Sea ice in the Arctic continues to track significantly below average, with the 2nd to lowest readings for the month (depending on the day) in the modern era. Weather conditions around Antarctica caused a temporary stall in sea ice freezing, causing extent conditions to tack toward below average conditions before recently recovering somewhat. Global sea ice area therefore took a turn for the worse during June and early July, reaching for historical lows reached only a couple of times before now. Within the last month, global sea ice area reversed the gains made in May toward eliminating the deficit from climatological conditions that characterized the first four months of 2011 and has instead declined rapidly to a 2 million sq. km. deficit by early July.
To help put this in context, only three previous times in recent history have seen conditions as bad as they are today: in 2007, 2008 and 2010. The difference between these previous occurrences and current conditions is profound: they previously occurred around September, when Arctic ice reached its annual minima. This, of course, is July. There are over two months left before melting in the Arctic stops. Will a new record low sea ice area be recorded this year? Stay tuned.
Portions of the Arctic are experiencing warmer near-surface conditions in 2011 than at the same point in 2007, when the record low extent of sea ice was recorded. Additionally, warmer water than in past years continues to be transported into the Arctic Ocean at rates that are quickening (more warm water flowing through the Ocean faster – not a good thing for long-term ice survivability). Weather conditions (local pressure centers, resulting wind patterns, etc.) will have the final influence on what conditions in Sep. 2011 look like. As this summer has progressed, the dipole anomaly has again been established. Prior to the late 1990s, this atmospheric phenomenon didn’t occur. It is postulated that it is setting up in response to climate change. Updating my guess from last month, I think 2011 might challenge 2007 for setting the record low extent. The extent is hovering at daily record low values and the dipole has set up again. It will only take a couple of storm systems to prevent 2011 from setting the record low, however. But I don’t think it will miss it by much.
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