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Record Low Sea Ice Maximum a Lock as Arctic Continues Trend of Ridiculous Warmth

Anyone who’s been paying attention to the Arctic knows that it’s seen a ridiculously warm fall and winter during 2016 and 2017. And, unfortunately, new predicted temperature spikes appear to be on tap for the coming days in one of the more climate-sensitive regions of our world.

(Another big Arctic temperature spike is predicted for later this week with readings expected to hit as high as 5.1 C above average for the entire Arctic. So much warmth in this region will continue to put melt press on sea ice, snow packs, permafrost and glaciers. Image source: Climate Reanalyzer.)

High amplitude waves in the Jet Stream, according to the Global Forecast System Model, are set to drive dual warm air invasions into the Arctic. The first warm air invasion is taking place over North-Central Siberia and is the continuation of a general pattern of warm air delivery that has now lasted for about two weeks through the region of the Kara, Laptev, and East Siberian seas. The second, and albeit weaker, warm air delivery is set to run northward through the Northwest Territories of Canada and on into the Beaufort Sea and Canadian Archipelago.

Temperatures in these warm air invasion zones are expected to rise to between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius above average (18 to 54 F above average). In some places covering these warm wind invasion zones, we are also expected to see sporadic above freezing readings and, in the case of the Laptev — periods of liquid precipitation over the sea ice.

(The record low maximum sea ice extent for 2017 looks more and more like a lock as another big temperature spike rushes into the Arctic.)

Overall, Arctic average temperatures above the 66 degree north latitude line are expected to range between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius above average over the next seven days. As anomaly departures tend to tamp down a bit as spring emerges, these are very high temperature deltas for this time of year.

These continued very high temperature anomalies and what is a trend of extreme and extraordinary warmth for the Arctic has kept sea ice extent measures in record low ranges throughout much of late March. Over the coming days, the most recent warm spate will likely produce an ongoing weakening of ice on the Russian side even as the warmer readings across the Beaufort and Canadian Archipelago will tend to tamp down late season ice thickness building (as typically occurs during late March through April) over the last remnants of multi-year sea ice.

(NASA satellite shot of sea ice shows considerable early melt along the Russian side of the Arctic Ocean.)

In the image above, we find that the ice on the Russian side is already broken, thinning, and opening up into numerous polynyas. Ice is particularly reduced in the Kara (lower right) for this time of year. And the break-ups and mobility of the non-fast ice in the Laptev and East Siberian seas are considerably advanced.

As we reported last week, Arctic sea ice volume trends are now in considerable record low ranges and the excess heat on the Canadian and Russian sides will continue to put pressure on those values. Another instance of the ongoing downfall of global sea ice that kicked into high gear during 2016 and 2017 as human forced warming of the climate system through fossil fuel burning took another step toward ever-warmer conditions.

Links:

LANCE MODIS

Climate Reanalyzer

NSIDC

PIOMAS

Hat tip to Zack Labe

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33 Comments

  1. climatehawk1

     /  March 28, 2017

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  2. Erik Frederiksen

     /  March 28, 2017

    From PNAS in 2013. http://www.pnas.org/content/111/9/3322.abstract “Using satellite measurements, this analysis directly quantifies how much the Arctic as viewed from space has darkened in response to the recent sea ice retreat. We find that this decline has caused 6.4 ± 0.9 W/m2 of radiative heating since 1979, considerably larger than expectations from models and recent less direct estimates. Averaged globally, this albedo change is equivalent to 25% of the direct forcing from CO2 during the past 30 y.”

    The reduction in snow cover in the North adds a similar warming effect as the sea ice melt.

    The amplifying feedback of ice melt, already quite large according to the above, will increase significantly as Arctic summer ice largely disappears by mid-century or earlier.

    Reply
    • So during winter, radiative transfer through the atmosphere and oceans is the primary driver. Albedo comes into play moreso from late spring through early fall and has seemed to produce the most impact on ocean heat absorption.

      Reply
      • Erik Frederiksen

         /  March 29, 2017

        Good point. This summer looks bad for the sea ice since it is starting out at a record low and the planet just keeps warming.

