Big Warm-up Predicted for Northwest Territory as Pacific Side of Arctic Melts Out Early

The long-term trend for Arctic sea ice is inexorably down. Year-after-year, decade-after-decade, the human-driven accumulation of heat in the Arctic has taken a terrible toll. Recently, mid March through mid April showed record low sea ice extents for any period since record keeping began in 1979.

Over the past two weeks, extent levels bounced back to around 4th to 6th lowest on record as winds shifted to north-to-south through the broad region between Greenland and the Kara Sea. For this region, melt pressure had been quite strong throughout Winter as a powerful warm flow of air flooded up from the North Atlantic.

Sea ice concentration

(Ice in the Bering and the Sea of Okhotsk is rapidly melting. Warming and sea ice melt ramp-up may also be on tap for both the Hudson Bay and the Beaufort as south-to-north air flows associated with the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge intensify. Image source: NSIDC.)

The shift, which has occurred coincident with upper-level winds running up from the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge in the Eastern Pacific, over Alaska and the Northwest Territories of Canada, into the Beaufort and on past the pole, has been pushing sea ice southward toward the Barents and into the Fram Strait. The result has been minor sea ice expansion in the near Greenland region at the cost of much more rapid melt in the Bering Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk and a very earl season break up of ice in the Beaufort.

Pacific Side Warming and Beaufort Break-up

Overall, this Pacific-side warming of the Arctic has driven extent levels back down into the range of 3rd to 4th lowest on record for this time of year. And rapid melt in the Bering, the Sea of Okhost, together with warming in the Beaufort and Hudson Bay may result in new challenges to record lows over the coming days.

By late April, break-up of Beaufort Sea ice is particularly dramatic with very large polynyas forming in a broad region into and north of the Canadian Archipelago and extending on into the off-shore region of the Mackenzie Delta:

Beaufort Sea Ice April 26 2015

(The Beaufort Sea shows extensive break-up and lackadaisical re-freeze on April 26th 2015. Note the extensive dark cracks and polynyas [holes] in the MODIS satellite image above. Such late-spring proliferation of polynyas and cracks can critically reduce albedo as melt season progresses. The Beaufort’s location also makes it vulnerable to continued warm air influx over a very warm Northeastern Pacific Ocean. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

Temperatures within the Beaufort Sea and near the Canadian Archipelago are still cold enough to support some re-freeze in the Polynya regions. However, closer to the Mackenzie Delta, temps have trended more and more toward near freezing or above freezing levels (sea water freezes at around 28 degrees Fahrenheit). The result is a rather large region with no new ice formation.

More Warm air on the Way

As of 5 PM Eastern Standard time, temperatures in the Mackenzie Delta on the shores of the Beaufort Sea were pushing 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, 50 degree temperatures dominated the region of Great Slave Lake further upstream and southward. These readings are in the range of 8-15 degrees above normal for this time of year, resulting in an early melt pressure for the Mackenzie River and for coastal regions near the post-thaw river outflow zones.

image

(Big warm-up near the Mackenzie River and through the Northwest Territory in April  28th’s GFS model prediction. Temperatures in the low 70s gather around Great Slave Lake as above freezing temperatures drift down the Mackenzie River reaching all the way to Arctic Ocean Shores. Note near and above sea water freezing temperatures [28 F] throughout the Bering, Beaufort, northwest sections of the Canadian Archipelago and Hudson Bay in the above image. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

This warm pool is predicted to intensify through tomorrow with temperatures reaching the low 70s Fahrenheit (22 C) near Great Slave Lake and temperatures along Mackenzie Delta shores continuing to edge up over freezing. The warm pool will then linger for another few days before shifting east over Hudson Bay through early next week, pushing temperatures between 10 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit above normal there.

By late next week, long range forecasts show another warm ridge extension through the Mackenzie Delta and melt pressure on the near-shore Beaufort re-intensifying.

