Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
Record Low Arctic Sea Ice Extent for January
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Feb 11, 2011
During the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2010-2011, unusually cold temperatures and heavy snowstorms plagued North America and Europe, while conditions were unusually warm farther north. Now the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has reported that Arctic sea ice was at its lowest extent ever recorded for January (since satellite records began).
This image shows the average Arctic sea ice concentration for January 2011, based on observations from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite.
Blue indicates open water; white indicates high sea ice concentrations; and turquoise indicates loosely packed sea ice. The yellow line shows the average sea ice extent for January from 1979 through 2000.
NSIDC reported that ice extent was unusually low in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, and Davis Strait in the early winter. Normally frozen over by late November, these areas did not completely freeze until mid-January 2011. The Labrador Sea was also unusually ice-free.
NSIDC offered two possible explanations. One reason is the Arctic Oscillation (AO), a seesaw pattern of differences in atmospheric pressure.
In "positive" mode, the AO includes high pressure over the mid-latitudes and low pressure over the Arctic, setting up wind patterns that trap cold air in the far North.
In "negative" mode, air pressure isn't quite as low over the Arctic and isn't quite as high over the mid-latitudes. This enables cold air to creep south and relatively warm air to move north.
The AO was in negative mode in December 2010 and January 2011, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
At mid-latitudes, the negative mode resulted in extremely cold temperatures and heavy snow in Europe and North America. At the same time, warm air over the Arctic impeded sea ice growth. NOAA has forecast that the AO should return to positive mode in February 2011, but for how long was unclear.
Another factor in the low Arctic sea ice extent, NSIDC explained, could be that the areas of open ocean were still releasing heat to the atmosphere. Due to its bright appearance, sea ice reflects most of the Sun's light and heat back into space. Dark ocean water, by contrast, absorbs most of that energy and reinforces the melting process.
References: NOAA Climate Prediction Center. (2011, February). Monitoring weather and climate. Accessed February 4, 2011. NSIDC Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis. (2011, February 2). Arctic Oscillation brings record low January extent, unusual mid-latitude weather. Accessed February 4, 2011. NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using AMSR-E data and sea ice extent contours courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Caption by Michon Scott. Instrument: Aqua - AMSR-E
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Beyond the Ice Age
Moscow (UPI) Feb 9, 2011
Global climate change warming has opened possibilities for nations with arctic coastlines to exploit offshore energy resources in the usually ice-bound region. Norway's Parliament voted unanimously to ratify a 2010 agreement with Russia delineating their arctic borders, which opens the possibility of developing the vast oil and natural gas reserves in the Barents Sea. Parliament' ... read more
Lucky crash escape for Honduran ministers|
UN envoy touts Haiti education 'overhaul'
Australia flags taxpayer levy for floods
Australia PM introduces contentious floods tax
Yap.TV a virtual living room for show lovers
Nokia needs to make Windows phones hip
Cartoon news is the future: Hong Kong media mogul
Web makes 15 mins fame a lifetime of shame
Kenya's Fisheries Management Promotes Species That Grow Larger And Live Longer
23 fishermen missing in Russia: report
Thailand closes dive spots due to reef damage
China earmarks $303 bn for safe water: report
Volcanic vents found in Antarctic waters
Researchers Map Out Ice Sheets Shrinking During Ice Age
Record Low Arctic Sea Ice Extent for January
Arctic Climate Variation Under Ancient Greenhouse Conditions
Walker's World: The new Egypt needs food
Floods disrupt Sri Lanka's rice production
Healing Our Planetary Ills From The Ground Up
Putting Trees On Farms Fundamental To Future Agricultural Development
Sri Lanka flood damage $600 mln
Cyclone Bingiza hits Madagascar
Powerful quake rocks Chile year after disaster
Another Iceland volcano may erupt
South Sudan: Born under a bad sign?
Tunisian army patrols ports to stop migrant exodus
China FM urges West to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe
Chad military still using child soldiers: Amnesty
Discovery Could Change Views Of Human Evolution
Mathematical Model Explains How Complex Societies Emerge And Collapse
Multiculturalism loses appeal in Europe
Bleak future seen for U.K. brain research
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|