2009 Artic Sea Ice Maximum Fifth Lowest in Satellite Era

A new entry at the National Snow and Ice Data Center out of Colorado is out and the news is that even with this years La Nina induced cold temperatures in parts of North America, the trend of diminishing Arctic sea ice shows little sign of abating.

Artic Sea Ice Feb 2009

(Emphasis Added)

On February 28, Arctic sea ice reached its maximum extent for the year, at 15.14 million square kilometers (5.85 million square miles). The maximum extent was 720,000 square kilometers (278,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average of 15.86 million square kilometers (6.12 million square miles), making it the fifth-lowest maximum extent in the satellite record. The six lowest maximum extents since 1979 have all occurred in the last six years (2004 to 2009).

I’m cross posting this post on my weather blog at alberniweather.ca as well.

My, unscientific opinion based on what I’ve read, is that this year was a relatively strong La Nina year, this led to a cooler, drier regime for most of North America, however it also meant that more of the warm Pacific wind was instead pushed up into the Arctic through the Bering Strait, negating some of that increased cold…

Here’s the forecast for La Nino/El Nino over the next few months:

La Niña is expected to gradually weaken with increasing chances (greater than 50%) for ENSO-neutral conditions during the Northern Hemisphere Spring.

Expected La Niña impacts during March-May 2009 include above-average precipitation over Indonesia, and below-average precipitation over the central equatorial Pacific. Compared to the Northern Hemisphere winter, La Niña impacts over the United States are typically less pronounced. For the contiguous United States, potential impacts include below-average precipitation across the southern states. Other potential impacts include below-average temperatures in the Pacific Northwest and above-average temperatures across much of the southwestern and south-central United States.

…. nearly all the model forecasts for the Niño-3.4 region show that La Niña will have dissipated by May – July 2009, the exact timing of the transition to ENSO-neutral conditions is uncertain (Fig. 5).

If things go as they did last year with similar conditions then I’d expect Artic ice to again be low, but not set a new record. I think we would be very unlucky to set another new record this year for minimum sea ice… and if we did, it would be an extremely bad sign indeed.

We will get an authoritative forecast possibly from the NSIDC in the next couple weeks.

Long Term effects of Storms and Bad Forest Practices

Long time no blog again, mainly due to work, and, oddly, The Weather!. The last few weeks have been wild out here on the West Coast.

We’ve had winds reaching 175kph, Category 2 Hurricane Force.

We’ve also had torrentional rain, and a good dump of snow. All of which has made the ground fragile and tree roots vulnerable.

This brings me to this image:

originally posted on this railfan forum:
Port Alberni sub rail line of the Esquimalt & Nanaimo (E&N) Railway. Around mile 30.5

This rail line is currently not used. The last freight traffic ran through over 5 years ago. Fortunately there are plans to bring a tourist train back to the rails starting next year with hopes that it will spur interest and eventually lead to the full reactivation of rail service for both freight and commuter traffic.

No doubt, this damage will throw a wrench in those plans. Much cleanup will be done, and by the looks of it, a new culvert, tracks, and possibly a bridge will have to be installed to bring this section back to life. And that doesn’t even account for the rest of the line which is basically in an unknown state after the storms.

The storms were of course the main culprit for this damage. But how much of a role did poor forest practices by owners of the Private TimberLands surrounding the tracks (likely owned by TimberWest or Island Timberlands). Certainly the washout looks suspect. And were the rails still owned by a private company (formerly RailAmerica) no doubt, a lawsuit against the other private interet would be possible.

Instead, the railline is in the hands of the Island Corridor Foundation. A group flush with promise and good intentions, but certainly not cash for a legal battler.

That said, the list of people, groups, and organizations with a bone to pick with Private forest practices is growing.

How long before a class-action lawsuit becomes possible?

Perhaps only as long as the next Pineapple Express or El Nino inspired sudo-Typhoon. (edit: Pineapple Express is On the Way for New Years)

There are also Videos of the destruction on YouTube:
Here
and Here
Update:

A Bit of good news… for those who grew up or have lived in Nanaimo recently. Remember the Caboose at the McDonalds in Nanaimo? It was used for parties and things?

Well… here it is… back on rails! The Alberni Pacific Railway and Island Corridor Foundation have picked it up and it looks like it will be reborn:
Here it is at the APR Station

El Nino, Antartic Snowfall, and Hot Summer Nights

A few weather-related notes for tonight.

Live Science has a few interesting stories.

#1: Looks like we might be headed for an El Nino year this winter in North America. That’s the warm ocean current that hangs out off the West Coast of South America.

Some of it’s known effects.. across North America

Wet and Snowy in the South-East and North East and Prairies to Eastern Canada respectively.
Warmer in the West and US MidWest.. wet on the BC West Coast… but lots of snow on the mountains.
It also often grabs mackerel up to coast to Northern Washington and Souther BC waters… which is bad news for Salmon runs, as the Mackerel love to eat the salmon fry as they exit the rivers in the spring.

#2: Results from a new Antarctic study indicate snowfallprecipitation levels in Antarctica have not changed significantly in the past 50 years. This goes against model predictions that have predicted Global Warming and Climate Change… but 50 years is also a very short period of time geologically, so we may be looking at too small a snapshot. Either way, it’s interesting to see… and will add to the puzzle and the eventually to the general understanding of the Earths incredibly complex weather patterns.

#3: Finally, Live Science reports that the US NOAA has found that nighttime low temperatures across the US have been “much above normal” consistently over the past 8 years. That means, given all their data, US low temperature data has been higher than the highest 10% of temperatures in their archives. Those are hot nights. That means the US just isn’t cooling down at night like it used to. Which means more people get no rest from the heat… more energy use for A/C… etc etc… The record for hot nights was set during the “Dust Bowl” years… in 1941. But the past 3 years have been very close.. and on average, much hotter than even during those hardtimes after the Depression.

Cheers.

Chris