Overall, with Arctic Oscillation predicted to remain neutral, melt pressure in the Arctic would tend to reduce somewhat. However, with both Bering and Okhotsk rapidly melting out and with warmth predicted to persist and intensify for those seas as well as for the Beaufort and for Hudson Bay, it appears there’s an even shot that early melt season will proceed at a more brisk than typical pace — again challenging new record lows into early May.

Links:

National Snow and Ice Data Center

NASA’s LANCE-MODIS

Earth Nullschool

The Euro Model

The Arctic Sea Ice Blog

 

 

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58 Comments

  1. Colorado Bob

     /  April 27, 2015

    Early start to Saskatchewan’s forest fire season

    SASKATOON – Wildfire season has started early this spring in Saskatchewan. Scott Wasylenchuk, manager of the provincial fire centre, says the season is about two weeks ahead of schedule due to warm weather and wind.

    There have been 32 fires so far, all in the northern part of the province, compared to three at this time last year. As of Tuesday morning, one fire is still burning in the Prince Albert area and two in the Buffalo Narrows region.
    http://globalnews.ca/news/1952020/early-start-to-saskatchewans-forest-fire-season/

    Reply
  2. Colorado Bob

     /  April 27, 2015

    British Columbia’s fire season is already beginning

    WATCH: Dry conditions around the province are raising concerns for a potentially devastating fire season. Control burns in the interior are being carried out earlier than usual to get a head start on mother nature. Jeremy Hunka reports.

    The calendar says March, but the smoke says May.

    Fire crews around the province area are asking people to exercise the type of caution normally reserved for spring and summer.

    “It is dry right now, so we do need to be careful,” says Forest Service worker Ben Sandy.

    http://globalnews.ca/news/1878196/british-columbias-fire-season-is-already-beginning/

    Reply
  3. Fire season in California off to a rough start as well. Although their fire season has become pretty much a year round event.

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/04/26/3650923/californias-wildfire-problem/

    Reply
    • It’s just amazing how many fires we’ve seen on the U.S. West coast this winter/spring. NWT in trouble again this year.

      I’d say that subtropical jet looks strong enough to make the Gulf through the U.S. East Coast rather stormy this summer. Hot in the Eastern Pacific. Look for strong Nor’Easters fall and early winter.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  April 28, 2015

        Robert,

        I’ve cut and pasted your ‘forecast’ for 2015. Seeing how spot on you were for 2014, I think we’d best take heed. Better plan for those strong Nor’Easters. Thanks for all your efforts.

        Reply
    • wili

       /  April 28, 2015

      Meanwhile, the center of the state is sinking: “California’s Central Valley Sinking Faster Than Ever Before As Farmers Drill For Water During Drought”
      http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/04/26/californias-central-valley-sinking-faster-than-ever-before-as-farmers-drill-for-water-during-drought/

      Reply
      • They’re prepping a new inland sea, whether they know it or not. Subsidence + sea level rise.

        Reply
      • Jacob

         /  April 28, 2015

        As a follower of the unfolding catastrophe for close to 20 years I’ve been acutely aware for a while what the future will bring as it pertains to the return of an inland sea within the central valley. The only questions in my mind are how deep it will end up being and when it will show up and smack people living here in the face — centuries, decades, years?

        Perhaps I am way off base, but in my mind, amidst the unfolding tragedy will be a cartographers dream — an opportunity, the likes of which haven’t been seen for some time, to chart new maps all over the globe.

        Reply
      • wili

         /  April 28, 2015

        Jacob, that depends partly on how people prepare. It seems to me that in this case there are a couple of clear choke points where damns could prevent flooding that far inland–at the Golden Gate Bridge and at the Carquinez Bridge.

        What I’d bet is that the possibility will be almost completely ignored as sea level gets higher and higher. Then some uber-mega-super storm hitting at super (‘King’) high tide will wash ocean water all the way to the suburbs of Sacramento and deep down into the Central Valley.

