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Posted at 9:00 PM ET, 03/ 3/2011

Weather image of the day: Arctic sea ice record low

By Jason Samenow

February sea ice extent from 1979 to present. Source National Snow and Ice Data Center.

From the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC):

February 2011 tied February 2005 for the lowest [Arctic] ice extent for the month in the satellite record [since 1979]. Including 2011, the February trend is now at -3.0 percent per decade.

Other statements from NSIDC:

* February ice extent remained below normal in both the Atlantic and Pacific sectors, particularly in the Labrador Sea and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

* While ice extent has declined less in winter months than in summer, the downward winter trend is clear.

* Air temperatures over most of the Arctic Ocean in February were between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius (4 and 7 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal.

By Jason Samenow  | March 3, 2011; 9:00 PM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Latest  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: PM Update: Friday temps inch upward
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That's not an image, it's a freakin graph. We expect to see a beautiful image every day, not a graph. We've been ripped off.

Posted by: rwalker66 | March 3, 2011 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I consider a graph an image. This is going to be a mix -- photos, satellite/radar imagery, weather maps, visualizations, cartoons, etc.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | March 3, 2011 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Well, not much ambiguity there.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | March 3, 2011 9:35 PM | Report abuse

didn't you predict a good year for arctic ice? or did you just predict it wouldn't get to a record low...?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 3, 2011 9:41 PM | Report abuse

@rwalker66 - Kliken sie hier, bitte:

Google ist Ihr Freund.

Posted by: ennepe68 | March 3, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: pseaby | March 4, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

neat graphic there. according to that, last year was the warmest since the beginning of the observation period. i wonder why it doesn't rank 1998 anywhere near that. i thought 1998 (and 2005, which does show up as being very warm on the graphic) were the other "crazy warm" years?

it shows 2011 as being below normal so far.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 4, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Even under a broad definition of "image," that looks like a "climate" image of the day to me - not a "weather" image. I was expecting at least a current satellite shot.

Posted by: manatt | March 4, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

1) pseaby's link is, I believe, showing temperatures from 1 week in March for each year (since it seems to be for the 4th-11th of March I'm not sure if the chart for 2011 is for just 1 day, or if it is using last week's data). That's why 1998 and 2005 aren't the highest years.

2) Regarding "good year for ice" predictions: my understanding is that once you detrend the dataseries, there isn't much correlation between winter extent and summer extent, so while it is highly likely that September's minimum will be in the lowest 10 on record, the fact that we are currently below the trendline for February extent does not imply that we will necessarily be below the trendline for September extent. And given how far below the trendline the record 2007 extent was, I think it is more likely than not that this year won't beat it. (For the September trend graph see note that 2006, which had a lower February extent than 2007, had a September extent that was much much higher)

Posted by: marcusmarcus | March 4, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Walter, IIRC I was not predicting, but commenting that negative AO, low solar, high blocking, etc *should* lead to more ice (measured at the summer low, not the winter peak). And if it does not, it means other factors, in particular AGW, are more important.

I'll have to dig through the archives and see if I can find exactly what I said, but that was the gist.

Posted by: eric654 | March 4, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

aahh, well, thanks for pointing out that that map is just for this one week in march every year. i totally missed that. seems much less informative that way, but, you're absolutely right: that's what it's showing.

i guess we'll see about the september minimum. looks like sometime between last september and december ice went back down to record low levels. i'd say it wasn't a good year for arctic sea ice.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 4, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

eric, marcus,
do you think the winter high or summer low is more likely to reflect global warming?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 4, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Walter, I'd say summer. The real extent of melting is better known when the most ice is melted. i think this year's melt will throw a curve ball due to early melt where the AO kept warm air in the Arctic but late melt where it was colder.

Posted by: eric654 | March 4, 2011 6:43 PM | Report abuse

so by "curveball" you mean more melting than "normal"? do you think it will be record or near-record? marcus was just saying how summer/winter levels don't necessarily correlate.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 4, 2011 8:27 PM | Report abuse

curveball meaning that when the thin late-freezing ice melts (e.g. Hudson Bay, Baffin Bay) we will look like we are on our way to a new record low (e.g. May/June). Then the melting will slow down a lot as ice north of Europe and north of eastern Siberia fails to melt (where it was really cold this winter). That's when Anthony Watts will predict a recovery (e.g. July/August) (thankfully the ridiculous Steve Goddard isn't there anymore to make that prediction). Finally at the bitter end we will close in on a new record when some last shards of ice melt in September.

My WAG is the final amount will be somewhere around last year. Like I said we *should* have a recovery based on all the natural factors working towards that, but I think it may take another year or two until the leftover ocean heat gets used up.

Posted by: eric654 | March 5, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

wow... that's like a double curveball. i would say "knuckleball" but those are unpredictable...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 5, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

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