        Reply
  3. Henri

     /  March 28, 2017

    Last year was a record bad start for the melting season and this year only Beaufort is doing better, all the other arctic seas are about the same or worse than last year. Although the weather around mid summer is the key factor in reaching the lowest summer extents there is no guarantee we get lucky with the weather.

    However the most important number for the summer isn’t the minimum extent imo but rather the anomaly over the whole mid summer when the sun rays have high enough angle of incidence to make a big difference in the energy budget between hitting ice or open water.

    Reply
  4. Ryan in New England

     /  March 29, 2017

    Meanwhile in Trumpland any resources spent combating climate change are “a waste of money”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/mar/28/trump-has-launched-a-blitzkrieg-in-the-wars-on-science-and-earths-climate

    I used to think that denial would obviously end once the tragic effects of climate change started to present themselves, thus by definition it would be undeniable. I also used to think the brainwashing in Orwell’s 1984 was something that could only occur in a work of fiction. I have never been more wrong about anything in my life.

    Reply
    • The time has come for all of us, for all of those who can see what is happening with eyes unclouded, to stand up and fight. And we should know that we fight for life — for time itself. Because if we fail to act, if we allow Trump and those like him to lead us down into darkness, there will surely be no future worth living in.

      Reply
  5. Vaughn Anderson

     /  March 29, 2017

    Ryan, thanks for your last paragraph. I quoted it in a Facebook post credited to you, of course. I post a lot about climate there and provide a link to Robert’s articles regularly for my friends. I hope I am stimulating a few people to read beyond what I post on Facebook.
    Also, “Thanks” Robert for another well sourced article. We have to provide accurate information to as many people as possible.

    *Mother Nature does not take IOUs.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Vaughn. We’ve got one shot at this and time is running short.

      Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  March 29, 2017

      Vaughn, it’s a pleasure and an honor to be quoted, so thank you 🙂 We are in a fight for the future of humanity, and the preservation of a climate stable enough to allow our global civilization to continue. We are also fighting for the countless species that are unable to fight for themselves.

      Reply
  6. Vic

     /  March 29, 2017

    Extensive flash flooding and multiple river systems in major flood as the remnants of Cyclone Debbie move inland. Rainfall rates of 100mm per hour being reported, whilst the Clarke Ranges west of Mackay recorded a whopping 981mm in the previous 48 hours. Brisbane’s turn tomorrow as the city prepares for more than a month’s worth of rain in one day.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-29/ex-cyclone-debbie-rain-brisbane-river-flooding/8394388

    Reply
  7. The Antarctic sea ice is also phenomenally low as winter begins. Starting to look like a neck and neck race to see which end of the planet will be first to have a sea ice free summer.
    Will someone tell Donald Trump?

    Reply
    • If yesterday is any guide the Trump Administration will pretend that such reports on sea ice don’t exist even as they work to try to ensure that future reports on the subject aren’t released.

      Reply
  8. Ryan in New England

     /  March 29, 2017

    This is the trailer for the sequel to an inconvenient truth…

    https://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2017/mar/29/an-inconvenient-sequel-truth-to-power-movie-trailer

    I sometimes wonder how different America and the world would be if the 2000 election wasn’t stolen from Al Gore. We would likely be decades ahead of where we are now in the transition to renewables. Instead we are here 17 years later in even worse shape than we were in 2000. The US Empire has spent trillions of dollars, killed hundreds of thousands (likely millions) of innocent Iraqis and Afghans, and ravaged the Middle East in general in pursuit of ever more oil and gas. Our emissions are higher than they’ve ever been and our new “president” is promising to bury us in coal. Our dear leader is determined to take us backwards to the 19th century when coal was cutting edge power source. To the days before the EPA, when the skylines of our cities were hidden behind a shroud of pollution.

