Arctic Sea Ice in Uncharted Territory
28 May, 2015
On May 27, 2015, Arctic sea ice extent was merely 11.973 million square kilometers, a record low for the time of the year since satellite started measurements in 1979.
This fall in sea ice extent follows heat waves in Alaska and the north of Canada, as illustrated by the image below.
in Alaska on the afternoon of May 23, 2015, when a
91°F (32.78°C) was recorded
High temperatures extended over the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea. The image below shows the difference in sea surface temperatures between May 13, 2015, and May 23, 2015.
The large amounts of meltwater flowing into Beaufort Sea and the Chukchi Sea is illustrated by the image below, showing the difference in sea surface salinity between May 17, 2015, and May 24, 2015.
Sea ice has retreated dramatically in the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea, and in Baffin Bay, with high sea surface temperature showing up where rivers flow into the Arctic Ocean and where the Gulf Stream carries warm water from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic Ocean.
The size-reduced navy.mil animations below show the fall in sea surface salinity (left) and the fall in sea ice thickness (right) in the Beaufort Sea, from May 3, 2015, to June 2, 2015 (run May 27, 2015).
The image below shows sea surface temperature anomalies on May 27, 2015.
For reference, the animation below, from the Naval Research Laboratory, shows sea ice thickness over a 30-day period, including a forecast up to June 4, 2015.
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action as discussed at the Climate Plan.
Unusually hot and dry weather will settle into Southcentral Alaska beginning Friday and lasting through Sunday. High temperatures will stretch from the mid 70s to the mid 80s throughout the region, with the hottest day likely occurring on Saturday.
Sea breezes (winds blowing from sea to land which help to moderate daytime heat) will be limited. Instead, winds will mostly blow from land to sea and through local gaps and passes. This weather setup could add more heat to the ongoing above-average warmth and worsen fire danger. In some cases, record high temperatures could be tied or broken.