        When we hear about 3 centimeters per decade or even one meter every 20 year rates, we tend to think of more-or-less gradual trends that we can clearly see and plan for in plenty of time.

        But in fact the underlying gradual changes will be punctuated by more and more violent, devastating and way-off-the-charts extreme events that will take the uninformed (or willfully ignorant) majority by surprise.

        That goes, of course, for other consequences of GW besides sea level rise.

        Reply
      • Yeah, I think we’ll see many spikes of “way-off-the-charts extreme events” — and likely on a weekly basis. The reaction times,as we have seen, are so slow — that they are nonexistent. Sadly, societal energies seem to be geared for avoidance or responsibility.

        Reply
  4. The changes in the Arctic are so rapid and so profound, a femtosecond in geologic time, I find it difficult to wrap my head around. Tragic what we humans are doing/have done to the world and tge biosphere.

    Reply
  5. Kevin Jones

     /  April 28, 2015

    All the way up to 54F here in SW New Hampshire today. Currently 61F at Fairbanks, AK.

    Reply
    • It’s a lopsided world.

      Reply
      • Indeed it is! The American west is dry, warm and the Sierras have no snowpack. Here in New England I was out running Thursday and was caught in a snow squall with fierce winds that had me freezing for a time. Killington in Vt is planning on the ski season going until June this year. Sadly, this situation seems to be spreading a false sense of apathy and indifference in regards to addressing climate change. You know, the comments like “I’m waiting for global warming to get here so I can stop freezing” and memes along those lines. They are so uninformed, and couldn’t care less…it is frustrating and depressing. I think that is part of what I love about this place. Being able to intelligently exchange current info and discuss the reality of our present state of affairs without the obfuscation, misinformation and arguing that you find everywhere else, real world or the internet. Thank you, as always, Robert!

        Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  April 28, 2015

        I second your points Ryan. And yes, Mother Nature isn’t helping her cause when she makes it so relatively cold in the mid-Atlantic states and the northeast US. I carry around a few Global Reanalyzer temp. anomaly and jet stream maps from this winter in case I need to explain how we can still have global warming when it’s cold out!

        Reply
      • Absolutely, Ryan.

        As Greenland melt ramps up, it will get more and more lopsided. This is one of the teleconnections of climate change — localized cool down in the North Atlantic due to fresh water outflow and iceberg cooling effect. It’s also a killer for ocean circulation and overturning and, as we’ve seen over the past two winters, a major, major driver for storms. The problem is, what we see now are the early, easy outliers.

        Reply
  6. Kevin Jones

     /  April 28, 2015
    Reply
  7. Kevin Jones

     /  April 28, 2015

    Anyone know what’s up with Cryosphere Today? http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/ No update since April 12th.

    Reply
    • Andy in YKD

       /  April 28, 2015

      Apparently it is computer issues, that it the word on Neven’s blog.

      Reply
  8. Andy in San Diego

     /  April 28, 2015

    The Mackenzie River may be delivering unusually warm water due to this into the delta. If it does, this would empty into the delta and ocean.

    Reply
  9. Colorado Bob

     /  April 28, 2015

    Watch The Birth Of A 17-Mile Iceberg

    The berg appears to have fractured from West Antarctica’s Getz Ice Shelf and moved out into in the Amundsen Sea sometime in mid- to late-February 2015. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites acquired these images spanning the calving event. The first image (left) shows the iceberg on February 16, when it was still attached to the ice shelf. By February 28 (middle), it appears to have separated somewhat. By March 5 (right), it is floating freely.

    Link

    Reply
    • Stately? I’d say it’s all part of the current clamor. Ice everywhere is clamoring to get into the ocean. We’re prodding it along with hot pokers.

      Reply
  10. – Solar power Japan

    Japan opens mega floating solar power plant

    … The giant plant in Japan was inaugurated last March but has only just opened, as announced by Kyocera and Ciel et Terre International, two manufacturers that are heavily investing in this technology. The system is made up of two solar parks, at Nishihira Pond and Higashihira Pond in Kato City in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, with a capacity of 1.7 megawatts (MW) and 1.2 MW respectively.

