has been dubbed “Warm Arctic, Cold Continents” — a notion that remains scientifically contentious but, if accurate, is deeply consequential for how climate change could unfold in the Northern Hemisphere winter....

    …“What I think is happening is that it’s been very warm in the Arctic all year long and this has helped favor a very wavy jet stream, which is what we’ve been seeing,” she continued, “and that has helped to pump a lot of extra heat and moisture up into the Arctic.”…

  5. He created a beloved blog about the melting Arctic. But it got harder and harder to write

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    November 30 at 2:08 PM

    In 2007, Neven Curlin, a Dutch citizen now living in Austria who works as a translator, was stunned by the state of the Arctic, and particularly the floating ice that covers its ocean. It had shrunken to what was then the lowest extent yet observed by humans, just 1.61 million square miles in September at the end of summer. The dwindling of the planet’s icy cap, long predicted by scientists, was happening at a stunning pace.

    Curlin, who had long been worried by global warming, began to follow the condition of sea ice closely and by 2010, started his own blog about it, unassumingly titled “Arctic Sea Ice Blog: Interesting News and Data.” “For years I’ve been missing a central place where the situation in the Arctic can be discussed. I always had to glean information and explanation from little corners of the comment sections of blog articles, so let’s see if the Arctic deserves its own blog,” he wrote in his first entry….

  6. Global Warming Alters Arctic Food Chain, Scientists Say, With Unforeseeable Result

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    The Arctic Ocean may seem remote and forbidding, but to birds, whales and other animals, it’s a top-notch dining destination. “It’s a great place to get food in the summertime, so animals are flying or swimming thousands of miles to get there,” said Kevin R. Arrigo, a biological oceanographer at Stanford University.

    But the menu is changing. Confirming earlier research, scientists reported Wednesday that global warming is altering the ecology of the Arctic Ocean on a huge scale. The annual production of algae, the base of the food web, increased an estimated 47 percent between 1997 and 2015, and the ocean is greening up much earlier each year.

    These changes are likely to have a profound impact for animals further up the food chain, such as birds, seals, polar bears and whales. But scientists still don’t know enough about the biology of the Arctic Ocean to predict what the ecosystem will look like in decades to come.

    While global warming has affected the whole planet in recent decades, nowhere has been hit harder than the Arctic. This month, temperatures in the high Arctic have been as much as 36 degrees above average, according to records kept by the Danish Meteorological Institute…

  7. Arctic ice melt could trigger uncontrollable climate change at global level

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    Scientists warn increasingly rapid melting could trigger polar ‘tipping points’ with catastrophic consequences felt as far away as the Indian Ocean

    Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 “tipping points” in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe.

    The Arctic Resilience Report found that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, in a stark warning that changes in the region could cause uncontrollable climate change at a global level.

    Temperatures in the Arctic are currently about 20C above what would be expected for the time of year, which scientists describe as “off the charts”. Sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year.

    “The warning signals are getting louder,” said Marcus Carson of the Stockholm Environment Institute and one of the lead authors of the report. “[These developments] also make the potential for triggering [tipping points] and feedback loops much larger.”


    Climate tipping points occur when a natural system, such as the polar ice cap, undergoes sudden or overwhelming change that has a profound effect on surrounding ecosystems, often irreversible….

  8. The North Pole is an insane 36 degrees warmer than normal as winter descends

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    By Chris Mooney and Jason Samenow November 17 at 1:41 PM  Wash Post

    Political people in the United States are watching the chaos in Washington in the moment. But some people in the science community are watching the chaos somewhere else — the Arctic. It’s polar night there now — the sun isn’t rising in much of the Arctic. That’s when the Arctic is supposed to get super-cold, when the sea ice that covers the vast Arctic Ocean is supposed to grow and thicken.

    But in fall of 2016 — which has been a zany year for the region, with multiple records set for low levels of monthly sea ice — something is totally off. The Arctic is super-hot, even as a vast area of cold polar air has been displaced over Siberia.

    At the same time, one of the key indicators of the state of the Arctic — the extent of sea ice covering the polar ocean — is at a record low. The ice is freezing up again, as it always does this time of year after reaching its September low, but it isn’t doing so as rapidly as usual.

