Fire Earth

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Posts Tagged ‘Big Arctic Thaw’

Guess what, the Arctic temps are 5 ºC warmer!

Posted by feww on October 17, 2008

Who’s Afraid of the Heating Arctic?

Arctic fall temperatures are at a record 5 ºC above normal

Fall temperatures in the Arctic are a record 5 ºC warmer than the average as less sunlight is reflected because of the major loss of sea ice  allowing  more solar heating of the ocean to occur, NOAA reported. Winter and springtime temperatures remain relatively warm over the entire Arctic, in contrast to the 20th century and consistent with an emerging global warming influence.

The Arctic-wide warming trend that began about 4 decades ago continues, with 2007 recorded as the warmest year ever for the Arctic.


Arctic-wide annual averaged surface air temperature anomalies (60°–90°N) based on land stations north of 60°N relative to the 1961–90 mean.

As more more of the ice cover was lost during the the 2005 to 2007 melt season, the ocean absorbed more heat from solar radiation which resulted in the ice freeze-up occurring later than usual.  Surface air temperature (SAT) remained high into the following autumns, with warm anomalies above an unprecedented +5 °C during October and November across the central Arctic. Report summary.


Near surface air temperature anomaly map for October and November for recent years with a reduced sea ice cover, 2005–2007. Data are from the NCEP – NCAR reanalysis through the NOAA /Earth Systems Research Laboratory, generated online CDC/NOAA.

“Changes in the Arctic show a domino effect from multiple causes more clearly than in other regions,” said James Overland, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle and one of the authors of the report, Atmosphere.

“It’s a sensitive system and often reflects changes in relatively fast and dramatic ways.”


Ice breaks away from a frozen coastline near the Norwegian Arctic town of Longyearbyen April 23, 2007, an earlier than usual spring thaw. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir (NORWAY). Image may be subject to copyright.

Hell hath no fury like a planet with little autumn ice!

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Posted in atmosphere, Climate Change, heating ocean, sea ice cover, solar heating of the ocean | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Drunken Forest

Posted by feww on June 11, 2008

The Big Arctic Thaw

The fast melting Arctic sea ice will cause inland temperatures to rise, according to a new study, releasing more greenhouse gases in Alaska, Canada and Russia, and more severely affecting the ecosystems
The Arctic sea ice shrank to 30 percent below its annual retreat levels and another record melt is forecast for 2008.

drunken forest
Siberians call this a “drunken forest.” Permafrost (long-frozen soil) in its natural state holds the trees upright. If permafrost melts, as in the photo, the soil becomes loose and can no longer provide a solid foundation for the trees, which tip over and lean randomly. NASA Photo. Kochechum River, Evenkiyskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug, Russia; 66°20’N 99°00’E

As we traveled down river, I saw what the Siberians call a “drunken forest”. This area is permafrost, where the soil stays firmly frozen year round. Larch grows well here, but their roots are shallow. When permafrost melts, the trees lose their footing and tilt to the side. I guess the trees look like a drunk trying to walk home, tilted at crazy angles. It is a curious sight, but it is also a clear sign that the temperature in that spot has been warm enough to melt the permafrost. — Weblog of Dr. Jon Ranson in Siberia.

“Our climate model suggests that rapid ice loss is not necessarily a surprise,” said David Lawrence of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, one of the study authors.

“When you get certain conditions in the Arctic—thin ice, a lot of first-year ice (as opposed to older, sturdier ice)—that you can get a situation where … you get a rapid and steady loss over a period of five to 10 years,” Lawrence said.

In a period of rapid ice loss, autumn temperatures on the Arctic coasts of Alaska, Canada and Russia could rise by about 5 °C, the study’s climate model revealed.

Last year’s temperatures from August to October over land in the western Arctic were In the unusually warm autumn of 2007 the western Arctic temperatures rose by about 2 °C above the average recorded temperatures for the previous 28 years. As the sea ice melted rapidly, the scientists discovered, Arctic land warmed three and a half times faster than the rate predicted by most climate models. Simulations show that the warmer ocean temperatures can affect inland areas as far as 1,500km away.

Where permafrost is already at risk, for example, in central Alaska, warmer ocean temperatures are causing a quicker permafrost thaw. Thawed clumps of permafrost soil are already collapsing in parts of Alaska causing highways to buckle, houses to tilt and trees to tip over at random angles [a phenomenon which Siberians call “drunken forests.”]

“There’s an interconnectedness about the Arctic,” Lawrence said. “When sea ice retreats and retreats very rapidly it impacts other parts of the system, like warming temperatures over land. And warming temperatures over land can also accelerate the degradation of permafrost, particularly permafrost that’s warm right now.”

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