I admit that I reasonably assumed that with winter upon us that there was little going on in the world of sea ice discussion. Boy was I wrong. The quoted news story reflects the huge jolt last summer gave the experts. The wind shift has also not let up and we can expect a repeat of last year’s sea clearing conditions. And they have figured out just how much the perennial ice has already collapsed. I even saw an astounding admission that the reporting regulatory agency imposed a linear model only protocol on their scientists for reporting purposes.
If we assume merely that the perennial sea ice is been attacked by a constant heat surplus each and every year, the result is a very nonlinear collapse of the ice after a long weakening period. I had no difficulty predicting a rapid collapse once it became clear that we had lost 60% of the perennial sea ice over a forty year span for which we had only the end points.
We how have lost most of the perennial sea ice, and the winds are now shifting the remainder out of the
In the meantime, we are having a very good freeze this winter and the maximum extent has already been reached at a level larger than last year – no surprise – and it has extended by
What is particularly clear is the confusion and surprise been experienced by the experts. A lot of this has been brought on by the very unusual reordering of the wind system which is accelerating the clearing process.
Even the obvious fact of a cold winter right on the heels of unexpectedly warm summer is not yet explained. What are the true cause and effect relationships or are we reading way too much into this?
In any event, this cold winter should slow the onset of spring this year. We need to watch by how much and what effect this has on the summer sea ice melt. My own expectation is that we will have a neutral year for the annual sea ice but if the ongoing removal of perennial sea ice continues by wind action, then the real result will still be negative.
As the news report makes clear, this process looks irreversible for anything short of a multiyear stretch of below average cold. My own sense is that this year, cold as it was, merely hit the average. Thirty years ago, it would have been considered a fairly good winter.
The ongoing direct removal of perennial sea ice means that the next warm summer or so will clear the
The only question that I have is whether or not this rapid collapse is driven by the ongoing surplus heat coming into the
(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) — Arctic sea ice next summer may shrink below the record low last year, according to a University of Washington climatologist. Ignatius Rigor spoke Monday at the
The last remnants of thick, old sea ice are dispersing and the unusual weather cycles that contributed to sea ice loss last year are continuing, he said.
"The buoys are streaming out," Rigor said, referring to the markers used to monitor the flushing of ice into the
A similar pattern preceded sea ice loss last summer was not expected to continue so strongly.
Scientists are watching Arctic sea ice closely, trying to sort out the effects of global warming and natural cyclical changes.
Formal projections of sea ice loss will be made for another month or so but all indications are that ice loss will equal or exceed last year's "unless the winds turn around," Rigor said.
New ice now covering the polar seas is not like older, thicker sea ice that once covered the region in winter, Rigor said. In 1989, 80 percent of the ice in the
New ice melts more quickly, and then open water absorbs more sunlight, warming the seas and making the fall freeze-up come even later, he said.
"Have we passed the tipping point?" he said. "It's hard to see how the system may come back."
The prospect of a mostly ice-free Arctic could mean a boom in shipping through the
Polar bears prefer ice over the shallow continental shelf north of
Amstrup was lead federal biologist in studies released last year depicting the
The state of
Scientists Monday said that the forecasts were, if anything, too cautious. None foresaw the shrinkage of 2007.
"Five of the 10 studies we used projected more sea ice at mid-century than we had this summer," Amstrup said.
The shrinkage is related to higher temperatures, scientists said, but also to shifts in a weather pattern known as the Arctic oscillation. When the Arctic oscillation is in a "high" cycle, as it has been recently, more ice is pushed past Greenland into the
Climate models have linked a higher Arctic oscillation to increases in greenhouse gases, but that relationship is the subject of much study, Rigor said.
"All these changes are very consistent with a climate system trying to cool itself off from greenhouse gases," Rigor said.