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Report from NOAA
« on: January 06, 2015, 03:05:48 PM »
Rising air and sea temperatures continue to trigger changes in the Arctic
Came across this interesting report which seems to not have made any comments on in this forum that I can find. Just a few points of interest that I have.
Air temperatures: The jet stream pattern during early 2014 sent extreme cold air southward into eastern North America- and central Russia and extreme warm air northward into Alaska and northern Europe. Alaska recorded temperature anomalies more than 18 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) higher than the January average.
Cold air flow to the south means equally higher temps in the Arctic?
Snow cover: Snow cover across the Arctic during spring of 2014 was below the long-term mean of 1981-2010, with a new record low set in April for Eurasia and North America’s June snow extent the third lowest on record. Snow disappeared three to four weeks earlier than normal in western Russia, Scandinavia, the Canadian subarctic and western Alaska due to below average accumulation and above normal spring temperatures.
Although colder weather did come as did higher snowfalls, still 4 more weeks of very low albedo.
Sea ice: The extent of sea ice in September 2014 was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. The eight lowest sea ice extents since 1979 have occurred in the last eight years (2007-2014). At the time of maximum ice extent in March 2014, there had been a modest increase in ice thickness and age relative to the same time in 2013. Despite this, there is still much less of the oldest, thickest (greater than 13 feet or 4 meters) and most resilient ice than in 1988, when the oldest ice made up 26 percent of the ice pack compared to 10 percent this year.
Arctic Ocean temperature: As sea ice retreats in summer, sea surface temperature (SST) in all the seas of the Arctic Ocean is increasing. The most significant linear trend is in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska, where SST is increasing at a rate of 0.9 degrees F (0.5 °C) per decade. In August 2014, in the Laptev Sea, north of Russia, and in the Bering Strait region, SST was as much as 7.2°F higher than the 1982-2010 average, while SST in the Barents Sea, north of Norway, was about 7.2°F lower than it was in 2013 but close to the 1982-2010 average.
Although a "rebound" has occurred in the last 2 years, the stats say things are still in very bad state. Those temps also seem to my mind mean that although the ice is forming and is thickening, the ice is not near as strong because it is not near as cold as it used to be. Warmer ice = more water in the ice.
Also thicker ice means a tendency toward higher density which creates heat, and if the temps not cold enough will liquify.
Arctic Ocean productivity: Declining sea ice is leading to an increase in sunlight reaching the upper layers of the ocean, setting off increased photosynthesis and greater production of phytoplankton, tiny marine plants which form the base of the food chain for fish and marine mammals. The timing of phytoplankton blooms throughout the Arctic Ocean is also being affected, with more frequent secondary blooms during the fall. In June, July and August 2014 the highest primary production - occurred in the Kara and Laptev seas north of Russia. 
Vegetation: On land, peak tundra greenness, a measure of vegetation productivity and biomass, continues to increase. Between 1982 and 2013, the tundra biomass has increased by 20 percent. However, tundra greenness integrated over the entire summer shows a browning trend occurring in Eurasia, where summer air temperatures have also been decreasing.
Organic production creates its own heat also creates added insulation factors. This all promotes micro climates that tend towards a positive feedback loop. A question does come to mind is how much does ocean production influence currents or indicate changes in currents?
Reason I like this kind of report it give a broader scope and shows the interconnectedness of the complexity of our environment and how one thing can affect many other things which then can influence in a positive or negative way the whole. One thing it did not include (which really is not part of what they do granted) is the higher increase in fires which if I remember rightly was worse  in 2014, which adds heat but also soot and black carbon to the ice.
The fires maybe also burning off methane but it could be releasing more methane from promoting melt and although the soot and BC does not raise temps directly it does melt ice fast and it stays on the ice until the ice is gone.
"All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second,  it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
       - Arthur Schopenhauer