    Reply
  11. Colt

     /  April 28, 2015

    Looking more and more like humans have little time left on this planet.

    Reply
  12. Again, except for the Northeast, the U.S. is seeing lots of heat.

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2967

    Reply
    • Huge amount of instability along the trough boundary where it hits the amped up subtropical jet near the Gulf of Mexico. Instability extends offshore into the Atlantic over the Gulf Stream where SSTAs are still in the range of +7 to +10 C above average. Just to the north, or just south of Greenland, SSTAs are in the range of -2 to -3 C below average. Lots of storm generating differentials all along the boundaries.

      Reply
  13. Blooms of algae in the Arctic Ocean could add a previously unsuspected warming feedback to the mix of factors driving temperatures in the north polar regions up faster than any other place on the planet, according to the authors of a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “By the end of the century, this could lead to 20 percent more warming in the Arctic than we would see otherwise,” said lead author Jong-Yeon Park, of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, in Hamburg Germany.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/algae-accelerate-arctic-warming-18929

    Reply
  14. Phil

     /  April 28, 2015

    Looks like extent is now down to second lowest – just above 2007. Will be interesting to see how things unfold.

    Also possibility of moderate WWB which might further reinforce the current EKW and chances of moderate to strong El Nino.

    Finally, more rain for NSW and perhaps QLD although forecasts of the amount of rain are still somewhat variable – seems Thursday and into Friday morning will be the heaviest days – some forecast of up to 300mm (12 inches). A possibility of another east Coast Low also forming.

    Reply
    • That Kelvin Wave is still quite strong with high SSTAs starting to pop in the Eastern Pacific. Getting near +4 C readings. +1 to +2.8 from the dateline and all through Nino 3.4. Some of the long range models are peaking at +2.6 C seasonal average in 3.4. That would be a real mess. Very strong mid ocean El Nino.

      Reply
      • Mark from New England

         /  April 28, 2015

        Robert, I see a hot zone off the coast of Ecuador, but I take it most of the equatorial heat is mid-ocean? So would you consider this an ‘El Nino Modoki’ according to the Japanese, or more of a hybrid El Nino? El Nino Modoki’s apparently don’t bring much precipitation to California.

        Reply
  15. Andy in San Diego

     /  April 28, 2015

    Drought, expanding deserts and ‘food for jihad’ drive Mali’s conflict

    “Last year, the Brookings Institute published a study showing that the frequency of cross-border violence grows by four percent, while inter group violence – the kind seen in Mali – rises 14 percent for each percentage change in average temperature and rainfall.”

    “The Sahara desert is expanding southward at a rate of 48 kms a year, forcing whole communities to migrate and pushing them on to land occupied by other groups, researchers said in a 2011 study.”

    http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2015/04/28/drought-expanding-deserts-and-food-for-jihad-drive-malis-conflict/

    Reply
    • That’s a hell of a vice to be in.

      Reply
    • Andy, that’s about the distance between the Mexico border and Poway. Here in West Coast of NA, the warm (psuedotropics?) climate expands northward in much the same manner.

      By my rough figures, the Saharan expansion numbers tally to a bit less than .5 degree of latitude. (Anyone, feel free to get a more accurate figure.) I just wanted a rough guess for illustration and context of similar events (the northward retreat of NW winds on US West Coast– with a rough timeline. I find that It’s instructive to see it graphic global terms.

      48 km = about 30 miles
      “At 38 degrees North latitude, one degree of latitude equals approximately 364,000 ft (69 miles), – USGS

      Ps, I was US Navy brat near Miramar NAS in 1955. And spent 1958 in Imperial Beach just about the slough, and just behind the beach dunes.
      Later

      Reply
      • That pace, 48km per year, is absolutely mind blowing. Think of how far away you consider geographical features to be when they are 30 miles away from your home. If you’re 30 miles from the ocean, it would be catastrophic if it showed up at your door a year later. Or 300 miles in a decade. That’s three times as wide as my entire state (CT)!

