Posted by: billlaurelmd | August 24, 2008

The North Pole Today, 24 August 2008

Well, this past week has been interesting up at the North Pole webcams. It’s been below freezing much of the week, with a temperature as low as – 8°C (about 18°F), and North Pole webcam #1 has an iced-up lens this a.m., as it has for the last several days:

55 UTC

The temperature is about 26°F (-3°C) at 7:55 Universal Time today.

Webcam #3 is clear though (I think it’s heated from inside), and appears as so at 10:11 Universal Time today:
11 UTC
I honestly don’t know what the normal temperature is at the North Pole during the third full week of August, but there is information on normal and current Arctic sea ice cover:
Arctic sea ice extent (at least 15% coverage in 25 km2 grid boxes
Interestingly, this illustrates the “point” climate scientists often make, that one point does not a season (or trend, anomaly, and so on) make; the sea ice extent in the Arctic took another dive this past week, while the North Pole itself got rather cold. Winds may have driven this as well by pushing ice north; the pattern north of AK and the Bering Sea, however, bears out melting rather than pushing around of ice (see table of graphics below). Climatology for sea ice concentration and extent from 1953-1991 is shown alone in the bottom row; as we’ve seen, current (and of course, 2007) sea ice concentrations and extent continue well-below normal.

Arctic sea ice concentration, 8/24/08 color legend, % concentration Arctic sea ice concentration, 8/24/07
Arctic sea ice concentration/extent, 24 August 2008 Photobucket arctic sea ice, 24 August 2007, 2007 melt season
Arctic sea ice concentration, 8/17/08 color legend, % concentration Arctic sea ice concentration, 8/17/07
Arctic sea ice concentration, 17 August 2008 Photobucket Arctic sea ice concentration, 17 August 2007
Arctic sea ice extent/concentration climatology, based on 1953-1991 data set

Well, it looks like my relatively well-informed (I know earth science, after all) prediction of where the sea ice would disappear from last week was pretty good. I’m too lazy this week to annotate the current week concentration graphic, but you can bet that the areas in red, orange and yellow are at risk going into next week.

We have about 2-3 more weeks of potential melt at this point before the 2008 freeze-up begins. Current weather is shown in the graphic below. Temperatures near the pole are currently below freezing as low as −7°C (about 20°F) as can be seen in the graphic of 12 Universal Time 24 August 2008 weather conditions (temperatures only for Arctic Ocean generally, though):

Arctic weather, 12 UTC 24 August 2008

Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Northwest and Northeast quandrants of the Northern Hemisphere appear below. We still have the pattern of above normal SSTs along the North American and Siberian Arctic Ocean coasts; below normal temperatures where the meltwaters from the Greenland Ice Sheet appear:

Sea surface temperature anomalies, NW quadrant of earth, 23 August 2008, °C
Sea surface temperature anomalies, NE quadrant of earth, 23 August 2008, °C

I’m awaiting the next report from the National Sea Ice Data Center on their observations and expectations for the remainder of the ice melt season. Should be interesting.

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