At a gathering of thousands of scientists at a horseshoe bend in the lower Mississippi River, a few talked about a place far away they have been watching for years.
“The Arctic shows no sign of returning to the reliably frozen state it was a decade ago,” said Jeremy Mathis, an oceanographer with the Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Seattle.
He was one of four scientists presenting the Arctic Report Card for 2017 at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. More than 20,000 scientists walked through the doors of the Morial Convention Center during second week of December.
Mathis and others, including permafrost expert Vladimir Romanovsky of UAF’s Geophysical Institute, shared many scientists’ 2017 observations of the far North during a press conference.
They reported much of the same news they have since National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists presented the first Arctic Report Card in 2007: The northern cap of the globe is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet.
In what Mathis called “the darkening of the Arctic,” less sea ice floating on the northern oceans and fewer days of snow on the ground have allowed blue ocean and brown-and-green tundra to receive more heat from the sun. That seems to be playing out in many ways on the northern stage and beyond.
On March 7, 2017, satellites recorded the lowest amount of winter sea ice floating on the northern oceans since scientists have been able to see the view from 500 miles above starting in 1979.
Chunky, resilient ice that has survived several summers made up only 21 percent of the northern sea ice cover. Most ice is younger and thinner.
Though satellites have allowed overall views of sea ice for only a few decades, a researcher on the panel presented evidence that present low-ice conditions have not existed since at least the Middle Ages.
Emily Osborne of the NOAA Arctic Research Program in Maryland looked at lake sediments, ice cores and plugs of seafloor from the Arctic Ocean to find evidence of ancient debris that floated out on sea ice and then sank, and the remains of tiny creatures called diatoms that live in and around sea ice.
She found that there is no period in the last 1,500 years that shows a similar disappearance of northern sea ice.
“It is normal for sea ice to vary from year to year, but when you move forward into the last couple decades, the magnitude (of sea ice loss) is unprecedented,” she said.
Northern sea ice covered a record low amount of Arctic Ocean a decade ago, in September 2007. When scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center measured the sea ice in November 2017, they found the third-lowest coverage on record. Though 2007 was perhaps not the tipping point that some scientists thought might lead to ice-free Arctic Ocean summers by now, 10 of the lowest sea ice extent years have occurred in the past 11 years.
Why does less ice matter? Because loss of its mirror-like surface allows the ocean to absorb the sun’s heat.
Some scientists think there is a connection between Romanovsky holding up his phone to show them a well-above average 24 degrees F temperature at his home in Fairbanks and a New Orleans cold snap a few days ago. Snow fell here in this city at 30 degrees north latitude.
“Loss of ice in the Chukchi Sea is reinforcing a very wavy jet stream, which might account for the winds and fires in California and cold in the central and eastern U.S. right now,” said oceanographer Jim Overland of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.
He explained that the current record low sea ice coverage in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska has provided a lot more heat to the atmosphere.
Conditions in the Arctic have always affected weather at lower latitudes, Overland said after the press conference, but the extra northern heat is helping maintain large-scale patterns that endure longer.
“The jet stream is the door between the Arctic and weather at mid-latitudes,” he said.
That door seems to be open more often now than it has been in the past, he said, allowing warmer Arctic air to flow southward and more often affect weather down here.
Since the late 1970s, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute has provided this column free in cooperation with the UAF research community. Ned Rozell is a science writer for the Geophysical Institute.
Source: University of Alaska Fairbanks
DNV Wants Increase Focus on Plastic Deg
Arctic Circle Assembly to Advance Busine
Uninett Contracts with Global Marine Sys
Drones Open Way to New World of Coral Re
Navis to Cooperate with Aker Arctic On D
WOC Cross-Sectoral, Circumpolar Arctic B
Science Team Member Describes U.S. Arcti
SeaRobotics “Collapsible” USV Aids in Ar
Ocean Networks Selects Xtera for the Tu
World Ocean Council Partners with the Ec
Fugro Innovations Recognized at the 2014
First animals oxygenated the ocean, stud
NASA: Warm Rivers Play Role in Arctic Se
Introducing Teledyne RESON Academy - Ope
WOC Facilitating Industry Involvement in
Sonar Could Spot Oil Spills Hidden by Ar
CGG and Sovcomflot Announce Arctic 3D Se
ABB Wins Order for Arctic Ice-Going LNG
Kongsberg Maritime Provides Major Simula
Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Departs R
Huge Waves Measured for First Time in Ar
REFLEX MARINE PARTNERS WITH FANO KRAN TO
EU Commissioner Will Open WOC Business F
Harvey Gulf Continues Strategic Growth w
Phoenix Continues Search for Malaysia Ai
Arctic is warming at twice the rate of a
World Ocean Council Partners with The Ec
Tracking Sea Turtles Across Hundreds of
Bibby Offshore Continues Success in Sout
Dead Zones’ Found in Atlantic Open Water
Liquid Robotics launches Open Oceans Par
TE SubCom Introduces Open Cables Standar
Norway’s UNINETT Selects Coriant 100G So
Award-Winning Centre Continues to Develo
Wave Buoys equipped with SBG Sensors in
Polarled – the First Pipeline Crossing t
Methane Observatories Successfully Deplo
New Managing Director Appointed AS JFD C
Nominations Open for 10th Annual Subsea
SeeByte to Open New Office in Marine Rob
Warmer Air and Sea, Declining Ice Contin
Optimized Arctic Observations for Improv
Remains of Lost 1800s Whaling Fleet Disc
Business Leaders Demand End to Drilling
In the Southern Ocean, a Carbon-Dioxide
Arctic Shipping Routes May be Open by 20
United States and Cuba Open Doors to Mar
BSEE Studies Arctic Response Challenges
Call for Abstracts Open for Cost Efficie
El Niño’s Warm Water Devastates Coral Re
Leftover Warm Water in Pacific Ocean Fue
World Ocean Council SOS 2016 Registratio
Signs of Big Change in The Arctic
DT Ocean – Introducing an Open Source To
IMCA’s Guidance on Open Parachute Type U
BSEE Approves Updated Permit for Explora
Interior Department Cancels Arctic Offsh
Arctic Domain Awareness Center Opens at
Final Regulations to Raise Safety & Envi
Teledyne Marine Continues to Play a Key
First Global Wind Speed Data from UK Tec
TE SubCom, Ciena to Deliver Enhanced Ope
Withdrawal of Atlantic and Arctic Ocean
Open Source Design Tool to Optimize Wave
United States-Canada Joint Arctic Leader
Huawei Marine to Deploy 100G Submarine N
World Ocean Council Works to Advance Arc
Teledyne RESON Announces SeaBat and Tele
Submissions for the Annual IADC Safety A
Navy Forms Task Force Ocean, Plans to Ad
Fourth Innovation Call for Wave Energy S
The Arctic Ocean is Becoming More Like t
Diamond Offshore Continues Relationship
Spike in Southwest Dust Storms Driven by
Massive Craters Formed by Methane Blow-O
NOAA Scientists Set Sail to Measure Chan
The 2017 Aquatec Equipment Awards Now Op
Huge Energy Potential in Open Ocean Wind
PLDT to Open AAE-1 International Submari
BSEE Approves Eni’s Drilling Operations
New Study: Added Arctic Data Show Warmin
BSEE Oversees Spudding of New Oil Well i
Call for Applications Open to Offshore E
Open Science on the Open Ocean
Teledyne RESON and Teledyne PDS Open Cou
Submarines USS Hartford, USS Connecticut
Arctic Ice Camp SKATE Supports US and UK
Kreuz Subsea Continues Growth with Senio