        Reply
      • This may be a useful and descriptive metric to use when talking to skeptical people, et al.
        It should be easy to visualize on a time distance scale, etc.

        “… 48km per year, is absolutely mind blowing. Think of how far away you consider geographical features to be when they are 30 miles away from your home.”

        Reply
  16. Colorado Bob

     /  April 28, 2015

    Floods more frequent in Midwest

    The U.S. Midwest and surrounding states have endured increasingly more frequent flood episodes over the past half-century, according to a study from the University of Iowa, UI.

    A news release posted on the website for the University of Iowa Flood Center noted that researchers based their findings on daily records collected by the U.S. Geological Survey at 774 stream gauges in 14 states from 1962-2011, a data-collection period in common for all the stations. The flood center is in Iowa City, Iowa.

    The university’s researchers found that 264 (34 percent) of the stations had an increase in frequency in the number of flood events, while only 66 stations (9 percent) showed a decrease.

    “It’s not that big floods are getting bigger, but that we have been experiencing a larger number of big floods,” says Gabriele Villarini, UI assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and corresponding author on the paper.

    Link

    Reply
  17. Colorado Bob

     /  April 28, 2015

    Flood disaster risk is more complex than expected

    “One of the common assertions of the climate change discussion is that ‘flood risk will increase’. And on balance, yes that’s probably correct, but we’ve found the issue is much more complex than such a blanket statement,” says corresponding author and Senior Lecturer Dr Seth Westra.

    “At the global scale we’re increasingly confident that flood risk will change, because a warming atmosphere means more heavy rain. However, for any individual location the changes to flood risk will depend on each region’s rainfall patterns. Under certain circumstances the flood risk may actually decrease,” he says.

    The team, including the paper’s lead author Dr Feifei Zheng and co-author Dr Michael Leonard, analysed data from rainfall gauges across the greater metropolitan area of Sydney. This data had been collected every five minutes from 1966 to 2012, representing a wealth of information.

    “Our research reveals that short but intense rainfall events increased, while longer sustained heavy rainfall events tended to decline. This has complicated implications for flood risk, since floods in small catchments are usually caused by short rainfall events, whereas floods in large catchments require longer periods of heavy rainfall,” says Dr Zheng, a senior Research Associate from the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering.

    “Our results also show a distinct seasonal variation. In summer, extreme rainfall increased strongly, while in the remaining seasons the changes were smaller and sometimes extreme rainfall even decreased,” Dr Zheng says.

    Read more at: Link

    Reply
    • At a certain point of warming, the rates of rainfall, overall, begin to decline. But we’re not there yet. We’re still amplifying the hydrological cycle (evaporation and precipitation overall). So overall, more droughts, more floods. But yes, locally, you see variance. For example, the US West sees more drought while the East sees more storms. This is an upshot of teleconnection related to changes to overall warming — both in the Arctic and around the globe and especially in the ocean zones and ice sheets. We end up with these stuck patterns until the tropics start to really heat up and we get that negative feedback cooling from ice sheet melt. After that it’s storms, storms, storms.

      Reply
  18. Colorado Bob

     /  April 28, 2015

    More Fatal Earthquakes to Come, Warn Climate Change Scientists

    “There’s a volcano in Alaska, Pavlov, that only erupts during the autumn and winter. The 10cm or 15cm rise in sea level during the winter months, when low pressure comes over, is enough to bend the crust and squeeze magma out. That’s an example of how tiny a change you need,” he said.