    In fact, the ice’s area is even lower than it was during the record-low 2012…



  9. Near-Record Low 2016 Arctic Sea Ice

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    2016 ties with 2007 for second lowest Arctic sea ice minimum

    By Brian Kahn September 15th, 2016

    Arctic sea ice is one of the grandaddy’s of climate indicators. …. This year’s sea ice extent has bottomed out as the second lowest on record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. It continues a troubling trend as rapidly warming air and water eats away at the briny, frozen mantle on the top of the planet…. This year has been exceptional by many standards. March saw the lowest sea ice maximum ever recorded followed by a string of record low months. The Northwest Passage opened up, allowing a luxury cruise ship to travel from Anchorage to New York. And a freak storm in August turned ice thin and brittle near the North Pole. Satellites show the last seven months of sea ice and reveal its steep decline this year. The late August breakup is particularly notable.

    All 10 of the smallest sea ice extents on record have occurred since 2005. In the nearly four decades of satellite monitoring, sea ice has disappeared at a clip of 13.4 percent per decade. This year’s cracked ice also continues a troubling trend of disappearing old ice. Though some of that ice will refreeze together this winter, some has disappeared for good and new ice will be left to fill in the gaps. That’s like putting a piece of paper over a hole in your wall, though. Young ice tends to be weaker and thinner and thus more susceptible to summer melt. It’s a trend that’s already happening. Ice younger than four years comprised 97 percent of all Arctic sea ice in 2015 compared to 80 percent in 1985….

    2016 ties with 2007 for second lowest Arctic sea ice minimum

    Posted: 15 Sep 2016 12:33 PM PDT

    The Arctic’s ice cover appears to have reached its minimum extent on September 10, 2016, according to scientists. Arctic sea ice extent on that day stood at 4.14 million square kilometers (1.60 million square miles), statistically tied at second lowest in the satellite record with the 2007 minimum.

  10. 2016 Arctic Summer Ice – possibly 2nd lowest in recorded history

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    August 31st, 2016 By Andrea Thompson

    … despite beginning the summer at unprecedentedly low levels, this year’s minimum won’t break the stunning record of 2012, experts say, thanks to cloudy weather that slowed the rate of melt. Depending on how the weather plays out over the next few weeks, that minimum is likely to fall somewhere between second and fifth place, they estimate — still a remarkably low level that shows how precipitously sea ice has declined in recent decades. “There hasn’t been any recovery in any ice at all,” Julienne Stroeve, a senior scientist at the National Snow & Ice Data Center, said.

    The area of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice naturally waxes and wanes with the seasons, reaching its peak at the end of winter and its nadir at the end of summer, usually in mid-September. But the steady increase in heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere has fueled an intense warming of the Arctic region; temperatures there are rising at twice the rate as the global average. That has caused a dramatic melting of the sea ice that floats atop the frigid ocean waters.

    Since the beginning of satellite records in 1979, the winter peak has declined by 3.2 percent per decade, while the summer minimum has declined by 13.7 percent per decade.

    That loss of ice has significant ramifications for the animals that depend on it for access to food and coastal communities that need it for protection from intense Arctic storms. The loss of ice has also fueled interest in opening shipping routes through the region, as well as exploiting natural resources, such as oil, found beneath the seafloor. But the effects of melt aren’t confined to the Arctic: Ice reflects the sun’s rays, so as it disappears, more ocean waters, which absorb those rays, are exposed, intensifying regional and global warming. Some research also suggests that the loss of ice could be impacting extreme weather in Europe, Asia and North America. This winter, Arctic weather stayed remarkably warm, to the extent that it surprised even veteran sea ice researchers. That balmy weather stymied sea ice growth and caused sea ice extent to hit a record low winter peak for the second year in a row……..

    …In a recent study in the journal Geographical Review, researchers compiled historical records of sea ice from ships’ logs and other sources and found that sea ice hasn’t been this low in at least the last 150 years. The rate that sea ice is declining is also unprecedented over that timespan. However, despite some recent reports that the Arctic would be ice-free in the summer in the next year or two, that is not the case, Stroeve said. Most projections suggest that that point will be reached sometime in the middle of the century, and, as another recent paper found, scientists’ ability to pin down that date is limited by the natural variability of the sea ice system to within a couple of decades. Any prediction of ice-free conditions in the next few years doesn’t take into account the physics of the system, Stroeve said. “I agree it’s going to go away eventually,” she said. “But it’s not there yet.”