SHOCKER: Arctic Ice Volumes Are Up In 2009

Here’s some good news on the climate front. Actic ice volumes have been surprisingly heavy.

Not surprisingly, the National Snow and Ice Data centre (yes, that really exists) emphasises the bad news. (via NYT)

Arctic sea ice extent remains low; 2009 sees third-lowest mark
This is a press release from the National Snow and Ice Data centre (NSIDC), which is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Media Relations Contact: Katherine Leitzell, NSIDC: [email protected] or +1 303.492.1497

At the end of the Arctic summer, more ice cover remained this year than during the previous record-setting low years of 2007 and 2008. However, sea ice has not recovered to previous levels. September sea ice extent was the third lowest since the start of satellite records in 1979, and the past five years have seen the five lowest ice extents in the satellite record.

NSIDC Director and Senior Scientist Mark Serreze said, “It’s nice to see a little recovery over the past couple years, but there’s no reason to think that we’re headed back to conditions seen back in the 1970s. We still expect to see ice-free summers sometime in the next few decades.”

The average ice extent over the month of September, a reference comparison for climate studies, was 5.36 million square kilometers (2.07 million square miles) (Figure 1). This was 1.06 million square kilometers (409,000 square miles) greater than the record low for the month in 2007, and 690,000 square kilometers (266,000 square miles) greater than the second-lowest extent in 2008. However, ice extent was still 1.68 million square kilometers (649,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 September average (Figure 2). Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 11.2 per cent per decade, relative to the 1979 to 2000 average (Figure 3).

You can see what’s going on in the chart. The light blue line is clearly above the 2008 and 2007 lines, though decisively below the 30-year average. It’s also interesting that this comes as arctic air temperatures are as high as they’ve been in 200 years, suggesting the link between air temperatures and ice volumes isn’t as tight as you might expect.

arctic ice

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