Posted by: billlaurelmd | September 17, 2008

North Pole Today, 14 September 2008

Well, not quite today, but three days late is better than never.

First of all, a picture from the fisheye webcam monitored by NOAA:

NOAA North Pole webcam #3, 14 September 2008
Webcam #1 shows a bunch of water and ice on the lens, but indicates the temperature at 02:30 yesterday (9/15) was 32°F or 0°C.

It’s gotten cold over parts of the Arctic; we’re probably at the sea ice minimum for the year at this point, barring strong winds or a significant warming where there is already little ice.

The familiar picture of areal coverage of Arctic sea ice for this year, last year, and the climatology is shown below, from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
14 September 2008 arctic sea ice extent (15% ice per 25 km**2)

Melting has slowed to a crawl. Note we’re past the time of minimum in the heavy gray line denoting climatology; just like last year, the melt season is late in ending.

So, how much more melt opportunity is there for this season? First, let’s look at the weather over the Arctic this morning (9/16):

Arctic weather, 06 UTC 16 Sept. 2008

The areas without ice are not cold enough yet, generally speaking, which can be seen when we look at the Northern Hemisphere sea ice concentration graphic (no comparison with last year this time) below. For those who cannot see the numbers, the coldest temperature I could find was minus 13°C (9°F). Yesterday there was a reading as cold as minus 17°C (2°F). Remember that the sun sets at the North Pole on 22 September, a week from yesterday.

NH Sea Ice Concentration, 9/14/08 Concentration legend 9/14 NH Sea Ice Climatology
NH sea ice concentration, 14 Sept. 2008 Photobucket NH sea ice concentration climatology, 14 Sept.

Clearly we’re well-below the climatology, but we’re used to that now, aren’t we?

The only areas I think are at risk of further sea ice loss are those shaded in red or orange. Ice will be forming in some regions where temperatures are below -4°C, though a glance at the weather versus where the ice is at present indicates no open water exists where the temperature is that cold. We’ll see what next week brings, but my educated guess is that we are near or at sea ice minimum for this melt year, and we *won’t* break last year’s record.

Stay tuned.

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