Friday, August 10, 2007

Arctic melt-off beating forecasts

Maybe you're familiar with The Weather Underground. I remember it as the first weather information Web site I put into my bookmarks. Jeff Masters is its founder. He's an expert on hurricanes and air pollution. My favorite part of his bio: "...his favorite movie is Monty Python and the Holy Grail." He keeps a blog called Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog, which is both informative and educational, not to mention good humored. In today's article he provides a tropical update on the conditions that might lead to the formation of hurricanes.

He also describes the findings from the National Snow and Ice Data Center that indicated that the extent of sea ice around the North Pole is lower than it's ever been recorded for the end of July. Check out this graph:

Arctic sea ice extent for July, for the years 1979-2007. July 2007 had the lowest Arctic sea ice extent since satellite measurements began in 1979. July sea ice coverage has declined about 26% since 1979.
These two satellite photos from the University of Illinois show the dramatic difference over 8 years. Remember - less reflective ice cover = more warming. This shrinkage in ice is called an "anomaly" because it's beyond what forecasts had estimated would be there. Still another month to go in Arctic summer (where the sun actually reaches the area.)

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