    Meanwhile, geologists modelling the effect of retreating ice sheets in the northern hemisphere predict more volcanic activity as pressure is released on fault lines. McGuire points to three eruptions in five years in Iceland – “You can’t say that’s statistical proof but … it makes you think.” ………………………………………..Some of McGuire‘s colleagues believe he overstates the earthquake risk of sea-level rise and changing rainfall. There is just not enough data yet to prove the hypothesis, says Professor Burgmann. But he is convinced Maguire is right when he talks about volcanic eruptions.

    “Ice unloading at the end of the ice ages produced a flurry of volcanic eruptions. That makes sense to me – it’s very true that if you take pressure off a magmatic system that can activate eruptions. There’s solid evidence of that in Iceland.”

    Link

    Reply
  19. Colorado Bob

     /  April 28, 2015

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Warning of an “innovation deficit,” scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say declining government spending on basic research is holding back potentially life-saving advances in 15 fields, from robotics and fusion energy to Alzheimer’s disease and agriculture.

    Science funding is “the lowest it has been since the Second World War as a fraction of the federal budget,” said MIT physicist Marc Kastner, who led the committee that wrote “The Future Postponed” report, issued on Monday. “This really threatens America’s future.”

    The report lands at a time when federal spending on research has become unusually politicized.

    Cuts mandated by the White House’s and Congress’s failure to reach agreement on reducing the federal deficit have chipped away at the budgets of the National Institutes of Health and other science agencies; legislation on research spending is tied up in debates over, among other things, climate change.

    Federal spending on research as a share of total government outlays has fallen from nearly 10 percent in 1968, during the space program, to 3 percent in 2015. As a share of gross domestic product, it has dropped from 0.6 percent in 1976 to just under 0.4 percent.

    The pullback comes as other countries are increasing science spending, scoring achievements that leave the U.S. in the dust. The European Space Agency landed the first spacecraft on a comet, and China developed the world’s fastest supercomputer, both in 2014.

    Read more at http://newsdaily.com/2015/04/decline-in-u-s-science-spending-threatens-economy-security-mit/#mvOAyEE6Xyb4kMQt.99

    Reply
  20. Colorado Bob

     /  April 28, 2015

    Air Pollution and Dust Credited WIth Weakening Hurricanes Irene and Katrina

    By: Jeff Masters , 1:30 PM GMT on April 28, 2015
    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2968#commenttop

    Reply
  21. With 222,000 cases of dengue fever, the state of São Paulo hit a new record on the 22nd of April.
    http://g1.globo.com/sao-paulo/noticia/2015/04/estado-de-sao-paulo-registra-222-mil-casos-de-dengue.html

    Reply
  22. Colorado Bob

     /  April 28, 2015

    The invisible organisms that threaten to make climate change much worse

    Now, a new study, published Tuesday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tackles the question of how rising temperatures can change the activity of microorganisms in the Arctic. The study focuses on methane production, rather than carbon dioxide — an important issue to understand because of methane’s potency.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/04/28/the-invisible-organisms-that-threaten-to-make-climate-change-much-worse/

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  April 28, 2015

      Significance

      Microorganisms are key players in emissions of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane from anoxic carbon-rich peat soils of the Arctic permafrost region. Although available data and modeling suggest a significant temperature-induced increase of GHG emissions from these regions by the end of this century, the controls of and interactions within the underlying microbial networks are largely unknown. This temperature-gradient study of an Arctic peat soil using integrated omics techniques reveals critical temperatures at which microbial adaptations cause changes in metabolic bottlenecks of anaerobic carbon-degradation pathways. In particular taxonomic shifts within functional guilds at different levels of the carbon degradation cascade enable a fast adaptation of the microbial system resulting in high methane emissions at all temperatures.

      Abstract

      Reply
  23. Colorado Bob

     /  April 29, 2015

    The infection comes with me. , little black arrows on every page, I have the internet clap.

    I’m a 65 year old man alone. Nothing bothers me, I got my car inspected today.

    Reply
    • rustj2015

       /  April 29, 2015

      sounds like that nasty fiction about nanotechnology, prey, written by Michael Crichton…don’t read it if you haven’t already

      Reply

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