    As China takes the reins from the US as the leader in renewable energy, the rest of the world moves into the 21st century. Meanwhile, our ignorant and incompetent “president” pulls up the draw bridge in fear of the scary people from other places. He drags us back to the 1800s because knowledge and science are terrifying to him and his supporters. At least this modern Rome won’t be invaded by barbarians…they’re already inside the walls. The world’s most powerful country is nothing but a horde of troglodytes.

    Reply
    • methane madness

       /  March 29, 2017

      That is a great point about the bs on living on mars… I would love to see the newly funded deep space elements of nasa to turn around and tell the goldfish prince to fuck off.. not holding my breath.

      Reply
    • Good points, Ryan. But most of us here aren’t troglodytes. Just those currently holding the executive branch along with a shockingly substantial number in the legislative and judiciary as well.

      Reply
  9. methane madness

     /  March 29, 2017

    Re gbr die off: Its nuts to have consecutive years sans el nino for the last period, and according to enso another year of death awaits, briefly I thought the death throes of the gbr could stir a response in AU but the retarded response of media..surprise!!!… ended that pipe dream. This is all rather like a shitty sc-fi, on par with Matrix 3

    Reply
  10. unnaturalfx

     /  March 29, 2017

    Dont know if you saw this or not so : NRDC As destructive as it aspires to be, however, Trump’s executive order cannot erase Clean Air Act standards and other climate protection rules by itself. Scott Pruitt and the president’s other minions must follow the rule of law. They can tear down these regulations only using the same legal process it took to build them. Their final decisions must pass muster in the courts.
    We will fight them every step of the way. We’ll win because the law, the science, and public opinion are on our side.
    This is another deal President Trump won’t be able to close. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/david-doniger/trumps-climate-destruction-plan-deal-he-cant-close . Hope there right , there will be a fight at least.

    Reply
  11. Connecticut Gordon

     /  March 29, 2017

    Hi Robert
    Gloomy times ahead.
    The CO2 at Mauna Loa hit an all time [recent times] high of 409.47 yesterday with a few weeks of likely higher readings ahead.
    https://www.co2.earth/daily-co2?noaa-mauna-loa-co2-data.html

    Reply
    • Thanks Gordon. Saw that. Not a pretty picture.

      Reply
    • Went and checked CO2 @ ESRL for seven of the arctic stations. A sickening rise to above 420 at two (Pallas-Sammaltunturi and Barrow) from last year’s maximum, and Tiksi, Russia is approaching 420. Here are figures I copied for this year and last year’s maximum CO2 concentrations so far. The others show only slight increases, but still well above Mauna Loa’s 409. (I hope the figures are readable.)

      Pallas- Sammaltunturi, Finland Max2016 and Max2017 – 416 and 421 (5 increase)
      Barrow, AK 414 and 422 (8 increase)
      Tiksi, Russia 418 and 419
      Alert, Nunavut 411 and 413
      Ny-Alesund 413 and 414
      Cold Bay, AK 412 and 414
      Storhofdi, Iceland 410 and 412

      Reply
      • Thanks for this, Mlparrish. The overburden of CO2 in many parts of the Arctic is quite significant and this has been the case for some time now. I wish there was more scientific work being done on why this is the case. It’s clearly not just proximity to fossil fuel burning hot spots (which most of the Northern Hemisphere land mass is now due to human burning), but also appears, at least in the observation, to be due to local feedback sources. A little more effort here in the science would be appreciated.

        Reply
        • Erik Frederiksen

           /  March 29, 2017

          “The overburden of CO2 in many parts of the Arctic is quite significant and this has been the case for some time now.”

          Richard Alley said that when there’s more Sun in the North, Northern ice goes away and CO2 levels rise, hence the rise in global temperature in the South as well when there’s less sunlight in the South.

        • Erik Frederiksen

           /  March 29, 2017

          So there’s likely some natural feedback of increasing Northern CO2 from our current forcing.

  12. coloradobob

     /  March 29, 2017

    Debbie –

    The bureau said that some areas had been drenched with the equivalent of half a year’s worth of rain – “a phenomenal” 1,000mm (39 inches) – in just 48 hours.

    Cyclone Debbie: Experts fear damage to Great Barrier Reef

    Reply

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