Sunday, December 28, 2008

Arctic Sea Ice Recovery Stalls?

Mark Serreze of the National Snow and Ice Data Center:

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about this. We are quite certain that the almost complete lack of increase in ice extent since about December 10 is real. Satellite-derived ice extent from the SSM/I (Special Sensor Microwaver/Imager) used to create the time series on our website was checked against extent based on the AMSR (Advanced Microwave Sounding Radiometer) instrument. AMSR shows the same pattern. This gives us independent confirmation. The past 10 days has seen a very unusual atmospheric pattern. It has been very warm over the Arctic Ocean, and wind patterns have favored a compact ice cover. While the lack of increase in ice extent is certainly quite unusual as well as interesting, we would not read too much into it right now, at it is just weather. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next week.
The graph is from a couple of days later than the comment, so it looks as though coverage has begun to increase once again, although it has turned far lower than the long-term average. See here for more.

4 comments:

Paul S said...

This is another graph of sea ice extent:

http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/AMSRE_Sea_Ice_Extent.png

bigcitylib said...

Note how its plunging towards a record low in the last little while just like my graph.

Paul S said...

Plunging? It's variation within a fairly narrow range.

Looking at the graph, I could just as easily say ice extent was racing towards a record high two months ago.

But we would never mention that, now would we?

bigcitylib said...

Of course, Paul, the most important thing is the obvious long-term decline, which seems to have accelerated in the last couple of years.